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Discussion Starter · #101 ·
Nickel coating would help prevent oxidation, which is what would cause electrical issues. I have no idea if the process is feasible. You would need to come up with a long, narrow tub for the pieces to sit in while the plating process does its thing. I also have no idea if it would damage the plastic ties. There are 2 types of nickel plating. One involves anodes, cathodes and an electrolyte solution that contains nickel. The other is called electroless nickel plating. I really don't know much about the process other than you end up with a thin layer of nickel that coats the steel.
Interesting.
I will ask one of the science teachers.
If it’s feasible and I do it, I will post a how to.
 

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Here is a great DIY from start to finish for electroplating steel. This tutorial goes through Nickel plating, Copper plating and zinc plating, so it has some extraneous info.

I think the hardest part for you would be finding a long shallow and narrow tub.

How to Electroplate at home

Nickel plating adds a very thin layer of nickel on the surface of the steel. The process uses a low current electrical charge that carries individual ions of nickel from the anode (a piece of nickel) to the cathode (the steel in your track). The process doesn't take long, and the result is a layer of Nickel that is less than 1/1000 of an inch thick. It's very thin, but still provides excellent resistance to oxidation, because nickel doesn't oxidize as readily as the steel does...

Honestly, though... I'd start by laying out a section of teh track as is and see how well it works before going through the effort of plating, which may not really be worth it.
 

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I meant: do you think that would work?
Seems like steel is not ideal, but maybe it can get me started, and that’s something.
There is a reason you got that steel rail track for free. Most likely the guy who had it couldn't sell it, since no one would buy it.
Even if you could get it nickel-plated (by no means certain) and even if the extremely thin nickel plating didn't rub off when track cleaning*, the nickel plating job might well cost the price of just buying nickel-silver track in the first place. Sow's ears do not silk purses make.

If you go ahead with your nickel-plating scheme, (which I don't recommend.) then there are some types of track cleaning you should avoid. They include any & all abrasive types. Brite Boy track cleaning blocks, track cleaning cars that drag pieces of Masonite, sandpaper, or any sort of abrasive block along the rails, could remove the thin coat of nickel from the rail tops which would electrically put you right back to steel, rusty, rail and poor electrical pickup. Use a rag wetted with alcohol for track cleaning.

Traction Fan
 

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Here is a great DIY from start to finish for electroplating steel. This tutorial goes through Nickel plating, Copper plating and zinc plating, so it has some extraneous info.

I think the hardest part for you would be finding a long shallow and narrow tub.

How to Electroplate at home

Nickel plating adds a very thin layer of nickel on the surface of the steel. The process uses a low current electrical charge that carries individual ions of nickel from the anode (a piece of nickel) to the cathode (the steel in your track). The process doesn't take long, and the result is a layer of Nickel that is less than 1/1000 of an inch thick. It's very thin, but still provides excellent resistance to oxidation, because nickel doesn't oxidize as readily as the steel does...

Honestly, though... I'd start by laying out a section of teh track as is and see how well it works before going through the effort of plating, which may not really be worth it.

Not really. Gunsmiths use long narrow troughs for hot salts bluing of rifle and shotgun barrels and actions. These tanks are available from Brownell's.
 

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Discussion Starter · #105 · (Edited)
Thinking about it, I agree that the plating would likely be a waste of time and money. The person who gave me that track was honest and said that it is not ideal, and he could t sell it anyway, so there was no deception.
I think that track may be fine for part of the layout. I live in Arizona and it’s very dry here so it should be fine. I can always replace it later and/or use it for yards to park rolling stock.
 

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Think on g about it? The plating would likely be a waste of time and money. The person who gave me that track was honest and said that it is not ideal, and he could t sell it anyway, so there was no deception.
I think that track may be fine for part of the layout. I live in Arizona and it’s very dry here so it should be fine. I can always replace it later and/or use it for yards to park rolling stock.
It's not dry enough. The rails will corrode. "I can always replace it later" shows your inexperience. Yes you can... but it's a finicky and time consuming process that you would be well advised to avoid knowingly setting yourself up for.

Despite the value of the track being correctly represented to you when it was given, he is right now thanking you for taking that white elephant off his hands. He's probably planning to write it off as a tax-deductible donation to the school.

Do yourself a favor and treat it the same way you would treat the hideous tie your great Aunt Nellie gave you. Dispose of it appropriately and fib if you're ever asked about it. As I said earlier, the scrap value of the steel will buy you a couple lengths of good nickel-silver flex track.
 
