Does anyone know if there is a ready to use conversion for 4mm Dapol stock that has the plug in couplings 15717680085087779991625029942943.jpg I am a little bit wary of my usual modification of stock by Dremel, razor saw and Stanley knife to fit Kadees. The stock I want to convert are some lovely 6 wheel milk tankers. They are pre weathered and I don't fancy risking the paint job. A barrier wagon isn't really an option.

Failing a ready to use option what's the best bodge.
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Ruffnut Thorston
A good bodge would be to glue a NEM pocket in place of the coupling mounting.

The Airfix GMR style mounting box comes apart pretty easily, then there is usually only the central pin to be cut away, to leave a flat surface.

Depending on the height of this flat surface, you may find that the NEM mounting blocks made by Parkside Dundas, now under the PECO label, may fit ok. These are the wedge shaped mountings, that the pockets clip into.

The lugs on the back of these Parkside mountings can be carved away, or a spacer can be used to move the effective height up or down.

Well, that's my plan for some Hornby, ex Airfix, etc. B Set coaches....

I've not actually done the deed myself, yet...
Best wishes,

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Good call I have just ordered some of the blocks off the bay
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The most useful tool in any Kadee installers armoury is a height gauge. #205 or #206

Since I started using one, coupler reliability has improved immeasurably.
DCCConcepts Tech/Customer support
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Ruffnut Thorston
The height gauge is a must...

One version is metal, and so must NOT be used on a live track. ⚡

The other is mainly plastic. So is safe for live tracks.

These gauges slot onto the rail heads. There is also incorporated a gauge for the height of the bottom of the trip pin.

Special pilers are available to adjust the curve in the trip pin, thus adjusting the height in relation to the rails.

There is also incorporated a guage for setting the height of the between the rails slab magnets for uncoupling.
Best wishes,

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I use 100's of those Parkside Dundas, now Parkside Peco PA34 mounting blocks. I convert some old Lima, Hornby, and Dapol
by sawing off any existing protrusions off the floor of a wagon to be converted. Then as Ruffnut says you can trim the two under
ridges as required, or build up slightly to get the right height. I set ALL my NEM pockets to the current Bachmann standard and this
will give you a consistent match, near enough the Kadee gauge height, but means easy snapping in and out should you want to
return to Narrow Tension-lock couplings.
No mention has been made regarding buying Bachmann couplings. There are two standards of length, 36-061 the short one is my
favourite, the other 36-030 ? has a longer stub as it comes out of the NEM pocket. These are sold in packets of 10 and come complete
with the NEM pockets.


If you glue on with the end of the NEM pocket somewhere over the thickness of the buffer beam you will have a slightly closed coupling than
the industry standard. You will find on many wagons the back of the PA34 mounting block is VERY close to the axle, but I've only ever had to
slightly sand the back on a couple of occasions and I think I've built about 150 wagons !!
Please note I didn't have the Bachmann long coupling number to hand when I started this message it's 03 something, may be 1, more likely 6.

If you look through my Wagons thread you will find pictures of 'conversions'

Geoff T.
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Had to rush out, but now had a chance to check the Bachmann couplings code and I was right first time, the product code
for the long couplings in NEM pockets, it is 36-030. Now why would you want complete couplings ? Well I've never had to buy
any loose NEM pockets, I don't even know if they are available loose. By getting complete I have all the pockets to match the
number of couplings I require. Yes I do have a few spares when I've changed a wagon to Kadees, but they seem to get used up
on other conversions.

I'm certainly NOT 100% Kadee, the majority of my stock is very free running and retains Bachmann narrow tension-lock couplings
with a sliver of steel from a cut down No.56 staple stuck along the top of the hook. These I activate manually from my shunter's
pole with a magnet buried in the end. I may not be able to loose shunt, but I can uncouple anywhere at any time as required. I might
even link into a video I have on Youtube.

In the right circumstances Kadees are ideal, by far the best way and not even using a shunter's pole !! For coach run-around great
and here you can use the top mounted between rails magnet and make it out as a barrow crossing. Once you decide to completely hide
the magnet out of sight either under, or mounted into the board you'll need to make subtle adjustments, even using Neomagnets as
opposed to the Kadee product. Persevere and you will be rewarded with a great system.

Geoff T.
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Ruffnut Thorston
Loose NEM pockets are available.

There are a couple of listings on eBay for Hornby and Bachmann pockets.

One source being Peters Spares.

Another being AC Models.

When I swap out the NEM tension lock couplings on a model, I put the couplings in a small zip lock bag, and tape it to the inside packing of the box, or otherwise stash the bag in the package!

Then if I want to swap back, the couplings are to hand.

A lot of the kit built it other conversions also have a pair of NEM tension lock couplings in a bag in with them...

Some RTR models have the NEM pockets at the wrong height, with stepped tension lock couplings.

There are no RTR stepped Kadee type couplings, so I have had to modify the coupling mountings.

I have also experimented with making stepped Kadee couplings using various parts....
Best wishes,

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You can get mid, low and high Kadees but they aren't the nem types they use draft boxes. Think they are the 140 series.
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Ruffnut Thorston
There are many types of non NEM Kadee couplings.

