A Question about Rail Clamps

JimmyB

JimmyB

Learning; but slowly!
23 Feb 2018
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Weston-super-Mare
#1
As far as I can see other than the "standard" rail joiners, there are three styles of rail clamp:
  1. Massoth - two screws along one side holding the rail and solid on the other
  2. Split-jaw/Hillman - two screws clamping one side and solid on the other, either on the rail or over the rail joiner according to type.
  3. Piko - four screws, two on each side holding the rail
I appreciate that there are other manufactures, of very similar type. My question is reference type 1 and 2 above, do you have the screws on the inside of the track or the outside of the track?
I am sure there will be quite some variance in thoughts, so thanks you in advance for your response.
 
Rhinochugger

Rhinochugger

Retired Oik
27 Oct 2009
22,954
3,092
North West Norfolk
#2
As far as I can see other than the "standard" rail joiners, there are three styles of rail clamp:
  1. Massoth - two screws along one side holding the rail and solid on the other
  2. Split-jaw/Hillman - two screws clamping one side and solid on the other, either on the rail or over the rail joiner according to type.
  3. Piko - four screws, two on each side holding the rail
I appreciate that there are other manufactures, of very similar type. My question is reference type 1 and 2 above, do you have the screws on the inside of the track or the outside of the track?
I am sure there will be quite some variance in thoughts, so thanks you in advance for your response.
Outside - unless access is an issue :nod::nod::nod:
 
muns

muns

Moderator
Staff member
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#3
Massoth show their clamps with the screws on the inside but it is user preference. I have customers who have the screws on the outside, I personally put them on the inside.
 
PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
21,275
2,467
Tamworth, Staffs.
#4
It is certainly 'easier' if the screws are on the outside of the track. - Disclaimer follows! ;):rolleyes:
The theory being you *should* be able to get at them more easily..

However #1, if you are running a track along a 'shelf' attached to a fence (say) then it makes a lot of sense to put the fixings on the side you can see them, on BOTH rails.

However #2, it matters a lot less with the Massoth-type, as you get at them from above.. I tend to put the screws in the 'four-foot' in this situation. - Even if I am using the screws (with solder-tags) to make electrical connections.
Oh, and use an old wooden clothes-peg to hold the tag, and solder to it *before* clamping in place! - So much easier to solder to a small tag, than heat the whole rail, as well. :nerd::nod:
 
Zerogee

Zerogee

Clencher's Bogleman
25 Oct 2009
16,246
1,758
North Essex
#5
Type 1, they look a little neater with the screws on the inside of the rail - BUT I confess I put mine on the outside, because they just seem a bit easier to fit that way!

Type 2, always on the outside - trying to do up the screws from the inside would be very, very fiddly and frustrating (insert allen key, make a sixth of a turn, reposition key etc....)!

Never used the Piko type. My preference is for the Massoth type by a long way, certainly for ease of fitting.

Jon.
 
dunnyrail

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
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St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
#7
Tend to agree Massoth screws to the inside but for Hillman much easier on the outside, but as I now only use Hillman in my Fiddle Yard it matters not a hoot. Though there are places like points where the only option with Hillmans is on the inside.
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

Registered
8 Mar 2014
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#8
I don't turn off the power when working on track unless necessary, normally have trains running on other areas and also, after trackwork, will run a train over the repair right away.

When the screws are on the outside, it's easiest, inside, it limits the wrenches I can use, normally I can use the ball end wrench, more convenient... but if the screws are on the inside, it's really easy to short the power by touching the far rail with the driver, i.e. the ball end driver cannot be operated at a large angle.

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maxi-model

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
27 Oct 2009
4,243
453
Bucks/Oxon/Northants area
#9
Type 2, always on the outside - trying to do up the screws from the inside would be very, very fiddly and frustrating (insert allen key, make a sixth of a turn, reposition key etc....)! Jon.
If you have the correct "Hillman" hex' driver then it does not matter whether the bolt heads are on the inside or outside. Access requirements determine which way round I fit them rather than esthetics. On some joins I have one on the inside, t'other on the outside.

One thing to remember with Hillman/Splitjaw type is to lubricate the threads (good old LGB graphite paste will do) on the bolts when installing and don't overtighten, stops them seizing up over time. Also make sure there are no plastic tabs, on the sleeper webs, under the rails where you place the joiners. Max

Edit you got there as I was typing Greg - Yes, ball-end driver.
 
R

RogerK

Registered
3 Jun 2018
20
23
USA
#10
The track doesn't care, so it's really your preference. (for some reason, the Hitchhikers Guide popped into my head after I wrote that lol)

I had the Massoth clamps on my former layout (ProLine code 332 track) and had the screws to the inside because the appearance was much better. On my current layout, I went with Sunset Valley (code 250) track and use their clamps, which are similar to split jaw. I generally have the screws to the outside for convenience. The screws hide in the ballast pretty well. If the track was not ballasted, I probably would have still installed the screws on the outside.

Personally, I didn't like the Massoth clamps, but it came with the track.

