Isn't it funny how little problems can snowball into catastrophes? Oh wait a minute, "funny" isn't the word I'm looking for I meant to say "infuriating." Case and point, I decided to run some trains whilst waiting for some laundry to dry and I noticed my Bachamnn 2-8-0 would stop dead at the same spot each and every lap, requiring a push forward for a few inches and then off it would go.
First I thought it was the engine. The 2-8-0 is probably the fussiest engine I own so I substituted an ultra-reliable Atlas GP40, hit the power and... nothing. Well WTF? Turns out a rail just plain got tired of conducting electricity. "No biggie," I thought. "I'll just crimp the rail joiner." So grabbed my needle nose pliers and had at it. I crimped that sucker on there good and... nothing. The section was still dead as Dillinger.
I now realized the only other options were either replace the joiner or solder the joint. Given the location of the joint all the scenery around it. I decided with the latter option and fired up my soldering gun. Bad idea. I managed to melt the plastic ties causing the rails to pop off and out of gauge. With the track ruined I now had to tear up and replace it. And as the late Billy Mays would say "But wait! There's more!"
The damaged track consisted of a pair of 19" radius curves, one of which ended in a plaster grade crossing. Not wanting to wreck said crossing I grabbed the Dremel and cut the offending section in two, tore out the bad track, custom fit a new piece and finally re-installed track. I still have to re-ballast though. Okay, maybe this was a bigger rant than it had to be but good lord all that for one lousy rail joiner. Kato Unitrack is starting to look better and better every day.