How Does a Train Coupler Work?


How Does a Train Coupler Work?

Having a good understanding of how a train coupler works can make all the difference in whether you are able to operate a locomotive with ease, or whether you will need to spend hours trying to figure it out. There are a number of different types of train couplers available, including the Knuckle, Schwab, Albert-Coupler, and Janney couplers, and all of them have their own specific advantages and disadvantages.

Knuckle coupler

Earlier knuckle couplers used a contour known as the MCB contour. It was a design that had been approved for interchange service for over 100 years. However, the MCB contour was prone to impact with other adjacent railway cars.

As a solution, MICRO-TRAINS couplers were developed. They offered a variety of solutions for manufacturers to convert their knuckle couplers to fit their own requirements. However, MICRO-TRAINS did not provide the magnetic uncoupling that many railways required.

Today, most railways in the USA use a “knuckle” coupler. It provides a safer uncoupling. In a normal operation, an engineer and brakeman work together to coupler the train gently.

Knuckle couplers have a “front” and a “tail” facing the opposite direction of the railway car. The “front” end of the coupler system faces inward towards the car. The “tail” end of the coupler system faces outward towards the other train.

The invention was developed to provide a knuckle with an improved fatigue life. The invention incorporates an innovative knuckle that has a plurality of ribs defining external weight reduction pockets. This allows the knuckle to have a weight in the range of 75 lbs to 90 lbs.

The invention also includes a method for forming the knuckle prototype. This method includes forming a destructible prototype. The prototype includes the pulling face. This prototype is then coated with a semi-permanent coating. This coating hardens and forms a temporary shell. The destructible prototype is then destroyed after one use.

Another advantage of the invention is the ability to use a knuckle attached to an “E-type” coupler head. The invention allows the knuckle to be attached to an “E-type” coupler without interlocking features.

Schwab coupler

Until recently, the only fully automatic train coupling in Europe was the Scharfenberg. Karl Scharfenberg received a patent in 1907 for his patented design, and his design was later adopted as the standard for high speed trains. Today, Scharfenberg couplers are used by mass transit systems in Europe and around the world, including the Toronto subway and Montreal Metro.

Today, there are several other fully automatic coupler designs in the market. These include the Tomlinson and BSI couplings, as well as the Wedgelock and Dellner couplings. Many of these designs have been manufactured by various companies, including WABCO and Ohio Brass.

The Digital Automatic Coupling for Europe (DAC4EU) project is a collaborative effort between six companies from four countries. These companies include German Rail, SBB Cargo, Ermewa, and GATX Rail Europe. They are conducting a series of tests on a variety of automatic couplers. The tests are conducted in slush, ice, and extreme humidity. The DAC4EU test campaign is the first step in developing a European-wide standard for automatic couplers for freight trains.

Tests have been successful. The couplers are able to transfer energy between the vehicles and have the ability to transfer data between wagons. Tests are performed at different speed ranges and track radii.

The Scharfenberg coupler is a fully automatic coupler designed by Karl Scharfenberg in Konigsberg, Germany. It combines several functions, including multi-function, multi-speed, and multi-function. It automatically makes pneumatic connections. It was approved as a standard for high speed trains in 2002.

The European DAC Delivery Programme has chosen the Scharfenberg latch type design as the standard coupler head for the European Digital Automatic Coupling standard. The decision was made after a transparent process. It will provide a standard for the European rail industry, ensuring interoperability.

Tomlinson coupler

Originally developed in 1926 for mass transit applications, the Tomlinson train coupler is now the most common fully automatic heavy rail coupling in North America. Developed by the Ohio Brass Company, Tomlinson couplers have been adopted by Boston Elevated Railway, Los Angeles Metro Rail, Washington Metro, SEPTA Broad Street Subway, Chicago Metro, New York City Subway, and many other transportation agencies.

