Brass Sectional Track?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by TrainClown, Mar 28, 2004.

  1. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    Amongst the booty I got from my dad recently, I got a whole mess of brass sectional track. I have a few questions about this stuff.

    1. Why is there brass track at all?

    2. What are the pros and cons of brass track?

    3. Should a person even consider using brass track?

    4. What should I do with this stuff?

    Please tell me!


  2. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    For years and and years brass track was the standard. It was cheap to make and had certain electrical properties that were suitable for HO trains. HO did not become popular until after WWII. Metals such as steel and aluminium that were used for larger scale train track were still in high demand for industry and subsequently brass was the metal of choice for economic reasons. I have seen some steel HO track but it did not gain favor.

    The biggest drawback to brass track is that it is quick to oxidize and the oxidation is not electrically conductive and it requires frequent cleaning. The other drawback is its appearence (color) although if properly weathered it doesn't look bad. One other thing that was a drawback is that the railjoiners would over a period of time oxidize to the point that they would not conduct and unless the joints were soldered you would have to replace them.

    In the 1960's nickle silver track began to appear. It was at least twice the price of brass track but it had qualities that were more conducive to model railroad use. It had the appearence of steel and though while it will oxidize, the oxidation is electrically conductive and less cleaning is required. Nickle silver track does not contain any silver and is an alloy of brass and nickle.

    Even to this day brass track is used in some trainsets probably because its cheap. There is really nothing wrong with using it if you want to but it does require more frequent cleaning and it does not have the appearence of nickle silver track. Except for the oxidation factor there is no difference in the two electrically although in the early days of nickle silver track it was touted as being electrically better (having a lower resistance factor).

    I have built many layouts with brass track and had no problems with it other than it requires frequent cleaning. You can mix brass and nickle silver together if you want to.

    So, if you have a ton of it and want to save some $$$ its OK but the nickle silver is just better. Flextrack is much better because you do not have to limit yourself to 15, 18 and 22 inch curves.
  3. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    Only things I will add is nickel silver track still oxidizes, but the oxide is conductive. When brass oxidizes it's a resistor. The lat thing is steel track is more previlent than Vic implies (at least in this area). It was sold in starter sets by Bachmann and/or Lifelike and is zinc coated I'm told. I have some on my old layout areas and it's worse than brass to keep clean:cry: . I'd replace it in an instant if it wasn't already ballasted down and in a little ran area. After it gets some age or is filed/sanded it gets red rusty. :mad: FRED
  4. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    Thanks Vic and Fred.

  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Some people suggest using the brass track on sidings and places where it won't get used much.
    I think it should be out on the mainline where it would get run over every day and kept clean. That's assuming that you run every day. ;)
    I think the Bachman EZ track with the BLACK roadbed is steel. Also some of the old Triang/Hornby track was steel for the magnetic adhesion.
    The other hitch with brass is that the rail is code 100 (or bigger) and it may look out of place on your sidings.
  6. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I had a bunch of old brss track leftover from my first HO layout, and I was able to sell it on e-bay fo renough to repalace most of it with good, used flextrack. IMHO, your best bet is to move it on e-bay, and use the money for NS flextrack and turnouts.

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