Say Yass to Brass

With the fall train-show season all but cancelled, a small group of local vendors got together and held a mini-show in a gravel parking lot outside of town last Saturday. It was sunny out, and there hasn’t been a proper show in six months now, so of course I went. There were only a dozen tables (50 tables is usually regarded as a small show), but I found a few things. My most notable purchase? Some brass-rail HO scale turnouts, to go with all that flextrack I got a few months ago.

I’ve decided to build my next switching layout with brass. Why? Seems like a good challenge, and it was cheap. In normal times, I might’ve looked around for longer, and maybe even picked up some turnouts for free, but these aren’t normal times, and the options are limited. I dug all the turnouts out of the guy’s bin, and paid $20 for nine of them. That’s still just over two bucks apiece. (Current street price on an Atlas Snap Switch, albeit one with nickel silver rail, is $14-20 for a manual.) These look like Atlas, but none of them are marked as such. It doesn’t really matter. I should be able to build a perfectly good switching layout with them.

Brass is going to require more cleaning. I set Windlenook up at the NMRA picnic last month, for the first time in almost half a year, and I didn’t even get the Bright Boy out. Stuff just ran. I probably can’t do that with brass, the tarnish is notoriously non-conductive, but once it’s clean, things will run fine.

So, I’ve already got an Inglenook. I’ve got a Timesaver. Next on the list is a Gum Stump & Snowshoe, a design described by Chuck Yungkurth in the April 1966 issue of Model Railroader. The Gum Stump is unique in having spurs facing both directions, but no runaround track. You need two locomotives to work it successfully. It also has a very steep grade, which I intend to ease as much as possible by stretching the layout a foot or two. Even a stretched version will still fit on an 8-foot table.

On re-reading the article, I noted that Chuck built the original with code 100 brass track, so there’s that.