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. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    Fortunately, I missed "The Brass Era"- Only in the fact that My first set (almost 10yrs. ago) came with steel track. Although I had another set that had brass, but at the time, I'd already switched (pun intended) to E-Z track. ;)
  2. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    Nice reading your opinions.

    I used brass on my first L/O , gave me no problems.

    I still use it mixed in with the N/S on Tight traction curves.

    A few years ago I gave most of it away to a very young lad who skipped away thinking he had found Gold,, I wonder if it`s still in use? :cool:
  3. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    And thanks for your comments Chris as well as everyone else's. It is interesting to see how the poll is going. For the most part, everyone that has used brass seems to be satified with it even though there are a great number of folks that say they wouldn't use it. So far, no one has said they used brass and regretted doing so. I'm still on the fence and I doubt that it would cost me over $25 to not use the brass I have and just go buy more N/S and not take any risks, but from what I'm seeing here, about half those that voted, don't think there are any risks. Geeze, I'm getting a headache thinking about this...:eek::D

    I should have added one more catagory to the poll, "I have brass rail but I'm hesitant to use it." That's the one I would have voted for.:confused::wave:
  4. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    When I had brass rail, Wahl clipper oil was my friend. I only use nickel silver rail these days. Aero-car, ACT-6006 keeps the track, and all the wheels clean now.
  5. Ray Marinaccio

    Ray Marinaccio Active Member

    One thing that hasn't been brought up is the adhesion properties of the two.
    From what I am told brass rail (and wheels) have more "grip" than nickle-silver.
  6. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    AAAHHHHH well said Ray I thought they stayed on the track better. :D

    Yes I think the brass rail had a better adhesion, And it did look like proto rail with the colour and all. :p
  7. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Good point. I'm guessing that is because brass is softer than NS and would be prone to having more microscopic pitting.

    I guess the only real issue here is the amount of time it takes to keep either type free of corrosion. Ya know, if they initially pumped up the rail voltage about ten fold (with motors rated the same), that would take care of that issue. :D:D It would also take care of a few modelers if they weren't careful....:eek::eek:
  8. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    It would also take care of a few modelers if they weren't careful....

  9. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    more on brass and nickel silver:

    After this thread started I did a lot of research on the properties of both brass and nickel silver also known as German silver and come up with a ton of information so I tried to keep it as short as I could. But first the chemical composition of brass is copper and zinc the commonest alloy is 63% copper and 37% zinc nickel silver is copper zinc and nickel the common alloy is 65% copper 18% nickel and 17% zinc the conductivity of each base metal using silver as a rating of 100 copper comes in with a rating of 97.61 zinc at 29.57 nickel at 12.98 so it would stand to reason that nickel silver is not as good of a conductor as brass but we use such short runs of it that now as for the oxides the major component being copper in both brass and nickel silver the common black oxide we get on our track is called cupric oxide its conductive qualities I didn’t find a site that dealt with it(fore all the years of shuddering locos we all can guess on it), but did find that it is a toxic substance(new to me).nickel oxide is also black but being only 18% of the metal in the alloy that it will be found in smaller amounts (which is a good thing as it carries a cancer warning) as to the conductivity qualities if the base metal in of low conductivity then the oxide would be also. The zinc oxide is a whitish gray color is not toxic and harmless unless you ingest large amounts of it but the fumes of zinc are deadly if breathed in confined spaces. The oxides from all three of these metals are used in the electronic industry from what I found mostly in the intergraded circuit manufacturing. Also there I a myriad of other compounds that can be formed the such as sulfides which form in locations having sulfuric acid fumes .so from all I can find the only advantage to nickel silver track over brass is the appearance and that is why I only buy new track in nickel silver but use brass I have.
  10. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    Nice research and good info. There's one metal that has not been brought into the mix, that being gold. We frequently used nickle-silver contacts on circuit boards and connectors mainly because of the cost of gold. Gold is an excellent conductor and does not corrode or oxidize. A gold-plated rail would do wonders to keeping the tracks in good shape, we won't talk about what it would do to the budget though...:eek::eek:

    Thanks for the info.:)
  11. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    Actually, if we took all of the gold that was being thrown away on old out-dated and obsolete computer cards (if you look at the contacts where they plug in, they are all gold plated), we could probably all coat the tops of our rails with it. :eek: :eek: Two problems with that though. 1. Getting the gold off of the circuit boards, and 2. How do you make gold look prototypical without effecting it's conductivity? :confused: :confused: :rolleyes:
  12. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    Forget that, they already get all the gold and other precious metals off these old boards. Recyling circuit boards is big business. They even retest and stock the old IC's, many are out of production and there is a need for older parts.

    I suppose one could always use white gold, maybe even platinum as long as we are fantasizing what difference can there be.
  13. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

  14. GeorgeHO

    GeorgeHO Member

    I bought at a very cheap price, or was given, various pieces of brass tracks which I had used to put on the floor and view different layout scenerios to see what actually fit in a given space. I changed my designs based on how the track fit, including sizes of layouts. (All my loop areas will be 60" wide, all my shelf modules will be 30" wide). I'm now in a position to use only NS, but if I ever get to building a hump yard, the downward track might be brass to utilize the 30 switches I have, and I won't worry about cutting them up and soldering them together to fit more track in less space because they are cheap, and so what if I wreck them all trying to make something work?
  15. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Ya'll know that nickel silver track is an alloy right? Do you know what its other ingredients are? :D
  16. santafewillie

    santafewillie Member

    There's no silver in's actually brass with half the zinc replaced with nickel. See jim currie's post #29 in this thread
  17. ReefBlueCoupe

    ReefBlueCoupe Member

    I'd keep the brass around for practice weathering track, or to make an old weed infested spur that hasn't been used in 15 years. It would look great in a scrap yard and since it's probably oxidized already, there wouldn't be much to do in the way of weathering :D IMO, there is a use for it, just not in a modern layout's main track system.

    I know that when I pulled some old track out of my attic that had been there for 13 years, the brass pieces had oxidation all over them and the Atlas NS pieces still looked brand new.
  18. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    My Brass track seems to be fine. I have had no troubles that i'm aware of, or atleast troubles caused by the brass (or its oxidation) itself. Personaly Steel alloy seems to be more horrible. it seems to build up grime faster than anything else.
  19. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    My first Layout was all brass, it gave me no problems, I even thought the colour was more realistic.
    Then I changed to N/S and have to paint it rusty brown/black :p
    But the change was for the best , as the switches (Turn outs) are far better.
  20. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    One big conclusion you can draw from these results is that those that do use brass rails are satified with their choice. No one yet has said they were sorry they did. There are many that mix the two and don't regret it either and there are those that wouldn't touch it for whatever reason. This is fine, as long as you're happy with what you've chosen to use.:thumb: :thumb:

    Well, I've got all my track down now. I segregated the brass, and wasn't going to use it until it looked like I was going to run out of N/S. Since everyone here that said they used brass was OK with it, I decided to use it in a three-track yard and in a remote industrial area. Since I won't be running any operations, these areas will be mostly used for storage anyway. I also used some older brass turnouts there. All the brass I have I got from box lots at swap meets, probably from guys that didn't want brass on their layouts.:D :D I've got enough left to duplicate my layout if I wanted to, but hey, with all that excess, I feel like a rich railroad baron.bounce7

Share This Page