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Ffestiniog Couplings

posted 2 Mar 2010, 09:45 by John St James
Added by JSJ and written by Tony Willmore of Rhos Helyg Locomotive Works in answer to a query about Ffestiniog couplings. Reproduced from an email on NGgarden Yahoo group with kind permission of the author.

Ah, the vagaries of Festiniog couplings. They work to the old adage that "there is nothing like standardisation, and what we have is nothing like standardisation".

There are five types in regular use:
1) Chopper
2) Centre buffer with underslung hook
3) Wagon "bumper" also with underslung hook
4) Screwed shackle as per standard gauge
5) RAF

In no particular order...

Type 4 is only used for coupling bug boxes together when they are intended to run as a set and not be split up again for a while, i.e. "semi-permanently coupled", whatever that means.

Type 5 is only used for works train vehicles, and consists of a vertical pin in each vehicle held together by a steel loop. Moel Hebog and Harlech Castle are fitted with RAF couplings.

Types 2 and 3 are the same, except that most (not all) of the wagons do not get the luxury of a sprung buffer to protect them. They are coupled together by placing the hook from one vehicle onto the loop of the other. Palmerston has centre buffer couplings.

Type 1 are used on most passenger vehicles and most (but not all) locomotives. Most (but not all) chopper couplings have a pair of holes across the hollow body underneath the chopper pivot. Inserting a locking pin (known as a "French Pin" for some reason) through these holes allows a type 2 or 3 coupling to be attached to a chopper.

Various adaptors exist that allow coupling of other types together, but these are not in every-day use.

All vehicles used on the present-day Welsh Highland must be fitted with chopper couplings, with no exceptions unless somebody decides otherwise.

It is my understanding that the pre-war WHR chopper couplings were not 100% compatible with FR choppers, but I am happy to be corrected on that.


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