Sunset Valley has some good instructions for track assembly on the bottom of this PAGE.

Staggering the joints really does help keep the curves smooth and I highly recommend it, but be aware that it can be a real pain if you need to change something. You have to start the disassembly from a point where the joints are together, usually at a switch (points).
 
JimmyB

JimmyB

Learning; but slowly!
23 Feb 2018
912
395
64
Weston-super-Mare
#11
Many thanks guys, I have a mixture, with Massoth screws on the inside, I also have some split-jaw and have the heads on the inside (thought it looked neater), had to buy two ball end wrenches as the different makes have different screws 1/16" different! I also have some over joiner Hillmans, which I am starting to fit, and first (before getting to far) see what the forum opinion was.
 
SevenOfDiamonds

SevenOfDiamonds

Registered
3 Jan 2010
58
42
#12
... but if the screws are on the inside, it's really easy to short the power by touching the far rail with the driver, i.e. the ball end driver cannot be operated at a large angle.
I enclose the metal shaft of the ball end driver in a plastic tube (usually from the inside of a ball point pen) to avoid problems arising from the accidental touching of the opposite rail.

Best wishes

David
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

Registered
8 Mar 2014
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#13
Yep, I put a piece of heat shrink on it for the same reason, but still you need to be almost inline if you are applying a lot of torque.

In places where I am forced to put the screws inside (like a yard ladder where the switches are very close to each other), I normally have to use the traditional "L shaped" allen wrench to do the final tightening or the first loosening.

Greg
 
LGB-Sid

LGB-Sid

Registered
19 Sep 2016
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726
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UK
#14
Massoth type Inside, they look neater and I use the clamps to attach extra feed wires to the track, so the wires are also inside and hidden better just my 5 euros worth :)
 
P

phils2um

Registered
11 Sep 2015
177
197
Ann Arbor, Michigan
#15
I have mostly Split-Jaw clamps, both over-the-joiner and direct on the rail. Like most people have already responded, I put them in whichever way makes getting at the screws easiest. The ball-end driver gives access from either inside or outside the rails.

The only "do-over" I'd make is to exclusively use the direct on the rail clamps. It requires removing the joiners from sectional track, but the connections are more secure than the over-the joiner clamps. Also, the direct rail clamps are a bit smaller and less obtrusive.

But, all in all I've not had many problems with the over-the joiner clamps either.

Phil S.

Edit: I just added heat shrink to my ball-end drivers. Thanks for the suggestion David and Greg.
 
GAP

GAP

G Scale trains, Lawn Bowls.
14 Jun 2011
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Bomaderry, New South Wales, Australia
#16
Type 1, they look a little neater with the screws on the inside of the rail - BUT I confess I put mine on the outside, because they just seem a bit easier to fit that way!

Type 2, always on the outside - trying to do up the screws from the inside would be very, very fiddly and frustrating (insert allen key, make a sixth of a turn, reposition key etc....)!

Never used the Piko type. My preference is for the Massoth type by a long way, certainly for ease of fitting.

Jon.
Regarding the Type 2 comment when I bought my Hillman's clamps (not available any more I know) i received a ball type Allen key that overcame the problem of getting an Allen key into an awkward angle position.
All my rail clamps I have put the screw head on the outside because different flange sizes on my rolling stock did cause derailment problems (standardisation anyone?) personal choice.
 
stockers

stockers

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#17
I thought we were talking about the Massoth screws (inside here) - so a hex driver is irrelevant!
 
Rhinochugger

Rhinochugger

Retired Oik
27 Oct 2009
22,954
3,092
North West Norfolk
#18
I thought we were talking about the Massoth screws (inside here) - so a hex driver is irrelevant!
The question was about Massoth and Hillman / Hillman type ............................... I think :think::think::think::think:
 
Sean.

Sean.

Hmmmm
5 Oct 2017
485
523
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Boston & Cocagne NB (not enough)
#19
As far as I can see other than the "standard" rail joiners, there are three styles of rail clamp:
  1. Massoth - two screws along one side holding the rail and solid on the other
  2. Split-jaw/Hillman - two screws clamping one side and solid on the other, either on the rail or over the rail joiner according to type.
  3. Piko - four screws, two on each side holding the rail
I appreciate that there are other manufactures, of very similar type. My question is reference type 1 and 2 above, do you have the screws on the inside of the track or the outside of the track?
I am sure there will be quite some variance in thoughts, so thanks you in advance for your response.
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

Registered
8 Mar 2014
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San Diego
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#20
Yes, reference the OP's OP when asking what the thread is about ha ha!

His question was about types 1 and 2, type 2 is split-jaw/hillman types, which are both with SS socket head cap screws (the allen type of socket) although Hillman and SJ use/used different allen sizes. I have the ball end drivers in both sizes.

Hillman used to make the nicest lift-out bridge clamps, and some nice nickel plated end of track bumpers. Did not like their clamps much, the square groove caused more stress risers and they cracked more often.

Greg