INSTALLATION NOTES "LARGE SCALE" RAIL JOINER SCREWS
by Byron Fenton
A. Generally the screws can be installed after the track has been laid in place.
If the track is hard to get to you may want to install the screws at the time you
lay the track or maybe even before you lay the track.
B. Install two screws on each rail joiner, one each side of the rail joint.
Install each screw about half way between the end of the rail and the end of the rail
joiner. The rail joiners can be installed on the outside or the inside of code 332 rail
(LGB or Aristo); on smaller rail check on the flange clearance before installing the
screws on the inside of the rail. When possible install both screws on the same side
of the rail. Be sure to put a screw in the end of the rail joiner that it is factory
attached to the rail. Very often the factory-attached end is the one that will lose
C. Tighten ALL rail joiners before installing them on the track and this will giver you
better track alignment and electrical connections.
D. Using a conductive grease will help keep water (ice if it is frozen) out of the rail joiner.
If the water freezes in the rail joiner it tends to fracture the joiner
at the bottom edge and the rail joiner will break and the sides will fall away.
When properly installed the screws will hold the one side and the bottom of the rail joiner in place
and maintain rail alignment and electrical contact.
E. Before drilling the holes, be sure the track is properly aligned. The screws will hold
the rail in the same position as when the holes are drilled. Aligning the rail first
can eliminate kinks, dips, and ridges from the track joints.
F. Drill the holes at about a 45 degree angle, using a #46 or #45 drill, and drilling down
through the rail joiner, rail, and out the bottom of the rail joiner. When starting the
hole lowering the angle will reduce the drill bit walking on the rail joiner. When the
drill goes through the rail joiner return to the 45-degree angle. If the holes are drilled
at too low an angle, there will be a tendency for the drill bits to break down when the bit
catches on the bottom of the rail joiner. Objects below the rail that may bind the drill bit
also will cause it to break. Using a high-speed drill such as the Dremel or an air-powered
drill will make this easier and reduce the possible breakage problem.
G. I recommend drilling the hole to the right of the rail joint first
and installing that screw before drilling the hole to the left of the joint.
When the hole to the left of the joint is drilled it tends to pull the rail
ends together, making a tighter rail joint.
H. If you are having problems with getting the screws all the way down
you may want to try a larger drill (especially for harder "nickel silver"
or Aristocraft rail). If you are stripping the holes (usually smaller or
softer rail, "aluminum") then you may want to try a smaller drill. Larger drills are a smaller number
(i.e. #44) and smaller drills have a larger number (i.e. #47).
If you are breaking the heads off, then you are using too much force or the hole size is
too small, a battery-operated screwriver with an adjustable clutch is recommended.
I. Generally when these screws are used you will only have to
supply power to your rail at one point for each
block or section of your layout.
J. Screws also can be used to provide electrical connections to the rail.
Use a small ring terminal crimp on connector on the wire or
just bend it in a loop or hook shape and coat it with a solder. Always use stranded wire for your
wiring. Solid wire will stress fracture and give you problems.
K. Use a #1 Phillips head screwdriver bit. I have found some screwdriver
bits have too long a point and cause stripping the screw head, using a grind
stone, grind off a very small amount and check it in a screw.