I ran into a difficult situation in a hard to get to spot on my layout while doing some repair work on my track. You all know Murphy's Law, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."
I needed to replace a turnout in the mouth of a tunnel at a tunnel portal, it gets worse, the tunnel portal is below a Howe Truss bridge. As Murphy's Law says it gets even worse. I use code 100 track inside my mountains for more reliability and code 83 track where it is viewable. Naturally the transition from 100 to 83 is at the turnout that I need to replace because both tracks from the turnout are leaving the mountain through the tunnel portal.
There is nothing worse in doing track work than installing an Atlas transition rail joiner other than having to do it in a extremely hard to get to location. I decided to try a different way this time, I made my own transitions.
I started out by clamping a small piece of code 100 track in my Panavice and using a 8" metal file on the rails as in the pictures below. I'm using leftover pieces of track before I cut up a new turnout.
I filed an ⅛" gap from the top of the code 100 rails down to the bottom rail flange leaving .017" of the bottom rail as a shelf for the code 83 rail to rest on.
The picture above shows the code 100 rail on the left with the code 83 rail in place resting on the .017" shelf.
I hadn't planned on beveling the rail ends but I gave it a try and it worked, the rails slipped easily together inside a standard Atlas code 100 rail joiner as shown in the picture below.
I was planning to solder the joint but it wasn't necessary, the track fit together perfectly and the pressure from the tight connection inside the joiner holds everything in very good alignment as well as a good electrical connection.
This process worked out so good and so easy it was much easier to replace the turnout. I filed the gaps in the new turnout and beveled the bottom of the code 83 rails and the turnout slipped in very nicely.
I don't think I'll ever use a store bought transition joiner again.