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I'm looking to make a few custom truck mounted copper grounding straps.

Not sure about the thickness. Want something stiff enough that it stays against the axle, but not so stiff that it inhibits movement.

Can anyone advise and simple terms what thickness I would need?

I'm not real good when it comes to decimal equivalents for thickness etc. and pretty much have just a basic ruler.  Thanks in advance!

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K&S metals sells a Phosphor Bronze sheet.  .008 thickness. You can cut it with scissors. I’m no expert on this. But you want enough tension to make a good contact but not so much that  the wheels won’t turn. You will experience some drag no matter what you do. If it’s easier you can also go to the backside of a wheel. The only trouble with the sheet as they can be pricey.

Tichy Train Group sells it rod form. I believe the thickest is .040 . I would probably go with the thicker ones seeing it’s not a flat surface and you may need that extra tension.

What is it your working on ?   I recently added different trucks to a caboose that were 3D printed. I used the factory Lionel ground strap and added a few bends to it and some mounting holes. It rides on the backside of the wheels.

67C88328-5C7A-4373-B072-7A4768433D52

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@Dave_C posted:

K&S metals sells a Phosphor Bronze sheet.  .008 thickness. You can cut it with scissors. I’m no expert on this. But you want enough tension to make a good contact but not so much that  the wheels won’t turn. You will experience some drag no matter what you do. If it’s easier you can also go to the backside of a wheel. The only trouble with the sheet as they can be pricey.

Tichy Train Group sells it rod form. I believe the thickest is .040 . I would probably go with the thicker ones seeing it’s not a flat surface and you may need that extra tension.

What is it your working on ?   I recently added different trucks to a caboose that were 3D printed. I used the factory Lionel ground strap and added a few bends to it and some mounting holes. It rides on the backside of the wheels.

67C88328-5C7A-4373-B072-7A4768433D52

Working on a couple of old pre-war 603/604 passenger coaches. They came without lights. 

A long time ago I did this Porter upgrade and used a little plastic coal car as the tender to haul the TMCC board.

For better track connections, I added a roller and chopped out a chunk of brass sheet to make axle wipers.  This worked very well and didn't add a lot of friction to the wheel rotation, important for a small and fairly light tender.  Wiping on the wheel sides adds a ton more friction, which may be a factor.

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Last edited by gunrunnerjohn

I use brass shim stock for ground wires on axles and to make my own electrical pickups for trucks.  Brass shim stock comes in several thicknesses and is springy and hard.  It will wear less verses softer copper.  It is used to shim parts by mechanics and at machine shops and is available at Ace Hardware, etc.  Mine was from scrap waste material from the machine shop at a chemical plant I worked at.

Charlie

Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie
@Train Nut posted:

Sounds like brass is the way to go.

Now just to get the thickness right. If I go to a hardware store and find some that'll be easier. If I go through the internet might get a little tricky.

You really want phosphor bronze or beryllium copper .015”-.020” (.4-.5mm). Brass is not spring temper, phosphor bronze is. Easily found on the bay.

Pete

Last edited by Norton

Found this statement in an online search:

"While brass is valued for its malleability, phosphor bronze lends a greater hardness. As a harder metal, phosphor bronze has a higher melting point than brass. Some of the key properties of phosphor bronze are corrosion resistance, fatigue resistance, and excellent elasticity."

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Personally, I'm a fan of the Tichy Phos-Bronze wire for this sort of application.  Clipping/soldering a piece of wire to bridge the gap seems far less complicated than cutting forming sheet stock.

Also, my common horror of dealing with brass rail oxidation in the last mid-century of the hobby was a painful metallurgical lesson in this sort of application.  For point contact situations...such as a wire contacting an axle...it doesn't take much oxidation to reduce/eliminate good conductivity.  It's a real PITA, for sure!  Great for attaching decorative/cosmetic parts to enhance appearance, but for point contact electrical conductivity?....

But, as always, that's nothing more than MHO...FWIW.

TEHO.

KD

Last edited by dkdkrd

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