Rail joiner

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Side screw

Drill Gauge

A simple drill gauge can be made with standard rail joiners as shown in the photos below. Use a felt tip pen to mark the holes on the web of the rail to be drilled. Never drill the holes with the gauge in place, as it will tend to enlarge the gauge's holes over time. The idea comes from Texas railroad builder Ken Smith. Ken suggests drilling the hole in three steps: 1/8 inch, 7/32 inch, and finally 5/16 inch. This makes it easier to drill the holes, and extends the life of the 5/16 inch bit. The hole is oversized to allow expansion and contraction of rail.


Ron Canfield, owner of the Windy Ridge Railroad, suggests using pan head machine screws instead of hex head screws. He states that the hex head screws can be difficult to remove because of the lack of room for a socket or wrench to grab the head of the screw.

Spall Slip Joiner

From Train Mountain Encyclopedia, v 4-13 (PDF):

Ed Spall, a member first of the Los Angeles Live Steamers, and subsequently of the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers, developed an alternative method for joining track in the early 1990's.The Spall Rail Joiner is essentially a scaled up HO track joiner that is four inches long and slips around the foot and up the web of the rail. Train Mountain has done the tool and die work to produce these joiners in quantity. They have been in use since 1992 as a part of the Train Mountain Track System and on tracks all over the country, with excellent results.

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