Using brass rails

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by ezdays, Sep 17, 2005.


Using brass rails

  1. Brass, the only way to go, I'll take all I can find

    0 vote(s)
  2. I use only nickel-silver, brass goes in the scrap heap

    0 vote(s)
  3. I use only nickel-silver because that's all I have

    0 vote(s)
  4. I mix both N/S and brass and regret having done so

    0 vote(s)
  5. I mix both N/S and brass, and see little difference

    0 vote(s)
  6. I mix the two and although brass is more maintanence, I'm OK with that

    0 vote(s)
  7. I don't have a layout, but our club (or friend) are fine mixing the two

    0 vote(s)
  8. I don't have a layout, but our club (or friend) wouldn't use brass rails if it was free

    0 vote(s)
  1. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    The "to polish..." thread brought up a question for me that really didn't get answered, so I thought maybe I'd ask it here in the form of a poll. How many modelers use brass rails, or know someone who does? And for those that do, are they any more of a maintanence issue than N/S? Does anyone regret that descision?

    I have a quantity of brass flex track and sections that came with a bunch of stuff I bought at a thrift store, and have been hesitant to use it, thinking that I'd be better off with keeping all nickel-silver and just scrapping the brass.
  2. hminky

    hminky Member

    You didn't grow up in the brass rail era. Throw it OUT. That is why it is in the thrift store.

    Just a thought
  3. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Don't be so sure of that...:D:eek::D:eek:

    But, that's a good point, this isn't the brass rail era, and manufacturers switched to N/S for a reason. I wouldn't have considered it up except that it was brought up in that thread. It peaked my interest to see how many others, besides the few that said so there, are using brass and what are the consequences.
  4. santafewillie

    santafewillie Member

    Before I knew better I bought some brass rail. Rather than throwing it away, I have re-used some of it on industry spurs and storage tracks that I normally don't run engines on. Once weathered you can't tell the difference. The 15 lengths of flextrack I bought are now part of an off-layout storage/display case.
  5. Ray Marinaccio

    Ray Marinaccio Active Member

    I used all brass track on my layout only because it was what I had.
    It may not be the best way to go but it is better than steel track.
    If anyone is going to throw away brass track, I can use turnouts and flex track. Throw it in a box and mail it to me.
  6. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Whoa there, Ray :p Paper, rock, scissors...winner gets what they're tossin' out :thumb:
  7. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    I use both and find very little difference in the mantaince of them .While i use the brass i have i buy NS mainly because of the looks not that the preformance is that much better NS get 's a black oxide the same as the brass because my layout shares the air with my shop so it is exposed to exhaust gases welding fumes and the Ozone from it.
  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    My layout is mostly NS with a little phosphor bronze. No-one stocks Peco brass over here.
    I have a friend who mixes both as he has a lot of "legacy layout".
    I don't think the brass should be on little used sidings -- it should be on the mainline where use will keep it clean.
    I could use some steel for my magnadhesion locos.
  9. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member


    I didn't see an honest part of the poll to vote on. I go with SANTAFEWILLIE in that unused sidings get the brass and NS for running.

  10. hooknlad

    hooknlad Member

    My layout of Nickel/Silver & Brass railroad is coming along nicely. Thanx to all who have helped in my quest as to whether " to polish or not to polish". I was reading the previous post regarding "magnadhesion" and the steel rails. There must be a ton of maintenance on these rails with the onslaught of oxidation. How does one overcome this oxidation on a layout, perhaps a light coat of electric shaver oil? I know with the steel tracks that i once had on my HO layout in my garage or my dads O scale steel tracks - there was no way to fight the enemy ( humidity ) . A good percentage of household layouts that I have encountered are in the basement. Not very climate controlled, and a dehumidifier costs an arm and a leg to operate 24/7. Does anyone know the history of HO steel track - Has it been out very long and has it gone away? Sorry was getting off the subject, I had always mixed N/S and brass because when i was a kid - in order to make the train run from point A to B, i needed track and trains ran on tracks, and as a kid what did I know about mixing metals. I did whatever I had to do to make that train go round. I did notice that I had steel track in the mix. My layout was in an entire 2 car detached garage. I learned some very choice words :curse: as a kid when i had to replace the rusted track. Once again , N/S and steel look very similar . Sorry for rambling , thats my 2 cents.[​IMG]
  11. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member


    I agreee with the general opinion - if you have a choice, throw the brass out!!. The difference between the two is that the oxide that forms on NS is electrically conductive while the brass oxide is not. What they both (and all others) share is airborne dust, soot, etc, that gets deposited on the track. This is what running often helps to remove, although not well. If you really want to "keep it clean" check out HO TRACK GUARD on ebay...

