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Author Topic: Insulated fishplates or gaps in the rail?  (Read 993 times)

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Offline Jonathan Prince

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Insulated fishplates or gaps in the rail?
« on: February 11, 2018, 12:44:47 pm »
Hello yet again!

I am trying to work out the best way of isolating sections. As far as I can see there are three options:
  • Buy plastic fishplates and use them instead of normal fishplates.
  • Use the dremel to cut the rail after it has been laid.
  • Pin the track precisely so there is a small gap between the rails.

I'm using a mixture of setrack and flexitrack so perhaps a mixture is best. I would imagine [1] and [2] would be best for flexi as [3] could let them just flex apart again, and perhaps [1] and [3] would be best for setrack as [2] might be a bit destructive. However I've heard a few bad rumours about insulating fishplates [1] - has anyone had any problems? I think they might not look so great in the scenic section so perhaps only in the fiddle yards.

Any help on this would be appreciated!

Thanks,

Jonathan

Offline Newportnobby

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Re: Insulated fishplates or gaps in the rail?
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2018, 12:55:15 pm »
My personal preference is to use insulated rail joiners on one rail of the two, mainly because they have a small 'pip' on top which fills the gap when I've made it with my Xuron track cutters. I wouldn't like to rely on a small gap with nothing between the rails as expansion/contraction of the baseboard in extremes of temperature could cause it to close and me to scratch my head as to why it is no longer isolated.

Offline Jonathan Prince

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Re: Insulated fishplates or gaps in the rail?
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2018, 01:15:36 pm »
Do these look too odd in scenic areas, or are they ballasted over? Which make do you use? I find the peco ones OK for peco track, but I'd need larger ones for the other tracks as the rails are wider. Hopefully there won't be too many extreme temperatures though!

Offline NeMo

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Re: Insulated fishplates or gaps in the rail?
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2018, 01:23:14 pm »
The Peco insulated rail joiners are horrible. They're too flexible to push firmly into anything, and lack the strength to hold the rail into position, being much more likely to bend out of alignment than the steel rail joiners. They're also much thicker than steel rail joiners, so they raise the track slightly if forced into the gap between the rail and a sleeper, creating problems as passing wheels rise up and then drop down. I think you're meant to remove the moulded-on sleepers and replace them with thinner, cosmetic sleepers. At least, that's what I've found myself doing.

You can of course leave a gap between rails. If you're worried about expansion causing the rails to touch (unlikely inside a centrally heated house, but possible, I suppose, in an unheated shed) then you could use file a small piece of wood or plastic into just the right size and slip it in. I've used tiny slivers of balsa for this, and it works quite well. No more noticeable than the rubbery plastic Peco insulated rail joiners, perhaps less so if you paint the wood before use.

Cheers, NeMo

Offline Jonathan Prince

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Re: Insulated fishplates or gaps in the rail?
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2018, 02:08:11 pm »
Sounds like useful advice! I'm fairly confident that rail gaps won't close due to expansion. Maybe I'll try some other brands of insulated fishplates then if peco ones aren't so good.

Offline Railwaygun

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Re: Insulated fishplates or gaps in the rail?
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2018, 02:16:48 pm »
Kato do insulating unijoiners - could be adapted?

https://www.traintrax.co.uk/24816-unijoiner-insulated-p-324.html
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Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: Insulated fishplates or gaps in the rail?
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2018, 02:27:51 pm »
I use the Peco IRJs unless I'm cutting a gap in previously laid and ballasted track (ie. bad planning in the first place!)  I use code 55 trackwork so all joiners are hidden below ballast level anyway.

I agree the Peco joiners can be a little too flexible sometimes but it's not caused me a problem as the track is glued in place anyway. Yes you do need to remove sleepers and use the special additional Peco sleepers with the larger recesses.  Actually I often cut these additional sleepers into sections and glue in place later, just before ballasting.

Cruel close-up:  Peco IRJs were used on all four rails (I prefer double isolated track sections).  This was laid and ballasted in 1995.  Looks like I need to run a mini-vac around the trackwork!


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Offline NeMo

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Re: Insulated fishplates or gaps in the rail?
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2018, 02:39:14 pm »
Kato do insulating unijoiners - could be adapted?

Goes without saying that these are well designed, robust, fit tightly and precisely, and generally work exactly as expected.

Not sure they're compatible, scenically or mechanically, with traditional track work.

Typical Kato, really.

Cheers, NeMo

Offline Jonathan Prince

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Re: Insulated fishplates or gaps in the rail?
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2018, 02:55:28 pm »
I've used a small piece of plasticard glued to the end of one of the rails and then trimmed to the correct shape.
How do you avoid the electrical connection through the fishplates?

Offline Caz

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Re: Insulated fishplates or gaps in the rail?
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2018, 03:34:49 pm »
I quite like the Fleischmann insulated rail joiners, nice and stiff and create a good joint

Offline Buzzard

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Re: Insulated fishplates or gaps in the rail?
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2018, 04:28:29 pm »
In his book Model Railway Wiring C J Freezer suggests using 5 minute two part epoxy.

Mix an amount of epoxy and fill all of the gaps you've created.  After 30 mins pare away most of the excess.  Leave the rest overnight and then smooth what's left on the top and inner surface of the rail.

Offline Farmer chap

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Re: Insulated fishplates or gaps in the rail?
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2018, 04:46:26 pm »
Hi Jonathan,

I second the use of 2 part epoxy to fill the isolating gap made by a razor saw or cutting disc, this method provides a

strong and reliable insulated joint and I have used it sucessfully many times.

Just make sure the track either side of cut is well secured first.

Ian.

Offline Bealman

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Re: Insulated fishplates or gaps in the rail?
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2018, 08:57:53 pm »
My layout has IRJs when the section was planned in advance, and gaps where they were cut with a Dremel later on.

There have been no problems with either, and that's in an Australian garage with high temperature differentials.

I agree with others comments about the Peco IRJs being awkward to install, though.
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Offline Calyw

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Re: Insulated fishplates or gaps in the rail?
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2018, 04:24:15 pm »
I have several isolated sections in both the N gauge standard part of the track and also the N-6.5 section (Using Peco Z gauge track) and the best method I have found is to lay the track and ballast it so that it's firmly in place and then use the Dremel with a dental cutoff disc (very thin) to cut the track.  If you ask your nearest Dental Technician he will probably sell you a couple.  They are a bit more brittle than the standard Dremel ones so a steady hand is needed.

Offline Old Crow

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Re: Insulated fishplates or gaps in the rail?
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2018, 03:59:40 pm »
Yes! I agree about Peco IRJ's because, as a newbie, some of my flexi curves are under stress and prone to move. Cutting the rail with a very fine razor saw in my case and fitting small plastic patches works for me.

 

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