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Step 1: Tools and PreparationTo install the optional kinematic coupler sets, you will need a small flat-head screwdriver and a pair of sprue cutters or clippers to remove the couplers from their trees.
Step 2: Preparing the Kinematic CouplersCarefully clip the couplers from the trees at their bases. Step 4: Removing the trucksYou will need to remove the trucks to remove the existing knuckle coupler. Step 6: Installing the Kinematic couplerWith the body shell freed from lower section of the car, you can freely install the kinematic coupler. Step 7: Re-install the TrucksRe-snap the trucks into place with the mounting pins oriented as shown. Step 8: Replace the bodyshellIf the bodyshell was removed, put it back in place, being sure that all the tabs line up and the shell fits snugly without any bulging. In the real world, the design of the coupler is standardized, and is almost as important as the track gauge, since flexibility and convenience are maximized if all rolling stock can be coupled together. Okay…so your train has left the freight yard, you’ve traveled over 100 compressed miles, and now here you are ready to deliver a carload of upholstery to a furniture factory.
Two giant hands come down from the sky and try to jiggle the freight car loose from the rest of the train.. It doesn’t come loose right away so the hands have to lift the car off the track in order to unhook it, then these hands try to re-rail it again next to the furniture factory. The couplers separate, and the train pulls forward a little, then backs up slowly, pushing the car into position next to the unloading dock. It is important to realize that real-world coupling systems comprise of mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, electric and electronic components, which makes modelling and manufacturing of these components quite difficult. While most trains will happily run on the same tracks with each other, there can be problems when you try to couple them to each other.
The type is common to most scale models made for the UK market and it appears on almost all Hornby trains, Bachmann Branchline models and the Lima UK models.
They are a unrealistic looking device, but they do work effectively (when not knocked around too much) and simple to use.
The European coupler is more commonly known as a Lima coupler, although again, it is in use by many other companies.
Most early prototype models were supplied with the Lima couplers, who introduced the couplers in the early 70’s. Unfortunately in practice, many operators found these couplers to usually be more difficult to use with shunting trains. Until recently, the majority of USA prototype trains had these fitted, and they are still very common.
They don’t look anything like the prototype train couplers and rely on side pressure to hold them together, which is a major problem when backing up, because the side pressure often causes derailment.
The Kadee type coupler has mostly replaced the X2F on the better quality US trains and is the preferred coupler of many hobbyists. In recent years other companies have started to supply their own versions, and as such, models are now sold with them already fitted. Kadee couplers are now manufactured and available in a variety of options ranging from plastic to machined types. The main advantages of the type is that it looks like the real thing and can be uncoupled magnetically. They also feature delayed uncoupling that enables a modeller to uncouple a wagon over the magnet, and then push it to the desired location and leave it there without recoupling. In general Rapido couplers are fine reliable couplers, but they look like boxes and they are difficult to uncouple automatically. Kato still supplies a Rapido-style coupler today, although it is slightly different to the original Rapido design. The only serious alternatives to the Rapido is a range of couplers by Micro-trains and Con-Cor, and more recently the European NEM couplers. These are more prototypical, they look better, and they work well with the magnetic uncouplers. Some people like to put Z scale knuckle couplers on the fronts of N scale locos (or N scale couplers on the fronts of HO locos) because the smaller train couplers look more realistic on the larger models. There are also other kinds of couplers, but these are either older types now obsolete or new ones purchased separately and fitted by the modeller. These couplings are used by some European manufacturers, and like Kadee types, they also feature delayed uncoupling and the ability to remove a wagon from a train simply by picking it up. Being able to couple any number of trains from different manufacturers remains an issue, and the resolve seems to be for the modeller to decide on his own preference, and then to convert incompatible couplers.
The easiest thing for the newcomer to the hobby to do is to stick to the trains of one country. If you do end up with a mixture, you can either have a train of each type or make up a wagon with a different coupler at each end.

The above photo shows another problem many people encounter, especially if restarting the hobby using an old set they’ve had for some years.
