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Author Topic: Rail clamps  (Read 5680 times)
SteveWard3928

DT&I Railroad lives on in memory


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« on: March 23, 2014, 01:11:15 AM »

What is the benefit of using a split jaw clamp compared to using another type of rail clamp?

« Last Edit: March 23, 2014, 01:15:16 AM by SteveWard3928 » Logged

S&S

Gonna get blamed for it...you might as well do it!!
Loco Bill Canelos

Model railroading since 1947


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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2014, 10:35:27 AM »

Hi Steve,

All the different types work fine for me.  There are many different types used for different purposes.  some can be clamped over a rail joiner others clamp directly to the rail. Some include a spacer that provides an electrical gap for block control. some have a tab for connecting a feeder wires. 

I have used almost every brand because I buy used at railroad meets, or get excess from friends.  I never had an electric continuity failure when correctly installed.

If I were still using electric track power, I would use clamps on every joint!

Bill
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Loco Bill,  Roundhouse Foreman
Colorado & Kansas Railway Missouri Western Railway
Semi Official Historian; Bachmann Large Scale
There are no dumb or stupid questions, just questions!
armorsmith


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« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2014, 11:54:12 AM »

Steve,
Being as you are posting on the Bachmann forum, I will make the assumption that the question is relative to the Bacmann brand of track. If you are referring to the stampes steel track that comes with every starter set, I don't think many of the track clamps work well as the track does not have a profile compatible with others clamps.
Bachmann's latest brass track offering on the other hand looks like it will work well with all the rail clamps. Of those I like the least are the SanVal Conductors.  They are manufactured from stainless steel with stainless steel screws. On the surface one would think the stainless steel would be better - only if you are going to install them ONE TIME ONLY.  The reason for this is the screws are tapped straight into the base plate. When the bottom surface of the screw head contacts the top surface of the rail head it does so on the outer edge of the head creating an eccentric loading on the screw.  This eccentric loading will cause the threads of the screw to gall.

This will make the screw impossible to rwmove later.  I have had success with these clamps by replacinh the screws with either plain steel or brass. Yhe addition on an anti-sieze compound also works well.
Otherwise Bill is correct - Hillman, Split-Jaw, Train-Li, Aristo Craft and others all work well. I prefer some to others, but that is a personal thing.
Bob C.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2014, 12:18:06 PM by armorsmith » Logged
SteveWard3928

DT&I Railroad lives on in memory


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« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2014, 06:52:33 PM »

Hi Steve,

All the different types work fine for me.  There are many different types used for different purposes.  some can be clamped over a rail joiner others clamp directly to the rail. Some include a spacer that provides an electrical gap for block control. some have a tab for connecting a feeder wires. 

I have used almost every brand because I buy used at railroad meets, or get excess from friends.  I never had an electric continuity failure when correctly installed.

If I were still using electric track power, I would use clamps on every joint!


Bill


Yes Bill, I remember you saying that.....that you have never had a failure with the clamps, as opposed to joiners that fail when needing a cleaning or it is corrosive.  You also told me that they are more expensive than joiners but worth the cost.
See i do listen to ya.  You have taught me somethings on this board.  Kinda like a mentor.   Smiley  That is the plan...to have clamps on every section of track.

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S&S

Gonna get blamed for it...you might as well do it!!
SteveWard3928

DT&I Railroad lives on in memory


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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2014, 06:59:43 PM »

Steve,
Being as you are posting on the Bachmann forum, I will make the assumption that the question is relative to the Bacmann brand of track. If you are referring to the stampes steel track that comes with every starter set, I don't think many of the track clamps work well as the track does not have a profile compatible with others clamps.
Bachmann's latest brass track offering on the other hand looks like it will work well with all the rail clamps. Of those I like the least are the SanVal Conductors.  They are manufactured from stainless steel with stainless steel screws. On the surface one would think the stainless steel would be better - only if you are going to install them ONE TIME ONLY.  The reason for this is the screws are tapped straight into the base plate. When the bottom surface of the screw head contacts the top surface of the rail head it does so on the outer edge of the head creating an eccentric loading on the screw.  This eccentric loading will cause the threads of the screw to gall.

