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Kadee 1906 Couplers on an Aristo-Craft Evans Boxcar

This article details a method of installing Kadee 1906 (Gauge 1) couplers on an Aristo-Craft Evans boxcar. A minimum of five foot radius curves and switches are recommended for these cars with body mounted Kadee couplers.


Place the car upside down on a soft surface such a foam-lined cradle. Remove the screw from the bottom of the shank of each of the Aristo-Craft coupler. Place the screws and couplers in a small Ziploc bag and store them in the boxcar packaging.


Remove the screw and washer from the center of each of the truck bolsters. Remove the trucks and fasten the washers and screws back on the frame so they do not get lost.

A Kadee 1906 coupler requires a 1/4 inch thick shim in order to sit at the proper height above the rails on this car. The shim is 1 inch wide by 2 inches long, and will be mounted in the area outlined in yellow.


Score and snap a strip 2 inches wide by 7 7/16ths inches long from a 1/16th inch thick styrene sheet. Score a line down the center of the strip. Using a small square, score lines across the strip: 2 inches, 4 inches and 6 inches from one end. Lightly sand the strip on both sides to remove the ridges from the edges, ends, and lines. Snap the strip into 8 pieces.


Each shim is made by gluing together three 2 inch pieces on the bottom and one 1 7/16th inch piece on top. The edges and thicker end of all four pieces in each shim should be flush with each other. I have tried a number of glues, but found Testors plastic cement was the easiest to use. Clamp the two shims in a vice to ensure the pieces in each bond flat together.


When the glue has cured, sand the edges and ends of the shims flat. A North West Short Line, True Sander is a good tool for this as it also squares the edges and ends. Clean the styrene dust from the shims.

Cover the 1 7/16ths inch long piece on the top of each shim with a strip of thin double–sided carpet tape. Trim the edges and end of the tape flush with the top piece. Spray paint the shims with Krylon Satin Black.


When the paint has cured, apply a strip of thin double-sided carpet tape to the top of each coupler box cover from the lip to the back. Trim the tape flush with the edges and back of the cover. Remove the masking from the top of tape and fasten the covers to the bottom of the shims. The lip should face up and be flush with the front end of the shim. Snap the coupler boxes on the covers.

Self-tapping screws like those supplied by Kadee are used to fasten the coupler to the shim and frame. The screws must be 1/2 inch long for the front and 3/4 inch long for the rear. Using the front and rear holes on the center line of the coupler boxes as a guide, drill two holes through each shim with a 3/32nd inch bit. After removing the coupler boxes, the shims should look like the photo.


Remove the masking from the carpet tape on top of the shim. Using the slots in the brakeman’s platform to ensure the shim is properly centered on the car, pop the front end of the shim in place behind the car lip. Push the back of the shim down firmly to seat it snugly against the car frame bolster.


Assemble the coupler on the frame. Using the rear hole in the coupler box as a guide; drill through the frame floor with the 3/32nd inch bit. Place the 3/4 inch screw in the rear hole of the coupler. While firmly holding the shim and coupler, tap it into the shim and frame until it is snug against the coupler box. Test to ensure the coupler returns freely to its center position.


Place the 1/2 inch screw in the front hole of the coupler. While firmly holding the shim and coupler, tap it into the shim until it is snug against the coupler box. Test to ensure the coupler returns freely to its center position.

Using the washers and screws in the frame, mount the trucks with the drawbars facing inward.


Use the proper Kadee coupler gauge on a straight and level piece of track to test the couplers are set to the proper height. If the couplers are too high, check to ensure all the wheels are on the track. If the car is too low, take your hand of the roof.


You have successfully installed a pair of Kadee couplers on your Aristo-Craft Evans boxcar. Enjoy!

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