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In the planning stages for a garden railway and would appreciate some advice on track. I've seen options for aluminum, brass, stainless steel, and nickel silver rail. After reading pros and cons, I'm leaning toward code 250 nickel silver, which appears to be the priciest (of course). Any reason I should rethink NS? I do plan to use track power and my first phase of the build will be about 100' of track. I live in central Ohio and plan to purchase USA trains GP38-2 loco and freight cars (50 scale feet long or less). The smallest diameter in my initial plan is 12'. Is this sufficient for this type of train if I want to add body-mounted knuckle couplers (Kay-Dee)? Should I purchase flex track lengths for my straight sections and separate rail and tie sections for the curves? I've seen pics of the Lllagas track online and it looks awesome, but I read where there rail is difficult to slide onto the ties. I've read that Sunset Valley rail/ties are easier to work with. Anyone have experience and advice on the track/rail? Thanks!
 

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This is a case where Google is your friend. Try searching this site for lots of relevant threads: "site:mylargescale.com track choice"
 

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With track radius, it's a really great practice to follow the prototype: go as large as is possible in the space, and make transitions as gentle as possible. If you have sufficient room to go larger than 6 foot radius (12 foot diameter), I'd do it.

I'm indoors, so I can't address the material choice for outdoor operation. I'd use aluminum, but I know I want to run steam.
 

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The larger the diameter of your curves, the better. Looks better and also easier for the body-mount couplers. That goes for whatever track you decide on.

All my track is Sunset Valley 250 code Stainless Steel. Nickel silver seems like a good choice, too, especially if you have a problem with "silver track". You can't paint SS, but you can paint NS. But I have over 500 feet of track so I can't conceive of ever painting that much (gotta leave the top of the rail and some of the sides for good conductivity).

I stayed away from any sectional track, just SV flex track, and bought myself a Train-Li track bender - something of an investment, but worth every penny. Track laying is probably my favorite thing to do around the railroad, although I've gotten to the stage that my knees don't like it as much as I do.


 

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Hi Tmart,
Welcome to MLS.
You don't say how you will be fixing down the track - in the ground, or on a baseboard of some sort.
I have used Llagas Creek track for the last 26 years and as I have it mounted to a baseboard it looks great.
The Sunset Valley ties have a web down the middle which to my eyes, looks strange IF it is not covered up.
If you can manage a minimum radius of 10 feet, then you are all set in case people with live steam large engines are invited over.
I don't do electric, but it would seem that brass would work fine and is a little less expensive than Nickel Silver.
Enjoy the planning and building process.
Happy New Year,
David Leech, Delta, Canada
 

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Since you said that you were NOT going with track power, use the least expensive METAL rail you can find. Without track power you can mix and match the type of rail also.
Then remember that the size of rail you choose, is the next consideration
The type of ROADBED is the next consideration. The climate where you live has to be considered in the choice.
The finer the rail, the more durable the roadbed should be, but all track is only as durable as the roadbed you choose.....just like the real railroads. Most model railroaders fail to realize how important the roadbed, under the track is in the longetivity and maintenance level their railroad will be over the years.

Look for any OUTDOOR LS Railroaders, and clubs in your area, and see what they have had success with.
You will have, on this web page/forum, people from all across the board, swearing that what they use is the best, from all points of view......be careful, be wise.....take every recommendation in stride... (And a grain of salt !!) judging on where they live, and what area of model railroading pleases them. One thing so far mentioned is using flex track......avoiding as many joints as possible, but even that creates other problems....so watch out....

Good fortune, young fellow.....but remember......make dammed sure you are having fun......WELCOME to LS Model Railroading....a hobby that should grow with you, and last a lifetime......your model railroad should never be "Finished"....it should grow with you.....
 

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Nickle silver is an excellent metal for track power, it's oxidation conducts electricity so you will only need to keep it clean.
When I was track powered I did have problems with black ants, their exoskeletons were enough to lift the wheels and stop my train!
Welcome Aboard,
John
 

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Maybe you can't paint Stainless? I did, but wasn't pleased with the look, but I do like my staining...




I cover the rails, paint the ties for uv protection and then stain the rails and seal with a clear coat. Snakes of steel wool sprayed with vinegar and water for a couple three days rust away in place...

Where I've cleaned the rail tops it looks like we make money! :eek:

John
 

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Nickel silver, while popular indoors, has been sometimes problematic outside. Some people have no issues, and some have as much oxidation and issues as brass.

Go stainless... for 100' for your first part, you will spend more, but enjoy much less maintenance and guaranteed no issues with corrosion, etc.

Another thing to do is purchase enough track to make a small loop and leave it outdoors and see how it handles your environment.

I did this and stainless was the hands down winner.

Greg
 
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