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Opinions on using.  Necessary?  Only good for problem areas?  Wouldn't lay track without them?  Waste of time?  Are they worth the expense?

Which is better, Hillman or Split-Jaw?  Hillman is cheaper.  What about quality?   Is there enough difference between them to care?  Is there enough difference between them to worry about mixing them on a layout?

Richard and Carol Hillman want to retire and are trying to sell the business.  Concerns about viability of the product in the future?
Have there been any failure or warranty issues?  Can the tiny screws be readily obtained?  They are easy to drop and lose if you accidentaly take one all the way out.

All my track is  well used.  Some Aristo, some LGB.  Some have stock slip joiners, some pretty badly bent up.  Some have rail clamps, brand unknown.  Would it be better to get some that fit over the joiners, or to take the effort to remove old slip joiners and go with standard rail clamps?

Thanks for your comments.

Michael
 

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Michael,

 I went for about 18 years with out needing them. But all my track was new when laid. I used a conductive grease when
laying the track.  With used track, I think I would use them if you are going with track power.
 

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michael

You didn't state your power/control approach. Those who use track power are the main users of railclamps. Those of us who use batteries save ourself the expense (and it does add up over a fair sized railroad).

If the movement is toward battery power then perhaps there is a long term viability issue. Recently, i was invited to vist a rather large HO home railroad - and I met the owner and one of his regular crew. After they found out that my primary interest was large scale, they bombarded me with questions about batteries and when the technology might be useable in HO. They seem convinced it is the future ideal as did the editor of MR in a recent editorial as he mused on the use of batteries to eliminate the wiring complexities and track cleaning inherent in HO.

Regards ... Doug
 

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As others have said....If you are  using  battery power  you really don't  need  rail clamps.

I use them anyway.   I think they make a better joint.

I use both  Hillman and  Slpit Jaw.

I prefer Hillman.  I think they  are easier to put on and blend better.  

I never had issues with lost screws.  They are  large enough to  find in the dirt.   Or  drag a magnet through the dirt.  

Which ever one you choose.  Find  a  hardware store that sells   individual allen keys.   Buy  6  keys with balls on the end to fit  the clamp screw.

Buy a  five foot  length of  the  heavest loging chain you can find for each  key.       Weld the  Allen key to the end of the loging chain   Then  Paint them  birght orange. 

  There have to be at least  150 lost allen keys some where  rusting away on my  layout.:D
 

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I put together 100' of aristo track last year using Hillman clamps, found them easy to install and really keep rail ends in alignment. Resistance measures less than 1 ohm end to end over 100'of track. Unfortunately Hillman is no longer producing clamps the last I heard. 

Plan to try some split jaw clamps as they seem similar in design.  Hope someone will start producing Hillman clamps again of the same quality.
 

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I've used both Hillman and Split-Jaw and they both work very well. You can tell them apart by the V-Groove in the Split-Jaws -vs- the square notch of the Hillman's that fits over the foot of the rail. I've had a few of the Hillman clamps break when the track has been inadvertantly lifted and twisted by wayward feet. They replaced them for me when I contacted them about the problem. Be aware that the two companies use diffeerent size allen head screws. By all means, remove the stock slip joint railjoiners and just use the clamps. They do get expensive, I reduced the cost somewhat by soldering 3 or 4 sections of track together and then clamping those groupings together. Be aware that the clamps (and soldering) do not allow for expansion and contraction like the slip joints do. If you have a long straight or have experienced these problems, I would suggest using their expansion track insert. They are expensive but they work great.
Russ
 

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Posted By cabforward on 03/02/2008 5:55 PM
Micheal
Just talked to the Hillmans they have shut down. And they have no more clamps and they are not going to make any more.
Matt


/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/w00t.gif
 

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Posted By cabforward on 03/02/2008 5:55 PM
Micheal
Just talked to the Hillmans they have shut down. And they have no more clamps and they are not going to make any more.
Matt

/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/sad.gifSorry to hear that because they do make good stuff. I use some of their specialty clamps; expansion rail and bridge clamps.
 

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Matt is right guys, I also talked with Carol Hillman on Friday.  They are done.  They don't have any more clamps that I need, after four years of using just Hillman clamps.  So there is no choice for me, its Split Jaw.  Even if they sell the business, if whoever buys it can't make the clamps themselves, and has to outsource them, the price will go up.  Too bad for us.
Paul
 

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I've found that with aristo track, which has the little screws that hols the joints together, I don't need rail clamps, But with LGB track i do. I laid a lot of LGB track, some new and some used, using LGB conductive paste, and while I never get completely dead sections i do get little flickers and slowdowns here and there, and it's always on sections of LGB track. Putting clamps in solves the problem for me

Aristocraft makes a  rail clamp now, a different design than ether hillman or split jaw. It's considerably cheaperr. I picked up 100 of them for under 70 bucks. I just started installing them yesterday here and there. So far so good.
 

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I bought some clamps on Ebay. Have no idea who made them. I use them only on switches so I can remove the switch for maintenance. The rest of the track has the as-supplied Aristo joiners. Some have been soldered, others just use the damnable little screws. And yes! Multiple wrenches are a necessity. Even when painted bright red, they have a habit of disappearing.
 

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Crap !      /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/shocked.gif   Is it because of material price ?



Posted By cabforward on 03/02/2008 5:55 PM
Micheal
Just talked to the Hillmans they have shut down. And they have no more clamps and they are not going to make any more.
Matt
 

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Sorry to hear about the Hillmans.

Jerry and his wife (who run Split-Jaw) are local here in Portland and are great folks and terrific to deal with. They will certainly do whatever they can to earn the business of any former Hillmans customers. I also know that they produce all of their product in their own shop, with local workers. Made in the USA!
 

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One thing a rail clamp does for al users is align the rails to give a smooth joint. There is a lot of sideways play in slip joiners and the rail clamps eliminate this side play, makes the 2 adjoining rails appear as solid rail at the connection.

Also, for long straight stretches you nbeed an expansion joint and the clamp manufacturers offer this as well as LGB (10090).
 

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Well, as a part-time Oregonian, I have a distinct penchant for Split-Jaw products, in spite of having to use the opposition's lift-out items.

As for the fleeting hex-keys, the chain attachment seems pretty reasonable until you realise that chain just blends in to any ground level railroad scene.  In my backyard track, we use the chain, as recommended above, but weld it to a garbage-can lid.

So far nobody has walked off with it.      

tac
www.ovgrs.org
 
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