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  • Topic: Nickel plating brass rail

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    • August 8, 2020 4:47 PM EDT
      • South Dartmouth , Massachusetts
         
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      Nickel plating brass rail

      I had a whole tube of LGB brass rail that I had nickel plated to do a test when I build my outdoor layout. I have about 600’ of Aristo SS rail but I believe I will need more so I thought of nickeling the brass to see if it will hold up to the elements and need less cleaning. Has anyone tried this before. I realize that bending the rail too tightly will probably crack the nickel but if I stay in larger radius it should be OK. Usually it’s the chrome that crack off of the nickel anyway and not the nickel itself when it comes to car parts. Any opinions?

      This post was edited by Ted Brito at August 8, 2020 4:48 PM EDT
    • August 9, 2020 7:47 AM EDT
      • Eastern Massachusetts
         
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      To plate brass, LGB and trainli used a copper plating before the nickel as nickel does not adhere well to brass directly.

      So, nickel track is nickel plated copper plated over brass.  I have bent LGB nickel and it does not flake off over time.  Biggest issue is cleaning the nickel as it is a thin coat and will 'wear' off of using the LGB track cleaner.

       

    • August 9, 2020 8:00 AM EDT
      • South Dartmouth , Massachusetts
         
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      thanks dan. I believe they were copper coated first also. I figured an abrasive would wear the nickel off if it’s too abrasive. I was curious if anyone else had tried nickel plating the rail and if so, what were their results. Do you know of anyone who tried it? i was unaware that Trainli and LGB did the process. Do they still offer nickel rail?

    • August 10, 2020 2:41 PM EDT
      • Tiburon, California
         
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      Wow. what great timing.  I had been considering nickel plating the rails on some brass-railed turnouts to be less of a contrast with my aluminum rails.  So, the secret is copper-plate the brass, and then nickel-plate the copper?

    • August 11, 2020 7:52 AM EDT
      • Eastern Massachusetts
         
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      Trainli sells flex nickel and several switches.

       

    • August 11, 2020 10:33 AM EDT
      • Fort Worth, Texas
         
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      Seem like a lot of work just to get somewhat better rail connectivity when you can go with a battery system and RC control to power your engines and be done with it. I realize that back in the day things were different and I'm pretty sure that many still run their railroads this way, but thanks to today's technology we can just go out and run trains and not have to deal with rail problems that are recurring and make the hobby not so much fun at times. 

      trainman  

    • August 11, 2020 1:11 PM EDT
      • Milpitas, California
         
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      Yeah, I was contemplating the TrainLi NpB track, but it ain't cheap. You get the best of both worlds there - great conductivity and looks. Their nickel-plated rail looks more realistic than the brass (on top). So even if you're running battery power and don't care about good conductivity, you have the cosmetic advantage with the nickel-plated brass track. They say their NpB rail rivals stainless.

      https://www.trainli.com/NpB-G-scale-flextrack-lgb-compatible-p-95

    • August 11, 2020 3:14 PM EDT
      • Candlewood Valley, Connecticut
         
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      Nickle Silver might rival stainless for looks, conductivity and ease of cleaning, but I am sure glad I had stainless down when the tree trimmers I hired walked all over it early this spring with no damage.

       

       

      @trainman - You're new here, so you get a pass; but there is kind of an unwritten rule that battery guys don't inject "battery is better" in a track power thread and track power guys don't claim "track power is better" in a battery power thread. Keeps everyone friends    And I probably should have said this privately, so I hope you take it as friendly criticism.

      This post was edited by Jon Radder at August 12, 2020 4:38 AM EDT
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    • August 11, 2020 3:23 PM EDT
      • Maryland, USA
         
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      Michael Kirrene said:

      Yeah, I was contemplating the TrainLi NpB track, but it ain't cheap. You get the best of both worlds there - great conductivity and looks. Their nickel-plated rail looks more realistic than the brass (on top). So even if you're running battery power and don't care about good conductivity, you have the cosmetic advantage with the nickel-plated brass track. They say their NpB rail rivals stainless.

      https://www.trainli.com/NpB-G-scale-flextrack-lgb-compatible-p-95

       

      I have the TL track, using rail power (DCC), and I love not having to clean it but a couple times a year. The plating is really tough; but if you want to solder to the brass, it's possible to grind the plating off (in a small spot) to do so. 

       

      I also love their rail clamps, which have a single stainless (or brass) horizontal j-shaped block on the underside of the track, and two flat head screws opposite the hook of the J. When you tighten down on the screws, they bit in slightly into the rail, making it impossible to slide. And since the screw head faces up (vs horizontally), it's easy to make / break the connections.

