The type of rail connection you choose is a very important consideration in the long term.
Slider Joiners: (Avoid using these)
This type of track connector is usually provided free with the track you purchase. To connect the track ends, you simply slide the rail ends into the joiner and you're done. (Aristocraft joiners and track offers a small set screw in the side but they are not very effective. Also note, the Aristocraft Stainless steel version of the joiner needs to be crimped at the top with a pair of pliers to ensure good electrical connection.) These joiners typically work fine when initially deployed, but as time goes on (especially outside) the connections will slowly degrade in the ability to effectively pass power either through dirt or oxidation (in the case of brass). Those looking to save money will often try to deploy their layouts with these joiners but in time experience more and more power problems driving them to either change to direct to rail clamps or giving up and going with battery power. It is for these reasons that I recommend if you plan to deploy a track powered layout, that you only use direct to rail clamps and not slider joiners.
Direct to rail clamps: (This is what you want to use)
This type of clamp replaces the slider joiner in place of a tight fitting clamp. There are many versions produced made by Split-Jaw, Accucraft, Aristocraft and others. I went with Split-jaws personally due to function and feedback on customer reviews and comments and have been happy with the decision. They eliminate the worry and hassle of bad electrical connections and never work loose. Clamps like the Split-jaw also allow easy removal of a section of track at a later time by the loosening of one screw which loosens only one end of the track. This allows the track to be lifted straight up while the clamp stays connected to the other rail. Removing track sections when using joiners is a pain and requires the track be bent and pulled to get the rail to slide out.
Photo of a Split Jaw direct to rail clamp.
Because of all the reasons stated above, I feel strongly that track powered layouts should only use direct-to-rail clamps on all rail connections.
Split-Jaws and other rail clamps can be purchased at: G Scale Junction
Over the rail joiner clamp: (Do not use these)
This type of clamp is similar to the direct-to-rail, except it is intended to be used over the outside of an existing rail joiner. This does not eliminate the issues stated above with the slider joiners and is not very effective in increasing conductivity. (The bottom of the slider joiner will take all the clamping force and hold its form reducing or eliminating any increase in clamping force to the rail). Because of this I do not recommend the use of over the joiner clamps. If you're going to spend the money on a rail clamp, eliminate the joiner altogether and just go with the direct-to-rail clamp.
This photo below shows the original slider rail joiners with over the clamp rail clamps. Do not to this route! Use ONLY Direct to rail clamps.
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