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Rail Joiner Problems

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Rail Joiner Problems
Posted by kenben on Saturday, November 9, 2019 4:31 PM

First off I'll never buy Peco code 83 flex track again. Worst to work with. Even though this is my first layout. Seems the rail ties disconnect very easily from the rails and is no joy trying to rethread them back onto the rails.

Second thing, their rail joiners are impossible to work with. It says their rail joiners are for 70/75/83 track. Maybe these are just too tight for code 83. I'm simply trying to join three 3' flex tracks together for testing. 3 hours later I only have 2 rail joiners installed and soldered. These rail joiners are so tight you simply can not get them on without screwing up the track. I've given up on the other two for now as it is too frustrating. 

Any suggestings as to who many have better rail joiners and/or a trick on how to install rail joiners? These 3 sections are not attached to the benchwokr at this point. I'd hate to have this problem if I were gluing the track down.

Help!

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Posted by HO-Velo on Saturday, November 9, 2019 5:26 PM

No experience with Peco track, but I dress the ends of M.E. track with jewelers file putting a very slight taper on rail to joiner surfaces.   I pre-stretch the joiners by sliding them onto a piece of rail held in a vice, a block of wood is handy to coax them onto the rail (saves cut fingers and joiner damage).

Regards, Peter    

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, November 9, 2019 5:58 PM

 I'm actually switching TO Peco Code 83 track, because of the finer detail and the wide variety of turnouts to match. Plus now matching Code 70 I can use for sidings. 

 I have not had any more difficulty with the few sections and handful of turnouts I got to experiment with than with any other brand I've tried. In some ways, Peco is easier because the ties at the ends have space already left for the joiner to fit, no need to cut off the end most ties, then file them down to fit back in place. Previously unused joiners are almost always tight - some wiggling should get them to slide on. I prefer to not chew up my fingertips, so usually I will use needle nose pliers or anotehr piece of track to help. For test fitting track, I've always had a selection of joiners that have been used and reused several times - they fit loosely, so it's easy to attach sections to test fit and mark where cuts have to be made, I then repalce the loose joinsers with fresh ones to actually install the track. If you're going to solder the joints, it's not as critical that the joiners be super tight - workign them on and off a scrap piece of track, or just opening them up slightly with a flat screwdriver should help.

                                         --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, November 9, 2019 7:27 PM

kenben
Second thing, their rail joiners are impossible to work with.

That was our experience at the club. We bought Peco rail joiners a while ago because the Atlas joiners were out of stock at the time. Everyone had a great deal of difficulty installing the Peco joiners. There were more than a few bloody fingers so we gave up.

Dave

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Posted by xdford on Saturday, November 9, 2019 7:35 PM

Hi there and Welcome to the hobby,

I have a drawing somewhere that shows a couple of tricks to mounting the rail joiners as they would indeed be tough ... the rail joiners by Peco are mild steel by comparison to the Nickel Silver rail.  

To use the joiners, you need to undercut the sleepers and the "spikes" so that they fit underneath. Because the rail joiners need to be split from each other, they will also need cleaning with a needle file  as well as the ends of the rails.

Peco is quite flexible but tends to hold its shape unlike Atlas track which is very flexible and will spring back reasily. When I find the diagram or draw another one, I will post it up including the shape of a small tool to help which you can make...

Cheers from Australia

Trevor

https://sites.google.com/view/stagnesrailway for your interest

 

 

 

sol
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Posted by sol on Saturday, November 9, 2019 7:37 PM

hon30critter

 

 
kenben
Second thing, their rail joiners are impossible to work with.

 

That was our experience at the club. We bought Peco rail joiners a while ago because the Atlas joiners were out of stock at the time. Everyone had a great deal of difficulty installing the Peco joiners. There were more than a few bloody fingers so we gave up.

Dave

 

 

I have used both Peco Code 100 & 75 joiners and yes some are a bit tight so I use a spare piece of rail filed to make a taper & feed that into the joiner to open it up a bit. Of course any rail that has been cut should be checked to make sure no burrs are left.

One UK modeller has made his own devise to open up joiners - you maybe able to see this

http://yourmodelrailway.net/view_topic.php?id=16260&forum_id=11

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Posted by BigDaddy on Saturday, November 9, 2019 7:48 PM

sol
One UK modeller has made his own devise to open up joiners - you maybe able to see this http://yourmodelrailway.net/view_topic.php?id=16260&forum_id=11

Clickable

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by RR_Mel on Saturday, November 9, 2019 8:01 PM

I use Atlas code 83 flex track but not Atlas joiners. I prefer the Peco joiners for there aesthetics.  I like their low profile look much better than the larger Atlas joiners.
 
