Using dummy Sergent couplers – good idea?

I plan to use Sergent couplers on the layout. Much has been written about how Sergents are hard to use because of coupling issues, etc. Personally, I haven’t experienced those same issues, but I did decide to order some of the dummy couplers made by Frank Glatzl to basically cut the odds of problem coupling in half. The dummy couplers look very close to the Sergents and are considerably less expensive than the regular couplers – $.41 per coupler versus $1.16.

I plan to install one dummy and one regular coupler on each car, and as long as they face the same direction all should be good. Of course, I’ll need to use regular couplers on the front and back of each locomotive.

Once I paint the dummies to look rusty they should be good to go!

In light of Craig’s good comment below, I thought I would include a photo of the Panef Lub-a Spray graphite that I use to keep the ball bearing from freezing and locking up the knuckle.

Categories: Operations


  1. I see this more as a problem than a solution. Have you tried switching with a half and half mix? And how are you going to ensure that the dummy coupler is always facing a working coupler? All “B” ends get dummies and all “A” ends get working ones?

    To me I think you would have more problems doing it this way. What if you can’t open the knuckle on the working one? You have no option of opening the knuckle on the other end. I’ve never tried these couplers, but from what I’ve read they work exactly like the prototype, in other words sometimes they don’t couple. Food for thought.


    • Thanks for the feedback, Craig.

      You make a good point. I was interested in seeing how realistic the dummy couplers were, so I was going to order a pack anyway. They’re plenty realistic and thus usable, so I may keep them for certain applications. But I’ll probably go with all regular Sergent’s when I get operating.

      I’ve eliminated virtually all the knuckles from not opening by simply filling the ball bearing cavity with Panef Lub-a Spray powdered graphite. The graphite comes out in various consistencies from the tube, but the finest powder is what I believe stays in the cavity and keeps the bearing free. It works incredibly well. That’s one reason why I thought using the dummy couplers could be a viable option to save on both money and eliminating a mechanical part.

      My layout is point-to-point, so having one side regular and the other dummy would work. The locomotives would obviously need regular couplers on both sides for runarounds, etc.

  2. Scott,

    I too use Sergent couplers, and there was a time in the early days of experimentation that I thought I wouldn’t go through with the conversion, but I, like you, have found ways to mitigate the tendencies to not open. Once they all work correctly, they work quite well, and soon as your over the less-than-prototypical operational conveniences we become accustomed too with Kadee’s, then you should be quite happy, you millage may vary however. I’m just glad to see others using the Sergent’s, I think their spectacular and under utilized by the prototypers in our midst.

    However, I very much found interest in your use of the dummy couplers, I’ll have to grab some of those. Since my passenger service will not be switched, and is just run through, as to get in the way of revenue work being done, I will not need to couple in the consist. I’ll use standard Sergent’s on the locomotive, so I can run around, as you are suggesting, and as my prototype did for the return trip. But I expect to be happier with the dummy couplers as I can insure reliable through-train performance. Also, as I intend to automate this train with JMRI Warrents, any effort to improve it’s reliability and not require human attention is desirable. This seems much better than the drawbars I was thinking of, but would have had to hide. I remember Accurail used to have some dummy couplers, and was originally thinking of trying to find a small batch of those. But I hadn’t paid attention to Sergent having these dummies. Thanks much for drawing attention to em.

    Enjoying following your efforts, keep up the the good work, this will surely be an enjoyable layout to operate.

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