In a previous post I discussed my difficulties finding a suitable auto-coupler for early HO stock, and how I discovered DG magnetic couplers. They are excellent couplers: cheap, unobtrusive, effective. But I was very aware that any coupler that requires a jig to make it up didn't really meet my KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) criterion.
I'd often wondered about using PECO OO9 couplers, which have a hook-and-loop design similar to some continental couplers. I finally decided to buy a couple of packs of PECO's GR-102 couplers and experiment with them.
They arrived today and I was impressed with both the simple design and the crisp moulding of the plastic. Each coupler comes in two parts that just snap together: a plastic hook, and a plastic loop with a dropper on each side which is raised when the coupler passes over a Hornby-style uncoupling ramp.
Having made a couple of sets of the couplers up, I'm sure they would work very well with an uncoupling ramp. The design appears as effective and robust as it is simple. But being completely plastic, they obviously wouldn't be any use for magnetic uncoupling. Unless ...
My eye fell on a discarded staple lying on the desk. Well, sometime untidiness is the real mother of invention.
I cut around 6 mm from the middle of the staple using kitchen scissors and superglued it to the outside of one of the droppers. The photo below isn't great, but the greyish bar on the right-hand coupler is the piece of staple.
Moving the converted coupler near a magnet caused the loop to rise up just as the DG coupler loops do.
I daresay narrow gauge modellers have known about this wheeze for years, but I was certainly delighted to have found such a cheap, quick and simple way to convert the PECO couplers to magnetic operation. I know the massive magnet in the photos makes it look as if I set my experiment up to succeed, but I have also tested the hack on smaller magnets and I've found it works with micro-magnets as well.