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Hunt Elite Couplings: fracturing fishtail problem


teeinox
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I recently bought an “Elite Starter Pack” of West Hill Wagon Works magnetic couplings.  These couplings are designed to go into NEM sockets and so have fishtails.  The intention was to experiment with them to replace the Hornby close couplings on my coaches.  The experiment didn’t go well, and I want to find out if my experience was typical, or I am doing something wrong?

 

The starter pack contains 3 lengths: Close Coupling: 9.5mm long, Intermediate Coupling: 11.7mm long, and Standard Coupling: 12.5mm long.  The one relevant to Hornby coaches is the 9.5 mm close coupling, and this is the one I did most of my experimenting with.

 

Inevitably, if you are experimenting, you tend to insert the coupling, then take it out to try out a different arrangement, maybe several times.  No problem doing that with Hornby close couplings.  But with these, out of the 4 couplings I used, on one, one fishtail broke off on the second insertion, and on another, on the first try.  This is a 50% failure rate.  Hornby’s NEM sockets can vary in size, some being a little tight, but these are on Hawksworth coaches which are quite easy, offering little resistance.

 

So….

* Have other folks had this experience?

* Am I just dealing with a bad batch?

* Or is there something I am doing wrong, and if so, what is the remedy?

 

I have used clip-fit Hunt couplings very successfully, and I very much want to make this work.  So advice would be very much appreciated.

 

teeinox

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They are 3D printed and the material can be a bit brittle. Fine in normal use, but probably not best suited to repeated plugging and unplugging.

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Pretty much my experience of hunt couplings, the 3D printing process is too variable and the material too brittle that there is very little consistancy over a pack of them.

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As already mentioned, they are 3D-printed and can be brittle. I've converted all my stock to using them and have got through 27 packs in all. I've had 7 or 8 failures out of that number, which is not bad really. Another issue is when they are too brittle, and hence don't click into the socket properly so simply come out of the socket as soon as there's a load. A couple have been discarded as a result.

 

But apart from that I'm very pleased with them. I use the "close" length ones for Bachmann MK1s, and the "ultra close" for Hornby Maunsells and Bulleids and most of the freight stock. The Bachmann MK1s do need the stepped version of the coupling to get them to the right height, as the close are not only too high but also catch on the solebar at times causing derailments. 

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On 25/02/2024 at 20:56, Kaput said:

Pretty much my experience of hunt couplings, the 3D printing process is too variable and the material too brittle that there is very little consistancy over a pack of them.

Yes, i also have had this problem, The material is brittle and easily snaps , made worse as they sometimes need a little tweaking to make them stay in the NEM pocket but the tweaking will often cause them to snap. I gave up on them quickly.

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I've had a similar experience and on a couple of occasions have resorted to gluing them in rather than throwing away. They're not so cheap that the failure rate is insignificant, unfortunately. 

 

I've predominantly used them to join shorter rakes of coaches to make one train that are stored on two cassettes, with the Bachmann solid bar between the rest of the vehicles. On other passenger trains that get broken down more regularly, I've been pleasantly surprised by the Hornby magnetic couplings, which are injection molded and much more resilient. I wouldn't use the West Hill ones again unless they were the only viable option.

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I politely suggest that you contact them. Others too. I  agree that there are occasional breakages, however I have had very few and probably because once fitted I don't need to change them.

Contacting them could highlight this issue; they may already be aware?.

They are not going to attempt to change the Materials IF NOBODY TELLS THEM !

I've never met them at a Show so have no idea how they would respond, but  I'm happy to support any contact as they are not as versatile as the moulded things that have come (still do?) with RTR Stock such as  Hornby  Maunsells. 

Phil 

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7 hours ago, Mallard60022 said:

I've never met them at a Show so have no idea how they would respond

Not spoken to them about this issue as I only have them on a couple of things in place of screw on types. 

I have had two chats with them about things like vehicle spacings and some of their other products and they didn't bite me or anyone else who approached them, so worth mentioning it.

On 25/02/2024 at 22:11, Bucoops said:

Some of the resins available are extremely flexible and very hard to break - such as that used by Mousa - sounds like they could benefit from a material change?

I've had some 3D printed kits from other sources that have been so brittle that they were difficult to drill cleanly for fitting details. It seems many users are still on the learning curve as to the best material for different applications.

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10 hours ago, Mallard60022 said:

I politely suggest that you contact them. Others too. I  agree that there are occasional breakages, however I have had very few and probably because once fitted I don't need to change them.

