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Mixing HO Code 100 Brass and Nickel Silver Track

Terry’s question for fellow model railroaders is:

“I have been a keen observer of model train exhibits for many years and have finally decided to give it a go. I was given some brass track and wondered if I could mix brass track with nickel silver track? Thanks.”

Include your comments below.

10 Responses to Mixing HO Code 100 Brass and Nickel Silver Track

  • Tim Morloksays:

    There are a couple of things to keep in mind if you mix these tracks: 1) brass is less conductive than N/S which could cause variations in speed between the different section of your layout.
    2) brass oxides/ corrodes much faster than N/S and must be cleaned more often.
    Personally I would stay with N/S. You could use the old brass track for staging or storage tracks where conductivity is not a problem or sell them on line (E-Bay) to someone who is looking to expand an old layout.

  • Rich Aubelsays:

    Terry, take all of the brass track to the nearest cliff and throw them as far as you can. First, the oxide of brass track is insulating and will require constant cleaning to run your trains. Oxide of nickel silver is not insulating so dirt is the only thing you need to worry about cleaning. The free brass track was no “gift”.

  • Kevin Stroudsays:

    I agree with Rich throw it off a cliff or sell on ebay

  • David Broadsays:

    I agree with Rich and Kevin to some degree. Brass is awkward to keep clean, but keep some of the brass track as brass rails are really useful for all sorts of modelling like fence posts, repairing loco valve gear, etc so keep a few yards of track for this

  • W Rusty Lanesays:

    Personally, I’ve never had any trouble with brass track. On my old layout I used not only brass track but steel track mixed in with it. True, you have to keep the track clean but I never had any problems with any locos changing speed due to different material for tracks. I even have some nickel silver track mixed in with the brass and steel track. No problems whatsoever. You just have to keep it clean. On my new layout I plan to use only nickel silver but some of my switches are brass. I’ll use the brass for sidings and for siding switches.

  • Don Cheekssays:

    Hello, I have a medium sized layout, 12 x 13, with multiple miles of track all in HO brass track. I wipe it down every two weeks with Alcohol and have no issues in the 55 years I have been building layouts. The layouts have been in my garage for the last 30 years and still no issues. I don’t mix steel or nickel with my brass simply because of esthetics.

  • Bill Rodgerssays:

    You could use it to build a test track for rolling stock. I have some old brass attached to a board on my workbench. With the Kadee coupler gauges attached on either end to test coupler height, as well as testing for smooth-rolling wheels.

    Other possible uses are abandoned or little-used sidings/spurs, or as others have suggested fences and other details; bumpers, removed rails, etc.

  • Randall Styxsays:

    While we can debate the pros and cons of brass track, the question has to do with mixing two kinds of track on the same layout. As I see it, the biggest problem mixing nickle-silver and brass is aesthetics – can you live with the appearance? When two different metals come into contact with each other there is the potential for galvanic action, especially when there is moisture involved. Some combinations have more problems than others. For example, mating aluminum and steel (even stainless steel) on a boat (especially on salt water) just about guarantees that the aluminum will corrode and fail. But if conditions are dry or the contacting surfaces are sealed (as with electrician’s grease in a service panel or solder) the problems are avoided. Nickle-silver and brass are not nearly as antagonistic to each other as aluminum and steel, so there should be little problem, especially if the joints are soldered. If the relative humidity is high, unsoldered joints could degrade over time and require cleaning to reestablish good conductivity. So long as you keep good conductivity and keep your track clean, operations should not be noticeably affected.

  • Stansays:

    Throw the brass away.

  • AJsays:

    It’s pretty silly that people are telling the original poster to throw the track out… They don’t even answer his question, which was if he could mix brass and nickel-silver.

    You could absolutely mix the two. The only thing that may be off putting is the difference in appearance between the two materials.

    As for brass as a track material, I had a small HO layout for years that used nothing but brass track, and I never had any problems. I maybe ran the trains maybe once a week and cleaned the track a few times a year. The layout doesn’t exist anymore, but I still take the track out a few times a year to run some trains, and I don’t have any problems whatsoever.

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