  12. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Throw the brass out! Unless you enjoy cleaning track more than running trains, or are one of those fortunate blokes who gets to run their trains every day (so the brass doesn't oxidize), the brass increases your track troubleshooting and cleaning work substantially. Also, if you keep enough of the surface bright for good conductivity, it doesn't look good.

    By the way, I apply the same rules to brass wheels on tenders and brass drivers on locomotives. Brass tender wheels get replaced, and I don't buy locomotives with non-nickel-plated drivers. Life is too short to spend my time troubleshooting operational problems due to oxidized brass, and pretending that bright brass looks like bright steel.
  13. ak-milw

    ak-milw New Member

    I use all my old brass track on my display shelves to hold my rolling stock. I would never go back to using it on my layout, spent more time cleaning it that running trains. The NS track does oxidize too but run a cleaning car over it and it's ready to go, with brass you have to get out all the cleaning tools and elbow grease.

    Ray if you are serious let me know I will go through what brass I have and it's yours, if you pay shipping!! :cool:
  14. Conrail

    Conrail Member

    I started my first layout using my grandfathers old AHM brass track. When I recieved it the stuff was seriously brown. I tried a dremel to clean them. It took a long time to do a few pieces but they looked great (like gold). I decided that it would take me months to clean all the sections I had, going at the rate I was, using the dremel so I tried some Brasso brass polish. That would have taken even longer because after polishing each section of track I had to wash it off with an old toothbrush and soapy water to get the polish removed from the ties and spikes. I finally ended up using 400 grit wet sandpaper and a sanding block. It still took a long time to do but I don't think I was going to be able to clean the sections any faster.

    I sold off all of my brass track and went with N/S. While brass has better electrical conductivity, I didn't want to hassle with keeping it clean. I also had problems with the brass track leaving oxidation rings on all the wheels of my rolling stock. So all of my rolling stock had a brass stripes on the wheels. I think N/S is a better option IMO but sometimes you just have to make what you got work for you in which case brass is as good a choice as any. I just think it will require only slightly more maintenance. :thumb:
  15. XavierJ123

    XavierJ123 Member

    Now if you really want to get technical, you can start debating the quality of the different brands of nickel silver track. For example, I purchased 100 sections of Model Power NS flextrack for considerabily less than Atlas NS. When comparing the two, the Model Power has more of a bronze color whereas the color of the Atlas NS is a bright nickel silver.
  16. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    I got a big bunch of old brass track from my dad. I'm using it to build a switching yard. The yard has 11 turn-outs and some straight sections and I am hand laying all the track as an experiment to see how I like the job. [​IMG] The brass is working just fine for this and the cost is right. [​IMG] Personally, I could never throw out track (or anything else for that mater, I'm a terrible "string saver") I always seem to find a use for odd stuff at some place and time. [​IMG]


    P.S. My progress so far. [​IMG]

    Attached Files:

  17. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Well, well, this seems to be a worthy subject. I had weeded out all the brass rail that I found, and did not plan on using it. But after seeing a post where someone mixed the two without any problems, I had second thoughts and figured I could use the brass for some sidings that I wanted to use for storage. I think this discussion has lead me to have third thoughts and just spend the few bucks it will take to finish off my layout in N/S. I hate to throw good stuff away, but maybe this isn't good stuff after all.:rolleyes::rolleyes:

    No big loss, The rails were on a just-started plywood layout that I bought at a church thrift store, along with a few locos, cars, some structures and half-finished kits and an assortment of other things. I figure anything I paid for the stuff was going to charity anyway so I couldn't lose on the deal, even if I paid too much or had to throw some of it away.:thumb::thumb:
  18. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I've noticed that with Fleischmann track, too. They both probably have a high brass content in their alloy. I wonder if it could be plated brass sold as NS.
  19. Why me

    Why me Member

    All my track is fleishmann no say in the matter brass it is.mike
  20. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Having use brass track well into the late 70's I can say it works just as well as NS track.. :thumb: :D

    Think of this..If brass was so bad as many claim then why is brass still being use in all scales of slot cars? :confused: Also a 99% of the 1/32nd and 1/24th cars come with brass pickup shoes and the electric is still being ran through brass rails and very little cleaning is required. :D

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