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I am planning my first outdoor layout near Atlanta and have a couple of questions regarding using Split Jaw clamps with LGB track. Want to do it right the first time to avoid future issues, so any assistance will be appreciated:

1) I am getting different opinions on if Split Jaw clamps are recommended over using the standard LGB rail joiners. I believe that the Split Jaws would eliminate any future trouble with electrical issues. My local train store says they are not necessary. Can anyone share their experience?

2) When using clamps, is it recommended to use "expanding rail" sections to allow for track expansion?

Thanks!
 

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Outdoors, you will need a more secure connection. Over time the stock joiners will loosen and you'll loose the connection.


I use split jaw on my LGB/Aristo track, but I remove the rail joiners that came on the track. Some manufacturers of rail clamps make a style that will fit over the standard issue joiners. I also use stainless steel #4 self tapping screws in holes drilled through the stock joiner and foot of the rail on each side of the gap. This is also a secure connection. It is a little more work, but less expensive.

The use of expansion track sections depends on a lot of things. Will your track be in direct sun? Will you have long sections of straight track? Are you going to float your track on ballast or anchor it to a sub structure of some kind? Track floating on ballast will move. Most of the movement will take place in the curves. If you are going to anchor it, an anchor every 4-6' should be sufficient. Any closer could cause problems and need expansion sections.

Chuck

PS. Double posting just confuses everyone. I suggest deleting one.
 

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First I use LGB flex track for the majority of my 250 feet of mainline and 100 feet of siding. I use both splitjaw and lgb rail joiners. Split jaws are used at each of my turnouts as I remove them periodically for maintenance. I also use splitjaws in areas where track removal is necessary for maintenance or where periodic access is required. In these instances I remove the rail joiners. The balance (majority) of the rail connections are lgb rail joiners and have been down for over 15 years. Where I have rail joiners and track power, I solder a jumper wires across the joiner. No problems. I also solder the flex track with joiner together for lengths of of approximately 10 to 15 feet.

Concerning expansion joiners, all my track "floats" in ballast and thus can expand and contract with temperature. I also use place gentle curves in long runs which helps reduce expansion and contraction issues. The ballast and at grade contact also acts as a heat sink for rail expansion. I should point out that living in the Bay Area our ambient temperature is 50 to 110 degrees during the summer, in the winter the temps drop into the low 30's or high 20's for a week or two at the most.
 

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In addition to rail joiners I have used two other techniques to secure the rails to each other.

The #4 screws drilled down at 45 degrees, on the outside of the track.





An 0-80 nut and bolt drilled straight through the joiner.










Both of these methods provide a secure electrical connection. I dip the screws and bolt is LGB conducting paste before putting them in the rail. I also thoroughly clean the rail and use some paste on it also.

Chuck
 

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I have split-jaw clamps on all of my lgb track and have had no problems with current flow. Our track has been down for seven years.I do not think you can go wrong with the split-jaw clamps.
 

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Rail clamps are expensive but they are the best way to hold the track together. Since they are expensive you could do sections of track to begin. I first started putting them around my switches so if they needed repair I can easily pull the switch out without disturbing the surrounding track. I have used splitjaw and hillmans but didn't like the AML ones, they cracked on me.
Be sure to get the over the rail joiners not the over the joiner type.
Will your RR be in direct sunlight? Will your track be stuck down? If not then you should be able to get by without expanders.
 
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