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  • Topic: Review:San Val (Ana Kramer) rail connectors

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    • June 24, 2015 10:08 PM EDT

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      Review:San Val (Ana Kramer) rail connectors

      Yes, the San Val - now Ana Kramer on-line - track connectors are obvious, and for some, not acceptable.

       

      Meanwhile.....

       

      For me, I quit messing with looks and having tired of soldered jumpers, tiny screws breaking in tightening up older brass slotted connectors, and simply the hassles of sorting out electrical glitches,  I replaced the failed with the chunky four-screws-on-a-base clamping method. It works! After spraying the rail, ties, and these clamps with Krylon Rusty Brown, the looks do not offend anyone that I know who watches our trains from the patio.

       

      Yes, I am still in the groundlings category not having ended the entire electrified track saga with battery power.  Alas, there are others who have not followed the light and use track power -- so  for those others, try these, albeit ugly, sure-fire stainless screw track connectors. Besides, they are relatively cheap.  Check out "Ana Kramer" on Google and get on Al's website.

      Wendell

      This post was edited by Wendell Hanks at June 24, 2015 10:10 PM EDT
    • June 24, 2015 11:22 PM EDT

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      Good for you Wendell.

       

      Before I started, I read all about the woes of people using the joiners on Aristo and USAT. I looked at the better success of the LGB track and joiners and it seemed to me to be a matter of better fit, and many people used the LGB "conductive grease".

       

      It still seemed not good enough, and then I noticed that the prototype bonded the rails with stranded wire.

       

      Then I read more and saw that people that were successful used either good clamps or soldered jumpers. Since I was getting stainless steel and did not want to go through the soldering hassles, I got clamps.

       

      I have zero problems with conductivity, so it can be done. It's unfortunate that the "stock" solution is poor, but I have not found a "perfect" locomotive either.

       

      Greg

      This post was edited by Greg Greg Elmassian at June 24, 2015 11:23 PM EDT
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    • June 25, 2015 12:34 AM EDT
      • YYC, CANADA
         
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      I can still stay away from the "ugly"  since the stock (Aristo')  screws and joiners still work fine since the years they were installed (2001-'02) with a  mm  of LGB conductive grease on the lip of the A'c' joiner !

       

      And also run a snowplow thru the white stuff (at times a scale 12ft+ ht over the railheads)  just like the class 1s have done in the past.

       

      Granted I did use splitjaws(?) at the turnouts following input read back in '99-'00.

       

      nite,

      doug c

      This post was edited by Doug Cannon at June 25, 2015 12:34 AM EDT
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    • June 25, 2015 12:37 AM EDT
      • Deer Park, Washington
         
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      Those connectors do look impressive.  If the plate is stainless, unlike the aluminum that Aristo used, they should work better than anything out there.

      This post was edited by Steve Featherkile at June 25, 2015 12:39 AM EDT
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      Some people try to turn back their odometers.  Not me.  I want people to know why I look this way.  I've traveled a long way, and some of the roads weren't paved.  Will Rogers.

    • June 25, 2015 7:21 AM EDT
      • Saint Johns, Florida
         
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      I had some of those. I found that is was easy to get a screw stuck in the plate due to galling of stainless/stainless. I don't use them anymore. They are in my junkbox. They are made to go over rail joiners. I now use only track that uses rail joiners with screws. All my switches are installed with Splitjaw or Hillman clamps.

      ____________________________________

       

       

    • June 25, 2015 12:20 PM EDT
      • Sacramento, California
         
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      I have plenty of them that I "rescued" from abandoned RR's.  Don't really like them myself (it's the esthetics thing).  I had forgotten about just painting them!  Since they are stainless, they might be better for my aluminum rail than the brass clamps I use now.  I'll have to try them again -- with a coat of paint!

    • June 25, 2015 3:14 PM EDT

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      San Val clamps and stainless track:

      Gregg, above posting, reminded me that for my 50' stainless track that hosts a street car, I used the same four-screw clamps. Why? Because stainless, at least the stainless rail I bought 8 years ago, is ONERY! On curves, it wants to return to being straight. It is tough, and worthy of all the accolades on reduced cleaning! Yes! But, every curve is a motivation for a straight shape. Is this true of "todays" stainless 332 rail? Maybe. Maybe not. The standard clamps won't hold it for years IF, I say IF, there are curves.

       

      My remedy is those same four-bolt stainless steel-screwed San Val "Connector" clamps. That stainless rail has now succumbed. It is obedient on the curves. Yes, they are ugly - paint them and the rail 'n ties with the rusty brown Krylon.  Yes, the critics are still right about looks. I just agree with them as we sit on the patio watching.

       

      Is the newer stainless rail just as tough to hold on curves?

       

      Caution: You may, as noted by Joe's caution above, the screw holes in the supporting plate may need a cleaning with a tap - I found that true with some new ones I bought.

      This post was edited by Wendell Hanks at June 25, 2015 3:17 PM EDT
    • June 25, 2015 3:38 PM EDT
      • Vail, Az
         
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      When bending, most  metals it is best to go slightly beyond the desired to allow for 'Spring Back' memory. Memory gives strength, resistance to bending.

      Only metals that have been tempered to dead soft  and those without memory can be bent to shape.

       

      John

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      The older I get, the less I know, please don't make me prove it.

       

       

    • June 25, 2015 7:54 PM EDT
      • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
         
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      I  have not had any issues with my Arito stainless rail trying to return to straight. But, then its only been out there for like 12 or 13 years. So maybe I should give it some time.

      Some of the original Aristo joiners, a surprising number (to me anyway), are still tight and in good condition. Many of my Hillmann's clamps have failed, and the new ones that I still have, I use knowing that in a few years, they will fail too. The split jaws I have out there are working great, but they have only been in service a year or two.

