Brass or Nickle-silver track?

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)

#1
I personally use brass track for my HO trains, but I was wondering what the pro's and con's are of using Nickle-silver and the opinions of the rest of you about which track you choose? Is there any track that you refuse to use?

I hope this discussion hasn't been had on here, I looked so if I missed my apologies to the mods.
 

julienjj

Noodle is good
#2
Brass is not used much anymore because it get oxyded much faster than nickel silver and is harder to keep clean, brass is also a self lubing metal that has less grip than nickel
 
#3
I used brass when I got back into this hobby four years ago. When it was time to build my second layout I wanted code 83 instead code 100. That dictated that I buy all new track. I have all of my old brass track in a box. I thought about tossing it out but it's from my first layout twenty five years ago. I think I'll save it so I don't regret tossing it in my old age. I know most don't use brass anymore but a few here and there do. If it works for you, don't change.
 
#4
I love your signature. Forgive me, but what is LHS?

Jason

I have some pieces of brass in my layout, but I got them from another layout I purchased at an estate sale. Like has been stated above, brass oxidizes faster, but both are copper mixed with either zinc (brass) or nickle (nickle silver). I have not seen brass at the LHS, and last time I talked to the, they said they last sold it 8 years ago and recommended I don't use it as the nickle silver works so much better, less maintenence, etc.

You can safely intemix them as you need to.
 
#6
I'm building my first layout and have most of my turnouts already and they're all code 83. Is it worth it to buy all new code 100 turnouts and track? Any price difference?
 
#7
Unless you are planning to run old AHM equipment with really oversized flanges, you should do just fine with Code 87. Unless, of course you find a bargain of Code 100 track and turnouts (track switches...not to be confused with electrical switches used on your control panel). The only reason I'm sticking with Code 100 on my recently built layout is that I have so much left over from the last 52 years and three layouts, including some brass and nickel-silver flex track with fiber ties.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

kjd

Go make something!
#8
I wonder if you could plate it. At work we have been plating a lot of things that are not metal to make them look metal. There are a bunch of steps to plate plastic but plating brass is very easy and doesn't require much prep besides cleaning and polishing. The chrome is very hard, I wonder how it would wear.
 
#11
I wonder if you could plate it. At work we have been plating a lot of things that are not metal to make them look metal. There are a bunch of steps to plate plastic but plating brass is very easy and doesn't require much prep besides cleaning and polishing. The chrome is very hard, I wonder how it would wear.
Not sure why you'd want to plate the brass. If it is for looks, I'd not bother since brass track looks like most sidings or other lesser-used trackage. A lot of modellers actually paint or chemically treat the sides of their nickel silver to look like it is rusting. (Personally, I don't bother.) Chrome isn't as conductive as either nickel-silver or brass. The difference in maintenance between brass and nickel-silver track in maintenance is not that great IMHO, but depends on how often you are operating, humidity, etc. As I've posted before, I have some brass flex track and at least one 15 deg. crossing, and several Atlas double-slip switches in brass from previous layouts, and other than a swift pass with a Bright Boy and/or Wahl's Hair Clipper oil, I don't have any problems.

The other problem that comes with plating is that if you use flex track, bending it may make the plating come off or at least crack. You'd have to remove the track from the ties, and by the time you are through with the whole project, you'd be just as well off to buy new nickel-silver track and turnouts. IMHO, not worth the time and expense.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

kjd

Go make something!
#12
I was thinking just plate the railheads. We use a nickel solution and it is applied with a small spong/brush attached to one side of a power supply. The rail would be attached to the other. You brush the liquid on the rail and it is now nickel plated. From the few times I've had to remove some of the plating it seems quite durable and since it's nickel should be conductive. I don't have any brass track to try it on though.
 
#13
My thoughts on brass track are as follows: I had brass track in my younger days because it was the only thing around. Later steel track came along but has a nasty habit of rusting and the conductivity wasn't all that great. So brass was still better. Still later they plated the steel track with zinc. This improved conductivity as long as the track was kept sparking clean. Brass didn't have to be cleaned quite as much and so was still preferred. Still later along comes nickel-silver which despite the name doesn't have a bit of silver in it. It corrodes same as the zinc but unlike the zinc plated track doesn't need to be cleaned constantly as the corrosion layer is conductive to a point. This became much more preferable than brass. The only brass you'll find on my layout is a brass wheelset or two and maybe a brass detail part here and there and brass flywheels in many of the locos. As for the track, it's all nickel-silver.
 



ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com