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    • August 15, 2020 1:46 AM EDT
    • I started on the frogs next. I’d got a bit used to using a grinder for other work so I tried clamping the rail in a vice and having at it, following a marker line. Plenty of operator error, plus the angle being shallow meant the first one needed a lot of hand filing.

       

      Plan B - using a belt sander. Waay better. 100 grit seemed to give a controllable cut rate, with not too bad a finish. Then quick tidy up with a hand file.

       

      I used a piece of Aluminium sheet with sharpie lines at the right angle for a soldering template, clamp the rails in place with a bolt & washer, then hit it with a gas torch & silver solder. Pic shows #1 finished, and #2 just soldered. Easy tidy up with a hand file..

       

       

      I lightly spiked the straight rail, then the frog, matching the rail drawing for location. The spacers are 3 mm Al bar with hand cut grooves for gauge and check rails. Unfortunately they’re made for 332 rail, but seemed ok at the time, just a little bit sloppy. 20/20 hindsight - this was not a wise choice..!

       

       

       

      I’m building these to handle track power, although I’m set up for battery at the moment. The red lines and the double spikes on the frog is where the electrical isolation will be made later on.

       

      I’d figured out that the Al rail spacers were giving grief on the clearances by this stage so I hacked out a few wooden blocks that were ‘better’. Pure luck that my table saw blade had a cut the same width as the rail head.

       

      I bent up the curved stock and closure rails next with a railbender. I marked up where the straight rails had to start & stop so I kept a straight section through the frog.

       

       

       

       

      There was quite a bit of trial and error before I got the closure/point rail sitting in the right spot. I made it in 1 piece at this stage so I knew it would work before cutting it for points, frog etc.

       

       

       

       

      The spacers are made from some 0.101” copper wire, that’s right on minimum G1MRA standard for check rail spacing so it makes a good guide for setup of the frog.

       

      Rinse & repeat for the straight closure rail, and the curved stock rail. Everything was solid rail at this stage i.e. no electrical gaps or hinges for the point rails.

       

       

       

       

      Almost there, last steps to come are hinging the point rails, spiking and electrical gaps..

       

      Cheers

      Neil

    • August 11, 2020 11:22 PM EDT
    • Cliff Jennings said:

      Holy cow, that's some mighty fine string of switches Neil!

       

      Are you going to pre-fab your track as well?

       

      Thanks Guys,

       

      Yep, that is / was the plan Cliff.  Once I get one up and working ok I'll check what rail parts I can mass produce.

       

      The large number is kinda based on Bruce's comment 'I always needed one more.'  I took a reasonable number, doubled it - then added two for luck.  

       

      Cheers

      Neil

    • August 11, 2020 3:14 PM EDT
    • Holy cow, that's some mighty fine string of switches Neil!

       

      Are you going to pre-fab your track as well?

       

    • August 11, 2020 5:28 AM EDT
    • Yep, that patience thing certainly is involved here. Good to hear that using other than motor oil to soak them in works. Nice looking switch bases Neil.

    • August 14, 2020 9:05 PM EDT
    • Cliff, I’ll ask the plater what the whole process consists of and post it.

    • August 14, 2020 12:25 PM EDT
    • 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

       

    • August 12, 2020 5:48 PM EDT
    • Ted, that's beautiful!

      Can you tell us more about the process?

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

    • August 11, 2020 11:50 PM EDT
    • 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 11, 2020 4:46 PM EDT
    • 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 3:57 PM EDT
    • 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 3:29 PM EDT
    • 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 3:23 PM EDT
    • 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 3:14 PM EDT
    • 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.

    • August 11, 2020 1:11 PM EDT
    • 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 10:33 AM EDT
    • 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 7:52 AM EDT
    • Trainli sells flex nickel and several switches.

       

    • August 12, 2020 11:04 PM EDT
    • Thanks Eric. I did read your thread a while back but missed Dans comments on the ties UV ability.

    • August 12, 2020 9:53 PM EDT
    • Ted,

       

      I did a "study" on these tracks:

       

      Link:  Topic: Update: Bachmann Track after 6 Months in the Tropical Sun

       

      The ties are holding up OK, but the ties on this forlorn siding are almost completely buried.  Bits and pieces become exposed as the earth shifts around and over them.  You'll note in the referenced thread that Dan P. says they are not UV protected, so the relative durability of the ties in the photo is probably a function of their low actual exposure.

       

      Aloha,

      Eric

    • August 12, 2020 5:28 PM EDT
    • I read on an older thread that the Bachmann tie strips have held up well outside. I was curious if the ties from the metal rail are also UV protected plastic. I understand they have to be trimmed of the vertical end posts and the parallel lines near the tie plates but it’s fairly easy to do. I can get a lot of the track cheap and thought of using the ties for all the other rails I have. So are the ties on the steel track any good outside? Here’s a piece I tested.