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Discussion Boards => General Discussion => Topic started by: sloan on May 16, 2008, 07:50:51 PM



Title: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: sloan on May 16, 2008, 07:50:51 PM
 Gonna rebuild my layout .I've read the pros and cons .But I like experience better ........  :)  Steel Track or Nickel -Sliver  ?????   That IS the question People :)  Sloan


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: Hunt on May 16, 2008, 09:18:13 PM
Use nickel silver track for small scales.


Large scales --- pick control system first then type of material for track.


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: r.cprmier on May 16, 2008, 10:14:30 PM
Hunt;
With the advances in RC equipment in large-scale, I would be more apt to use either aluminum or stainless steel for outside track, as current pickup via rail isn't an issue.  Steel would rust and present problems I wouldn't want.  I'll be starting my backyard layout in a year or so.  What are your thoughts?

Rich


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: grumpy on May 16, 2008, 11:36:53 PM
I have a HO layout in my basement using Bachman EZ track in both steel and nickel silver .My experience has been that neither of them require more cleaning than the other..I also have a small G scale in my backyard usinng a mixture a mixture of track.If Aluminum was available I would use it because of its anticorrosion properties and cost . I f I could afford it my whole layout would be stainless steel. As it is brass is the best compromise
considering price and availabilityand its anti corrosion properties..Open up your wallet ,see you banker ;use stainless steel.
Don :)


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: Hunt on May 17, 2008, 01:50:53 AM
Hunt;
With the advances in RC equipment in large-scale, I would be more apt to use either aluminum or stainless steel for outside track, as current pickup via rail isn't an issue.  Steel would rust and present problems I wouldn't want.  I'll be starting my backyard layout in a year or so.  What are your thoughts?

Rich
Rich,
Large-scale track to be used outside. Not taking cost into consideration.

Controlling your locomotives by track delivered power, DC or DCC, the better selection is grade #304 stainless steel rail over the brass. When brass oxidizes, corrosion occurs and electrical conductivity is lost. As stainless steel oxidizes, electrical conductivity is not lost. Also, oxidization of stainless steel creates a surface film resistant to corrosion.

If using battery on board power with one of the radio control systems available… if traffic, human, animal or non train equipment, on the track is not a problem, then consider aluminum over brass. Many outside layouts are built with brass rail not aluminum do to selection and on rail traffic, human, animal or equipment other than trains.

Cost – check market for latest prices of track 



If track for large-scale cost continues to rise at the same rate from last year’s level then by time you are ready to build your layout there could be track with plastic rail available at a cost per foot of discounted brass track before the price increases. I examined some new gauge 1 track for outside use the other day made with plastic rails. It is not available to the public yet so can’t say any more about it.



Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: r.cprmier on May 17, 2008, 07:27:15 AM
Hunt;
Thanks for the feedback.  Yep, there is definitely a rise in the price of metals.  In my field, copper is considered "coiled gold", and is heading pricewise for the semiprecious metal status.
I do not know when this will end or what is spurring it, as ther is no lack of copper, zinc, tin, et al in the earth.  Plastic rail may just be the way to go, as there are some pretty resilient compounds of late.  There is one compound that is very hard and machinable I would like to see employed in this setting.
RIch


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: Jim Banner on May 17, 2008, 02:08:37 PM
Indoors in H0-scale I use nickel-silver, brass and steel interchangeably and all with good success.  I rarely have to clean any of them (once every few years) but I do oil them after cleaning and about once a year thereafter.

Outdoors I use aluminum rail almost exclusively on my track powered, DCC controlled G-scale layout.  I normally add oil (one drop per rail per 100 feet of track) every time I run but I still find it needs a good cleaning every spring after the snow melts off.  My experience with code 250 aluminum is rather more positive than Hunt's.  The only time I bent a rail was accidentally running over it with a steel wheeled wheelbarrow full of garden soil.  Running the garden tractor and a rubber tired wheelbarrow over it have never caused problems.  I like aluminum rail - it is cheap, easy to work with, and very conductive (I bond all the joints and do not have to use bus wires beside the tracks.)

Over the last 40 years I have used Singer Sewing Machine Oil, Wahl Hair Clipper Oil, and the various "conductive" hobby oils to oil my rails.  Many of the hobby oils have the advantage of being compatible with plastics and do not affect ABS plastic wheels.  All of these oils work well with metal and acetal (Nylon, Delrin etc.) plastic wheels.

I feel sorry for electricians like Rich.  Unlike plumbers, they cannot replace copper with plastic.  And after the aluminum wire fiasco, they cannot use the third best conductor.  Maybe with digital photography depressing the price of silver and wars increasing the price of copper, we will yet see the day when house wiring is made of silver.

