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Author Topic: Steel on DCC  (Read 670 times)

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« on: December 14, 2017, 08:45:35 AM »

I own a lot of EZ track, most of it came with my HO and one On30 set. Most of what I have are nickel silver which I know is compatible with DCC systems however my Thomas set came with the steel kind. I was thinking of doing a whole layout and I know I can get the steel track for a lower price but I also want to run a DCC operation someday.

I've seen many use nickel silver for DCC systems but is it possible to use steel alloy rails for a DCC system? If so which one is better?

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« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2017, 09:06:05 AM »

You will find it is worth the extra expense to stick with Nickel Silver track.

While steel track will work at first, it corrodes faster than nickel silver.  Conductivity will be a problem - or - you will spend a great deal of time cleaning the steel track, trying to maintain good electrical contact.  Also, steel track is more difficult to solder.

I played with a little steel track on my first layout.  It didn't take long for me to remove those track sections and replace them with nickel silver track.  Again the steel track worked fine at first, but I spent an annoying amount of time burnishing the railheads to keep locomotives running smoothly over the track.

Just saying:  steel track works, but gets annoying after a while. Keeping it clean is tougher.



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« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2017, 12:50:09 PM »

Also, DCC is much more finicky about dirty/corroded track than DC is.

I second Jon's advice to go all nickle-silver.

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« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2017, 07:48:46 AM »

There is some new technology called current keepers. They can be added to locomotives to make up for the finicky dcc electrical pick up issues that are related to dirty track ,or dead spots on the layout. Just had one installed in a old Mantua with bad electrical pick ups even when running dc. It completely solved the issue of dirty spots and running over bad switch tracks.


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« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2017, 11:54:59 AM »

if you only have a few pieces of steel, you can use them on spur and yard tracks where your locomotives won't be running.

The "keep alive" technology railaplitter refers to uses capacitors to get your locomotive over the occasional dead or dirty spot. It is not meant as a substitute for cleaning your track. Once the capacitors fully discharge, usually several seconds, the train stops. You need clean track with good connectivity to recharge them. So they are NOT a way around the major conductivity issues you would incur with DCC and steel track.

EZ App/ Bluetooth control may solve a lot of the conductivity issues that are present with DCC, as the Bluetooth control signal is transmitted through the air rather than through the rails. I haven't had the opportunity to experiment with it yet. Perhaps somebody else could tell us about their experience with EZ App and steel rail?
« Last Edit: December 16, 2017, 11:58:29 AM by jward » Logged

Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA

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« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2018, 07:46:26 AM »

You've all provided some good answers about what track better. The only question none of these seem to answer is if steel track can be used with DCC systems or not. I have no problems dealing with dirty track but I'm willing to try a DCC system sometime and I know nickel track is compatible with this but I find steel track more affordable but once more the only question that remains unanswered is will steel track work on a DCC system?

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« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2018, 07:59:06 AM »

Yes, DCC will work with steel track. will spend a lot more time cleaning steel track to keep things running smoothly than you will with nickel silver track. Also, since steel isn't as conductive as nickle silver, you may need more power feeders, depending on how large your layout is.


If at first you don't succeed, throw it in the spare parts box.

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« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2018, 08:12:36 AM »

to ThelokieRoo :Note that there is more variety  in the Nickel-Silver EZ track line .  All model railroad track has to meet National Model Railroad Association standards  .   Go to their web site for more information .  John 2.
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