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Discussion in 'FAQs' started by CSX, Sep 21, 2005.
What brands of G-Scale track will work outside for a garden railway?
I am currently using Aristo Craft US brass track. I have heard the Steel is better for outside but around here it is harder and more expensive to obtain.
I saw steel Bachmann track for $130 per 50 feet. Is that a good price and will it work?
In one post you said Bachmann isn't good, and here you say steel is best. So what is correct?
I can only offer that the Bachman track I got in my Big Hauler set is not suitable for outdoors. I don't know if they make any other track. I too use AristoCraft brass track. I don't know about any steel track, there is Aluminum track available, never tried it.
To my understanding the problem with the Bachmann track is not the rails so much as it is the ties. They are not made from a plastic that can withstand being outside. Something to do with UV protection. The Aristo-Craft and LGB track are made for outdoor use.
From what I have been told the Stainless Steel rails require less cleaning than the brass rails.
The best place I found to purchase the Aristo-Craft track was mail order through Trainworld.
Check this site to see what they use. I know that conductivity is not a concern because they change everything to run by remote on battery power.
It's the local garden railway club. Good bunch of guys, and they will answer your inquiries if you contact them.
Whether you need to use the rails to conduct power would be the determining factor for me as to whether brass rail is acceptable. When brass oxidizes, it forms a difficult-to-see non-conductive film (prior to tarnishing, which is advanced oxidation). This oxidation must be removed from brass rail prior to running trains if the trains are drawing current from the track. Frequent use of the trains also removes the oxidation film. However, brass definitely oxidizes more quickly outside, and especially in a salt-air environment.
If you use battery power, brass rail oxidation is not a problem.
Stainless steel and nickel silver oxides are conductive, so are better materials for outside rail if using track power. However, depending upon geographic conditions, the rail will get dirty when not being actively used, regardless of material. Depending on the accumulation and type of dirt, you may have to clean rails before running no matter what.
Equally important to use of track outside is the UV resistance of the plastic in the ties. Some makes can deteriorate to almost unusable in one summer in the direct sunshine in southern latitudes. Some brands are built with much better UV resistance than others. I have seen specific brand recommendations (I model inside myself) for outside use in various forums - you might try a couple of quick searches.
Thanks guys for all of your help. I live in central VA so salt-air is not an issue. How do you clean the tracks?
I use a tool I bought at Home Depot used for sanding drywall. It has a rubber pad with hardware to fasten a strip of sandpaper. It's about 3' tall so I don't stoop much to use it. I don't remember what I use is called! It is very fine, and is not sand paper.
This works well, and easily, to clean track. But after a couple years I've had some ground cover try to grow in my ballast. (Part of the problem is I haven't found anything better than chicken grit in the local garden centers) So I'd like to know if anybody can recommend a tank car that can dispense weed killer and be controlled enough to not affect things only several inches away. Any thoughts?