Trains.com

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Trouble With Atlas Code 55 Rail Joiners

670 views
14 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    September 2013
  • 2,128 posts
Trouble With Atlas Code 55 Rail Joiners
Posted by caldreamer on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 7:45 PM

I am starting to lay rail on my new layout and I am having trouble getting the rail joiners to go onto the track.  They are too tight to fit on the ends of the track.  Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.

           Caldreamer

  • Member since
    September 2007
  • 44 posts
Posted by Ladder1 on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 8:34 PM

Touch up the rail ends with a file.  Spread the joiners with a small flat bladed screw driver.  Both will help

  • Member since
    June 2020
  • 1,931 posts
Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 8:43 AM

A T pin also makes a good tool to pry open the very ends of rail joiners without spreading the joiner by much. Just make sure the point is securely in the joiner before you push on it. Mind you a pin *** heals faster than a screwdriver blade slash. Ask me how I know this.  

If you cut flex track with rail cutters you will often find that the rail flange has tiny burrs on it preventing the joiner from fitting over the cut end. Have a close look at your cut rail ends and see if that's the case. Very tiny burrs are very effective at stopping the joiner from sliding on. Flat "needle" file works well. I still have an old automotive points file which is ideal  because points were hardened they were cleaned up using a specialized hardened tiny flat file that never wears out in use on other metals. I file the burrs off the bottom and the top edges of the flange. I also clean up the rail head while I'm at it.

Finally, if those Atlas joiners come in strips as do the larger Code joiners then the tab at the end of the joiner that you cut (I use spruce cutters rather than rail cutters for this) can distort just a little. The cutter can bend the tab and especially if it bends downward the curled end can catch on the plastic tie material again interfering with an easy fit.

 

Alyth Yard

Canada

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 12,106 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 8:48 AM

Lastspikemike
If those Atlas joiners come in strips as do the larger Code joiners then the tab at the end of the joiner that you cut, I use spruce cutters rather than rail cutters for this.

The correct tool to cut rail joiner strips is a flush cutting pair of high quality pliers. Cut twice for each joint, close to the joiner with the machined side of the cutters close to the joiner.

Good tools are worth the investment.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
    June 2020
  • 1,931 posts
Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 9:09 AM

Correction. My "spruce cutters" are actually miniature side cutters used in electronics for pre forming components. They are hardened for cutting metal.

Alyth Yard

Canada

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 12,106 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 9:17 AM

Lastspikemike
Correction. My "spruce cutters" are actually miniature side cutters used in electronics for pre forming components. They are hardened for cutting metal.

Those still are probably not the correct tool. Most miniature cutters are "diagonal" or "offset" in cutting blade alignment. Only a good set of machined first-surface flush cutters will provide a clean non-distorting cut.

They are not cheap.

This is an example of the cut made by those MAC pliers in a piece of 14g copper wire. All the deformation goes to one side, and the other is nearly perfect.

Those pliers cut rail just as clean.

Uh-Oh... I just went to the MAC tools website, and 4 inch, 5 inch, and 6 inch flush cutting pliers have all been discontinued, and the only replacement they have is imported.

Off to check out Snap-On.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 12,106 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 9:29 AM

Well, the only plier suitable (and a bit big) on the Snap-On website is backordered.

This is a disturbing development. I might need to buy a lifetime supply of good flush cutting pliers.

Off to check out Matco:

The only one Matco offers is even bigger.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Neenah, WI
  • 220 posts
Posted by sschnabl on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 11:52 AM

Xuron makes a flush cutting rail nippers designed to cut rail.  I have two of them, just don't cut any hardened metal with them, or it will damage the cutting surface.  Use them for rail only, and you will be fine.

As for the tight rail joiners, Atlas makes the rail joiner sidekick to assist in putting the joiners on the rail.  One tool covers O, HO, and N.

 

Scott

  • Member since
    September 2013
  • 2,128 posts
Posted by caldreamer on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 11:52 AM

The Atlas code 55 rail joiners come in a bubble pack of 12.  They are not strips, but indivual rail joiners.  Atlas needs better quality control in making their rail joiners.  They should be slip on snugly without this kind of a porblem.