 


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: Mike on May 17, 2008, 02:56:44 PM
Jim- You say you "bond" all of the joints with your aluminum large scale track. Please elaborate. Thanks for your always well-considered input. -Mike


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: r.cprmier on May 17, 2008, 03:09:22 PM
Bonding can be by any means that makes a permanent totally conductive path from one conductor to another; and example would be the jumper on a water meter to facilitate bonding the plumbing and using the water piping system in the ground as a grounding electrode.  In my trade, it is accomplished by a ground wire and a slew of paragraphs in art 250 NEC.  I might think that it would be possible with code 250 rail to run a wire between two rails, and secure it with a machine screw [and] nut.

The Old Reprobate


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: Santa Fe buff on May 17, 2008, 03:25:05 PM
Nickel Silver.
Just two words.


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: Hunt on May 17, 2008, 06:14:55 PM
...
Outdoors I use aluminum rail almost exclusively on my track powered, DCC controlled G-scale layout.  I normally add oil (one drop per rail per 100 feet of track) every time I run but I still find it needs a good cleaning every spring after the snow melts off.  My experience with code 250 aluminum is rather more positive than Hunt's.  The only time I bent a rail was accidentally running over it with a steel wheeled wheelbarrow full of garden soil.  Running the garden tractor and a rubber tired wheelbarrow over it have never caused problems.  I like aluminum rail - it is cheap, easy to work with, and very conductive (I bond all the joints and do not have to use bus wires beside the tracks.)
...
Jim,
Based on your experience with the Gauge One (a.k.a. Gauge 1 and #1 Gauge) code 250 track with aluminum rails would lead me to suppose you are using rails made from one of the super strong aluminum alloys.

Your track made by Llagas Creek Railways? Last information I have on them, they use a super strong aluminum alloy for their track.


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: Jim Banner on May 17, 2008, 11:13:19 PM
Mike, Rich is right on.  I use #14 gauge bare copper wire held to the rail with #2-56 pan head stainless steel machine screws tapped into the rail.  By drilling and tapping the hole at a 45 degree angle, starting where the vertical web of the rail joins the foot, I get the longest possible threaded length.  Then I can tighten the SS machine screws tight enough to make the joint gas tight.  This just means that it is so tight that air cannot get between the copper and the aluminum to cause oxidation and interfere with the electrical conductivity.  Even after years out in the weather the contact areas are still bright and shiny.

Hunt, most of my outdoor aluminum rail is by Micro Engineering and yes, it is harder than "utility" grade aluminum.  But I also have some softer aluminum rail that is easier to bend but has a "gummy" feeling when you drill and tap it.  It seems to stand up just as well in use.

Part of the reason I get away with driving the garden tractor over aluminum tracks may have to do with the way I lay track.  I spike it onto cedar ties 3/8"wide spaced 3/4" apart.  In most places, these are glued to 1/4" plywood with TiteBond II glue.  The 1/4" plywood is then screwed to full size railway ties, often with a layer of 3/4" plywood in between to even up the rough, old ties I use.  I used to put the scale ties directly onto 3/4" plywood and just lay that on the ground, and even though the trackwork was rougher, it still stood up to rubber wheels.     


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: Hunt on May 18, 2008, 12:26:40 AM
Hunt, most of my outdoor aluminum rail is by Micro Engineering and yes, it is harder than "utility" grade aluminum.  But I also have some softer aluminum rail that is easier to bend but has a "gummy" feeling when you drill and tap it.  It seems to stand up just as well in use.

Part of the reason I get away with driving the garden tractor over aluminum tracks may have to do with the way I lay track.  I spike it onto cedar ties 3/8"wide spaced 3/4" apart.  In most places, these are glued to 1/4" plywood with TiteBond II glue.  The 1/4" plywood is then screwed to full size railway ties, often with a layer of 3/4" plywood in between to even up the rough, old ties I use.  I used to put the scale ties directly onto 3/4" plywood and just lay that on the ground, and even though the trackwork was rougher, it still stood up to rubber wheels.     
Jim thanks for the additional info. Nevertheless, several garden layouts, for whatever the cause, aluminum track used on those did not fair as well to traffic as you describe your experience.


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: grumpy on May 18, 2008, 12:33:10 AM
Jim
Can you give me your source of aluminum track I have not been able to source the track locally and the only mfg I have seen is Llagos creek Railways.I have sent them e-mails asking for an outlet with no replies.
Don :(


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: Guilford Guy on May 18, 2008, 12:41:03 AM
A couple years ago aristo had a huge sale on aluminum track. I got 4 boxes of 12" straights for 50$, and wish I could have bought more.