This will make the screw impossible to rwmove later.  I have had success with these clamps by replacinh the screws with either plain steel or brass. Yhe addition on an anti-sieze compound also works well.
Otherwise Bill is correct - Hillman, Split-Jaw, Train-Li, Aristo Craft and others all work well. I prefer some to others, but that is a personal thing.
Bob C.

Does the anti-seize compound interfere with the electric current?  The layout is outside and everything I have is brass Although I would like to switch the track over to stainless as I hear it requires less cleaning.  Thanks for the input about those screws...I will definitely keep that in mind.
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S&S

Gonna get blamed for it...you might as well do it!!
Chuck N

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« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2014, 01:06:18 PM »

Steve:
Over the years I have used three different methods to secure my rails together.

Here is a link to a discussion on MY LARGE SCALE about connecting rail.  Part way down the thread are some pictures of my alternate, to rail clamps, methods.

They all work,  you just need a secure connection.  Plain rail joiners are a poor method for outside

http://forums.mylargescale.com/16-track-trestles-bridges-roadbed/28259-alternate-track-jointing-connections.html

Chuck
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armorsmith


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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2014, 01:07:51 PM »

Steve,

The anti-seize does not have any bearing on the electrical conductivity as that is carried by the bottom plate as well as the screws into the bottom plate.  Bear in mind that the only place I recommend the anti-seize is on the SanVal Conductors.  All the other brands do not have that particular binding/galling issue.

As for stainless steel track, there are those that swear by it and those that swear at it.  Stainless steel will be easier to keep clean, if you need to, depending on location.  It has been stated that stainless steel does not corrode, that is a false hood. The difference is the oxides of stainless steel take longer to form, and are generally conductive. One of the down sides of stainless steel is the cost. Stainless steel is considerably more expensive than is brass.  Another is stainless steel is harder to work with.  It is harder to cut, harder to custom roll curves, and more difficult to solder to, should you need to.

My opinion, shared by some, refuted by others.
Bob C.
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tom p

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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2014, 04:58:56 PM »

Two things to remember about stainless track 1) Stainless isn't. 2) Stainless is harder than the wheels on your engines. This means additional wear on the wheels, especially if you have a lot of curves vs straight track. Although brass requires more maintenance, it becomes the sacrificial metal versus the wheels on the engines or rolling stock. Stainless also tends to squeal more on corners. A local chain grocery store has trains in all 50-60 stores. Stainless was tried in some but was necessary to remove as the squealing irritated the shoppers. Each type has their pro and cons.
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armorsmith


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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2014, 06:24:35 PM »

Tom P,

Stainless steel track is in fact stainless steel.  It is however one of the lowest grades of the material, allowing it to show 'rust'.  Depending on the service I have seen some real exotic alloys of stainless steel 'rust' a beautiful bright orange, almost 'Tennessee Big Orange'.  Some have used the magnet to state that it is not stainless steel, there are magnetic grades of stainless.

Good point on the stainless being harder than the wheel sets and loco wheels. I hadn't noticed a squeeling issue, but have not been around that much track.  My knowledge of stainless steel comes from an industrial background.

Bob C.
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Loco Bill Canelos

Model railroading since 1947


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« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2014, 10:13:59 PM »

My club sponsors a Children's Hospital G Scale layout.   We at first used metal wheels, but quickly found that 18/7 operation was a killer on brass rail.  We found badly worn rail on curves after as little as three months operation,  all brands of brass rail wore about the same.   Some rail was so worn that when looking down on it,  it was almost as thin as a knife blade.  We were forced to go back to plastic wheels as they were easiest on the track.  Since most of our members used metal wheels they usually gave up their plastic ones to the kids trains.  Plastic wheels did wear fairly fast, but changing a wheel set is far easier than replacing sections of track.

