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    • May 10, 2019 1:31 PM EDT
      • The Villages, FL
         
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      Rail Joint Spacing

      In honor of the 150th anniversary of the golden spike,

           Just coincidence really...Today I placed the last segment of track connecting the steamup siding to the main line turnout completing my layout.  I never worried much about rail expansion in upstate NY but here in Florida the temperature climbs higher so rail length probably changes more.  Some of you live in climates even hotter than here so I'm wondering what your experience dictates as far as the size of gaps at rail joints.

           Some back ground:  I'm using Accucraft code 250 brass track sections with the larger narrow gauge ties left over from a railroad expansion project that was shelved because of our move here.  My layout is a live steam loop in a birdcage (screen room) framed with galvanized steel track (like studs but without the holes) with 2x4 cross members supported on wood legs.  The frame is topped with composite fascia board and the track placed on top.  I still have some fine tuning to do such as placing ties under the rail joiner areas, building a couple of bridges and adding a third rail at 32mm gauge but having a complete oval I can now run trains at home.

           I would appreciate any guidance toward avoiding problems with the track in the heat.

      Thanks,

      Tom

    • May 10, 2019 1:41 PM EDT
      • Vail, Az
         
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      Tucson 114* - 28*  F, full sun.

      No gaps all joints as tight as I can get them, held together with screws through the joiner. Floats on ballast. No problems. Allow for expansion to be taken up by lateral movement in turns.

       

      I'm using Aristo SS on wood planks under the ballast.

      ____________________________________

      John

       

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

       

       

    • May 10, 2019 1:56 PM EDT
      • Shut Up Rooster
         
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      If on a really hot day, tight, no gaps as John says.

       

      Cooler, i.e. cooler than average, I use a credit card thickness. I am free floating completely but do have some long straight runs, never had a kink, longest straight run about 60 feet in full sun.

       

      I do have stainless, which "grows" less than brass (and so does John)

       

      Greg

      ____________________________________

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    • May 10, 2019 5:24 PM EDT
      • Curmudgeon at Large, Michael survivor
         
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      Expansion information data here : https://www.largescalecentral.com/forums/topic/25621/heat-expansion-on-brass-track?page=1

      ____________________________________

      We don't stop playing with trains because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing with trains.....

       

    • May 10, 2019 7:01 PM EDT
      • Vail, Az
         
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      Only add gaps if you want the 'click'.

      I don't want any slippage in the joiners. I have seen circles and reverse loops grow in diameter and straightaways force a kick out at the curves with rising temperatures.

      With the announcement of Split jaws demise, I have been looking at welding the custom joints because I think of the track as solid I beams. Although as my health wanes, I doubt if I'll leave my heirs that problem of undoing welds....

       

      One known problem of allowing slippage is the track rarely shrinks back the way it was. Big gaps  can and do appear.

      Greg often brags of his cooler coastal temps ... your mileage may vary.

      This post was edited by John Caughey at May 10, 2019 11:12 PM EDT
      ____________________________________

      John

       

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

       

       

    • May 10, 2019 7:17 PM EDT
      • Defending the State of Exile! ,
         
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      Tom,

      My RR is 12 yrs old with hard soldered joints using 332 brass rail that "floats" in the ties (meaning no screws securing the rails to the ties) and some (split jaw) rail joiners.....Played with expansion and contraction over the years and even bought split jaw expansion sections for my 75' straight runs that NEVER moved. Located in PA and some gets full sun some does not.....however in my experience and "especially" since it's a loop the expansion happens on the curves.

      So with that said make the joints tight unless you want rail clack and allow for expansion with the platform (support) on the curves as mine will move as much as an inch sometimes over the seasons. However I'm no expert only sharing my experience.

    • May 10, 2019 7:18 PM EDT
      • Defending the State of Exile! ,
         
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      Seems John beat me to the answer

    • May 12, 2019 10:42 AM EDT
      • Shut Up Rooster
         
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      Yep, I do have somewhat cooler temps than John, my comment was that I was agreeing with John and no gaps even for my somewhat cooler average temps, but we can get hot in the summer.

       

      The other part is that if you lay track when it is cooler than your average, you normally leave some small gaps.

       

      Note the prototype railroads heat and stretch rails in colder temps.

       

      Greg

      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


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    • May 12, 2019 11:04 AM EDT
      • Vail, Az
         
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      I do not agree nor understand leaving gaps. Do they close up by themselves or merely move with the track? If they move with the track, what function do they offer?

      I don't want any movement in my joiners, hot or cold laid doesn't seem to matter when it's butted up tight.

      Good luck.

      ____________________________________

      John

       

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

       

       

    • May 12, 2019 2:28 PM EDT
      • Candlewood Valley, Connecticut
         
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      I hear you John. I pretty much broke all the rules when I laid my track and I've not had any of the issues the experts cautioned against.  It really comes down to experimentation and doing what works in your unique environment.

