Do you remember when...?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by sgtcarl, Apr 11, 2008.

  1. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    Just in case anyone is interested, my wife has been getting on e-bay and bidding like crazy for stuff for our railroad. I don't know, off hand, how much rolling stock we have. I think we have enough track to go around our house, at least once! We have bought mostly used brass track, because it was less expensive, and readily available on e-bay. (I like brass track!) We now have six locos, of various types, (all diesel) and railroad names. We have several passenger cars, and observation cars. Again, several different road names. I would guesstimate we have probably at least 50 cars, including livestock, reefers, hoppers, etc.
    Now all I need to do is start building the layout. But first, decide on a track plan.sign1
  2. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Sgt: Did you get flex track or the shorter 9 inch pieces that came with the older train sets or maybe a mixture of both?
    Have you looked at the Givens and Druthers forum yet? Its set up to allow you to do some preliminary planning based on your desires and space limitations and a bunch of other considerations.
  3. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    Most of my straight track is 9". I also have some shorter sections, some factory made, some handmade.
    I also bought some flex track, used, but I am not overly impressed with it. For some "strange" reason, most of the track I own is the standard 13" curved. I am not into any particular location or era, as I'm just building this so I have something to do in my old age/second childhood, which is where I am right now. lol. Thanks for the info re: the other forum. I'll give it a look-see, if the guys on this forum don't have me shot for being a traitor!! ;-)
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Givens & Druthers is just a thread on another segment of the gauge, in the track planning forum. Just a way to keep things filed.
  5. RonP

    RonP Member of the WMRC

    Nobodies gonna chime in and tell him about the track ? Well you guys will get to know me sooner or later.

    Carl, that brass track can be described as nothing less then HIGH MAINTENANCE. When an electrical contact is made there is the by product from this connection left on the track. This won't run your loco's optimally and will constantly need to be cleaned.
    The silver track you see today also acquires this by product however it makes this conductive as apposed to the situation with brass track

    Now don't feel bad I spent $100 on brass track when I first went out to build my layout. I got a crap load and still use it today to decorate those spots that need tracks piled up.
  6. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Sgtcarl: I guess the bad news got out. I didn't want to be the bearer of bad tidings about the brass track. Ron is, unfortunately, correct about the brass track. I also see that PooBah corrected my statement about .Givens and Druthers. Nobody will consider you a traitor for looking at it. Are you in the coal mining area of Virginia? Coal hauling railroads might be something of interest to model. You could model a coal road in most era's of railroading from the 1800's to modern day.
    By the way, welcome to your second childhood. Jim
  7. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    Thanks, guys! I really do appreciate all your info regarding brass tracks. Yes, I read many threads on the pros and cons of brass tracks, right here on this forum. However, as I said, brass track is way cheaper than nickle silver or steel. The steel tracks would acquire some rust quite rapidly, due to the high humidity we "enjoy" in this part of the country. Nickle silver is something I know nothing about. I plan to do research, (my own,) on a coating of sorts on the brass track to prevent the electrolytes from building up. I had briefly thought of a thin coat of di-electric grease, which is used to prevent spark plug wires from becoming corroded on to the plugs. But, being a type of grease, it would attract dust, and reduce the traction of the locos. I am going to check out what radio shack has to offer. I know there is something somewhere that will work. If not, I'll have to concoct something myself, or just wipe the track off daily. As for a coal mining operation, I have considered that, but I haven't lived out here long enough to know much about it. There is a railcar company which is using the "eastend shops" that N&W no longer uses. They are manufacturing a new type of coal car that is constructed out of aluminum. They are larger and lighter than the old steel hoppers, so they can haul more coal at lower costs. They sure are "purty." And quiet.
    Thanks, again for your input. Keep it coming, whether or not you agree with what I do or say. Reading the threads on this forum is one of the highlights of my day!
    And the pictures are way cool!
  8. hmas

    hmas Member

    I tend to disagree with you! I have been using Brass track for 40+yrs!

    I don't have a problem with brass. OH did I mention I use it OUTSIDE less than 600yds from the beach, where salt spray should cause electrolysis between the rails (when wet from the 12v pos & neg powered rails).
    yes the track gets dirty, bird crap usually, oxidation, yes if I do not use the track often enough.
    One 12v 2amp feed to the rails over 300' of track, no jumper wires over joiners.
    Yes there are different compounds of brass, but mine is just el cheapo brass rail no exotic metals added to resist corrosion etc.
    I consider outside a hasher environment than inside in an airconditioned atmosphere so where is the problem?
    1 loco wheels? all wheels make good contact with rail?@
    2 do any of you clean inside the rail joiners before assembly? (bright metal clean?)
    3 tight rail joiners? for good electrical connection!*
    4 oil & crud from your wheels?
    5 do you check with a multimeter the total resistance of the circuit of rail, every now & again?
    @ if the wheels lose contact with the rail you get a spark as contact is lost then another as contact is regained, ie a spark erosion device.
    * I assembled my rail joiners, bright metal clean first, secondly I used a dab of high temp graphite grease to help seal the tight fit joiner from moisture. The graphite grease does not conduct electricity, but seals out the moisture & therefore corrosion.
    sorry this turned into a rant & rave..........
    warning don't ask me about ali rail!:mrgreen:
  9. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    to"hmas" and everyone else. Thanks for the support, re: brass rails. When I actually get to laying track, I will use all new brass track joiners. I bought 600 of them on e-bay. I would not have thought about the graphite grease, but I can see that it might be something to consider. I wonder if water proof grease would work, too? I mean the white kind that is used for deep sea fishing reels. It is not a heavy grease, and it would definetly keep out moisture. So, now I'm wondering if maybe di-electric grease might not work, after all. Any comments? BTW, I don't consider a long post a rant or rave.
    just so you all know.
  10. hmas

