Will brass tracks and switches work with DCC?

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by Mannix, Apr 15, 2006.

  1. Mannix

    Mannix Member

    I have been out of HO railroading for ten years. When we moved ten years ago we had to tear down our layout and we boxed up the cars, track, switches, locomotives, etc. I now want to get back into the hobby, but all of the track and switches are brass. I want to go DCC, but I was told by a hobby store owner that DCC doesn't run well on brass. Is this true?
  2. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    DCC has issues with dirty track -- current interruptions do odd things to your loco. Brass has the reputation of being a little dirtier in this repect, but a regular cleaning should keep it going. We've had problems with dirty NS as well.
    There are new chips on the market that can overcome the dirt problems. They can also overcome dead sections at the end of sidings.
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    According to the literature, brass is a slightly better conductor than nickle silver. However, the oxides of NS are much more conductive than the oxides of brass. So you need to clean brass more, and/or prevent the oxidation (metal polish and clipper oil are two suggested methods for this).

    But as David pointed out, DCC likes clean track, regardless of what it is made of. So keeping the rails free of dust, grime and oxidation is probably secondary to what it is made of.

    If you have a lot of brass track, I would say use it.

  4. CN1

    CN1 Active Member

    The answer to your question is: yes
  5. Mannix

    Mannix Member

    Thanks for your reply to my question about using brass tracks for DCC. You mentioned that there are chips available to keep the track clean. Will you elaborate on that? What equipment do you have to have in order to run the chips and where can they be purchased?
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I think the ones I saw were Lenz chips. They install in the usual manner and your dealer should be able to get them.
    From what I can see, they are the Lenz Gold chips with USP (Uninterruptable Signal Processing). (Do they mean UPS?)
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    The decoders do not actually help keep the track clean. They are designed to handle dirty track better than the average decoder. As David said, they have a kind of UPS/USP in them that helps maintain the signal/power.

    An aside - a modeller in one of the local clubs powered a railbus, and put in a capacitor as a UPS to keep it running well. It is so light that it does not make reliable contact with the rails all the time.

    So unfortunately, you still have to clean your track, especially if it is brass :( ;)

  8. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    A capacitor would work on a DC layout. In DCC the capacitor would have to be in the decoder after the rectifier, or you would mess us the signal. In the end, clean track is the answer, and probably disabling the ability to automatically switch to DC.

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