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I need lots of new O gauge pins.  I am stunned to see that on Amazon, a 12 pack of them is about $9 including shipping, and on Ebay (choke) people are asking $14 including shipping.

There is a train shop about 35 miles away from me, that sells only new stuff.  It is brand new and looks a little too upscale.   I thought I would ask you guys first what you pay for these pins in your train shops?

I can go to the little train shop in my town (they are out of pins) and buy a bundle of 8 pieces of used, semi-rusty O gauge track, for $7.00.  Each piece has 3 pins in it.  So, I guess I could just yank these pins, but they would be rusty as well.  Not sure if you can derust and reuse these pins (vinegar soak), or just put them in the end of a drill and spin them, while holding 400 grit sandpaper around them to really clean them up.   Is it worth it to try to recycle the old pins?  (Life may be too short to do this.)



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Since I do tons of trim carpentry, I keep on stock in my garage every conceivable nail known to man, in both iron and galvanized.  And, I have a nice cut-off wheel that I used for cutting metal.

I have been reluctant to go this route because, almost all iron nails we now get are from China.   Put a box of them in your garage for a year, and you may find rust growing all over them.  Since they are very rust prone, I am reluctant to put them in the layout.

I could use galvanized nails of the same size, but I am not sure whether the galvanization would impede the flow of electricity between the rails.  Every place the nails would touch the tracks, inside the pin holes, would have a galvanized coating, and if those impede electrical flow, the train wouldn't run.

I have also been buying some cheap used O gauge track, and in pulling those pins I have notice that several of them were nails, coated with rust, and the absolute devil to pull out.  Often, you had to stretch the track rail open, and pull so hard, that it destroyed the rail ending.






I don't bother with cleaning pins - it isn't worth it to me as I have an accumulation of serviceable track and pins - with serviceable used track, I find myself using ST-342/ST-384 equivalent track pliers to shape the rails and tighten the pins. i will also replace a troublesome pin with the same tool. Followup with a quick wipe of goo-gone to clean the rails and CRC 2-26 on the pin mating surfaces, and I'm good to go. Also on rare occasion, I'll Scotch-Brite the tops of some rails, but if the tubular track needs a lot of work, it isn't worth it to me and the track piece gets set aside to donate what it can as to ties, insulators, pins and such to make insulated rail or other custom track sections.

Last edited by bmoran4

Wouldn't brass rod, the correct diameter, cut to an appropriate length, do the job? More expensive than nails, but I suppose cheaper than track pins.

After all, most of my GG/Ross/Curtis track is joined with brass pins. Flat in this case, but still a track pin. I do have some GG pins that have a "steel" color, but I have never given it much thought. For all I know they are plated brass, for some reason.

Anyway - brass, the go-to metal, and easy to work with. I have not priced brass with this in mind.

Stainless being soft has to do with the specific alloy. Some are quite brittle.

It's usually a little worse at conducting than normal steels.

I think galvanized might also have a wee touch of resistance. 

The question is does the benefit of less corrosion outweigh the small difference between metallurgies resistance over time ? Cost a factor? Obviously it does matter for some folks; but why? Usually because they are outside or in a very damp area, or the have a rust or oil phobia, etc..  

Brass also comes in various grades, from noodle soft to brittle. Good conductors and doesn't rust.  I really like this thought of brass pins. the work hardening part isn't even scary as you could drill out brass and leave steel intact if needed.  Copper is too soft. Aluminum has a lot of resistance potential compared to steel or brass. It corrodes funny, breaks easy, and....and I just don't like it for electrical period.

The only part about some modern nails that I worry about is they can be surface hardened pot metal steel not fit for anything structural. (glorified slag) . I guess you could open and close the web if one broke though.)

Hey, cut those wrecked ends off after you slide the tie back more, and make custom pieces from them as needed. Reforming around a pin is pretty easy with dulled top cutters or similar pliers. Just bend/wiggle the closed web a tad left to right then centered and it will stay closed again; then fix the foot halves or oblong or stake the tube to get real tight. (Spinning pins are not tight enough. Pressure greatly reduces resistance in connections.

I don't think that softness matters too much. Marx pins are very soft. The softness actually seems to grip better. They are definitely an alloy. A low grade stainless maybe as they never rust. Maybe just a zinc alloy.

A related side note. I noticed a slowdown on a couple of pieces of very old track on my El. I recalled someone mentioned they regularly sprayed a tiny bit of the CRC contact cleaner on joints while cleaning track with it, and over time issues faded.

Sure enough, two small drops at each joint/pin and every slow down was eliminated without so much as a finger wiggle on a rail. It's been near a week without change, but I'll do it again soon anyhow; I have a new ritual in mantaining track from what I saw

for the price, I last paid 50¢-60¢ each about 12 years ago, so a buck each new doesn't sound too bad if nickle is still involved. It's been that long since I bought brass rod too. For more than $1 per, I'd clip nail heads. (new Menards track is only around $3each and I'm confident it's going to outlast my old stuff even if all my duture effort went solely into the old.

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
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