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Wow !! Now that we KNOW you are in Arizona I'd say go for the steel rail !! That's even dryer than where the Highland Pacific MRR is, in San Gabriel, in L.A. county, and that RR runs smoooooth, and the steel looks great !!! Again, check it out on YouTube !
My only concern is that you wind up using code 100 brass switches..Do not !! You'll have to instead find C100 in nickle silver or steel (rare)..though NS switches will kinda stick out, sitting within the steel rail approaches to them..Not sure if that'd be so bad or not.
I think Shinohara and/or Walthers have C100 NS switches..(near $35 per)....
 

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Discussion Starter · #108 · (Edited)
Wow !! Now that we KNOW you are in Arizona I'd say go for the steel rail !! That's even dryer than where the Highland Pacific MRR is, in San Gabriel, in L.A. county, and that RR runs smoooooth, and the steel looks great !!! Again, check it out on YouTube !
My only concern is that you wind up using code 100 brass switches..Do not !! You'll have to instead find C100 in nickle silver or steel (rare)..though NS switches will kinda stick out, sitting within the steel rail approaches to them..Not sure if that'd be so bad or not.
I think Shinohara and/or Walthers have C100 NS switches..(near $35 per)....
I was looking at the steel rail. It’s been sitting in that box for a long time according to the person who gave it to me, and it shows no rust that I can see.
I will do a closer inspection but they look rust and corrosion free.
So maybe they are good to use.

I want to get started but have some other stuff to get done first.
I know some here have said just get started and I agree, but need to get some other stuff sorted out. Should start on the base for the layout in open grid soon!
Been away camping during this week off.
 

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I was looking at the steel rail. It’s been sitting in that box for a long time according to the person who gave it to me, and it shows no rust that I can see.
I will do a closer inspection but they look rust and corrosion free.
So maybe they are good to use.

I want to get started but have some other stuff to get done first.
I no know some here have said just get started and I agree, but need to get some other stuff sorted out. Should start on the base for the layout in open grid soon!
Been away camping during this week off.
So as long as the rails aren't corroded when you install them, they'll be OK? And the conductivity of steel won't be a problem if you can't see an issue. If you think not being able to visually detect corrosion means it isn't there, then please educate yourself... or just listen to what you are being told.

You can justify and make excuses all day long. You have been warned by people who know what they're talking about, INCLUDING the guy who gave it to you. Your continual disinclination to take advice and let your own excitement run the project is going to bring the whole thing crashing down.

You will spend hundreds of hours of effort getting this whole thing set up, and then you will be back with posts like, "Why won't my trains run?". An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
 
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Discussion Starter · #110 ·
So as long as the rails aren't corroded when you install them, they'll be OK? And the conductivity of steel won't be a problem if you can't see an issue. If you think not being able to visually detect corrosion means it isn't there, then please educate yourself... or just listen to what you are being told.

You can justify and make excuses all day long. You have been warned by people who know what they're talking about, INCLUDING the guy who gave it to you. Your continual disinclination to take advice and let your own excitement run the project is going to bring the whole thing crashing down.

You will spend hundreds of hours of effort getting this whole thing set up, and then you will be back with posts like, "Why won't my trains run?". An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I am hearing two opinions: one that the steel track is useless, another that it can indeed work.

That a huge layout in a major club uses steel track successfully seems to prove that it can work. I wrote the club that uses the steel track for some advice. Maybe they no longer use the steel track. Maybe they still do but it’s not worth the effort. Maybe they have figured out a way to make it work well.
I will wait to see what they say and decide.
Worst case scenario I can use the steel track for a train yard or something.

I am asking lots of questions now because I want to learn as much as I can getting started, and because I have to wait a little before starting.

I’m not waiting to start because I want perfect knowledge, but because of a few circumstances. I figure why not do the research now when I have some time.

I appreciate all the input and actually look forward to reading more comments all the time.
 

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If you mean you wrote to the Highland Pacific (H. Park Society of Model Engineers) I can assuredly state that they have not replaced the hand laid steel rail..They own the house it's in and so can never be evicted..
As I said, I have visited many times and the track is better looking than NS and have never witnessed a stall-out due to the steel...But you did read my concerns over it in post #107...
 

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Discussion Starter · #112 ·
Yes it was them.
I read your concerns, and that of others, and I am taking all the advice seriously. If they are running steel track as you said, then they must have found a way to make it work. Maybe they’ll tell me what to do. Maybe they’ll say that yeah, it works, but not worth it in the long run. I’ll balance whatever they say with what you and others have said

I looked at the track today and it was all shiny and I saw no signs of rust. It’s been sitting in that box for a long time, so I’d think it would have a good deal of rust spots or a coat of rust-instead it looked new. Being in AZ may help regarding the corrosion issue.
We shall see!
Hopefully they will contact me soon.
 

