Track

Track  TinMan’s Favorite

Being in the business of selling reconditioned track, we see a lot of used track in lots of different conditions. Some are missing parts and bent, Some are rusted so bad, they can’t be salvaged. Some are hard to tell apart from new. The most difficult track to recondition is the badly stained tracks.

So how does it get that way in the first place? The same reason real train tracks are shinny on the top and black on the sides. The grease, oils, and other lubricants that we use on our trains to keep them running at their best dribble down the sides of the rails. Unless we want to spend our valuable train time, cleaning it off, the sides of the tracks are going to stain. These stains do not effect the electrical characteristics of the tracks in any way. On the real train tracks all that gunk that leaks down on the tracks, from wheels, bearings and gears actually ends up protecting the track from rust! Then add some dust and grit, and you have shinny tops and stained dark sides.

Enter TinMan’s favorite. This track is designed to be used! We think they are better than brand new Chinese track. Want to prove it to yourself? No problem, here’s how.

Take 10 pieces of Tinman favorite, and weigh it. Do the same for brand new Chinese Tracks. You will find a substantial weight loss in the Chinese tracks. Why? The gauge of the metal is less, and the tinplate is very thin. Is this important? If you only use your track occasionally and you live in an area where high humidity is not present, then no big deal. If however you live in an area that is not blessed with very low humidity, and or you run your trains a lot, your TinMan favorite, will not rust with a minimum of care and will handle heavy usage of trains running on them without wearing thru.

This is track that we removed the pins, cleaned and polished the tracks and pins (including the insides of the tubes). We then resize the tubes for proper pin fit, reinstall the pins and send it for paint. (Check our website for a really cool way to reinstall pins) The tracks are painted with Rustoleum flat black enamel. The paint is then removed from the tops, and inside the outside rail tubes, to insure good wheel contact for electricity.

A final polishing, and a coat of track preservative, and they are ready for you. The pictures do not do the track justice. The tops and sides of the rails are bright and polished, and look brand new. They are tested for proper electrical continuity and tight fitting pins. A collection of somewhat odd pieces, that we don’t have enough of individually to advertise on our site, so out they go. 61 total pieces 2 40″ straights, 4 14″ straights, 10 1/2 straights, 10 1/2 curves, 2 10″ straights 145 degree x 16 O72 curves, and 16 O31 curves, We will solder contact wires on 8 of the pieces unless you would rather us not.

This is a track that will be as rust resistive that you can find, will require a minimum of attention while in use, and stores very well. We like to say this is track that your great grandchildren can remove from storage give it a quick wipe, and put it down on a layout. Last year we accidentally left a few pieces outside in the weather. When we found them this fall, the only evidence was a very little surface rust on the tops that cleaned right off. A quick polish and they were ready to run trains.

These tracks started as “Bright and Shiny,” and most all are original NY Lionel and or K line,  going through the complete renovation and reconditioning process. We then paint the entire track with Rustoleum flat black. The paint is then removed from the tops and insides of the rail tubes, leaving them bright. We reinstall and crimp the pins, and they’re better then new!

“TinMan’s Favorite” also looks a lot more like real railroad track, where only the top of the rail is shiny. The rest of the rail is always very dark from the accumulation of rust, grease, oil and dirt.

Simply wipe down the top of these rails with our special preservative, and they’re ready for storage, even on assembled layouts.

A word, or maybe 2 or three about power taps and or Lockons. The whole idea of TinMan favorite tracks is to give you tracks that potentially can last another 100 years or so. If we start chipping away at the paint and underlying original finishes, we defeat all that we are trying to do. That is what will happen if we scrape off to get a lockon to work, or improperly try to solder wires on the track.

Please do not solder wires on the sides of the rails. The joints are not only ugly, but open the metal to potential corrosion. Put the wires on the bottom of the rails, and seal the joints. Below is the procedure we use to install our power tap wires, or for insulated tracks where we want to control something else. We provide one power tap track for every 10 purchased at no charge.

First we take a high speed hand grinder to remove a !/4″ or so of the paint, tinplate or whatever on the bottom of the track. You can use a Dremal tool or even a sharp knife or flat blade screwdriver like so……

Next we tin the spot with 60/40 solder

Then we solder the wires on the track, by holding the wires into the tinned joint with the soldering iron. For a short run to your under-table wiring, you really don’t need heavy gauge wires, 20 or even 22 gauge is fine. Longer runs no, but for a 6″ piece or so, it will work fine.

Finally we seal the joint to prevent any moisture or other contaminants from getting into the track. We use a hot glue gun for this purpose, and it makes a nice strain relief for the wire too. If you don’t like hot glue, 3m makes a product called Scotchkote, which also works well, but is quite expensive.