Jul 28, 2019
My comments in red:
Thanks for your thorough information.
I do believe the standard rail joiner is doing a better job of forcing the joined rail ends to the same height. However, due to the standard joiner not fitting down in the space provided for the unioiner (metal part), it is forcing that now aligned rail joint significantly higher than the rear rail, and causing a "hill" on the near rail. Just having each rail end joint match is not sufficient for a operationally reliable track joint, both rails need to be level with those in the opposite rail joint too.
However, I am concerned that over time, the unsupported (on the sides, by the pocket in the surrounding, plastic unijoiner piece) joiner will relax over time and not provide reliable electrical contact. This is the hallmark of Unijoiners, that they maintain electrical contact between joined rails exceptionally well over a long life, compared to conventional rail joiners.
In the end, the left near rail appears high relative to its roadbed (particularly after the joint is corrected with a conventional joiner), and unless that is corrected, operation over this joint will be visually, if not operationally, suspect. Correction could take the form of a modified unijoiner housing, and/or modified length of the conventional rail joiner. Or it could mean simply bending the high rail end downward (e.g. with the wide jaws of lineman's pliers), restoring level with the opposite rail. Note, this rail condition is a defect, whether incurred in manufacturing, packaging, shipping or storage/use. Simply replacing the unijoiner with the conventional joiner treats the visible and tactile mismatch with the joined rail, but does not correct the track problem.
Most of my Unitrack was purchased around 20 years ago, but a significant amount has been recently purchased (in the last year.) While most rail joints are not baby-butt smooth, they are acceptable and reliable, both electrically and operationally, and do not create visible interruptions to the smooth travel of the train over them. Audible? I actually like the occasional clickety-clack...
To be clear, I wasn't proposing the standard rail joiner replacement as a solution, I was just demonstrating how a standard rail joiner forces the rails into alignment (I probably should have just left the plastic part out for that picture). If were to use a standard rail joiner I would trim or file the plastic part down so that the rails would sit level.
What I have done in the past is just make a few swipes with a file on the high rail.
None of the mismatches I've had has affected the operational reliability (well, I have had a snow plow hit one and the engine just stopped and spun it's wheels, but if that happens the snow plow really is too low), though I can see the cars jump a little when they hit the bad ones. The biggest aggravation is when stuff catches on them cleaning the track. I agree about the clickety-clack, even with modern welded rail, there are many places where you'll hear a clickety-clack.