They can be difficult to install but as Peter suggested tapering the bottom edges works pretty good.  Like Randy I use a small section of track as a tool to ease the install.
 
As for Peco track I prefer the Peco turnouts over all the other turnouts on the market.  The Peco spring makes them work better electrically than the rest.
 
I also prefer the Peco PL-10 switch machine over the Atlas and half the cost of a Tortoise.
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by kenben on Saturday, November 9, 2019 8:16 PM

Wonder if code 100 would work better with code 83 track. The ones I have cover codes 70, 75 and 83. Maybe these are on the smaller/tighter side of code 83.  ???

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Posted by kenben on Saturday, November 9, 2019 8:18 PM
So Dave, what did you end up using?
sol
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Posted by sol on Saturday, November 9, 2019 8:29 PM
According to Peco catalogue,. both Code 75 & 83 have the same web size 0.068" / 1.72mm so that is why they use the same size joiner.
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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, November 9, 2019 9:51 PM

kenben
So Dave, what did you end up using?

Hi kenben,

We ended up using Atlas Code 83 rail joiners despite the fact that we had to wait several months to get them. The five month delay was very frustrating, but we couldn't get the Atlas turnouts that we needed during that time frame anyhow so we were stalled on the layout in any case.

If we had been more diligent we might have figured out how to use the Peco rail joiners by spreading their ends, but I have a problem with products that don't perform as advertized right out of the box. IMHO, the Peco rail joiners need to be redesigned.

Dave

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Posted by Motley on Saturday, November 9, 2019 11:15 PM

I went through the exact same thing as you when I first started out about 7 years ago. I could not get Peco, Microengineering, Walthers, alll those joiners where way too tight.

My solution is I use Atlas universal joiners code 83/100. They fit a bit on the loose side, but I solder all joints so its no problem.

I also had issues with flex track rails coming loose from ties. Its not just Peco, a lot of other brands do it too. You just have to be careful with it, you can't be whipping it around much.

I ruined $30 switches, damaged flex track. Its all part of the learning process.

I have no idea why these companies all have joiners that don't fit. Very frustrating!

Also if your are soldering joints, which I think you mentioned. Make sure you put the solder on the outside edges of the rails. I use to solder on the inside, and then have to file the solder down.

Watch this video here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qU17vfRno_4

Michael


Director -
Mile-HI-Railroad
Prototype: D&RGW Moffat, UP, GN. BNSF 

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Posted by rrebell on Sunday, November 10, 2019 8:20 AM

They were designed to be that tight, just likew Shinohara's were. You need to spread them a bit ussually (I juse a flat blade screwdriver for that vand a quick twist). You think those are tight, try some of the old AHM one's when they are brass colored. I plan out track with sectional junk before I run the good stuff to make sure everything will look right and no mistakes.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Sunday, November 10, 2019 5:49 PM

kenben
First off I'll never buy Peco code 83 flex track again. Worst to work with. Even though this is my first layout. Seems the rail ties disconnect very easily from the rails and is no joy trying to rethread them back onto the rails.

For a first layout you might be better off with Atlas code 100 flex.  It's much more durable and much harder to separate ties from rail.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by selector on Monday, November 11, 2019 3:27 PM

I learned about the tight fit of Peco joiners some years ago.  I just got used to dressing the flanges with a needle file before attempting to shove the joiner into place and then the other rail into the joiner.  Saved me the odd bloody fingertip.

I think, if you just accept that you need about 30 seconds with each rail end and a flat needle file, and dress up both the top and nether surfaces of the flanges for about 1/8" back from the tip, that the Peco joiners go on rather nicely and predictably. Happened to me.

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Posted by kasskaboose on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 12:10 PM

While I can't offer advice on Peco, I can with tight-fitting rail joiners.  On my 1st layout, I used ME and they were so small and tight.  Even opening them slightly with a hobby knife didn't help that much.  While larger, Atlas joiners are far easier.

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 12:55 PM

 Yes, the Atlas joiners are fose withce they actually had different joiners for Code 83, but now they only have the one. They are a pretty loose fit on Code 83 track. Not sloppy, at least when new, but not eactly tight.

 Thing is - we WANT tight rail joiners. Both from an electricla and a mechanical standpoint. Solid electrical contact requires a tight fit, but so does keeping the two rails nicely aligned, both horizontaly and vertically.

