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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am building my first garden railway (prior experience in HO). I am going with battery (CVP Airwire) and maybe live steam down the road. Since my track will be unpowered (Dead Rail) and floating in ballast, are rail joiners sufficient or should you always opt for clamps? I've been unable to find anything on this subject, but the recommendation for clamps seems to be pretty consistent but it seems to be for powered track. Thanks, Pat
 

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recommendation for clamps seems to be pretty consistent but it seems to be for powered track.
Yes, most of the clamp recommendations are for track power. But they do help hold everything together.

In theory you don't need them with deadrail. When I had an outdoor layout mine was also deadrail and therefore I used joiners. My ballast, (crushed rock / crusher fines) locked the ties quite solidly into place and I did not have any problems with movement breaking any joints.
 

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So clamps will keep the rails in better alignment, and will minimize gaps.

Do you need them? It would depend on how your layout reacts to it's environment.

Unless you are using LGB track, you can pull joiners off without ripping up track, so you might start with joiners and switch over to clamps if needed.

Also, you have not posted any budget. I went straight to clamps, I am track power, and SS rail, so soldering jumpers was out of the question.

Greg
 

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I wouldn't use my money on clamps if I were running dead rail.

Have you purchased any track yet? If not, consider getting USA Trains or used/NOS Aristocraft which both have joiners held together with screws (similar to "fishplate" style). You can even use a tiny (read: TINY) bit of blue loctite on the joiner screws so they won't be likely to back out. This way the track will stay together and in alignment. Depending on your layout size, this will save you many hundreds of $ on rail clamps.

If you have track already and it is slip joiner type (no screws IE. LGB, PIKO, AML, etc), there are other methods you can employ to keep the track together without using clamps. If this is the case let us know what you have and we can give you ideas.
 

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floating in ballast, are rail joiners sufficient or should you always opt for clamps? Thanks, Pat
My track (Gauge 1 Tenmille), which I laid in 1990 and use regurlarly, is floating in ballast and I just use railjoiners; no clamps. I use the track also for electric running and for this I have soldered wires to connect each rail.
Regards
Fred
 

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While soldering can work, I find here in the Niortheast New England the extreme temperature changes will make the solder 'crack'. We can see as low as -10 some years and in the hot summer sun metal heats up enough to almost burn you. So, solder and brass does not hold long term for me. Rail clamps do hold but sometimes a rail will move enough to create a gap at the joint. Indoors I just use the LGB track with the original joiners and the black plastic piece that holds the ties together and some times I just use 3/8 velcro.
 

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sometimes a rail will move enough to create a gap at the joint.
And, of course, it is a good thing to let the rail move as it heats up and cools down. If you use clamps (or screws) remember to use joiners occasionally (every 10-20 ft?) so that expansion is not a problem.
There are expansion/contraction joint pieces of track if you have joints that open up too wide.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for all the responses, very helpful and I really appreciate it. Just to add some info that I left out of my original post, I'm using LGB brass sectional track with a total run of about 68'. I'm located in in the Bay Area of Northern California . I think I'm going to go with rail joiners with some Split Jaw expansion track sections on the longer straight runs to see how it works. Again, thanks so much for all the help. - Pat
 

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fredlub: solder is not structural, so soldering alone won't work, needs some kind of joiners (I know you have them), but read the OP's statement, he is battery power, so soldering or not is not applicable for this thread.

Pete, I have clamps everywhere, but my track floats in ballast, so no slipping joiners or expansion tracks needed. I am taking exception to your statement that you must have joiners for expansion.

Bottom line, I still suggest you use what you have and see what issues, if any, you get. Since you don't need track power, then the worst case is swapping out joiners. Some joiners do a crappy job of aligning the rails, Aristo mostly.

Greg
 

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I also live in the Bay Area. Track is LGB 332 brass, flex floating in ballast with some sections "floating" on flex bender board. Track has been down since early 1990s and never has had electrical connection. Joints are primarily joiners with the following exceptions: all turnouts are secured by rail clamps for easy removal for maintenance and in area that are subject to abuse by foot traffic. Never had a problem with track connections.

Mike
 
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