Piko conductive grease for rail joints.

Scot Lawrence

Scot Lawrence

Registered
30 May 2018
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Rochester, NY USA
Hey everyone,
Im laying my first outdoor line with track power, I got split-jaw clamps, and I have read good things about using the LGB conductive paste/grease, so I thought I would try that too..

It seems the LGB product is no longer available, but I found what I think is the replacement, (or at least *a* replacement) : Piko product number 36215. This is it:


The product lettering is all in German, but I did a google translate, it says:

"corrosion protection for rail connectors, cable lugs, etc."

so I laid some track today, using the split-jaw clamps, and some of the grease in each joint, a small bit slathered in the clamp. electricity is flowing! Everything seems fine..

but here is what I dont understand..the grease is supposed to be conductive, electricy flows through it, correct? Or so I believe..but perhaps not? Because as an experiment, (I was curious!) ;) I tried a test..I laid out a small blob of the grease, put a wire in each end, wires only connected by grease..electricity does *not* flow through the grease! Huh? I thought that was the whole point..so now I dont understand..can anyone explain?

thanks,
Scot
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

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hahahahaha!!

So, you are correct, it is not conductive.

I've had a lot of people take this on because it says "conductive grease" and that is FALSE and MISLEADING.

"dielectric grease that helps keep conductivity" would be true. Keep dirt and oxygen out of a connection and it will be conductive longer.

I actually had an LGB representative (their US headquarters was 2 blocks from my workplace) maintain it was conductive... when shown the test with an ohmmeter, and it was not even MILDLY conductive, I got this response:

"It has graphite, so it must be conductive"....

Again the meter, and now telling the guy I am a electrical engineer, and a physicist, he then proffered this explanation:

Well, you are not measuring it right, when you put it in a rail joiner, it compresses all the little pieces of graphite so they touch and conduct.

I promptly offered to sell the man the London, Tower, and George Washington bridges for cheap.

There ARE conductive greases, and for the most part, they have no business in our hobby, since when they spread a bit, they usually create short circuits.

Greg
 
maxi-model

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
27 Oct 2009
4,495
132
Bucks/Oxon/Northants area
There are a number of products on the market that will perform the function of the Massoth item you have bought. They all have different brand names depending on which market they're bought in. There is a product type, in the UK a couple of brands are Coppa Slip & Copper Grease, that as the names imply uses a different metal, as one of its constituents, to provide the same function we use them for on our lines as you have. One of the copper based product's original purposes is in fact to reduce disc brake squeal !

As Greg says, their purpose in our application is to inhibit surface corrosion and tarnishing that may diminish electrical conductivity over time in an outdoor railroad. The main thing though is to make sure, if you are using any 2nd hand used items in your track, that all the surfaces that connect are clean, untarnished and bright to start with before applying any corrosion inhibitors.

Short of actually bonding the rails (soldering jumper leads between each rail) this can prove one of the best means of minimising the risks of voltage drop outs on a line over time. The fact you are using track clamps can only improve things further - are the clamps "over joiner" or direct to rail ? Don't forget to use on other exposed electrical connections, not just the track itself. Max
 
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Paul M

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Most grease will probably do what is required, ie keeping moisture etc away from sensitive areas, but a lot will get washed out quickly in wet weather. The graphite helps it stick
 
JimmyB

JimmyB

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As Max says, I use copper "grease", though not technically grease, and there are lots of trade names for the stuff, and as far as i know they all work the same, preventing corrosion, to ensure continuous continuity.
 
Zerogee

Zerogee

Clencher's Bogleman
25 Oct 2009
16,641
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North Essex
Well, the important thing is that whatever it is, and however it actually works, it WORKS! :rofl:

I laid my line with Massoth clamps and a little blob of LGB graphite paste in each clamp, as recommended, and it all seems to work just fine.

New-old-stock LGB tubes are still around, plus Massoth do their own branded equivalent, though as mentioned by some posters above a lot of folks use alternatives like Copper Slip which appears to work just as well.

Jon.
 
Rhinochugger

Rhinochugger

Retired Oik
27 Oct 2009
24,739
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North West Norfolk
I live in the alternative-world - if you have rail clamps, there's no need for grease, just clamp 'em up to get good metal to metal contact.

As something of an explanation - When I moved house, and got around to re-laying some of my used, up to 10 year old, Aristocraft track which has screwed fishplates, I set about removing all the fishplates to clean the rail ends. What I found was that where the fishplates were factory fitted, the brass rail was still bright, and not at all discoloured. (I have no way of telling whether any minor oxidation had taken place).

What it told me was that good metal to metal contact is all you need - well, for 10 years at least :D:D
 
Zerogee

Zerogee

Clencher's Bogleman
25 Oct 2009
16,641
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North Essex
Having already got the tube of LGB paste a while previously, there didn't seem any good reason NOT to use it - so I figured that it was still worth doing.... it may help in the long term, it may do very little, but it certainly won't do any harm.

One thing that I did do which I think definitely helps - except for where I was using sections of brand-new straight-from-the-box track - was to clean all the rail ends (after pulling off the fishplate joiners) with a good splurge of Kilroc Gel... left on for a few minutes, then rinsed off with plenty of water with a quick scrub from a wire brush, this did an excellent and very easy job of getting the last 1/2" or so of the rail end bright and shiny (even with quite heavily tarnished second-hand track) so that each rail clamp went on to nice clean metal.

Jon.
 
Rhinochugger

Rhinochugger

Retired Oik
27 Oct 2009
24,739
403
North West Norfolk
Having already got the tube of LGB paste a while previously, there didn't seem any good reason NOT to use it - so I figured that it was still worth doing.... it may help in the long term, it may do very little, but it certainly won't do any harm.

