A reader writes:
I am so glad I found your site. I am interested in making my own tracks. The few LGB tracks I have are brass. I was looking at the 332 aluminum and wonder if the two metal when put together will conduct enough electricity to move the train. I am looking for venders of both brass and aluminum rail. I want to cut my own ties out of either cedar, cypress or redwood. Then spike them into place. Ultimately I would like to put in a small pond with a bridge. I also want to be able to ride my lawn mower over the ties so aluminum is probably out of the question. I love my LGB STARTER train I won on EBay for $10. Yes. $10. It came complete with cars and an extra, controller, track, and engine. It did not have wires but I figured out how to temporarily run until the part came in. So smooth and strong. Very excited about this new hobby and would be so appreciative of information on where to buy the supplies to make my own track. Thanks for this site.
Most people who make their own track use a a smaller rail profile like .250 or .215 and wooden ties that they spike the track to. It's very demanding, I don't know if I'd recommend it to someone just starting out.
LLagas Creek has rails if you want to go that route, as well as premade track. They also sell plastic tie strips.http://www.llagastrack.com/
That said, aluminum is slightly less conducive than brass, but it can be made to work. It also picks up more condensation than brass or steel. In the Miami River valley, it gets so damp at twilight, that one fellow who did a large outdoor RR with it took it up and replaced it with brass - his trains kept slipping on the wet rails. I notice you live in a river valley, too - that might be a consideration.
As you guessed, if you want to be able to run your riding lawn more over it, you need to consider .332 brass rail track, on a VERY solid surface - like poured concrete. Or stainless steel track, which is even more expensive.
I have addressed poured concrete roadbed, though not thoroughly in this article:http://www.familygardentrains.com/prime ... oadbed.htm
Best of luck - Paul