Since the trains run with out supervision, many times we would find that a loco derailed and no one shut it down leaving the rear tuck on the rail spinning til the rail was worn down to the ties, often ruining the loco wheels.  We also quickly found that the best operating locomotives were 4 wheel truck diesel locos without traction tires, and steam engines were the worst.  Steamers regardless of brand were poor performers, breaking down constantly.  The diesels were probably twice as good as the steamers, but a motor block was at best good for only 3 to 5 months.  Again the diesels performed about the same no matter the brand.  Surprisingly the metal wheels on the diesels wore quite well, it was the internals of the motor blocks that were the biggest problem.

Bill
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Loco Bill,  Roundhouse Foreman
Colorado & Kansas Railway Missouri Western Railway
Semi Official Historian; Bachmann Large Scale
There are no dumb or stupid questions, just questions!
Chuck N

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« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2014, 11:57:30 PM »

Bill is correct.  There is wear on the wheels and track.  If the rail is harder than the wheels, the flanges on the wheels will wear off.  If the wheels are harder than the rails the rail head will wear away.

Last year on MYLARGESCALE.COM there was some discussion concerning the black dust associated with our trains.  I cleaned my track and wheels and then ran a train with metal wheels around the loop several times.  I wiped the rails and ask a friend to analyze the black smear I got in a paper towel after the run.  The small dust particles were mostly composed of copper and zinc.  The two metals in brass.

Fortunately, most of us do not run our trains long enough for this to become a problem,  but it does happen if you run them day in day out.

The wear can be minimized by using large radius curves.  Tight 2' (LGB R1) radius curves put the most stress on the system.  The tighter the radius the more wear and tare on the motor, gears, track, and wheels.

As was mentioned plastic wheels are easier to replace than track.  I would probably use plastic wheels in a situation like the one described by Bill.  However, for normal use, metal wheels offer advantages.  I like the added weight and the lowering of the center of gravity.   I swap out the plastic ones immediately. 

I have used brass track outside for over 30 years.  Yes, it needs cleaning and polishing.  With a drywall sander and a green Scotchbrite pad I can walk around my layout in a couple of minutes and the track is ready to go.  Regardless of your rail, you will have to walk the track and check for sticks and stones.

Chuck
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tom p

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« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2014, 11:49:52 AM »

Bill
Ditto your experiences. I help maintin a G scale setup for an HO club that has it in a Cerbral Pul. center. Exactly same problems. We get lots of used brass from a gut that maintains a grocery chain setups. ahve to cut off 1-2 feet on each due to wear on corners. Used to be that LGB trucks rn foreve. But not so anymore. I know Gary is using USA locos as the trucks seem to have the longest life.
'Stainless isn't. meaning depending upon grade, it will rust. We are  used to 316 stainless for tableware and many other home uses. Some track is 306 ss and some manufacturers use 303 (magnetic) as it extrudes easier but also rusts more readily.
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fhenn

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« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2014, 06:23:42 PM »

Do you use the rail clamps on every joint, or just two per rail section??
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Chuck N

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« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2014, 11:44:19 PM »

fhenn:

Outdoors if you are running track power you will need secure rail connections at all joins.  Stock rail joiners that come with the track WILL fail unless you secure them.   Or remove them and use rail clamps.

If you look at my March 24th post is this thread I have a link to a thread on My Large Scale about alternatives to rail clamps that work for me.  If the joins are not locked and secure you will have electrical conductivity problems.

Chuck
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fhenn

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« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2014, 08:17:41 AM »

No I have taken you advice on using them . So far on every section of track, Just a pain to get the LGB joiners off. I have assembled several sections using these joiners I must say I am impressed on how well they stiffen every thing up. Thank you  Frank
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