Sunday, May 29, 2011

Uncoupling tool for hook-and-loop couplers

Necessity is "still" the mother of invention, I suppose. Knowing that our first full operating session was only a day away, I thought about the past year of struggling to uncouple those time-honored hook and loop couplers that adorn my equipment. I prefer having hooks on both ends of each car, primarily to strengthen the connection and prevent break-aways (again from experience). But uncoupling them manually can be a bear, without ripping both cars off the track in frustration. I also haven't been impressed with various track-based uncoupling gizmos that I've encountered (for my purposes, anyway). So, my first thought was that I needed something long and flat, to push down between the "loops," thereby releasing both hooks simultaneously. My first thought nearly solved the problem: Kitchen knives... long and flat.... but too expensive to bring outdoors. Plastic knives! A quick rummaging through a kitchen drawer revealed a pack of them. Only one test was necessary, as it worked perfectly. All crew members on Saturday were provided with uncoupling tools, one of which is seeing action in the accompanying photo. Perhaps somebody thought of this decades ago, but I'm still strutting around for finding a cheap, household solution. One crew member did notice a vital flaw on Saturday, however. He cautioned that because we were using knives as uncouplers, we could only use them once on each pair of cars!

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