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The Scharfenberg operating principle

Basically Quite Simple.

The Scharfenberg Coupler. An Operating Principle Prevails.

There are principles that cannot be surpassed. The Scharfenberg coupler developed over 100 years ago still provides fast and easy coupling and uncoupling today. Thanks to its modular construction and specific enhancements, it meets the most demanding requirements. It is safe and reliable. To date, more than 500,000 Scharfenberg couplers have been delivered. A straightforward operating principle has prevailed. Around the world.


Voith GmbH & Co. KGaA
Gottfried-Linke-Straße 205
38239 Salzgitter, Germany

Tel. +49 5341 21-02

The Scharfenberg Coupling Principle – Balancing of Forces

At the center of each automatic Scharfenberg coupler is the coupler lock. It consists of a rotating hooked plate, a coupling link and tension springs. During coupling, the coupling link of one coupler engages the hooked plate of the mating coupling. This balances the forces. A quite simple operating principle that has proven itself even in extreme situations. It offers maximum safety with minimal wear.


The cone and funnel shape design of the coupler front plates establishes a rigid and slack-free connection, thus reducing coupler play to a minimum. Combined with coupler head extensions and a guiding horn, this provides the couplers with a maximum possible gathering range. This way, automatic coupling is possible even under horizontal, vertical or angular offset, as for example in curves or on hilltops.

Ready for Coupling

The couplers have not yet been pushed together. The coupling links of the locks are located at the front of the conical elements. Because of the geometry, the hooked plates rotate against the force of the tension springs during coupling until the coupling links slip into the indentations on the hooked plates. The lock is then rotated back by the tension springs and remains securely in the coupled position.

Coupled Position

The couplers have been pushed together. The coupling links are locked in the indentations on the hooked plates. The balanced parallelogram of forces creates a sate and reliable connection that is subject to little wear. A high level of comfort is assured.


The hooked plates in the couplers are rotated against the force of the tension springs. The coupling links slip out of the indentations on the hooked plates. The couplers can now be separated without the need for a significant amount of force. The special design of the locks allows uncoupling even when the cars are in an awkward position. For instance, in curves, on hills or when the cars are under traction. For maximum safety, re-coupling is not possible unless the cars have moved apart.

Modular and Individually Configurable - the Basic Scharfenberg Principle

  • Automatic coupling and uncoupling – safe and reliable
  • Simultaneous coupling of mechanical, pneumatic and electrical components
  • Low wear and minimal maintenance
  • Jerk-free starting thanks to spring-loaded elements
  • Safety even during impact thanks to energy-absorbing components, adaptable to the application

The modules of the Scharfenberg coupler – whether for the head or the linkage – are available in different designs. Combining them yields a coupler that is perfect for the particular application.