  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 11,586 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 12:33 PM

SeeYou190
The correct tool to cut rail joiner strips is a flush cutting pair of high quality pliers. Cut twice for each joint, close to the joiner with the machined side of the cutters close to the joiner. Good tools are worth the investment.

I certainly won't dispute your choices, Kevin, but I get good results using a utility knife atop a machinist's block (a less-hard surface will result in a mess).  I've also had decent results with a cut-off disc in a motor tool, although some may need a little touch-up.

I also wonder about tools made by reputable companies in the past, who have now shifted production "elsewhere"....some of these products seem to be as good as ever, but some seem to be cheaped-out versions.
I recall when much of our locally-made screw production moved off-shore, and the product we got was junk...improperly formed sockets on Robertson screw-heads, and metallurgy not suited to screw-in fasteners - usually 9 or 10 failures in every dozen used.
I think this could be attributed to distributors falling for the low costs, and not specifying the need for proper metallurgical standards.  Some of these products have since improved, but the prices have, of course, risen, too.
I have some inherited tools that still work as well as the day they were made, whether from the 1920s and perhaps at least into the '60s.

I'm uncertain if we still get, nowadays, all that many items that are truly worth their cost.

Wayne

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 12,106 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 12:38 PM

doctorwayne
I also wonder about tools made by reputable companies in the past, who have now shifted production "elsewhere"....some of these products seem to be as good as ever, but some seem to be cheaped-out versions.

My most disappointing example of this is Starrett.

It used to be that if you bought a Starrett tool, you got top quality, period.

Now they have started putting the Starrett name on all sorts of cheap second-rate import tools. I learned this the hard way.

Weller is another one.

It is very frustrating when I need to replace a tool, and I cannot get one of the same quality that I had.

I have 1" drive Snap-On sockets that are not even made anymore. Snap-On also no longer makes 6 point 3/4" drive chrome sockets. It is quite a shame.

I have a massive collection of top quality professional tools, and I do not have a son-in-law that wants them. 

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
    June 2020
  • 1,931 posts
Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 2:13 PM

Brand dilution is a current favourite Wall Street strategy.

Buy a great brand but then cheapen the product to boost margins then flip your newly improved balance sheet  investment before the public catches on, which they eventually do. 

The problem lies with undiscerning or uninformed customers. Manufacturers just make whatever will sell and price that at whatever the market will bear. 

Many brands have been destroyed in this piratical fashion.  I think it must be a course offered in every MBA program, it's so ubiquitous. 

Alyth Yard

Canada

  • Member since
    June 2007
  • 8,260 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, April 1, 2021 11:56 AM

Ladder1

Touch up the rail ends with a file.  Spread the joiners with a small flat bladed screw driver.  Both will help 

This what I do too and I've laid a lot of track.  Get some needle files and use the flat on to bevel the bottoms of the rail where the joiners go on.  

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: California - moved to North Carolina 2018
  • 4,367 posts
Posted by DSchmitt on Thursday, April 1, 2021 6:47 PM

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 12,169 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, April 1, 2021 7:17 PM

I used a variety of joiners on my mostly code 83 Shinohara track. The ME joiners were tiny. I also used some Atlas N joiners. The Shinohara joiners were also very tight to fit. In places out of view I used the larger combo Atlas 83/100 joiners. Those were almost not quite snug enough.

I formed a joiner insertion tool using an old X-acto #11 blade. Using a cutoff wheel I knocked off most of the sharp edge. Then I contoured part of the blade to look like the shape of the base of the rail.

I could slide the joiner onto this "finger" and it would spread the joiner slightly. Rotate the joiner 180° and push it on the tool again. There was a small "stop notch" which prevented the joiner from pushing too far on to the tool.

With the joiner pressed onto the tool I could then push the open end of the joiner onto the rail end. Pulling the tool away left the joiner in place.

I never took a photo of the tool. Maybe I'll get around to it later. Anybody remember the "injector" type razors? It was kind of inspired by those.

I have several very fine mill files for dressing the cut ends of the rail. Even the factory cut ends need a little dressing.

This is the Walthers/Shinohara joiner. They are individually formed not on a strip like the Atlas ones.

 Shinohara_Code-83 by Edmund, on Flickr

Good Luck, Ed

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Users Online

There are no community member online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!