Joining Rail

“Aligners” for Connecting Rail

Flextrack needs to be connected by “rail joiners”. I prefer to call them “aligners” as they really can’t be relied on to JOIN or at least electrically connect two pieces of track. They do a good job of keeping the ends of the track in-line.

But don’t rely on them for electrical connections!

The photo above shows from the top:

  • a standard Peco “joiner” for Code 75 flex track (which is what I use on my layout).
  • a shortened joiner which aligns the track, but is SHORT enough to be moved along the rail if track adjustment or point removal is needed (trust me , it will be!)
    I have had cause to remove points which were glued to the road bed with latex carpet cement. Brushing some water around the sleepers freed the point after 10 or 15 minutes and then slide the joiners sideways to lift the point out.
  • a small tool consisting of 2 offcuts of rail soldered together so that the smaller joiners can be held on the LH end to trim the ends neatly.
    The tool is also useful to ensure that the ends of the shortened joiner will easily slide on the rails.

SHORTENED JOINERS: to make these:

  • cut the Peco joiner in half with a motor tool (get 2 for the price of 1!)
    to do this I hold the joiner in one end of the jig which is held in a vice.
  • file the ends square – to do this hold it with the shorter end of the little jig in the top photo.
  • scrub the end of the joiner with a wire brush to clean out the end.
Cut the rail to length if necessary. Use something like “Xuron®” cutters as shown below. File the ends of the rail to remove any burrs so that the joiner will slide on easily.
Showing how to cut the rail with a “Xuron®” cutter. The flat side of the cutter should face the rail to be used.
Don’t use these cutters on hard materials like steel wire (and how do I know this?) The last photo in this post shows the right tool to use on hardened wire.
Remove the rail chairs from the last sleeper (tie) with a sharp blade. In this case I am using a surgical scalpel.
A good way to ensure you don’t rip off a sleeper or cut yourself is to use a piece of scrap wood to cut against.
The chair needs to be completely removed so the joiner can clear the sleeper.
The short joiner will slide up the rail and be flush with the end. If you use a full size joiner, it will not slide up far enough to clear the join.
When the track is fixed down, this method allows the rail or point either side of the join to be disconnected by sliding the joiner to the left or right.
To cut hard wire such as “piano” wire use this tool. A beautiful German tool designed for the job. I couldn’t find anything locally and was able to buy it on eBay. Just search for the name showing on the handles.

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Rick Fletcher

Born in the steam era and developed an interest in railways when given a clockwork Hornby "set". Surrounded by steam when travelling to school (by train of course) and holidays were always by steam train as we had no car. How lucky was I?

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