How to tell? -Nickel Silver vs steel

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by beamish, Feb 29, 2008.

  1. beamish

    beamish HO & Steam Engineer

    I have a bunch of sectional track that i was planning on using on my layout. Lasnight as i was laying the track down to plan what pieces i have and what i will need i discovered something and had a thought. Some of this track was purchased at the hobbyshop and some of it came in various trainsets. Now i have a suspiscion that some is steel and not nickel silver. :confused:

    How would i go about determining which is which?

    By inspecting the track some of it looks slightly different in color, but then I compared that with some slightly aged flex track that I know is NS and could not tell the difference. One thing I did notice on the pieces that are made by bachmann that they have small numbers on them. I found 2 9" straights with different numbers (2 & 4) but could not see anything different.

    Thanks for the help
  2. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Use a magnet. Nickel silver is non-magnetic.

  3. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    A magnet will stick to steel. And, you won't be able to solder to steel (easily). 20 years ago as a kid, my trains ran on mostly brass track. I also had some model power flextrack that I thought was nickle silver, but the color was not quite as shiny as the atlas N-S. I suspect that may have been steel.

    I think steel and brass have a worse reputation than they deserve. Sure, they required more cleaning, but if you ran your trains often it wasn't that bad. Probably not a good choice for DCC, though.

  4. beamish

    beamish HO & Steam Engineer


    THis was waht i was looking for a quick easy solution to my confusion.

    I will try it out tonight.
  5. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    IIRC, the only steel track that Bachmann made/makes has the black built-in roadbed. The EZ track with the gray roadbed is nickel silver.

    Model Power has made/makes some steel flex track, but only in the code 100 size. All their code 83 track and most of the code 100 is nickel silver. The steel rail has more of a gray color than the nickel silver. The magnet test also works.

    Atlas made some steel rail flex track during the Korean war when brass was rationed. But I believe that track had the old fiber ties as well. Probably very hard to find now.

    I don't know of any other manufacturers of steel sectional or flex track in HO.

    hope this helps
  6. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    The rail on this crane and also on the crane runway is steel - I bought it over 35 years ago for a model blast furnace that I was building at the time. It was a very dark blue/grey and it has rusted a bit over the years. It's a lot harder to cut than brass or nickel silver, too. :p;):-D

  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I've seen steel sectional track in some old train sets, I don't remember if it was Model Power, Lifelike, or Tyco. I know it came out years before the new track with the built in plastic road bed.

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