1870's locomotives had long wood pilots. Knuckle couplers cannot be added without destroying the beauty and elegance of the pilots. I made a link to use with knuckle couplers but it was ugly. My system retains the long elegant pilots.
A pilot on an IHC old time 4-4-0. The dummy plastic link will be replaced with an operating one.
Remove the dummy link and smooth the surface on the pilot front. Retain a small piece of the dummy link at the bottom for the new link. It will rest on that piece.
Use a #55 drill (.052 dia) to make a hole at the bottom of where the dummy link mount was on the pilot. Elongate the hole vertically.
Using .047 diameter brass rod make a link about as long as the photo.
Make a 90 degree bend about an 1/8 in from the end. Insert it in the hole by having the link vertical, long end toward the stack, and rolling it until it is in the pilot
Anneal the end of the rod by heating it red hot with a torch and letting it cool. Flatten the rod about 3/16 inches from the end as shown.
Trim the link back until it is even with the bump on the pilot. Shown here untrimmed. Drill a .021 diameter hole (#75 Drill) 1/8 inch from the end.
Insert a .020 diameter brass wire thru the hole and solder the wire to the link.
Clean up the solder and trim the wire to 1/8 inch long.
Drill a .032 diameter hole thru the link and elongate the hole slightly.
The finished link on the loco. A better rest and a dummy pivot need to be fabricated on the pilot deck.
Make a bumper block and glue it underneath the pilot deck.
The link inserted into the hole of a drawbar. I have pushed 12 heavy cars with this setup.