NICKEL SIL­VER vs STAIN­LESS STEEL

Model Rail (UK) - - WORKBENCH -

Nickel sil­ver is an al­loy of cop­per, nickel and zinc that boasts a high de­gree of flex­i­bil­ity while also be­ing easy to cut, file and sol­der. Be­ing non-fer­rous, it has an in-built re­sis­tance to cor­ro­sion, but is li­able to tar­nish­ing, es­pe­cially when ex­posed to damp con­di­tions, al­though it is easy to clean with sol­vents or abra­sives. Elec­tri­cal con­duc­tiv­ity is ac­cept­able, but not as good as other met­als. There­fore, adding mul­ti­ple power feeds at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals is rec­om­mended, es­pe­cially on larger lay­outs. Stain­less steel of­fers su­pe­rior elec­tri­cal per­for­mance, with the added ben­e­fit of re­sis­tance to cor­ro­sion and tar­nish­ing. In fact, stain­less steel rails re­quire clean­ing less fre­quently, apart from the re­moval of sur­face dust. Suited par­tic­u­larly to DCC lay­outs, where elec­tri­cal con­ti­nu­ity is vi­tal, it’s also claimed that stain­less steel rails of­fer a greater level of ad­he­sion for metal lo­co­mo­tive wheels, al­though we haven’t been able to prove this con­clu­sively. High per­for­mance comes at a cost, how­ever. The ma­te­rial is slightly more ex­pen­sive than nickel sil­ver, as well as be­ing dif­fi­cult to work with. Stur­dier cut­ting tools and files are needed to trim the rails cleanly, and the ‘springy’ na­ture means that the track won’t set­tle into tight radii or com­plex curves with­out a fight! Soldering is also more dif­fi­cult, with a pow­er­ful iron re­quired (min­i­mum 50W) to heat the metal suf­fi­ciently. Spe­cial fluxes and sol­ders are also nec­es­sary.

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