Most people don’t like horn hook couplers and can’t wait to replace them with (or “convert” them to) knuckle couplers that are more realistic and work well with the magnetic uncouplers. This takes a certain amount of time and effort to convert all of your equipment to knuckle couplers, which is why people usually do this in a stepwise fashion, converting locomotives and cars one at a time, sometimes mixing them in consists till they are all converted. You can have several conversion cars on which you have a horn hook or Rapido (in N scale) coupler on one end and a knuckle coupler on the other so that you can connect both types within your consist.
One option is to do the rear of one loco and the front of the lead car first, so that it becomes easy to uncouple the loco from the rest of the train. For N scale, the couplers are usually mounted in the trucks, and are rather difficult to replace without learning new expletives in your vocabulary. No matter what kind of train couplers you have, they won’t work well if they are mounted at the wrong height.
Assuming the couplers are mounted on the cars, if the coupler is sitting too high, you can lower it by putting a shim between the bottom of the car floor and the coupler pocket.
Kadee was the first manufacturer to develop this system, in which a special magnet (not just any magnet) is positioned under the track at a strategic location like in front of a branch line, spur or ladder, such that, when a train is backed up and stopped with the knuckle coupler over the magnet, the “glad-hands” of the coupler come apart when slack is allowed. The train should then be pulled forward a little, and then backed up again to push the car into the proper position without recoupling. This is called the “delayed uncoupler”, as opposed to the “regular uncoupler” which will recouple itself to the train after it is pushed back off the magnet.
These are also available from Kadee for all scales, which are primarily electromagnets activated by applying current to a wire wrapped around a cylinder many times which creates a magnetic field. If you are going to use uncoupling devices, it makes sense to include them in your original track planning.
It’s easier to install them as you are laying your track initially rather than trying to do it later, although it can still be done.
You may have to use a rotary tool or track saw to cut out and replace small sections of track in order to place the magnets, but it wouldn’t be that difficult. McHenry has excellent detail on one side, but unfortunately the  spring on the other side looks unrealistic.
McHenry attempted a similar latch but the molding has soft edges and it doesn’t latch the draft gear cover at all. I’m surprised that in this day of modelers looking for couplers which are close to true scale size McHenry would manufacture such oversized looking couplers. This is a bit difficult to evaluate without an uncoupling magnet but I can feel the spring tension with my finger so I can make an observation. Some people don’t really care about magnetic uncoupling because they manually uncouple their cars using some sort of mechanical uncoupling tool (like a wooden skewer). But some layouts have industrial spurs out of reach and magnetic uncoupling is vital to enjoyable operation. Nothing is more frustrating than time wasted on unsuccessfully trying to magnetically uncouple a car while the fast clock is running!
Many modellers have expressed that in their experience, MT couplers are the best ones to use when using magnetic uncoupling. Kato couplers have a similar spring but it’s a lot stiffer, and it is pretty much impossible to perform automatic magnetic uncoupling using Kato couplers. Accumate uses plastic leaf centering springs molded to the coupler shank, and those are much stiffer than the MT springs and thus they do not reliably uncouple over a magnet. McHenry also uses plastic leaf springs molded to the coupler shank but those are only used for centering the shank, and for unlocking the knuckle they use a method very similar to the one used in Kadee H0 couplers. Unlike other N scale knuckle couplers where the coupler is split horizontally for a scissor-like opening action, McHenry pivots the knuckle itself.
This evaluation shows that the Kato couplers seem to be closest in shape and size to the 1:1 AAR couplers. MT coupler is oversize but not as much as McHenry, however its overall shape is not very similar to 1:1 coupler. Not included in this evaluation may be numerous other couplers that may or may not be available to the author.
MT couplers have the best quality molding (especially their couplers with reverse draft angle) and in my experience they seem most reliable. I have been testing various types of couplers for use on my Bronx Terminal layout, trying to find a good mix of appearance and performance. There is no question that these couplers look great.  They are scale, and noticeably smaller than Kadee couplers. To uncouple the cars, a magnetic uncoupling wand is used.  On the end of the wand is a small magnet that is simply touched to the top of the coupler releasing the knuckle and opening the coupler. One trouble area I find is that they can occasionally be hard to get to reliably couple.  Seems that a bit more force than normal is required to get the knuckles to stay closed.

