MT Couplers for Japanese trains

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When you want to achieve prototypical operation and better looks of your Japanese models, you can install Micro-Trainscouplers on your locomotives, passenger and freight cars. The Micro-Trains couplers (further MT) offer you hands-free uncoupling, due to a permanent magnet you can hide under the track. MT couplers are actually meant for US-prototype modellers, and are a miniature version of the 'buckeye' style coupler that is used in the USA and Japan (and many other countries).

Operation of MT couplers is simple, stop the the train with the couplers you want to uncouple over the magnet, wait until they open and push the wagon(s) into the desired position. Coupling is even easier, just run the couplers together so that the couplers engage. Coupling is normally very smooth, unlike the rapido style couplers mounted normally on N-scale trains.

On this page I will describe some MT conversions of Japanese-outline railway models, with emphasis on the possible pitfalls. This page is also meant as a supplement to the Micro-Trains Coupler Conversion Guide. (I own the latest release, it's a great source of information!)

For multiple-unit trains and rakes of coaches, the Tomix 'TN' couplers are almost ideal. TN couplers provide close coupling and a prototypicla look, but lack magnetic-action uncoupling. I've wrtten a seperate page on TN couplers.

What you need

To convert a model to MT couplers you need a few modelling tools:

-    A set of needle files, filing is often needed, so files are a real 'must'.
-    A set of jeweller's screwdrivers or other small screwdrivers. If your model shop does not stock them, check out an electronics component shop.
-    Tweezers in several varieties, including self-closing tweezers for holding the tiny parts used by MT
-    A pin vise, for holding drill and tap bits.
-    The coupler height gauge and the trip pin height gauge, as supplied by MT in their starter sets.
-    Tweezernose pliers, again for holding small parts
-    Coupler assembly jig, supplied by Micro-Trains in their starter sets.
-    Very important: patience and a relaxed mood.
-    A light workplace, with a light coloured surface to work on, I use an old bedsheet.
-    A flush-cutter, I use a Xuron flush-cutter ( Xuron 410T ). Xuron has a wide range of quality tools, very suitable for modellers.
-    An X-acto or similar #1 or #2 handle with fresh, sharp blades.
-    The tap and drill bits supplied in the MT starter set.
-    In some cases you need adhesive, this can be a one-component contact adhesive (eg. Walthers 'Goo', Bison-Tix etc.) or styrene cement as used for assembling   styrene kits. I normally use Revell 'Contacta', the one in the 'spout'. The MT instructions tell you which adhesive is needed.
-    Most body-mount couplers must be heat-sealed before mounting them on your trains. Use a soldering iron as per the MT instructions. Please be careful when heat-sealing, you can easily damage the coupler pocket and spoil all your work. Newer versions simply click together, see the package for details.

A Micro-Trains starter set is recommended, it includes the special tools you need anyway and a few couplers to give you a head start.

Disclaimer: These pages provide information to convert certain models from the coupling system fitted by the respective manufacturers to the much famed MT system. The author of this pages does not claim to be complete or correct, although the information provided is written with the greatest care. Please note that all modifications to models are done at your own risk. Neither the author of these pages, the respective model manufacturers nor Micro-Trains Line can be held responsible for success or failure of your efforts. You are the only one to blame if things go wrong!


I sorted out the conversion information per manufacturer:




Green Max

Micro Ace

Recent developments

Recently, railway model manufacturer Atlas have announced a competing coupler that is MT-compatible. It is made under license of Accurailand based on the principles of the Accurail H0-scale couplers. All new Atlas N-scale models will be fitted with these couplers. The couplers will also be available seperately in 3 versions: two styles of bogies with the new couplers already fitted and a body-mounting coupler that can be used instead of the MT #1015. At the moment no further information is availaible, except for the information found on the Atlas website. The first reports in the modelling press are awaited.

Latest news: Kato will follow Atlas and make their own MT-style coupler. Kato's magnetic-action coupler is now mounted on their new Budd RDC and the new caboose, both models are aimed at the US market. I collected some information and wrote this Kato coupler page.

An Atlas bogie, fitted with the new Accumate N-scale coupler

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