                                    --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, November 14, 2019 7:19 AM

rrinker

 Yes, the Atlas joiners are fose withce they actually had different joiners for Code 83, but now they only have the one. They are a pretty loose fit on Code 83 track. Not sloppy, at least when new, but not eactly tight.

 Thing is - we WANT tight rail joiners. Both from an electricla and a mechanical standpoint. Solid electrical contact requires a tight fit, but so does keeping the two rails nicely aligned, both horizontaly and vertically.

                                    --Randy

Back when Altas was selling their code 83 rail joiners, I found I liked them much better than their universal joiner, which works well on both code 83 and code 100.  The old code 83 joiners are much less conspicuous than the bigger, taller universal.

The Atlas code 83 joiners were harder to put on, but with practice, I was able to get them to work well.  I liked them so much that when Atlas discontinued them, I hunted them down at train shows and collected enough to build my last layout.  When I tore it down, I saved as many as I could for re-use.

Anyway, for a beginner, I can see why tight fitting joiners might be frustrating, but if you like them, you deveope techniques for working with them and getting them on the rail, such as filing the end of the rail a bit, and spreading open just the end of the joiner.  There are tools you can get that aid in inserting them.  I think Atlas makes one as well.  Check Micromark.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by joe323 on Thursday, November 14, 2019 8:58 AM

Speaking of tight joiners ever try removing a joiner from bachmann ez track without ruining the track?  Like pulling teeth ouch!

Joe Staten Island West 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, November 14, 2019 11:53 AM

I prefer tight rail joiners, even though I solder all rail joints unless they need to have an insulated gap.
The easiest way to install a too-tight rail joiner is to dress the ends of the bottom flange of the rail, using the face of a cut-off disc in a motor tool.  This, of course, calls for a light touch, but you could do a case of a hundred feet of flex track pretty quickly - quicker than your track layers can put it in place.

Locally, rail joiners seemed to be an item that whatever type you wanted, it would be the one not-in-stock when you needed some.  Since I solder them in place, loose ones were fine, and dressing the ends of the rail, as mentioned, took care of the rest.
When I added the partial upper level to my layout, all I could get was code 70 joiners for my code 83 track.
However, much of the mainline on that portion of the layout is on Central Valley tie strips, so I decided to use the cut-off disc to dress not only the sides of the rails' bottom flange, but also the bottom of the flange.  This allowed the rails' ends to sit directly atop the ties, with no need to add fill-in ties (as is done with flex track) and no need to alter those ties for the thickness of the joiners.
When I went back to my LHS for more joiners, all they had was for code 55 rail, but a little more work with the cut-off disc made them my preferred size, as they're almost invisible.

This one is a Shinohara code 70 joiner on M.E. code 83 rail, with CV tie strip...

...and an M.E. (I think) code 55 rail joiner on the same rail and tie strip...

Many of the code 55 joiners are difficult to show, with only the joint in the top of the rail indicating their presence.

Wayne

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Posted by hornblower on Thursday, November 14, 2019 3:01 PM

Similar to doctorwayne's approach, I use Atlas N scale Code 80 joiners on my HO scale Code 83 track.  Yes, they are tight but if your dress the rail ends and pre-size the joiners on a tapered piece of Code 83 rail, they will fit.  Best of all, their tiny size means they all but disappear once the track is painted and ballasted.

Hornblower

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Posted by Medina1128 on Thursday, November 14, 2019 3:07 PM

quote user="hon30critter"]

 

 
kenben
Second thing, their rail joiners are impossible to work with.

 

That was our experience at the club. We bought Peco rail joiners a while ago because the Atlas joiners were out of stock at the time. Everyone had a great deal of difficulty installing the Peco joiners. There were more than a few bloody fingers so we gave up.

Dave

 

[/quote]

Using a short section (2-3") of code 83 rail, I made a rail joiner spreader. I taper one end into a point. I file the web rail, creating a wedge shape.

I cut a few notches into a piece of 1x2. The heavy-duty cutoff discs for Dremels work great for cutting them.

Slightly start the tool into one end of a rail joiner, then, holding it with a pair of pliers, push the tool into one of the grooves in the wood.

When done, the joiner will slide onto the tool. Slide the joiner off and slide onto the section of track on the layout. I usually slide the joiner onto the new section of track. While holding the track in place, slide the joiner onto the existing section of track using a medium-sized flat-bladed jeweler's screwdriver.

 

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