      ____________________________________

      www.cvsry.com www.cvsry.com

    • May 12, 2019 2:34 PM EDT
      • Shut Up Rooster
         
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      I've definitely had joints close when things got hot AND track was laid when cool. I see this mainly on straights. Curves not so much. Also have seen differences between slip on joiners and clamps.

       

      If you were open to experiment, this coming winter, open a gap in the track, and then revisit it in the summer.

       

      Viewing from the pictures of your layout, you have lots of curves and very few straights, even places that could be straight have wiggles in them. Based on that it makes complete sense you would never need gaps.

       

      Greg

      This post was edited by Greg Elmassian at May 12, 2019 2:36 PM EDT
      ____________________________________

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      ­Click HERE for Greg­'s web sit­e
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    • May 12, 2019 2:57 PM EDT
      • Vail, Az
         
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      Greg said "I've definitely had joints close when things got hot AND track was laid when cool. I see this mainly on straights. Curves not so much. Also have seen differences between slip on joiners and clamps."

       

      So the next cool spell do you regap? Or do you let them pull apart as they will?

       

      I did lay my track in a cooler spell, not for gaps but to align my track in the middle of the right away, knowing it's preference to move laterally, but at all times without gaps.

       

      In a time long ago he agreed, but old habits apparently are kicking in again....

      ____________________________________

      John

       

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

       

       

    • May 12, 2019 3:26 PM EDT
      • Shut Up Rooster
         
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      Are you just wanting to argue, or actually wanting information?

      I'll go on the latter, for the benefit of at least others that want information.

      First of all, our hot and cool are vastly different, so I hope that all reading take this into consideration.

       

      So, if I lay track when "very cold" in San Diego, I will leave a gap. In the height of the summer I butt the rail as tightly as possible. Other times, snug or close is fine.

       

      So maybe using that criteria, if you laid track in November or December when it is 50 degrees, perhaps the average person would leave gaps, if their summers could exceed 110 degrees AND they did not have a lot of curves.

       

      Also, perhaps Tom's situation is also affected by the composite boards, which, being a lot of plastic, can expand a lot more than wood. I have a friend that used a ladder system using dark brown polypropylene, and when exposed to the sun, moved/expanded a lot.

       

      John, you have a lot of curves, and I would guess that MOST of the year, you would not put in gaps.

       

      But this thread is not about John in the Desert, but Tom in Florida, so I'm trying to address that.

       

      Greg

       

      p.s. maybe I said something a long time ago, but as I continue through life, I do learn and can change opinions.... not stagnate

      This post was edited by Greg Elmassian at May 12, 2019 3:29 PM EDT
      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


      ­Click HERE for Greg­'s web sit­e
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    • May 12, 2019 4:13 PM EDT
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      I'm in Southern California about 12 miles from the coast (almost direct view through the canyon)) and leave about a fingernail's width gap (AristoCraft Code 332 brass).  I also solder jumper wirers between the sections.  The joints do open and close up (Aristocraft joiners), even when I crank the screws down as tight as I can.  The jumpers seem to keep the sections from opening too much maintaining a close spacing (they get tight).

       

      And the track does push out in the corners too.  It free floats in the ballast (No.5 granite crusher fines) and the evidence is readily obvious in the imprints left from the movement of the ties. 

      This post was edited by Todd Brody at May 12, 2019 4:16 PM EDT
    • May 12, 2019 6:13 PM EDT
      • The Villages, FL
         
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      Thanks for your thoughts guys,

           I didn't mean to cause an argument.  My situation is unique compared to a ground level railway since it's at waist level so the track needs to stay in the relative center of the baseboard so the steamers won't fall off.  I've been carefully observing the layout the last two days while our weather ranged from 68F at night to 92F, mostly sunny with a rain deluge yesterday afternoon which dropped the temperature 14 degrees, typical Florida summer weather.

           When I attached the composite top (Lowes ChoiceDek fascia board) I was careful to space the board segments up to 1/8" to allow for expansion.  In the heat of the day none of the gaps disappeared completely.  My layout is relatively small, a 10' x 20' oval with a mainline run of about 50' and a 54" radius 180 deg. curve at each end.  The straights are short, about 10', and 20" of that is a Sunset Valley turnout.  The only place I really need a gap is the 30" lift out on one end which allows access to the inside of the layout by sliding off the joiners and lifting the removable section upwards.  That is also the only place where the rail needs to be fastened down so it stays in position to be reconnected when trains are run.

           One saving grace may be that the screen roof of the birdcage blocks some of the sunlight.  The most common use of birdcages around here is to cover swimming pools and I was told that a heater (solar or propane) is almost always needed because warm swimming conditions can not be obtained by direct solar gain alone.  Second is that my orientation, even with the sun high in the sky, puts half the birdcage in shade by 11 am and the rest later in the afternoon.