One thing that I did do which I think definitely helps - except for where I was using sections of brand-new straight-from-the-box track - was to clean all the rail ends (after pulling off the fishplate joiners) with a good splurge of Kilroc Gel... left on for a few minutes, then rinsed off with plenty of water with a quick scrub from a wire brush, this did an excellent and very easy job of getting the last 1/2" or so of the rail end bright and shiny (even with quite heavily tarnished second-hand track) so that each rail clamp went on to nice clean metal.

Jon.
Yep, doesn't matter what you use, white vinegar, coca-cola, or any natural product ;);) but nice clean rail ends, including the flat bottom of the rail :nod::nod: is going to help.

As we've said many times before, it is the rail joints where the voltage is the most likely to drop.
 
Scot Lawrence

Scot Lawrence

Registered
30 May 2018
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Rochester, NY USA
very interesting! thanks everyone..
I was concerned that because it isnt literally conductive, that it might somehow *inhibit* electricity flow and contact, versus not using the lube.
but that seems unlikely, because the electricty flow happens from direct metal-to-metal contact..
which you will get with or without using this grease..
So it seems that using this grease has three possibilities:

1. It might help, by reducing oxidation of clean brass.
2. It might do nothing.
3. It probably wont hurt.

So, it might be slightly better than not using it! ;) maybe..
Interesting topic! thanks..

Im using a wire brush in a dremel tool to clean up the rail ends, before appling the grease and clamps.
make sure you also get the *bottom* of the rail! I forgot that on the first few pieces I installed.

Scot
 
JimmyB

JimmyB

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23 Feb 2018
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very interesting! thanks everyone..
I was concerned that because it isnt literally conductive, that it might somehow *inhibit* electricity flow and contact, versus not using the lube.
but that seems unlikely, because the electricty flow happens from direct metal-to-metal contact..
which you will get with or without using this grease..
So it seems that using this grease has three possibilities:

1. It might help, by reducing oxidation of clean brass.
2. It might do nothing.
3. It probably wont hurt.

So, it might be slightly better than not using it! ;) maybe..
Interesting topic! thanks..

Im using a wire brush in a dremel tool to clean up the rail ends, before applying the grease and clamps.
make sure you also get the *bottom* of the rail! I forgot that on the first few pieces I installed.

Scot
There are a few threads and posts on track cleaning, and the various methods used
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

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Yes, it seems that putting an insulator (grease) would inhibit conductivity, but the metal always touches through the grease, trust me.

The big deal is keeping oxygen and dirt out. Grease will make a huge difference. Any grease will do actually, the graphite is thought to reduce friction, but you really don't care about that in rail joints.

I use something that more actively inhibits corrosion... the grease is "neutral", I use noalox, by Ideal: Noalox®

It was originally developed for the short-lived aluminum wiring in homes... if you read their literature and dig down, works good for copper and brass too.

So far, extended testing over 5 years shows better results than grease alone.

Greg
 
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maxi-model

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
27 Oct 2009
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Bucks/Oxon/Northants area
So, it might be slightly better than not using it! ;) maybe.
I suppose the benefit of treating any electricity conducting materials on your line, to minimise corrosion or tarnishing, is in part down to the climate it lives in.

For most of us in the UK we have to deal with a reasonably wet climate, compared to say So Cal ;). More so if you live in the west of this fair isle or in Ireland itself (Hello Mick, if you are reading this :hi:). All that rain will contain small amounts of chemicals that will hasten the corrosion (tarnishing) of the copper element of brass and restrict its conductive abilities That, and all the other dirt and muck that flows around the rail and other electrical joints when your line is on the ground and laid straight to ballast. The whole problem is further exaserbated when your line is in full or partial shade rather than full sun so the wet stuff doesn't evaporate too quickly, if at all sometimes. Hence the waterproofing bit.

When I first laid my line some 15 years ago I had never heard of any of these "inhibitors". Within 5 years my trains were fairly stuttering around my line. Now, I had heard about "bonding" the rails (as mentioned previously") but that seemed a lot of faff and a somewhat inflexible method for a developing line. Then I discovered the predecessor to this forum, G Scale Mad, and the answers were there. So I took this still developing lines's track and all its attendant electrical connections apart, thoroughly cleaned as recommended, and made with the "paste" to protect those joins. That process has been dutifully followed ever since when the line is added to, modified or any track lifting is required. I also fitted track clamps not just for the reasons being discussed but to minimise the risk of track separation and to add some integrity to some more "complex" elements of my track's configuration.

10 years on from these remedial actions and still no noticeable drop outs. So benefits are very much down to where you live and the topography of your line. Now I have just got to deal with those dodgy and soldered buss bars/wires on my points and crossings (as supplied new :mad:) , with their dead frogs :banghead: - That's a whole other topic :D Max
 
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Scot Lawrence

Scot Lawrence

Registered
30 May 2018
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Rochester, NY USA
I suppose the benefit of treating any electricity conducting materials on your line, to minimise corrosion or tarnishing, is in part down to the climate it lives in.
Thanks everyone..
yeah, I think it will be a benefit in my climate, the main climate issue being: snow cover, 5 months of the year.

I got the loop in place! It's running well. I'll post an update in my "build log thread" soon..
thanks,
Scot
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

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Scot, I forgot to mention an important thing is also lube the threads of the cap screws. I use SS splitjaws, and it's pretty important in that case since SS screws in SS clamps is an even greater opportunity for seizing and galling.


Greg
 
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