As you say, there are three main variations on the basic height, underset, centre set, and underset.

This is the relationship of the knuckle to the mounting bar. (Shank)

There are also various lengths of shank, and different draft gear mounting boxes...

Example from the instructions for the #30 series...

The NEM Kadees are only made in the one variety of set...but there are various lengths of shank available.

The height should be set correctly by the NEM pocket....but if the pocket is too high or low....

Not all NEM pockets are mounted on the model by the manufacturer at the correct-to-NEM-specification height above the rails!


Bachmann have certainly done this in the past....making special "stepped" small tension lock couplings to fit to these out of spec. NEM pockets.

These examples are steel mineral wagons. The NEM pocket is too high to put Kadees, or any other straight coupling, into the pockets, as they are then mounted too high.

The pocket is about 1mm too high as inseted into the moulded-on fitting.


I did try mounting the pocket upside down, and it does fit. It would need some packing between the pocket and the wagon floor, and, to prevent the pocket faling out, it would need glueing.

Another idea was to deepen the pocket "wedge" fitting on the wagon. This could be done, I was thinking of using the fitting part of a Parkside Dundas NEM mounting block....





In the end I found that cutting off the wedge part of the mounting on the wagon, leaving the part around the body fixing screw in place, would make space for the Parkside NEM Mounting Bracket to fit.

The two ribs on the Parkside Dundas bracket were trimmed flush with the base, and the small raised square on the wagon floor was shaved off.



The Parkside Dundas mounting was now a direct fit onto the wagon floor, and the mounting was now the correct height.

A Bachmann NEM pocket was fitted into the Parkside mounting, and a Kadee NEM coupling fitted. Depending on clearance of the "scale" coupling hook, No. 17 or No. 18 couplings are suitable for Radius 2 and above operation. Tested on a curve, the modified wagons mostly coupled easily on the curve as well.


Kadee no.s 17, 18, 19, & 20. NEM Couplers.



Top re-built mountings.

Bottom...original mountings.


As far as I know, Kadee NEM couplings all have the same mounting. There is a far wider selection of lengths and mounting heights in the other Kadee Coupling ranges...but these are not for NEM mountings, without modification...

If it was required to simply change to Kadees, then a No.5 or other Kadee coupling could be fitted, using a Kadee "Draft Gear Box" mounting.

I am fitting stock with NEM pockets, so that I can swap couplings as required....

Kadee use the coupler Shank as a base-line, so the NEM couplings are in fact "Underset Shank" as the shank is under the coupling head.

The no.5 is "Centerset Shank" as the shank is in line with the coupler head. (USA Spelling...)

So, "Overset Shank" couplings have the shank over the coupling head!

Unfortunately, these are the "Draft Gear Box" and other mountings, not NEM.

The Bachmann and Kadee NEM couplers are great, providing that the pocket is at the correct height.

The different lengths of the Kadee versions can composite for recessed or proud pockets, and / or the length of any buffers...

(USA stock doesn't have buffers....).

Using longer couplers also helps if using tight radius curves.

So far, I am finding No. 20 useful for 0-6-0 Tank Locos, No. 18 for most 4-wheel wagons, No.19 for SR CCT, PMV, and Van B, and LMS CCT (Long Wheel Base vans).

Some of the modified Bachmann 16 Ton Mineral Wagons have been OK with No.17 Couplers. (The pocket is slightly further outboard with the modifications...)

Some wagons with protuding scale hooks, and / or vacuum pipes can need the next size up to allow for proper coupler clearance and operation.

All the above tested on Radius 2 set-track curves, and an "S" Bend....I am working on allowing buffers to JUST touch on the curve, as long as the couplers also engage with each other on the curve....

The need for a stepped NEM version would only be to cope with wrongly positioned NEM pockets....

So, yes, maybe Bachmann, and any other maker who has supplied models with "wonky" pockets should make a stepped Kadee type coupling.

Well, the mineral wagons could certainly have had the pocket at the correct height....

It is only about the factory mounting would still have cleared the axle, and not interfered with anything....the later and other stock with pockets at the correct height do not foul anything we have.....

As it is, the Bachmann Mk 1 coaches we have also have the mounting set too high.

As these are "close-coupling cam" fitted, it will take a little more thinking about.

Again....there is nothing I can see in the design that makes the pocket position neccessary....

I belive more recent versions are fixed at the right height?

We also have a Bachmann 5-Plank wagon that has the higher mounting.....same as the 16 Ton Minerals...

I have completed re-positioning the too high pockets on a Bachmann GWR Prairie Tank loco...





Kadee metal height not use on live tracks, such as DCC!

The pockets were trimmed off (except the top of the box on the front Pony Truck...).

A modified pocket (trimmed Dapol type) was glued in place, with plastic strip shims to fix all together...

The fixing tab fits under the axle, through a slot made in the front of the axle recess.... is only a matter of around 1mm!

The front pony truck was converted in a similar way, except that I left the top of the original NEM pocket in place. (I was hoping to re-use the original pockets, but found a better way...)

The replacement Dapol NEM pocket was glued to the bottom of the original pocket top, with a thin plastic card shim between them.