       

      As for track power losses, I do not have any. When a joiner or clamp does fail, it gets replaced quickly. And most of my rail sections are fed power from the bus wire buried in the ballast alongside the track. After reading many of the doom and gloom threads about the (then) new Aristo stainless, being a bad conductor of electrons, I overbuilt the power distribution part of my railroad, when I built it.

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    • June 25, 2015 8:09 PM EDT
      • Deer Park, Washington
         
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      One thing to consider is that the early stainless Hillman's were made to the profile of the Aristo brass track, rather than than Aristo's stainless track.  This meant that the groove in the clamp was too narrow to fit the stainless track. This was not discovered until the stainless clamps had been in service for a while, and began to fail.

       

      This was corrected the next year.  The newer stainless clamps have grooves that are 1 1/2 times as wide as the older ones.  I haven't had any of the newer clamps fail, and they've been in use for over ten years.  I always check the groove before I install it,and use the older stainless ones on brass or aluminum track only.

      This post was edited by Steve Featherkile at June 25, 2015 8:12 PM EDT
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      Some people try to turn back their odometers.  Not me.  I want people to know why I look this way.  I've traveled a long way, and some of the roads weren't paved.  Will Rogers.

    • June 25, 2015 8:27 PM EDT

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      Actually, the Hillman's have a square notch for the rail foot, which provides 2 stress areas, and when you clamp the tapered foot of a rail into this notch, it naturally tries to spread the notch and crack in the corners.

      By comparison, Split Jaw clamps have a V groove and is not "forced open" the same way as the hillmans.

       

      I get that the groove in the hillmans may have been made larger (I believe he never made stainless ones, only some limited run brass). but still the foot of the rail is tapered and will spread it apart.

       

      I'm also not aware that the foot of the Aristo stainless is thicker than the foot of Aristo brass, I'll have to look at that sometime, although it's clearly possible. It did not appear to be so to me, as I had a mix of Aristo brass and stainless for some time, and never had any perception of any differences in rail profile.

       

      Greg

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    • June 25, 2015 8:27 PM EDT

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      Actually, the Hillman's have a square notch for the rail foot, which provides 2 stress areas, and when you clamp the tapered foot of a rail into this notch, it naturally tries to spread the notch and crack in the corners.

      By comparison, Split Jaw clamps have a V groove and is not "forced open" the same way as the hillmans.

       

      I get that the groove in the hillmans may have been made larger (I believe he never made stainless ones, only some limited run brass). but still the foot of the rail is tapered and will spread it apart.

       

      I'm also not aware that the foot of the Aristo stainless is thicker than the foot of Aristo brass, I'll have to look at that sometime, although it's clearly possible. It did not appear to be so to me, as I had a mix of Aristo brass and stainless for some time, and never had any perception of any differences in rail profile.

       

       

       

      Greg

      This post was edited by Greg Greg Elmassian at June 25, 2015 8:30 PM EDT
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    • June 25, 2015 8:36 PM EDT
      • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
         
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      Greg, yes the foot of the Aristo stainless is supposed to be larger. Mrs. Hillman told me that, and that I wanted the clamps made for the Aristo stainless. They did last many years, but like you said, and illustrated with that picture, the clamps failed, because its still a square notch on a tapered foot.

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    • June 25, 2015 9:37 PM EDT
      • Curmudgeon at Large, General Contractor???
         
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      Let me comment a bit late in the game.  Joe's observation on galling is absolutely correct. One thing that will help with the stainless/stainless mate it some anti seize compound that contains copper. This will go a long way. A better solution is to replace the stainless steel screws with plain steel. This will remove the galling issue. I will introduce a rusting issue, again anti seize goes a long way. My preferred solution is to use brass screws, and no anti seize is required.

       

      If one pays attention to the problem, it is generated by the base of the rail. When tightening a screw eccentricically as is done in this case, you are promoting the galling by loading the threads of the screw unevenly. There is no perfect solution considering the nature of the design. For those installing them one time the galling will not likely be an issue. My club uses them for the 'quick solution' to shows where the track is assembled on site and dismantled at the end of the show. We experience about a 5-10% failure rate after each show. Some are repairable, some not.

       

      The best solution I have seen, and I feel is the best engineered, I saw at a show but never determined who made them. They were a brass extrusion in sort of a 'J' configuration using two countersunk screws on the one side of the rail in stead of the flat bottomed pan heads of the SanVals. Brass plate with a stainless steel screw.

       

      Personally I will not have the 'Conductors' on my railroad in the as supplied configuration. Opinions vary.....

      This post was edited by Bob Cope at June 25, 2015 9:38 PM EDT
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    • June 25, 2015 11:51 PM EDT
      • Fort Washington, Pennsylvania
         
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      I've tried several of the clamps mentioned and find that Split-Jaw clamps hold up the best.  

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    • June 26, 2015 2:34 AM EDT

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      Bob, do you favor the copper anti-seize over the nickel stuff? If so, why?

       

      Greg

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    • June 26, 2015 10:53 PM EDT
      • Curmudgeon at Large, General Contractor???
         
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      Greg, nothing scientific, just I have always had good results with the copper base stuff. Call it 'empirical' data....:)

       

      Same reason I prefer brass screws in the stainless steel conductor clamps....even if the brass goms up and can't be unscrewed, I can take a torch and make a puddle of brass on the floor, chase the stainless steel threads and put a new screw in it's place.

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    • July 8, 2015 9:34 PM EDT
      • Fort Washington, Pennsylvania
         
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      I thought the same when I saw them.  I guess it depends on how much meat there is at that radius and how soft the metal is.

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