Large Scale Central

Review: New Al Kramer clamps

I ordered the new improved Al Kramer (“Conductor”) clamps that he has sold for years under his Ebay site. The other source is his company

For those following the critiques of the older versions’s problems of screws binding, there were varied evaluations of the clamps being used with LGB/Aristo/Bachma’s factory clamps. In addition, was Al Kramer’s statement acknowledging the screw binding problem and his commitment to testing the newest manufacturing before offering them or sale.

The new shipment came, he said he successfully tested them, and I bought 20 sets. Here is my report of testing:

1 - No evidence of screw binding as each screw can be hand threaded. They look great and work fine.

2 - The workmanship appears excellent - granted, it is a simple plate precisely drilled to exactly compress a factory rail connector on both sides of the connector. Thus the clamp, connector, and rail are all compressed together – sides and bottom.

3 - I have tried, per Greg’s sharp inventiveness, clamping directly to the rail instead of using the system to compress the factory connector against the rail. I used two modified stainless washers on either side of the rail, – four used total – they were compressed directly against the rail by the four screws,. I add, compared to the two methods, I have not seen any previous differences in continuity or clamp durability of the rail with the older models once the screws have been fully tightened. I think the clamped factory connectors gives added rigidity. Again, the issue in the new ones were the screws did not thread easily and would, as we say, gall.

4. My conclusion for holding stainless rail – especially on curves – the Kramer clamps, FULLY tightened, compressing the factory clamps, really hold. Stainless rail, at least that was mfg. nearly 8 years ago, has a mind of its own. On sharp curves it wants to straighten out - it won’t forget. I found these clamps give that rail a full measure of holding power. The clamp/factory connector combo holds stainless even if using the brass connectors. I use same and the Kramer clamped rail has been down for 8 years and never moved a molecule.

5. Yes, they still look absolutely non-prototypical. For concerned commentary, keep 'em in the back where you may have to walk on the track - at least out-of-site is out of comment. Besides most negative commentary on prototypicallity is just a gallery of nuisances.

great report Wendell!

I am a little confused on your #3, are you saying you did have galling when trying the clamps on rails without joiners?


@Greg - I am not sure there is a clear understanding of what galling is. (not on your part.)

@Wendall - Galling is not likely to occur right out of the box, on the bench, spinning the screws in and out by hand. Galling will occur when you install the conductors on the rail joiners. When the bottom edge of the screw contacts the joiner/rail, it will exert an eccentric loading on the thread mating surfaces, generating a condition called galling (or cold welding). This may not happen on every screw, or every joint. And galling is usually not discovered until you go to REMOVE the screw, after the damage to the threads has been done. I have never said that Al’s manufacturing was poor, just his choice of materials. I said before, if this is a one time installation, they may well be an inexpensive option. But if there is any intention of removal, all bets are off.

Greg’s question first: “I am a little confused on your #3, are you saying you did have galling when trying the clamps on rails without joiners?” Greg is responding to my comment I made in my initial post above: “Again, the issue in the new ones were the screws did not thread easily and would, as we say, gall.” Reasonable question. My error, I am referring to the original problem I experienced with the first batch of connectors. The new screws and threads in the new connectors go in and out easily. The early ones required a tap to clean out the threads. The new screws work easily in and out whether you use the factory connectors or rig a washer method to have contact. this is true after strong tightening and removal. More data below…

Meanwhile, Greg, the more I think (Hmmmm) both the washer and factory connector method are really the same thing in principle. However, there is more contact with the factory connector being crushed against the rail along with the bottom of the Kramer connector adding to the compression. This compared to just the four washers, four screws, and the connector. True, with the washer method, there is less area for crud, water, and debris to foil the continuity. Yet, the only advantage so far is the factory connector does give more stability - which is really true with the unforgiving stainless rail on curves. Hanks in the air on this one.

With my understanding “galling”, here is my response to Bob’s clear explanation in his above post:

Bob’s explanation focuses on concern for the screw’s threads having an eccentric loading from the head of the screw’s underside pressing (try crushing) down on the edge of the joiner/rail as the screw goes into its base. This loading causes the thread to “cold weld.” This “welding” or apparent super tightening, is observed when the screws are attempted to be removed. I think I understand the concept. I have been able to remove the older connectors. I tried a new set on the track, fully tightening them, and then removing the screws. All worked OK. Again, only the underside of the screw head, not the tip of the screw, makes contact squeezing the track connector/rail combination. So does the screw head, fully tightened, over time , create the problem? I don’t know. the screws I got in the package, along with the base plate, have very slight response to a large magnet. I am presuming that is evidence of a grade of stainless steel.

That’s it folk. Please continue your observations.



Magnetism in stainless steel indicates a lower grade of stainless, which in this case is a good thing. The lower grades are higher in the carbon steel content and tend to gall less than the higher grades. Again, I would suggest the addition of an anti seize agent when assembling them, this will aid in the assembly and lessen the possibility of galling.

But only one side of the screw head is in contact with the rail joiner. This causes uneven loading of the screw head, or said another way, uneven pressure on the screw head., This will tend to cause the shaft of the screw to press unevenly inside of the threads, and its this uneven pressure, and friction in achieving this pressure, that will cause galling. Galling isn’t that the screws are tight, or hard to turn, its that the threads become damaged because some material gets ripped off the threads of the hole, or the screw, and sticks to the opposing surface.

For what it’s worth, here’s my two cents. First, let me say that I have not tried Al’s clamps. I use Split Jaw on my track. On the Split Jaw clamps, the allen head screw is horizontal with the earth. On Al’s clamps, the allen head screw is perpendicular to the earth, with the head pointing skyward. Over time, many things could find a nice resting place in the head of that screw, making it somewhat of a pain to get an Allen wrench into. The Split Jaw screws, with their heads pointing sideways, are less likely to have crud cake in them.