The coupler works by engaging the coupler head with a larger rectangular frame. This frame is often yieldingly supported from the car body. This frame may contain air line connections, and is secured to the car body by bolts. The coupler head is then attached to the rail head through a draw gear behind the hooks.

An improved coupler was developed that holds the train lines coupled when the car couplers are still coupled. When the car couplers are disconnected, the coupler heads move to a predetermined distance from each other. The distance between the coupler heads can be adjusted closer or farther away depending on the size of the train. When the car couplers are still coupled, the improved coupler automatically makes air brake and electrical connections.

The coupler is usually fitted with two chains. A central buffer is used to prevent buffer-locking, which occurs when the train lines move too closely together. Some couples do not have a draw gear. These couples are sometimes referred to as “simplified” couplers.

The couplers are available in a variety of styles. For example, the Ohio Brass Company manufactured couplers in several sizes, and offered electrical connection options. The company also supplied spare parts for its couplers.

The couplers were used on the Pacific Electric “Hollywood” (600-759 class) and PERy 1942 5000 class double end PCC cars. Other applications of the Tomlinson coupler included the San Francisco Bay Key System, Washington Metro, and the PATCO Speedline.


Unlike many other train coupling systems, the Albert-Coupler is a single piece design. The coupler is made up of two squared metal hooks that engage in a larger rectangular frame. The hooks are secured in place by springs.

The coupler also transmits braking forces and slack action. This allows a locomotive to overcome the stationary rolling resistance of the train. It also helps lower powered locomotives to move through curves. In addition, the coupler also provides a spring-loaded buffer that prevents carriages from banging into each other.

The first versions of this coupler were developed in Germany in the late 19th century. They were used in early model trains, and required cars to be pointing in the same direction. Eventually, most cities replaced the couplers with automatic versions.

The refined version of this coupling is still used in Europe and South America. The version of this coupling that is used on some European narrow gauge lines is a simplified design, with only one central buffer and two chains.

Several different types of couplings are used throughout the world. Some are used exclusively on narrow gauge railways, while others are used on both narrow and standard gauge railways. Some are referred to as fully automatic. Others are referred to as working hook and chain couplings.

The most common coupler is the AAR coupler, also known as the “Janney coupler”. This type of coupler is used on most north American railroads, and is a standard on many railways around the world.

The Henricot coupler is another variation on the Janney coupler. This coupling was developed by Belgian engineer Emile Henricot of Court-Saint-Etienne. It is used on certain EMUs of the National Railway Company of Belgium.

Janney coupler

During the mid-19th century, coupling railroad cars was a dangerous task, requiring workers to stand between two cars to insert a pin. Accidents were common, and many people lost limbs or fingers during the process.

Eventually, the Federal Safety Appliance Act passed, which required all railroads to install knuckle couplers. Knuckle couplers essentially replaced the link-and-pin system, which required workers to insert pins manually between cars.

Knuckle couplers were initially manufactured by a variety of manufacturers. Most of these were proprietary, with a wide variety of internal components. In the 1880s and 1890s, MCB standard couplers were adopted. These couplers standardized external contours and interchangeable parts, and were compatible with Janney couplers.

In 1932, Janney coupler manufacturers standardized the Type E contour, which is still used today. The Type E coupler has interchangeable parts, and is designed to perform the connecting and shock absorbing functions of a traditional coupler.

Another type of coupler was introduced by Belgian engineer Émile Henricot of Court-Saint-Etienne. Henricot’s coupler is used on certain Belgian State Railways. It is an offset version of the Janney coupler, with a horizontal centerline above the coupler shaft.

After the 1890s, a variety of different models were made, some with proprietary internal components. They were also compatible with MCB standard couplers, but not as easy to use as Janney couplers.

In the late 19th century, the Miller Platform replaced the link-and-pin in passenger cars. A new coupler called Miller Hook was also introduced.

A few years later, a European proposal coupler was developed, with automatic air, control, and power connections. It also has a revolving hook that automatically interlocks with the mate.