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This photo-sequence shows the Dingham Autocoupler in action. The photos actually show the 4mm coupler but the 7mm version works in exactly the same way.

A. Each vehicle has a hook with a loop at one end and a hook with a latch at the other. Here, the left hand vehicle has the loop and the right hand vehicle the latch.

B. As the vehicles are shunted together, the loop slides up the face of the opposite hook, passes under the latch and drops into the slot in the hook. The two vehicles are now coupled.

C. To uncouple, the vehicles are buffered-up over an electromagnet positioned beneath the baseboards with the top of its pole piece at sleeper height. The magnet pole piece can be seen just above the near buffer of the right hand vehicle.

D. The electromagnet is now energised and attracts the iron dropper under the loop, causing the loop to lift. As it lifts, it flips the latch upwards and, once it has passed, the latch drops back to rest on the tip of the hook.

E. The current to the electromagnet can now be switched off, whereupon the loop drops onto the top of the latch and so is prevented from falling into the slot in the hook and recoupling.

F. The uncoupled vehicle can be propelled to any position and left there just by withdrawing the vehicle it was coupled to.

Note that there is no need for the vehicles to be stationary to uncouple. If a string of wagons is propelled over an uncoupling magnet any or all of the wagons can be uncoupled by energising the magnet as the required coupler passes over it. The sequence pictured in photos C, D and E will take place “on the fly”. Despite the couplers being "handed", uncoupling will take place when the train is propelled in either direction over an energised magnet.

When bringing a passenger train into a terminus station, the locomotive can be released to run round in a most realistic manner. The train is stopped with the rear loco buffers over an appropriately placed uncoupling magnet. The loco is then reversed about 2-3mm, to buffer up to the train – an entirely prototypical movement that is required to allow the screw coupling to be unhooked. If the electromagnet is now briefly energised, latched uncoupling will occur and the loco can be drawn away from the train at any time.


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