I have found that polishing off some of the rust finish with a rotary tool helps quite a bit, but still they can be occasionally hard to close.  Not sure how irritating I would find that. Truck-mounted couplers in HO became a no-no in HO, because of the horn-hook couplers, which work by pushing sideways. While I have yet to outfit my entire collection with them, all my motive power and most of my more frequently run rolling stock are fitted with Sergents. I have successfully managed to get a Sergeant Coupler and a Kadee #58 to lock knuckles to get a train around a layout. Kadee and Sergent are nor directly compatible, you are right, however, just as a Kadee and a Horn Hook CAN be coupled if you open the Serget copupler, back it into the Kadee pusehed all the way to the side fo the car, then push the couplers back to center so that the Sergent knuckle will wrap around the Kadee’s knuckle, you can get it to lock. To loosen or remove it, grasp the car on either end and twist it gently back and forth until the skirting and underbody pops free of the upper shell. The trucks are a snap fit; to remove them, slip the blade of your screwdriver between the tabs and gently pry them open while pulling up on the truck. From the underside, slide the coupler in, as shown, and position it so that the "guide pin" is in the "V" shaped guide slot. Model train manufacturers improvised and developed numerous coupling systems and mechanisms that allow for practical train operation, albeit they don’t always look or operate prototypical. When under tension (no slack in couplers) they will not uncouple, but when tension is slackened (by stopping the train and reversing the locomotive) they easily uncouple over the ramp. European modellers for example have quite a number of old and new choices regarding couplers. You will need a coupler height gauge for your scale to tell whether your couplers are the right height or not. If the coupler is too low, you can add one or more washers between the truck and the car bottom. These have to be mounted in a space cut out from under the track, which is really no problem if you’ve used foam for your subroadbed. But they are also completely incompatible with Kadee couplers, so its an all or nothing decision to use them.
Since March of 2007 I have been documenting the construction of the former CNJ Bronx Terminal in HO scale. Backing up would invariably force a truck to derail, so body-mount works much better, as well as looks better.
I’ve had the same problem with the knuckles not locking at times, but the realistic look and function are too important to give up. I have a smallish fleet of New Haven diesels and (so far) about 20 cars and what i have fitted with Sergeants looks great and operate well. Just a number 2 pencil and some some sliding the couplers together to remove knuckle flash and they work perfectly.
It will work with McHenrys and the Walthers ProtoMax couplers as well, though some Kdee clone knuckles are simply too thick to fit. I think that for 90 percent of N scalers, converting to body-mounts wouldn’t be worth the ­effort and expense. You will need to loosen the bodyshell on each side of the car you wish to install the coupler on (in the case of articulated cars) or remove it entirely for ease of installation (on the individual cars). Kadee makes most of these for HO, Hon3 and larger scales, but other manufacturers like Atlas, Kato and Athearn are making them as well. If the coupler is mounted on the truck, you may have to replace the truck assembly or the wheels, particularly if the coupler is too low.
I suspect that this is due to their well molded parts and the very soft copper-alloy springs. For my day job, I design track building tools for Fast Tracks, a small company I own and operate. Plus, having to open the knuckle and line the couplers into position have slowed the switching process which makes it more realistic and fun.
I’am now equipping everything in my fleet with them,my freight cars have much more detail now because I started putting lift bars and airhoses on everything!.
That in combination with the stiffer plastic shank-centering spring doesn’t seem to me like it will uncouple reliably over a magnet. I have one guy in our rr group who constantly puts down the Sergent couplers,says you can’t see the detail in a moving train.
The different couplings are the most noticeable thing and obviously prevent the two from being coupled together. Other differences are the improved free-rolling metal wheels and lowered body of the later model.

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