More thin plastic sections were used to brace the sides of the replacement pocket to the pony truck frame...

The BM BR Mk1 coach, and the related Hatchette Mk 1 coaches, that use a stepped coupling are at present being converted using the Keen Systems replacement drawbars. (Cream resin parts...)


Blacked with a black permanent marker pen....


These put the coupler pocket at the NEM correct height....and reduce the distance between coaches as well!

The draw bar is a one for one direct replacement for that fitted to Bachman BR Mk I Standard and Pullman carriages.  Buck eye couplers are supplied.

    The replacement draw bar puts the coupling pocket at the correct position for NEM standards, which allows for the use of any NEM coupler.

    The smooth movement allows the carriages to pass easily through Hornby radius two reverse curves.

With Kadee No.20 couplers fitted, the coaches will go around Radius 2 reverse curves, and also work with a Hornby Ex LMS CCT, and a Hornby Ex SR Van C Passenger Brake Luggage Van (BY).

Both of these are Long Wheelbase 4-wheelers, and use Kadee No. 19 NEM couplers without modification.

Nem mountings...

Parkside Dundas sell mounting blocks with the"wedge" shaped mounting that will take a Bachmann (reccommended) or Hornby (Sometimes a small shim of plastic card behind the pocket wedge mounting is useful to tighten things up a bit...) NEM pocket with the corresponding wedge mounting.

Dapol NEM couplings are pretty unique, but the bulk pack of NEM couplings is usefull for pockets to glue or screw in place....

Some photos here....

Best wishes,

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Ruffnut Thorston
To clarify Kadee Couplings a little....As I am in the process of installing Nem pockets and Kadee couplers, I have been doing some research....

There are, it seems, seperate ranges of Kadee couplers. The "Standard Head" range (Plastic and metal heads, Standard and "Whisker" springing), "Scale Head" range (Metal heads. Standard and "Whisker" springing), , and "Shelf Range" (Metal heads, "SE" and "SF" ranges with "Whisker" springing.) The "Shelf" range is designed to help minimise accidental uncoupling, and has larger heads it seems...

The "Standard Head" range includes NEM 362 Couplers #17 short, 18 Medium, 19 Long, 20 Extra Long. All to the same Heght (Overset) Plastic heads (metal knuckle flap).

There are also many others including #5 "Old Reliable" (Centre Set.) which are designed to use mounting boxes, either manufacturer's fittings (Mainly on US stock...) or "Draft Gear Boxes" supplied by Kadee.

Overset Shank in Kadee parlance. The head is mounted under the shank. Lowers Knuckle Height in respect of the mounting.

Centerset Shank in Kadee parlance. The head is mounted in line with the shank.

Underset Shank in Kadee parlance. The head is mounted over the shank. Raises Knuckle Height in respect of the mounting.

There are some couplers in the No. 30 range (EG 31 and 34) that use a draft gear box that can be inverted, giving more variation in mounting height.

Kadee Website...Couplers pages

Uncouplers Pages...

Kadee Homepage...

 There are some dedicated tools available to assist in installing Kadee couplers and uncouplers.

For adjusting couplers and uncouplers the Kadee Multi-purpose Height Gauge is has gauges for the correct height of the coupler, correct height of the trip pin, and a gauge to help set between the rails uncoupling magnets at the correct height.

There are two versions. The metal one #205 will short out the track, as it is made from metal, so should only be used on non-powered track!

The insulated version, #206 has the base made from plastic, and so is safe on live two-rail tracks...


#205 and #206 Instructions PDF...

Trip pin pliers are a useful tool for adjusting the trip pins.. #237


Instructions PDF

There is also a jig to help in correct glueing-in place of the between the rails uncouplers...#334

Instructions PDF

There are "handouts" (some are very useful!) and instruction downloads on the Kadee website...worth a look...


A selection of NEM Kadees is required to suit the various models....Experimenting with various items of rolling stock with a "S" Bend of your ruling minimum Radius helps to settle on which type to use.

A crossover of your minimum radius points is also useful....

In general, the back of the coupling jaws should be in line with the buffer faces....testing is the best way though...



Some Kadee Coupler Info...

Main USA Site...

NEM 362 Couplers.



#17 NEM-362 Short Coupler - 7.11 mm (9/32") (w/o Draft Gear Boxes)

#18 NEM-362 Medium Coupler - 8.63 mm (11/32") (w/o Draft Gear Boxes)

#19 NEM-362 Long Coupler - 10.76 mm (27/64") (w/o Draft Gear Boxes)

#20 NEM-362 Extra Long Coupler - 11.68 mm (29/64") (w/o Draft Gear Boxes)

Hattons Kadee page....other sellers are also available!

Best wishes,

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Wow Ruffnut, I have never tried Kadees and never realised how much there was to know about the subject.  This is certainly quite an amazing couple of posts with a wealth of information that would be invaluable to anyone thinking of going down the Kadee route.

Thanks for taking the time to put it together.
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Ruffnut Thorston

The information has mainly been copied from my posts on other places, hence the reference to Parkside Dundas, which should really be updated to PECO Parkside I suppose! 😉😁🙋
Best wishes,

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