My pet hate at the moment is locos and carriages that I purchase (all good reputable brands) that have droopy couplers. I have recently yet again experienced this.  This time with a Dapol Class 68 Avenger and also the  new Oxford Rail Mk3a pasenger carriages.

The Dapol Class 68 is a truly wonderful loco. The build quality, attention to detail of the finish and presentation, and performance is outstanding. It is probably currently one of my favourite locos in my collection.  So why does it have such poorly designed and droopy couplers?  It uses a standard  NEM coupler pocket, and whilst I do usually swap most UK and EU style couplers over to Kadee,  the original UK style couplers that came with the loco were so bad and drooped so much that that the bottom section (the uncoupler section) hit the rail cross over sections of turn outs. That is a really poor show, on otherwise such a fine loco.

Swapping over to Kadee couplers does allow one to easily check the height accuracy of the  NEM pocket using the standard Kadee height gauge.  My recent purchase of Oxford Rail Mk3a coaches showed similar issues.   In both Dapol and Oxford Rail it looks like whilst the original design may have been correct and accurate,  manufacturing or design tolerances allow the couplers to droop from where they were intended, under gravity.  Duh!

So.... I have overcome the deficiencies in both the loco and the carriages by making up shims and spacers that brings the couplers back within the correct NEM heights.  So all is good,  but really shouldn't have been necessary if Dapol and Oxford Rail had given it more thought.  I don't seem to have the same issues with Roco/Fleischmann  or any of the USA brands.  

I am the only one that has had these problems, or am I just being too picky...?

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Fully agree Jon, we should be able to expect manufacturers in this day and age of CAD designs, CNC manufacturing techniques and the latest in digital assisted machinery to expect the basics to be right.  What is the point in reading magazine articles that extol the virtues of the latest manufacturer's offerings as regards detail, finish, technical wizardry etc. when the dam couplings don't line up?

The Hornby Thompson L1 is a well known model that is superb in its detail.  The trouble is the front bogie has a fancy moving pivot joint such that when it comes off a curve it tends to remain at an angle to the track.  The next set of points it goes through it derails. I had to make a modification to mine to prevent it from doing so.  Why wasn't this identified and corrected before it ever went on sale?  Why can we purchase a coach for over 50 pounds that will not reliably couple and uncouple with the next coach because the couplings are at different heights?!

I suspect nowadays that processes are pushed so hard to get things out of the door so they can be seen to be ahead of the game that corners are cut that simply should not be.  Most of these corners seem to be in the area of quality control.  If you take a complaint to a manufacturer the best you can hope for is that they will replace the faulty item.  But that will not resolve the underlying issue so eventually you sort it out yourself.

You are right, for the money we pay nowadays for an item of rolling stock I think we have the right to expect it to perform perfectly as was intended.  
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Not so much quality control but "design brief" problems.  In the end its all down to a poor specification being set by the brand commissioning the product.

Perhaps they miss it because Reviewers and modellers focus so much on prototyple accuracy that the brand managers forget that they have other responsibilities? Either way, it is not OK that they totally miss the most important things for the average user - such as consistent / accurate wheel spacing vs track standards, coupler heights, installability for decoders, power pickup quality.

Inadequate overall company management (no operational structure to set company values) - resulting in poor product management skills are at the root of it... Because a competent manager or properly managed design process would simply need to specify a coupler height with a tolerance limit to get what is needed - then CHECK that it is as it should be before accepting the model for production.

regards, Ahjay
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Hugh Macnaughton
Bunkerbarge! You have come up with a so.ution for the Thomson L1 derailing problem! Please can you post what you did! It's driving me nuts!
Hugh Macnaughton 
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Hi Hugh, I don't want to hijack this thread so I've started another one for you to look at here, hope it helps:
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Thoroughly agree with all that is said here. An additional problem is that Hornby and Bachmann NEM coupler pockets are regularly at different heights. So, if you do use Kaydees you have the other problem, that they only make a raised head, and not a centred one or lowered one. All a bit of a pain. If there is such a thing as a NEM standard, then why don't they all use it. 

Same with accessory decoders. If they say they will switch solonoid points, why don't they? All very irritating. And we accept it. Why cant Richard's cronies make everything? At least it would work. 
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There is a NEM standard for coupler pockets

After the debacle with Bachmann Mk1's and a couple of their wagons, Bachmann seem to have come around to somewhere near standard.

Hornby always seem to be at or near, but can suffer from sticking self-centre/close coupling issues.

Dapol - not too bad.
Revolution TEAs - spot on
Accurascale PCAs - not played with them yet, but look good.

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Ron Solly Sol
And DOGA promotes this  for NEM  pockets
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PJ Knight
I've got to agree, when I was working in 4mm I ended up keeping the various manufactures apart, rakes of Hornby, Bachman & Dapol, Dapol being the worst in my view. 

With age and eye site, moved onto 7mm, even I can manage 3 link couplings!
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It is systematic of the household brands that the attention to detail is so much focused on accuracy of models to prototype ( which we have all shouted from the roof tops for) that there eye has gone away from couplings wheel profiles etc.
Dapol have issues with both as do Oxford rail , Hornby and Bachmann.
Is it not time that the model press picked up on this. Calls for a standard height of couplings,  size etc would be a step in the right direction. But I fear that whilst magazines continue to think that shelf , cake box challenge layouts are cool and the way to go, then nothing will change 
May be the modelling press are too close with the manufacturers . Maybe a new topic sorry 

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Bernard Newbury Bernard Newbbury
I have had this problem as well. I have now moved over to Kadee and put my wagons and coaches into rakes using Roco close coupler with a Kadee each end. The Roco used to drop and that had to be adjusted and was about 80% efficient. I am now fitting all the stock with a new coupling that is a 3D printed 3 link that fits directly in the NEM pocket.
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