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 I'm always interested in this topic. Thanks for posting it. I only have a workbench O27 oval for now. It's been in the basement for 8 years or so. No signs of rust so far. Here in the Hudson Valley of NY, it gets humid in the summers. I like to experiment with things like this. Maybe 3-4 years ago, from a box of rusty tubular track pieces, I had cleaned the rust away with a Scotch Brite pad, then pulled 4 tubular sections aside. I coated each one with WD-40. Who knows if that had anything to do with it, but all 4 appear to still be clean from rust. 

Hoping to build a "real" layout in the next few years...may wait to retire first.  

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Last edited by PRR8976

My last was up for 14 years in my basement. It consisted of tubular O and standard gauge track. The track was new when I installed it. I looked exactly the same 14 years later. The key is keeping the basement humidity under control with a humidifier. No need to clean or coat the track.

I think environmental factors have a lot to do with survival condition.

Tinplate may not go dark/rust in one owner’s lifetime... but...

I grew up with my older brother’s S-gauge AF , which had a 10-year head start on me, and 65 years down the road, no rust or appreciable darkening, no oiling or special storage treatment.

This fall/winter, I’ve been playing with “early” (pre-Classic Era) Standard Gauge stuff, and all of that track, which was bright tin, ties & all, has gone dark, and 40-50% of the pieces show some spot/edge rust.

Tin is somewhat sensitive to temperature, and at low temperatures(15* C?), can begin to undergo a chemical change and go dark. This phenomenon was first noticed with organ pipes in European churches.  Google “tin pest” for more info.

Based on what I’ve observed, if one has aggressively cleaned-up old track ( more than just wiping dust off ), I would suggest wiping all surfaces down with light oil or other rust preventative before storing, then packing as you would locos or rolling stock (something  that won’t trap moisture), then when next using, wipe the running/contact surfaces clean with solvent of your choice.

Sometimes a brief (one year?) storage can unintentionally turn into years/decades.

 I will be treating my pre-Depression SG track with oil/something before putting away until next Christmas.  I aggressively cleaned mine (abrasive metal polish, buffing wheel in some cases), and there may be bare steel that will flash-rust.

I’d rather wipe-off oil next December than have to deal with rust...

Fran McM.


Last edited by Fran McM

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