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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.

One other thought:  Did you know that Menards is the only company making  "O" Gauge Track and it is quite nice.  Yes, it has the same pins that all the rest of the companies use to sell separately.  Too bad Menards does not sell those pins in a bag of 12 for a low price add on accessory to their track line.  I have a few pieces of Menards "O" Track.  If you write Menards, maybe they might start selling these pins!  As they say at Menards, "Good Stuff - Cheap"....    sincerely   railbear601    BTW.  Menards makes a 10 inch straight track that mates with Lionel Fastrack and it sells for $4.99 each and the 11% rebate makes that piece of track cost $4.44 plus tax.  I have 3 of those pieces of track so I can use my old tubular Lionel Track in yards, etc......


Last edited by railbear601
@Rich Melvin posted:

This is an aspect of this hobby that I simply do not understand. You guys think nothing of dropping $1,000 or more on a locomotive, yet worry about spending $8 for a package of track pins?

Makes no sense to me... 

"Not it" , but you are aren't wrong either; it's perspective.

I have yet to break $200 in one shopping visit and would be lucky to top $2000 total in the last ten years. The O.P. seems to be on a shoestring budget as well unless I'm mistaken.  I could drop a few hundred on new pins if I got too picky (still leaving many pins as is too ). 

But I micro manage for a reason, I'm not a lifelong devotee to being a cheap #@$+@&€ ; I just ended up there by accident. 

If I buy and run a new thousand+ dollar train on my old track... I'll send it to you when I'm done that day; I promise. (it means I hit the lotto pretty big )



You've got me laughing. Many years ago, my hobby was collecting original antique first model Winchester 1873s, in 44-40.  I thought nothing of plunking down $10,000 for a specimen in all original VG condition.   (They go for $15,000 to $25,000 now. A mint condition 73,  if you can find one, would go for $50,000.)

But no, I ain't putting more than $300 or $400 into an old school train layout, engines and cars included.

So no, I ain't paying $1.00 per pin.   :-)

Collecting true antique firearms is definitely a profit deal.   Playing with the trains is definitely not.  Its a luxury.



Last edited by OGR CEO-PUBLISHER


When you buy a high grade collectible American antique firearm, you own a piece of history.  If it is the proper model, and at least NRA grade VG, it will only go UP in value. Each and every year.  Collecting antique American firearms is now an international hobby thanks to the internet.  If you go to the biggest annual shows in Reno and Baltimore, then you will see Saudi princes, walking around in robes, buying whatever they like. This pushes the prices up and up.  (Very very similar to 1950s and 60s era original Gibson Electric Guitars.  Wealthy Japanese have been buying them up like crazy for the past 10 years.  They hang them up on display in their living rooms.)

When you buy an O gauge pin, you are buying a piece of junk.  Your money is gone forever. 

Absolutely no question that we all have to buy junk goods now and then (or buy them for a hobby), but I have a firm lifetime rule of paying the least amount possible for any good that doesn't go up in value and create a long term capital gain.  

I remember digging ditches with pick and shovel as my summer job back in 72 through 76.   I made about $2.50 an hour.  After 8 hours of digging, we went on overtime for two more hours of digging, and were paid a whopping $3.75 and hour.

I never forgot that.

So to reiterate, "Heck no!  I'm not paying a dollar for a pin."  Especially when you need 3 pins per section of track.  (Geez, I could buy a gallon of gas for that, and ride not walk for 20 miles!)



Last edited by OGR CEO-PUBLISHER

It all comes down to your view on an item being too expensive or not. A $1.00 each sounds a little high, but today a $1.00 does not buy much anyways. When I look back in my 1960 Lionel catalog, you could have purchased a pack of a dozen pins for 15 cents list price! Bottom line is, if I need the item and I can get it easily I don’t get overly concerned about a little more money. I have thrown money out on other things that don’t bring me as much enjoyment as my trains running properly do.


In answering the original question, I purchased a dozen (new) tube track style pins for $5.49 with free shipping on Ebay in the beginning of this year. That will last me a long long time.

Last edited by N5CJonny
@Rich Melvin posted:

This is an aspect of this hobby that I simply do not understand. You guys think nothing of dropping $1,000 or more on a locomotive, yet worry about spending $8 for a package of track pins?

Makes no sense to me... 

This same statement applies to supporting this forum and the magazine....some spend big bucks on the hobby but can't justify the worth of a year's subscription.....

hello, TinMan here... We currently have in stock about 20,000 pieces of O, standard, and O27 tracks all are now tinman GEN II finishes, getting ready for the fall season. All of these tracks have had the original pins removed, and replaced with new stainless steel pins that are 1  mm longer than the originals. The reason for this is we have frequently found that the original pins often are corroded, or rusty inside the tubes.   So when we replace them with the ever so slightly longer ss pins, they will go into virgin metal.  WE have discovered a method of reconditioning the used pins in large quantities, that works exceptionally well, and we do offer them for sale as used pins. Last season we probably sold over 7000 of these pins, and have never had a complaint. Just an FYI the hollow O27 pins are junked.

A word about the groves in the original pins. The purpose of those groves originally was to provide a place where in the manufacturing process there was a machine the pinched 2  notches in the tubes where the pins were installed. In our case we do not have the ability to do that, so our thought was, why waste the contact area of the slots? Would rather have as much contact area as possible, so no slots. 

While we will not be in full production for another month or so, we can provide many of or items now, tracks, tools, and pins. Switches, controllers and transformers will not be available till later in the season. 

So to everyone please be safe! I know how tough it is, starting to climb the walls, but the alternatives do not appear to be a very good option! 

Feel free to email or call us with any questions or concerns.

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