Contacting them could highlight this issue; they may already be aware?.

They are not going to attempt to change the Materials IF NOBODY TELLS THEM !

I've never met them at a Show so have no idea how they would respond, but  I'm happy to support any contact as they are not as versatile as the moulded things that have come (still do?) with RTR Stock such as  Hornby  Maunsells. 

Phil 

I spoke to them at the Doncaster exhibition where I bought the starter pack.  I already had an inkling that there was a problem with fracturing, so I put the issue to one of their sales people on the stand.

 

What I was told that the problem with breakages occurred when the couplings were pushed in too far.  So the product had been re-designed with a shoulder to prevent this happening, and indeed, there is such a shoulder on the ones I have.  It was on the strength of that reassurance that I bought the pack.

 

As for contacting them, I like to have evidence before doing so.  That is why I originally posted these questions:

* Have other folks had this experience?

* Am I just dealing with a bad batch?

* Or is there something I am doing wrong, and if so, what is the remedy?

 

Thank you all for the experiences and views you have offered.  I think the answers are emerging.  But further information and views are still welcome.

Edited by teeinox
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Just bought another pack of ultra close couplings for some recent stock additions, and these are the new style  with a shoulder. Looks to be quite an improvement, and the tail seems to be changed as well.  Here's a picture of old (with broken fishtail) and new coupled up -

 

20240229_142502.jpg.a914069594471b684c0ea086bf0ad10d.jpg

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On 28/02/2024 at 09:49, BluenGreyAnorak said:

I've had a similar experience and on a couple of occasions have resorted to gluing them in rather than throwing away. They're not so cheap that the failure rate is insignificant, unfortunately. 

 

I've predominantly used them to join shorter rakes of coaches to make one train that are stored on two cassettes, with the Bachmann solid bar between the rest of the vehicles. On other passenger trains that get broken down more regularly, I've been pleasantly surprised by the Hornby magnetic couplings, which are injection molded and much more resilient. I wouldn't use the West Hill ones again unless they were the only viable option.

Gluing doesn`t work for my layout which features Georgemas junction as the rakes are shunted into separate portions so I have had to abandon these couplings . and seek an alternative  

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On 28/02/2024 at 09:49, BluenGreyAnorak said:

I've had a similar experience and on a couple of occasions have resorted to gluing them in rather than throwing away. They're not so cheap that the failure rate is insignificant, unfortunately. 

 

I've used a thin shim of plasticard or paper to re-use a couple of broken fishtail couplings. The shim makes the coupling tight enough to work reliably whilst still being capable of being removed. 

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I have had many of these couplings fail, manly by breaking the fishtail but a couple of times failing at the shank in tension when a rake of wagons was being pulled by a loco.

 

In my view the material they use to make the couplings is too brittle - lacking the flexibility and elasticity of the plastic material that the rtr manufacturers use for couplings.  
 

I have switched to the newer Hornby and Accurascale magnetic couplings as these can be repeatedly removed and replaced without breaking.  For long fixed rakes of coaches and wagons  now used fixed coupling bars (both home made and rtr) because sometimes the weight of the stock being towed is sufficient to overcome the magnetic bond even if the couplings themselves don’t break.


Cheers

 

Darius

 

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33 minutes ago, Darius43 said:

In my view the material they use to make the couplings is too brittle - lacking the flexibility and elasticity of the plastic material that the rtr manufacturers use for couplings.  

 

See my post above showing the newer version. The tail is much more flexible than the previous version, and is altogether a better coupling. 

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27 minutes ago, RFS said:

 

See my post above showing the newer version. The tail is much more flexible than the previous version, and is altogether a better coupling. 


That’s nice but having “invested” in a large number of their first generation couplings, many of which failed as described, I was minded to go elsewhere for replacements.

 

Cheers

 

Darius

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As they are 3D printed, they will never be robust... so means you have to keep replacing them more money for them... unfortunately as they are a resin/abs/plastic type material, they will only cope with so much... they will all fail eventually.. this is why I never brought in to the hype of them... now the manufacturers have picked up on them finally, I would say their market focus has shifted to line side details... 

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I have experienced the same problems as already listed.  The fishtails broke trying to insert them from several of the "packs" I bought.  Hunts replaced them them upon being advised of the breakages but the replacements also broke.  The Hornby couplings are more robust and thus my first choice.

 

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