       

       

    • August 11, 2020 3:29 PM EDT
      • Maryland, USA
         
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      Ted, sounds like a fascinating prospect to plate your own rail. I'm brain dead on the topic, but admire the gumption and look forward to see your procedure. 

       

      You might contact Train Li for a piece of Nipl rail to compare against your test results, in regards to flaking, bending, banging, etc. Or PM me, and I'll send you a couple of ~6" scraps. 

    • August 11, 2020 3:57 PM EDT
      • Milpitas, California
         
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      Cliff Jennings said:
      Michael Kirrene said:

      Yeah, I was contemplating the TrainLi NpB track, but it ain't cheap. You get the best of both worlds there - great conductivity and looks. Their nickel-plated rail looks more realistic than the brass (on top). So even if you're running battery power and don't care about good conductivity, you have the cosmetic advantage with the nickel-plated brass track. They say their NpB rail rivals stainless.

      https://www.trainli.com/NpB-G-scale-flextrack-lgb-compatible-p-95

      I have the TL track, using rail power (DCC), and I love not having to clean it but a couple times a year. The plating is really tough; but if you want to solder to the brass, it's possible to grind the plating off (in a small spot) to do so. 

      I also love their rail clamps, which have a single stainless (or brass) horizontal j-shaped block on the underside of the track, and two flat head screws opposite the hook of the J. When you tighten down on the screws, they bit in slightly into the rail, making it impossible to slide. And since the screw head faces up (vs horizontally), it's easy to make / break the connections.

       

      Thanks, Cliff. I was wondering about the integrity of the nickel plating (not to be confused with nickel silver) on the TrainLi NpB after it's been cleaned quite a few times. What do you use to clean the rails so you don't accidentally wear through to the brass? Also good to know about their rail clamps - was wondering about those too. And not to get off the subject, but I see that you use Railpro too and assume that you like it. 

       

    • August 11, 2020 4:46 PM EDT
      • Maryland, USA
         
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      Michael, I just use a swiffer (with a damp towelette or whatever they call it).  I'd be happy to send you a small sample of their rail, if TL doesn't (just call Joanne there, she owns it; or maybe ask Dan Pierce here), and you can see how not easy it is to file the plating off. 

       

       

    • August 11, 2020 11:50 PM EDT
      • South Dartmouth , Massachusetts
         
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      Because I’ve been working with a few platers with my antique car restoration hobby I got a whole tube of rail plated for N/C so it cost me nothing. Now the rail was older but like new, bright and shiny so it didn’t need any real prep. I have probably another tube and a half of weathered rail that will require cleaning to plate. My neighbor is a professional polisher and told me he has a technique to clean it fairly quickly.

       i put on my box of ties and the rails look real good.ill get some pictures of it. I realized it was just a little short of a full tube with two pieces being about 4’ or so. Im even curious on taking apart some 1600 series switches and having them plated also. The plater told me it really cost next to nothing for the nickel that’s on them and it’s always the prep polishing that costs. I really need to start drawing out my layout and see just how much rail I’ll need anyway.

      on the comment about battery power, it’s not what my plans are. I want to be more of a spectator than an operator so my intentions are to have an automated system where I can be in my yard and my trains are running, doing their on thing, going their own routes, based on automatic systems. Down the road if it fails, I can go to battery if needed.

    • August 12, 2020 5:18 PM EDT
      • South Dartmouth , Massachusetts
         
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      Here is a picture of my nickeled rail with LGB ties. Looks pretty good.

      This post was edited by Ted Brito at August 12, 2020 5:19 PM EDT
    • August 12, 2020 5:48 PM EDT
      • Maryland, USA
         
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      Ted, that's beautiful!

      Can you tell us more about the process?

    • August 14, 2020 12:25 PM EDT
      • Becker, Minnesota
         
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      Found this video on YouTube. If our school district does distant learning again, this may become a science experiment to do with the kids. Oh heck, we'll do the experiment anyway. Just need to find a container large enough to hold a 6' piece of track. I watched another video where he used Acetone to clean the parts instead of Hydrochloric Acid, think I'll go that way too.

      https://youtu.be/G-PtnwtOR24

       

      This post was edited by Eric Warhol at August 14, 2020 9:04 PM EDT
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    • August 14, 2020 9:05 PM EDT
      • South Dartmouth , Massachusetts
         
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      Cliff, I’ll ask the plater what the whole process consists of and post it.

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