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CZ,
As I said before, time to begin the project..You are an art teacher..I've no doubt your creativity will lead you to the logic behind all the components of a RR in miniature..In fact the logic behind it is much the same as the 1:1 scale's use of pure logic to get what they need in place.
Get the woods, glue, screws, drill-driver and saw and get it going..Nothing down the line is un-doable..Hear what HPMRRC says...You've done then enough research..
Time for the fun to begin; the art and love of MRRing !
 

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I am hearing two opinions: one that the steel track is useless, another that it can indeed work.

That a huge layout in a major club uses steel track successfully seems to prove that it can work. I wrote the club that uses the steel track for some advice. Maybe they no longer use the steel track. Maybe they still do but it’s not worth the effort. Maybe they have figured out a way to make it work well.
I will wait to see what they say and decide.
Worst case scenario I can use the steel track for a train yard or something.

I am asking lots of questions now because I want to learn as much as I can getting started, and because I have to wait a little before starting.

I’m not waiting to start because I want perfect knowledge, but because of a few circumstances. I figure why not do the research now when I have some time.

I appreciate all the input and actually look forward to reading more comments all the time.
You misunderstand about the steel track. No one has said or implied that it can't be MADE to work. What we are saying that it is much more prone to failures and problems than nickel-silver track, ESPECIALLY in situations where track maintenance is not performed often and thoroughly. One person cannot achieve this on a layout the size you envision.

There really is no basis for comparison between a layout built and maintained by a club of experienced modelers and one built by a first-time beginner with little to no assistance, especially when it comes to maintenance. I guarantee you that they have the know-how to both minimize the potential issues and rapidly correct any that do pop up.

Likewise, the corrosion of steel track stored in a box on a store shelf or storeroom cannot be compared to track actually in use. Water-based adhesives, temperature, humidity, and micro-arcing from train wheels all affect that equation. Have you actually set up a few pieces of it and tried to run a train on it? That will tell you much more accurately than the Mark I, Mod 0 eyeball what condition it's in.

"I have some anecdotal examples of people who use steel track successfully" and other comments suggesting the concern is overblown (like calling it "not ideal") worry a lot of us that you're charging blindly down a rabbit hole in your enthusiasm to proceed. On the other hand, if you have decided that you must accept the higher risk for reasons of economics, that's a different matter altogether. Still asking for trouble, but understandable.
 
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Discussion Starter · #115 ·
CZ,
As I said before, time to begin the project..You are an art teacher..I've no doubt your creativity will lead you to the logic behind all the components of a RR in miniature..In fact the logic behind it is much the same as the 1:1 scale's use of pure logic to get what they need in place.
Get the woods, glue, screws, drill-driver and saw and get it going..Nothing down the line is un-doable..Hear what HPMRRC says...You've done then enough research..
Time for the fun to begin; the art and love of MRRing !
Thank you.
I will be starting it soon. Been on break for the last week and away from home. I already own the tools to do this anyway; cordless circular saw, table saw, cordless drill and impact driver, nail gun... so all I need is the wood!
I will be posting pics as I go in the layout section. Looking forward to getting feedback.
 

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Discussion Starter · #116 · (Edited)
You misunderstand about the steel track. No one has said or implied that it can't be MADE to work. What we are saying that it is much more prone to failures and problems than nickel-silver track, ESPECIALLY in situations where track maintenance is not performed often and thoroughly. One person cannot achieve this on a layout the size you envision.

There really is no basis for comparison between a layout built and maintained by a club of experienced modelers and one built by a first-time beginner with little to no assistance, especially when it comes to maintenance. I guarantee you that they have the know-how to both minimize the potential issues and rapidly correct any that do pop up.

Likewise, the corrosion of steel track stored in a box on a store shelf or storeroom cannot be compared to track actually in use. Water-based adhesives, temperature, humidity, and micro-arcing from train wheels all affect that equation. Have you actually set up a few pieces of it and tried to run a train on it? That will tell you much more accurately than the Mark I, Mod 0 eyeball what condition it's in.

"I have some anecdotal examples of people who use steel track successfully" and other comments suggesting the concern is overblown (like calling it "not ideal") worry a lot of us that you're charging blindly down a rabbit hole in your enthusiasm to proceed. On the other hand, if you have decided that you must accept the higher risk for reasons of economics, that's a different matter altogether. Still asking for trouble, but understandable.

