Stainless steel track

Just learned a few minutes ago that large-scale (G, etc.) track is available in stainless steel, which is apparently the best stuff for
track exposed to the elements outdoors.
So is this available in smaller gauges (like HO)? If not, why not? Seems like it would be the ideal stuff in tems of keeping track clean and free of corrosion. (Ought to look more prototypical, too.)
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Maerklin has used stainless steel rail since about 1980 (K-track, C-track, Spur I.), except on their now discontinued HO tinplate track (M-track). Their coated steel rail used to rust within a short time but the stainless versiion takes considerably longer.
My basic and unscentific test is to try stainless steel with a magnet - if it sticks it will rust if left outdoors or in high humidity.
I wouldn't put (good) stainless steel much ahead of nickel-silver for rail in that it is more expensive to produce and is not much ahead in oxidation. It is a harder material, which is why it is more expensive.
Regards, Greg.P.
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Cost. Stainless steel would be no easeirt to keep clean than any other metal. Whether track looks prptoypical or not has more to do with whther it's painted or not.
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On 5/18/2008 8:43 PM Wolf Kirchmeir spake thus:

>

Are you sure? While nickel silver is better than brass, seems to me that stainless steel would be superior to n/s.

True; I'm just thinking that the top surface would look more like steel than nickel silver.
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Dirt is dirt, whether it be on brass, nickel-silver, or stainless steel.
The oxides are a different story: brass oxide does not conduct electricity worth a hoot -or so I've been told- whereas nickel-silver oxide *does* conduct just fine. Iron oxide is rust, which supposedly does not conduct electricity at all. Thus a clean -but oxidised- nickel-silver rail will allow a loco to pass over it where the other two metals would not.

I seriously doubt that anyone could tell the difference between polished stainless steel and polished nickel-silver. Their colors are very similar.
But there's another factor that you've both neglected: steel is much harder than nickel-silver, and would wear the plating off of locomotive wheels noticeably faster than does nickel-silver. This is demonstrated by the guys who re-invent stainless steel -or even titanium- fret wire for musical instruments every ten years or so; thinking that it will cut way back on the number of times the instrument must be refretted due to worn-out frets.
Turns out they're right about the frets not eroding as quickly, but what invariably happens is that the *strings* erode instead, and begin to break and play out of tune much more quickly than they would on a nickel-silver fretted instrument.
Unless the makers begin to build locos with stainless steel wheels to roll on those stainless steel rails, nickel-silver will probably remain the optimum model rail material.
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Yep. Also, I believe that stainless steel is also a poorer conductor of electricity than n/s, which means that one would have a bigger voltage drop issue requiring more power supplies (for a layout that doesn't use a copper wire bus). The other question I would have is related to friction. IOW, what's the coefficient of friction for stainless steel vs. n/s? I know n/s is less than brass (or, IOW, brass is "stickier"), but I don't recall stainless steel.

Also, can you imagine trying to make switches out of stainless steel rail? Ick. You'd be going through mill files like they were going out of style. lol
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
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Hand tools? You still use hand tools?
If my local hardware stores are any indication; they *are* going out of style!
-Pete
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----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hardware stores? You still have hardware stores? <g>
Bill
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Bill wrote:

Hmm, given the cheap multimeter that I think I mentioned here a while ago, that died, and said "no user serviceable parts inside", and "danger of shock", and had *no* hatch, so I pulled out a phillips head, unscrewed the back... and snapped out and snapped back in a 9V battery.....
mark "sealed for our lawyers' protection"
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On 5/19/2008 8:04 PM mark spake thus:

Better watch out, pal. The DIY police might just come a-knockin' at your door.
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Let's all live dangerously and tear those "Do not remove under penalty of law!" tags off of our mattresses this weekend when we change the sheets!
Power to the people, brother!
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You change your sheets every weekend?
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Bill Kaiser
snipped-for-privacy@mtholyoke.edu
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Sheets? <g>
Bill
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Well, not quite: I *do* have a wife.
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Pac Man wrote:

Yup!!!
Early "Modelers Rail" steel -- Worked!! Looked good. Hard to shape bend good traction. Then came brass -- Much easier to build 'special trackwork' & turnouts Bearing material, so not as good traction, Oxides an insulator, so cleaning could be a problem. Then came (Large Scale) [Outside, Live Steam, etc.] Aluminum -- Cheaper than brass, N.S., & steel
Then came Nickel Silver -- Workability of brass with better color, better bearing material, so even less traction, Oxides a conductor, so dirt became the only 'cleanliness' problem.
Electrical -- Brasstter than steel N.S.tter than brass Aluminum, not usually used with electrical propulsion.
More that you probably needed to know!! Chuck D. My understanding of SS is that it's equivalent to plain steel.
Chuck D.
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. EXCELLENT Summary - Thank You!
There is a remote possibility that I will have an outdoor 1.12 TrolleyCar operating from live overhead with rails as ground. Aluminum is very common in large scales and other rail is difficult to find. Would the Aluminum rail be a problem electrically? The model would weight 10-20-pounds and would thus have a tendency to polish and keep the rails 'clean!'
I am aware of the problems with Aluminum house wiring a number of years ago (decades actually) but this was an Interface problem with other hardware of higher resistance which caused heat buildup and possible fires; Aluminum itself apparently conducts electricity very well.
Jim Holland PRCoModels [At] P-R-Co.com
PS -- Very Informative series on Stainless -- excellent Hummer as well!
PSPS -- It's the Veekend -- Please Change Sheets!!!
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On 5/24/2008 1:03 PM NoOne spake thus:
[snip summary of metals]

Aluminum is an OK conductor of electricity. The problem is that the oxide that forms on its surface isn't a very good conductor. If the rail is polished, either by wheels running over it or by hand before operating, this shouldn't be a problem.
You're correct in saying that the problems with aluminum house wiring were due to connection problems and interfaces with other metals (i.e., copper).
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Aluminum's tendency to corrode dep[ends on which alloying elements are added to give it structural strength. Unfortunately the alloys, along with heat treatment, that give aluminum the strength for high load applications (like aircraft skins) are the most vulnerable to corrosion. Nearly pure aluminum is quite good at resisting corrosion, but quite soft. Some aircraft materials have the hard, but vulnerable, alloys for strength with a thin coating of the commercially pure variety to hold the corrosion at bay.
The problematic aluminum electrical wiring's diameter expands when resistance at the connections warms it. The expansion makes the wire extrude out of the connections, increasing the electrical resistance and the tendency for the connection to produce heat. The problem occurs when equipment like wall outlets and wall switches designed for copper wire can't automatically adjust for the changes in the wire's shape. It's IMPORTANT to use fixtures designed and marketed to work with aluminum wire if the circuit uses aluminum wire.
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NoOne wrote:

Go for it!!!
The only problems I foresee, Cats & small dogs vs/overhead wire. Large dogs, unless they are in 'play mode' will be aware enough to step over such obstructions.

Aluminum is an excellent conductor. The 'house' problems were caused by overheated connections, caused by loose connections, caused by 'thermal cycling' (over time) causing screw connections to loosen. {The fact that 'aluminum oxide' is an insulator also didn't help the 'loose connection' problem.)
Chuck D.

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My experiences with Al show that it doesn't take standard rosin-core electrical solder worth anything. You can get around this by using special solders or physical connections, but this may be something you want to consider.
Puckdropper
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To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
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