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: r.cprmier on May 18, 2008, 12:04:21 PM
Jim;
If you are bonding copper to aluminum, do use either "Penetrox" or  "Alenox", or a comparable anti oxidant.  This will prevent any deterioration by electrolysis; also by the elements.  Actually, when using two dsissimilar metals where that type of business can happen, you should keep the two metals segregated.  In the case of electrical work such as a service or any splice with CU/AL conductors, a split bug is used.  With the type of thing here, I suggest using stranded copper, stakon(@) type connectors, screwing it to the rail in the way you mentioned, and penetrox the whole affair.  If you are not using the rails for power, or communation,
 a good idea would be to ground it with a driven ground rod (5/8" CU plated steel rod) available at supply houses.

The Old Reprobate


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: Jim Banner on May 18, 2008, 01:53:13 PM
Hunt, I suspect the failing aluminum tracks might have been ones where the stiffness of the track was provided by the rails instead of by the substructure. 

Grumpy, I just checked Caboose Hobbies and they have Micro Engineering aluminum rail in stock, both code 250 and 332.  But they are out of flexible tie strips.  Personally, I do not use the latter, preferring to spike my rails to cedar ties glued to a base board.  I use Micro Engineering large (1/2") spikes and like the way they rust a bit, increasing their grip in the ties.   I find their price on ties to be quite high compared to cutting my own out of cedar fence boards.  I rarely use rail joiners - in my opinion, even the best of them do little more than help align the rails.  In the places where I do use joiners, I bend them up as needed out of scrap .020 brass.  Caboose also has some code 250 nickel-silver rail in stock.  At triple the price of aluminum, I don't use much of it.  But I do like it for the frogs and point rails of turnouts.  The extra strength makes up for the reduced cross-section in the tapered ends of the points, and being able to solder it makes a much stronger frog.

Rich, I am aware of galvanic corrosion but have not had the problem.  I originally considered welding on aluminum bonding wires but ended up using solid copper instead because it is a method that anyone can use.  So far it has been very satisfactory, although I would not want to guarantee it for 50 or 100 years or whatever the design life for electrical wiring is these days.  A friend uses stranded copper and plated steel screws with his code 332 aluminum rail and each spring has to replace several of the bonding wires.  The ones that fail always show completely blacked copper strands.  My own solid wire shows bright copper in the gas tight areas.  My conclusion is that his stranded bonding is NOT gas tight.  Crimp on connectors would probably give him a gas tight connection to his stranded wire but even with his larger rail they would be a problem to attach.  I will pass on the advice to use an anti-oxidant though.  And will try some myself.  I do use my rails for both power and communication - I use DCC for most of my trains.  I am not sure if the rails are held at ground potential by the booster when the power is off but will check.  If not, it would be easy enough to connect each rail to a ground rod through a small 9 volt lamp.  This would provide a low resistance path when the DCC power is off and a much higher resistance path when the DCC power is on and the lamps are lit.


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: r.cprmier on May 18, 2008, 08:49:41 PM
Jim;
If you are using your rails for either power or com, I repeat, use a bond to ground only if neither issues exist.  The bond to ground is primarily for voltage surges and lighting protection.  In terms of stranded copper, I have found that condition numerous times on outdoor connections in wet/damp locations.  Where the rail is so close to the ground in most applications, it would, I believe, be a prevalent condition.  However, the blackening can be caused by not only oxidation but also by electrolytic action (galvanic) as the copper, being the harder of the two, will tend to conduct the aluminum to it, and can cause a bit of plating, which can cause that black colour.  Again, I say use the anti-oxident on the whole; and, with periodic re-application, should largely prevent that from happening and permit trouble free operation.  Also, my experience with this stuff is that it really doesn't take much of a resistance to raise holy merry hell with conductivity, where something like communications might be employed, or even  at 18 volts pressure.

The Old Reprobate


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: Santa Fe buff on May 18, 2008, 09:34:10 PM
GG,
What company? Or was it unmarked?
~Santa Fe buff


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: Guilford Guy on May 18, 2008, 11:46:29 PM
I'm pretty sure I stated in my post which company...


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: TrampTrader on May 20, 2008, 01:11:16 AM
I think GG said the company was aristo, wasn't it ?


Pete


Title: Re: Steel Track or Nickel Sliver ?
Post by: jbrock27 on January 02, 2016, 05:37:01 PM
Who ever is reading this, go with the nickel silver track!