I understand what you’re saying. If I use the steel track it will be for the first section, not the whole layout. Maybe I’ll just use it for a big yard?
I plan on using nickel silver for the rest.
I could also put the steel track up for sale or trade here, but not sure if anyone would be interested.

Waiting to hear from that club though. Curious as to how they keep it working. I may even call them up.

Thank you for the reality check. I do appreciate it.
 

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I understand what you’re saying.
Thank you for the reality check. I do appreciate it.
Now your Volcano will be a working model? Right?
If not like a science project with spewing lava, maybe somehow with LED lights. :) (y)
 
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I understand what you’re saying. If I use the steel track it will be for the first section, not the whole layout. Maybe I’ll just use it for a big yard?
I plan on using nickel silver for the rest.
I could also put the steel track up for sale or trade here, but not sure if anyone would be interested.

Waiting to here from that club though. Curious as to how they keep it working. I may even call them up.

Thank you for the reality check. I do appreciate it.
You have gotten plenty of advice regarding the steel track, practically all of it negative. Sometimes we have to learn by doing. Try actually running a locomotive on some steel rail track, and see how that works. As long as you clean the tops of the rails, and the wheels of the locomotive, it should run. Before deciding to go ahead with laying a lot of that track permanently, I suggest letting it sit for several weeks, and then trying to run again, without re-cleaning the rails. It may run the second time, but probably not as well as the first. Now to some degree this would be true of any model track, steel, brass, or nickel-silver. The difference is how frequently It needs cleaning. Steel, most often, brass second most, and nickel-silver least often. While I think the most sensible thing you could do with the steel track (short of throwing it away) would be to use it as display track. Locomotives sitting on display shelves don't need to pick up electricity from the rails, so the type of rail doesn't matter.

Your idea of using the steel track in a yard won't work, if you plan to use the yard by running locomotives to switch cars in that yard. The same electrical conductivity problems that will apply to steel rail on the main line, will apply equally, or perhaps even more, in an active yard. Locomotives need to run very slowly when switching. This calls for the most electrical reliability, not the least. Now if the "yard" will only be an "on layout display track," Then electrical issues won't apply.

It seems obvious, from your posts, that you are determined to use this "bonanza" of free steel rail track, no matter what advice you have been given. OK. That is, and should be, strictly your choice, since its your railroad. So go ahead and try it, and see how well, or poorly, it works. I suggest you try it in small sections, to minimize any potential disappointment, but that too is strictly your choice. Also do call that club, and get their advice from their practical experience of running on steel track.

I strongly suspect you are correct that you will be unable to sell the steel rail track here, unless you palm it off on some newbie who doesn't know any better. That would be a rather mean thing to do, especially since the man who gave it to you free was honest about its inferiority.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan
 

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Discussion Starter · #120 ·
You have gotten plenty of advice regarding the steel track, practically all of it negative. Sometimes we have to learn by doing. Try actually running a locomotive on some steel rail track, and see how that works. As long as you clean the tops of the rails, and the wheels of the locomotive, it should run. Before deciding to go ahead with laying a lot of that track permanently, I suggest letting it sit for several weeks, and then trying to run again, without re-cleaning the rails. It may run the second time, but probably not as well as the first. Now to some degree this would be true of any model track, steel, brass, or nickel-silver. The difference is how frequently It needs cleaning. Steel, most often, brass second most, and nickel-silver least often. While I think the most sensible thing you could do with the steel track (short of throwing it away) would be to use it as display track. Locomotives sitting on display shelves don't need to pick up electricity from the rails, so the type of rail doesn't matter.

Your idea of using the steel track in a yard won't work, if you plan to use the yard by running locomotives to switch cars in that yard. The same electrical conductivity problems that will apply to steel rail on the main line, will apply equally, or perhaps even more, in an active yard. Locomotives need to run very slowly when switching. This calls for the most electrical reliability, not the least. Now if the "yard" will only be an "on layout display track," Then electrical issues won't apply.

It seems obvious, from your posts, that you are determined to use this "bonanza" of free steel rail track, no matter what advice you have been given. OK. That is, and should be, strictly your choice, since its your railroad. So go ahead and try it, and see how well, or poorly, it works. I suggest you try it in small sections, to minimize any potential disappointment, but that too is strictly your choice. Also do call that club, and get their advice from their practical experience of running on steel track.

I strongly suspect you are correct that you will be unable to sell the steel rail track here, unless you palm it off on some newbie who doesn't know any better. That would be a rather mean thing to do, especially since the man who gave it to you free was honest about its inferiority.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan
It’s difficult to throw away so much track. I guess maybe I’m grasping at straws.
 
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