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.)
Reply to
David Nebenzahl
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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.
Reply to
Greg Procter
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.
Reply to
Wolf Kirchmeir
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.
Reply to
David Nebenzahl
"David Nebenzahl" wrote
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.
Reply to
P. Roehling
If you solder feeders to your track, forget it with stainless. You either drill and tap or use clamps.
Len
Reply to
Len
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 *************
Reply to
Pac Man
Just remember one thing: in G-gauge outdoor layouts, battery power is common. Those that use them don't really give two hoots about conductivity or oxidation.
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
Reply to
Pac Man
"Pac Man" wrote
Hand tools? You still use hand tools?
If my local hardware stores are any indication; they *are* going out of style!
-Pete
Reply to
P. Roehling
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Hardware stores? You still have hardware stores?
Bill
Reply to
Bill
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 -- Brass=better than steel N.S.=better 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.
Reply to
Charles Davis
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"
Reply to
mark
"David Nebenzahl" wrote
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!
Reply to
P. Roehling
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Sheets?
Bill
Reply to
Bill
Let me start another thread here:
Neither stainless (SS) or nickel-silver (NS) have a color similar to steel used in real rails. Real rails have a bluish/grayish color. SS and NS have somewhat warmer (almost golden) color.
I would say that the biggest issue with indoor use of SS rails is that SS is much more difficult to solder than NS. You'd need to use acid flux which is not good to use on any electric circuitry (unless you can neutralize the acid). Also SS needs more heat for soldering than NS. I also suspect that SS has a higher resistance per square than NS.
Peteski
Reply to
Peter W.
"Peter W." wrote
You'd be correct if we were speaking of dull metal ingots, but what you're seeing on the polished running surfaces of full-scale rails is largely the mirrored reflection of the sky above them, and that reflection overwhelms the natural color of the steel itself. Should you doubt that, try comparing the colors of the rail-tops on both clear and overcast days.
The rail-tops will appear silvery-blue on the clear days and silvery-grey when it's overcast, and were our polished nickel-silver rail tops located out-of-doors instead of inside on our layouts, you'd see the same effect happening with them.
As it happens, I work with polished metals in my everyday job, and while the colors of polished steel and polished nickel-silver are definitely *not* identical -and you're correct in saying that nickel-silver is the "warmer" of the two- it would still take a pretty well-trained (hoho) eye to pick out the difference on a polished surface unless there was a sample of both metals lying right there in front of you for a comparison.
-Pete
Reply to
P. Roehling
Gargraves makes stainless steel tubular rail for O Gauge and O Scale as well as for G Gauge. The tubular track works well outside, particularly that which has plastic ties. The wood ties work - but deteriorate much more rapidly in some climates unless you're willing to put deck stain on them frequently.
If you are doing an outdoor layout, it would be good to plan in advance to either go with remote control and battery power or plan on laying a wire bus that can connect with multiple points in the track plan.
Reply to
RRGrandad

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