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Old 4th Feb 2018, 6:10 pm   #1
bluepilot
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Default Hornby O-gauge track

I hope this can be considered a household electrical item. I have a load of old Hornby 3-rail track which has seen better days. I wanted to re-plate the tracks and re-paint the sleepers. However it's all held together with bent metal tabs which have to be carefully bent up by forcing a screw driver under them to get everything apart. In the case of the centre rail this means damaging the insulation which will therefore need to be replaced. Does anyone know off hand what material it is made of? It appears to be some sort of impregnated paper/cardboard wrapped around the bottom of the rail. I've seen similar stuff wrapped around the cores of old transformers. Where is it possible to get any?
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Old 4th Feb 2018, 6:43 pm   #2
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

There are many magazines, shops, clubs around the world and France is no exception and has many clubs & members. Most clubs belong to The National Model Railway Society and there's a wide range of info on the web.
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Old 4th Feb 2018, 7:29 pm   #3
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

Years ago they used something called "empire paper" on transformer windings and such like, there was a "straight cut" version and one cut "on the bias", in other words at an angle, this was to allow it to overlap more easily as it was wound around the cable.
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Old 4th Feb 2018, 7:48 pm   #4
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

Hi Bluepilot, I don’t have an answer to your question, sorry.
What drew my attention to your post was the Hornby O gauge track having three rails, I didn’t realise they did this. I had Hornby OO gauge two rail, and a Trix Twin railway, with three rails, interesting!
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Old 4th Feb 2018, 8:22 pm   #5
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

Fish paper? (seriously!)
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Old 4th Feb 2018, 8:50 pm   #6
Ted Kendall
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

Empire tape should do it - as mentioned above, a cloth tape impregnated with a phenolic resin.
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Old 4th Feb 2018, 8:53 pm   #7
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

I had a look in my book on the Hornby O gauge syatem, but it doesn't say what the material of the insulators was. It does say that their electric track was a straight copy of Lionel track of the 1920's, so that might be a lead to follow. As the operating voltage was generally no greater than 20V, heavy paper should be OK. You could impregnate it with wax for protection against damp for extra security. I believe that paper used to be used as insulation in telephone cables, and Ferranti used impregnated ordinary brown wrapping paper for the insulation of the coaxial distribution cables of his original 10,000 V AC mains installation.
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Old 4th Feb 2018, 9:02 pm   #8
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

Quote:
Originally Posted by philthespark View Post
Years ago they used something called "empire paper"
I've never heard of Empire Paper. Google gets overwhelmed by the empire paper company of Washington when I search for it. Fish paper looks like it might be a good replacement. Attached is a picture of some of the originals.

Three-rail track looks weird when compared with a real railway but it makes the electrical connections a lot easier. Hornby used it both with O and OO and Märklin did something similar but with metal studs instead of the third rail.

Lionel track, I'll check that out.
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Old 4th Feb 2018, 9:14 pm   #9
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

Be careful in changing anything as model railway gear is quite collectable. It may be that it would lose value, even if working better, if modded in any way.
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Old 4th Feb 2018, 9:16 pm   #10
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

That is a good depiction of "Fish paper" no idea why it was so named.
Available in a number of grades.
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Old 4th Feb 2018, 10:04 pm   #11
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

I'd never heard of fish paper but it looks like that's the way to go. I'll see what thickness I need and order some. Thanks for all the suggestions.
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Old 4th Feb 2018, 10:25 pm   #12
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

Hornby used to have a factory in France, where "0" gauge trains for the French market were made from the mid-1920's to the mid-1960's, so the insulation could be of French origin. According to my book, any UK-manufactured items sold in France would have been marked "Fabriqué en Angleterre".
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Old 5th Feb 2018, 12:08 am   #13
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

Empire Paper, or Empire Tape was used in transformer insulation. Ed or Mike will know more.
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Old 5th Feb 2018, 7:55 am   #14
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluepilot View Post
I have a load of old Hornby 3-rail track which has seen better days. I wanted to re-plate the tracks and re-paint the sleepers.
Aren't most model train tracks made from 'nickel silver' and not plated? The advantage being even when oxidised they still conducted.

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Old 5th Feb 2018, 8:14 am   #15
tony brady
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

from my railway modelling ( oo gauge) days these are call fish plates and are not insulators, they are used to connect the rails along their lengths so the power can reach the loco

https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...1&d=1517774075

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Old 5th Feb 2018, 9:29 am   #16
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

Quote:
Originally Posted by John M0GLN View Post
Aren't most model train tracks made from 'nickel silver' and not plated?
These are made from mild steel and zinc plated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tony brady View Post
these are call fish plates and are not insulators, they are used to connect the rails along their lengths
These are definitely insulators used to insulate the centre rail from the sleepers. The rails are joined by metal pins.
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Old 5th Feb 2018, 9:39 am   #17
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

sorry they looked very much like the metal fish plates I used to use with my old peco track.

could you use cut down heat shrink as an insulator?
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Old 5th Feb 2018, 10:37 am   #18
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

Quote:
Originally Posted by John M0GLN View Post
Aren't most model train tracks made from 'nickel silver' and not plated? The advantage being even when oxidised they still conducted.
Good quality tracks were but a lot weren`t. The Hornby 0 gauge that I had in the fifties was tin plate, as was Triang 00 gauge , if I remember correctly.

The modelling grade tracks such as Wren and Peco were mostly Nickel Silver though Wren also did a cheaper but compatible Zinc plated mild steel version.

Once you had to clean a plated track you were on to a loser as it just corroded even faster.
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Old 5th Feb 2018, 11:36 am   #19
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

^^^WHS^^^

I had both Triang and Hornby 00 sets at one point and the Triang track was cheap'n'nasty plated steel but the Hornby stuff wasn't. It did mean that the "magnadhesion" that was the Triang palliative for the lack of traction of their lightweight engines didn't work when running them on the Hornby track.

Even the later plastic rather than diecast bodied locos from Hornby had added lead weights to improve traction (and the "feel" of the loco in your hand).
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Old 5th Feb 2018, 10:27 pm   #20
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Default Re: Hornby O-gauge track

Two other types of insulation used on coils and transformers in the old days were Presspahn and Elephantide both of which are still available in many different thicknesses and grades. May be suitable for your application.

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