           It was interesting to read Pete Lassen's experiment in the thread Bob Cope referred to where he took a 6' length of AML 332 brass rail outside in 108F sunlight and it expanded 1/16"  Based on that and your input I've devised a plan for my layout.  I can afford some distortion on the end curves since the track center is about 8" in from the table edge so I will screw the center of the ties to the table on either side of the lift out to maintain the relative position of the rail  I will also screw down the ties on either side of the two turnouts to keep those connections in place.  Then I will put a screw half way between those two points to keep the rail centered on the table.  On the remaining end I will not fasten the ties down allowing the track to float some on the table.  And, as with the three portable live steam show layouts I've built, (approximately the same size as my fixed layout) I'll check the security of the slide-on rail joiners at each running session.  I don't plan to electrify the layout so jumpers will not be necessary.

           Establishing the track curves with the Train Li bender and cutting the rail joints by eye the joints do not line up perfectly and some small gaps have appeared between rail ends.  I have not observed much change in those gaps though consistently hotter temperatures are on the horizon for our area.  As they occur I'll continue to observe and adjust as necessary.   I'll report later in the summer after I see what effect the higher temperatures have on the baseboard and rail.

    • May 12, 2019 8:28 PM EDT
      • Defending the State of Exile! ,
         
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      Greg Elmassian said:

      Are you just wanting to argue, or actually wanting information?

      I'll go on the latter, for the benefit of at least others that want information.

      First of all, our hot and cool are vastly different, so I hope that all reading take this into consideration.

       

      So, if I lay track when "very cold" in San Diego, I will leave a gap. In the height of the summer I butt the rail as tightly as possible. Other times, snug or close is fine.

       

      So maybe using that criteria, if you laid track in November or December when it is 50 degrees, perhaps the average person would leave gaps, if their summers could exceed 110 degrees AND they did not have a lot of curves.

       

      Also, perhaps Tom's situation is also affected by the composite boards, which, being a lot of plastic, can expand a lot more than wood. I have a friend that used a ladder system using dark brown polypropylene, and when exposed to the sun, moved/expanded a lot.

       

      John, you have a lot of curves, and I would guess that MOST of the year, you would not put in gaps.

       

      But this thread is not about John in the Desert, but Tom in Florida, so I'm trying to address that.

       

      Greg

       

      p.s. maybe I said something a long time ago, but as I continue through life, I do learn and can change opinions.... not stagnate

      Greg,

       It doesn't appear to me that anyone was arguing and if you re-read it twice (as you suggest) before posting, you will find that the information was already given? Seems to me from many recent threads that the only one looking for an argument is you?

    • May 12, 2019 8:39 PM EDT
      • Defending the State of Exile! ,
         
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      Tom Bowdler said:

      Thanks for your thoughts guys,

           I didn't mean to cause an argument.

      Tom,

       You didn't....all you caused was a valid discussion which has been discussed more than a few times over the years. Seems like you are covered with the added decking on the curves and from my personal findings the track will push in the curves. Yes, I am track powered however the main reason for hard solid connections it reliability not power. Whether you clamp it ,solder it or weld it (like the 1:1 does) I'm a firm believer in the long floating sections of rail in the ties like the 1:1 does and Jack Verducci recommended it years ago and he is a battery guy I believe.

      Gaps are for nothing but clank if that is what you want. Would like to see pictures of the new venture if you have time and enjoy the hobby as it's a great hobby !

    • May 12, 2019 9:01 PM EDT
      • Shut Up Rooster
         
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      Rooster, I guess you missed this even though you read it twice:

      Greg said "I've definitely had joints close when things got hot AND track was laid when cool. I see this mainly on straights. Curves not so much. Also have seen differences between slip on joiners and clamps."

       So the next cool spell do you regap? Or do you let them pull apart as they will?

       I did lay my track in a cooler spell, not for gaps but to align my track in the middle of the right away, knowing it's preference to move laterally, but at all times without gaps.

       In a time long ago he agreed, but old habits apparently are kicking in again....

       

      Obviously you need to read THREE times, or just mind your own business, John can speak for himself just fine.

       

      Greg

      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


      ­Click HERE for Greg­'s web sit­e
      PLEASE NOT­E: Please do NOT use private messaging, i­f you have­ a questio­n, feel fr­ee to emai­l me priva­tely, u­se regular­ email onl­y: greg@el­massian.co­m

    • May 12, 2019 9:13 PM EDT
      • Defending the State of Exile! ,
         
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      " Rooster " said:

      Greg,

       It doesn't appear to me that anyone was arguing and if you re-read it twice (as you suggest) before posting, you will find that the information was already given? Seems to me from many recent threads that the only one looking for an argument is you?

       

      Greg,

       I rest my case !

    • May 12, 2019 11:13 PM EDT
      • Peoria, NW of Phoenix, Arizona
         
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      Tom, here is what has happened in the year my track has been down, nothing! I did about half of it leaving a very small gap  and some I butted together as tight as can be, I live in the Phoenix area and my track floats on ballast and there has been almost no noticeable movement.  This was out all last summer. I have a couple of 40 foot straight sections but most of my track has some curve to it. The basic shape is a large kidney bean shape so that may be why I had little to no moving. About half of the track get the full sun and half is unde the shade of 2 trees.  I would try it as you have said, keep an eye on it on a few hot days and adjust from there.

      ____________________________________

       

      Butt Modeler #2

       

       

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