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Discussion Starter #1
Accucraft advertises in Garden RR their rail clamps in brass -- at $2.00 per ten.
Split-Jaw has theirs with St. Aubins as a major distributor.
Hillmans is now with LGB of America or aka Silvergate.

OK? Is there any essential quality difference? In brass? In stainless?
My interest is in another garden rrs' interest - helping them get started in a new layout.

Me? I have used Split-Jaw in both brass and stainless. Works OK. The Hillman's (7 years ago) didn't fit the base of the stainless track.
Sure, that's seven years ago.
Now..........?

Thanks,

Wendell
 

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Almost exclusively Split Jaw, I like the way I can loosen the clamps and lift a turnout up and out.....
 

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What type of rail do you predominantly use? Stainless, Brass, other?

I ask because we use nickel silver code 250 rail and started out with Split-Jaw brass joiners...all they had at the time. These things tarnished so bad after one year and electrical continuity became an issue at some of the joiners. Since switching to Split-Jaw stainless steel joiners we have had no electrical issues. They look better too with nickel silver rail.


So I'd go with stainless joiners if you use stainless rail, or any metal other then brass.

Other than the dissimilar metals issue, I'd highly recommend Split-Jaw. Holds tight, and easily loosened to take up tracks you don't want to leave out all year long or if you just need to remove tracks for any reason. We take in in our switches and bridges for snow weight and potential elk damage during the winter, and I don't know how we'd do this without easy to unscrew rail joiners.
 

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I've used Hillman, Split Jaw, Aristo, and San Val clamps. They are all still working, and they all have some advantages.

Split jaw and hillman both work very well. I've had some hillman's fail on me. In the future I'l probaly be usng the split jaws


Aristo--these are very inexpensive and come in brass and stainless steel. They aren't as robust as split jaw or Hllman--it's easy to overtighten the brass ones. But they are very easy to install, they tighten from above with an ordinary screwdriver. Each one alo has a small screw terminal for attaching power leads or jumpers. There are places on my line where it's very difficult to install a Hillmann or Split Jaw Clamp, because it's nearly impossible to tighten the clamp. The Aristo's are really great in those spaces especially.


San Val--these are also inexpensive, simple, and somewhat ugly: they are made of stainless steel and tighten with hex-head machine screws. Very tough, very strong. I find them kind of tedious to install and tighten, but they work over existing rail joiners and they are very tough and effective


I think if I were starting from scratch I might just go with aristo stianless steel clamps
 

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I use mostly spit jaw and have hd good success with them even the brass. I'd be careful using the Aristos. I bought several packages of the brass and so called SS ones. I have broken both. The SS is just a plating much like there wheels.
Once the clamp breaks you can see it. They break at the screw hole and mostly due to over tightening over several times of removing them and the re tightening. I think I will stay with the split jaw. Later RJD
 

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I understand that the FIRST RUN of Aristos' rail clamps had issues. But, I know from a post that I read, that Aristo (quoted by George Adams) offered a replacement clamp for any ones that were unsatisfactory. That, to my mind, was a fair offer.

It does seem that the over-tightening mentioned may have played a large part in the failures.


I only have four SJ or Hillman isolating joiners but they are, to my view, quite obtrusive. They will be replaced by Aristo plastic joiners in due course.

I have not found any need for clamps on my railroad so far but it seems to me that one of the finer points of the Aristo clamp is that it can be reasonably easily concealed when fitted and covered with ballast.
 

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I'll cheerfully agree that the aristo clamps can be broken. They're n ot as robust as the others. I know that they re-engineered them a bit and the failure rate lowered. I've had two or three fail out of 150, and I think it was overtightening each time.

It seems to me in a discussion of clamps convenience/ease of use if worth considering as a factor, just one of several, including cost and strength/reliability
 

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Aristo did offer free replacements. But the replacements were only marginally better than before.

The problem is that the extrusion used for the clamp is fixed in size, thus, the main problem of placing the screw holes too close to the edge CANNOT be fixed without a NEW extrusion.

Look at the pictures and you will see the problem.

Basically you get what you pay for. I use SJ exclusively. One other advantage of SJ over the Hillmans is that the SJ uses a larger socket head. Using a ball end driver really helps installation, but the ball end wears faster (since there is less metal in contact with the socket).

I found that the hillman ball end driver wore out much faster than the SJ ball end driver.

Regards, Greg
 

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Yep, I'm 100% SS Split jaws. The reports here mirror what I read before about Hillmans. I don't care for the look of the Aristo clamps. The split jaws allow you to loosen just one side of the clamp so you can remove track on the other side which is really nice.

Raymond
 

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Mine is all SplitJaw, though I have a few Hillmans which will be used on a couple sidings. The SJ's work for me. Main problem is that in areas of tight access, it can be a real pain to tighten or undo them. I use hex-ball drivers most of the time but I had to buy a 7/64" allen wrench to use in tight places. Unfortunately that's a size that doesn't come with the most common allen wrench sets, and I didn't want to shell out the bucks to buy a large set just to get the one size I need. Eventually I found a place online where I could buy them individually.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks to all for the input.
I have had several layout owners asking per effort to "restore" their own railroads -- read cure the electrical problems.
Wendell
 

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I personally dont use any. I just use the screws that come with my aristo track. I also screwed jumper wires underneath the track rather then solder. (I cant solder for anything) It actually worked out real nice. There are a few places where I could not do the jumpers on the bottom. There I just use the screws but I do plan on getting a few railclamps for those areas. So far I have had no problems with my current set-up. When and if I get clamps it will be aristo all the way. Even with the breaking issue. How can you beat the price. To me SJ and Hils are too expensive. I could use that monye for track. Thats just my opinion. Then yet I operate a low budget RR.
 

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I use primarily Hillman, but put in Split Jaw on my turnouts so that I can lifet them out for repairs easily. The Sundance Central uses only Split Jaws which can he tough to install. One member said that sometimes it would be easier to push a piece of wet spagetti accross the counter than to install split jaws on our modular railroad.
 

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The Aristo are a good deal if you don't over tighten. Over tightning is easy because you can put a large screw driver to them where the others limit the torgue due to the small hex shaft on wrench flexes easily. Prefer Hillman over Split Jaw. Hillman does the job and are easier to install. Have alot of all three on my layout. I really like the Aristo in tight places like turnouts........Jim
 

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My concern with the Aristo design is that you are pressing down with a screwdriver, sort of working against the tightening of the clamp. Maybe a little grease under the head of the screws would help. I would prefer hex heads for better tightening.

Regards, Greg
 
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