    hmas Member

    Why not, it would actually be better than the graphite grease, it was handy & I knew it worked OK outdoors, in other projects.
  11. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic


    There's a reason so many people have abandoned brass rail for HO trains. I think if you dig a little deeper, you'll find that Hmas is running garden-scale trains. The railhead is about 1/4" wide, and his locomotives are weighed in pounds, not ounces, like HO.

    HO locomotives have a tiny contact patch with the rail, and weigh very little. This makes the need for clean rail exponentially higher than with larger scales.

    Everyone else has been very polite, I won't be so delicate. Brass rail is crap for HO. It's high-maintenance, and that's the reason it's cheap. Penny-wise and pound-foolish, my friend. You can save a couple of bucks but invest a ton of effort in laying brass track and making sure every joint is corrosion-proofed, and clean all your rail (and especially turnout points) very frequently (probably every time you want to run your trains), or you can spend a little more money on N/S rail, not have to worry about greasing your joiners, lay the track and clean it once in awhile.

    Your choice, but what's your time worth?
  12. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Actually brass track isn't that bad and needs cleaning as much as nickel silver
    I know one club that is still 90% brass track and they have zero problems..
    My vote is try brass track for yourself...
  13. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    As a young teen I used brass track and found it required frequent cleaning to keep things going. As an adult I was told that a lot of modelers successfully used Wahl Clipper oil to help promote electrical contact. I use Wahl on my nickel silver track but wonder if I would have and more fun with my brass track had I known about it then. I don't know if you're familiar with this oil but literally a drop or two on the track can take care of a small to moderately sized layout. I apply it to the track and then run a loco over it to spread it around.
  14. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    Been there, done that. My first few layouts in the '80s were with brass, because it was cheap. My trains stuttered and sputtered around until I cleaned all the rails. I had to clean the track every time I wanted to run a train. The first layout I built with N/S track, I still had to clean the rails, but not every time I wanted to run, nor as heavily as I had to with the brass.

    I belonged to a club for 10 years. The layout had been in place, in more-or-less the same form since 1947. It had a mix of brass on wood roadbed, brass on fibre ties, and nickel-silver track. The track with the most contact problems, and that required the most cleaning was always the brass track - especially in the hidden areas. The club rebuilt a new layout, no brass track, and while the track still requires regular cleaning, not nearly as often or as intensely as the brass.

    I suspect that people who have their layouts in a basement with low or constant humidity will have fewer problems than those that are in damper environs.

    For the hassles, and the piddly difference in price for new, N/S is the way to go. There's a reason people blow out brass track dirt cheap on EBay.
  15. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    Clipper oil, or the other "contact enhancers" like Rail Zip are great for preventing the oxidation that prevents electrical conductance.

    What they do do, if applied too heavily, is act as a magnet for dust. So you wind up having to clean the rails anyways. Where I find the oil-type products to be most useful is on turnout point rails and pivots - especially in power-routing turnouts.
  16. hmas

    hmas Member

    OK Squidbait the gloves are orf, be out the back of the shed in 5 mins, iffen I'm not there start widout me :wave:
    Yes most outdoors do run large rails, but even then that is about a tad under1/8" or 3.2 mm, alot smaller than 1/4".Some rail is a round head while others are flat on top.
    My rail "bullhead" or round head is 5/64" in cross section.
    Some of the locos I run are around 2lbs for decentpulling power, but most are less than 16 ozs & track powered.
  17. wjstix

    wjstix Member

    I'm guessing - unless you're going to operating streetcars - that you probably have 18" radius curves, not 13" :mrgreen:. Plus, besides the problems already noted about brass track, keep in mind that 18" is considered a very sharp curve in HO. It quite possible some of your engines, passenger cars and longer freight cars won't operate on curves sharper than 22-24" radius...and even if they do, they won't look very good doing it.
  18. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    Yeah, u r right. I mis-typed. Now I learned that I may need to buy wider radius curves. I got some lo-o-ong rolling stock and locos.

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