Is it better to run DCC on Nickel Silver or Steel alloy rails?

<< < (3/5) > >>

Pro's and Con's of brass, steel, and nickle silver rail types:

Brass - Pro: Best electrical conductor of the 3, Con: Corrodes quickly; blue/green corrosion is nonconductive; corrosion builds up on pick up wheels, interfering with operation, particularly DCC; track and wheel cleaning is a constant battle.

Steel - Pro: Less expensive than NS, Con: Attracts dirt like a magnet; less electrically conductive than brass or NS; while not as bad as brass, lots of cleaning required; not as easy to solder as brass or nickle silver. Note: While it gets dirty fast, rust isn't really much of a problem with steel rail. It's actually an alloy that tends to resist rust for the most part. Unless you keep it in a damp basement or garage.

Nickle Silver: Pro: Less cleaning than brass or steel rail; decent electrical conductor; larger variety of curves, turnouts, crossings, etc., than brass or steel; more 'code' sizes available than brass or steel, Con: Generally a bit more expensive than brass or steel.

While all will work with DCC, the fact it requires so much less cleaning gives nickle silver the nod from me. A switching to metal wheels reduces the dirt on rails problem even more.


I find it interesting that it is called nickel silver actually, a better name would be Nickel Brass or perhaps Stainless Brass. After all, Brass is Copper and Zinc primarily and NS is a Copper, Zinc, and Nickel Mixture. The Nickel does the same thing chromium does in Stainless Steel, helps it fight corrosion.

I do agree that if you have any intent of making a layout you should go NS. Steel is really only used in train sets.

electrical whiz kid:
Ah, yes...
...A track is a track is a track-by any other name should smell so.....well, like a track...

a verse by Willie the Shake....  (oh vell; it could be verse...)

RIch C.

This topic reminds of a discussion I once had in my technical theatre career.

When building a new community theatre in a small town in northern BC, the question came up about the colour to paint the stage house and what colour the fabric for legs and borders should be.  The people on the committee, being mainly the town's "arty" types wanted various colours but I insisted on black for both paint and fabric.  "But black's such a depressing colour" I was told.  My answer was, "If you use black, nobody in the professional theatre world will ever question your choice of colour, ever."

It's the same with nickel silver rail.  If you use nickel silver rail, nobody will ever question your choice.

They may question your choice of code, if you use anything larger than code 83 but never your choice of rail.  :)


Roger T.


If people want to devote energy to questioning other's choice of Code, they're free to do so, if that is what turns their crank.  It is not what is going to influence my choice.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

[*] Previous page