OO Gauge Fixed Link Wagon Couplings Revisit – Part 1

In March of 2017 I first introduced my OO gauge fixed link couplings for UK wagons, you can find the post here, and they developed into a range of couplings to suit both 3 Link and Instanter couplings.  They’ve been doing well but there have been a few issues so a revisit to the design is required.  In this post I’ll be showing you the first steps.

The couplings, as shown below, are designed to fit into NEM standard pockets and form a permanent link between two wagons whilst retaining the look of a 3 Link and Instanter coupling.

And I think they do this very well.

At the time, an important design feature was the ability to add some flexibility onto the coupling to allow it to navigate corners.  I considered the main part of the coupling too stiff and was worried it would pull trucks off the rails on corners.  A solution was achieved through a flexible section; this was covered in the second post which can be found here.  But it’s this flexible section which has caused the issues.  The material used for the couplings is Shapeways’ Smooth Fine Detail but, as you may have read in other posts, it is brittle and the couplings tend to break at the flexible section, especially when handling several wagons joined together off the rails.  They tend to break here as it’s the part of the coupling with the least material.  One thing I also noticed is that the direction of the print also had an effect on the strength.  The original couplings were printed loose and often standing up on end.  This meant each layer of 3D printed material had a small surface area to bond with the last.  Printing the couplings laid down significantly increased this area and therefore the strength.  Since I made the alteration to print the couplings as a group, see the third post here, they’ve all been printed laid down, but they could still benefit from more strength.

As it turns out the couplings do have some flexibility and the required amount of movement is not great so I’m going to try some 3D printed couplings without the flexible section to see how they do.  Below you can see the revised couplings on the right.

The taller couplings had a much larger flexible section and coincidently it was much stronger; it was the flat coupling which broke more than any others.  But I’m going to try them all.

I’m also going to do some experiments with some of the other materials.  Once I have samples in hand I’ll share the results with you.