There seems to be a few myths concerning nickel-silver track for HO train layouts. The myths are:
1.) The track is silver, or contains silver. Nickel-silver track contains no silver, it is only silver colored.
2.) Nickel-silver track tarnishes slower. My layout is 50% nickel-silver and 50% brass on each of two main lines. Each mainline gets the same traffic over its length. I've found, over time, there is no significant or noticeable difference in the rate at which the track needs cleaned, but rail with plastic wheels on cars does appear to make bad wheel to rail connections more frequently.
3.) Nickel-silver rail is more conductive. This is absolutely false.
I measured rails by feeding lengths of sample rails from a 10-volt power supply through a ten ohm resistor. The exact power supply voltage was adjusted to 1-ampere rail current. I measured voltage drop across five inch lengths of rail, using proper measurement techniques, with a precision millivolt meter. The following results are for code 100 rail samples:
Conclusions Rail Resistance
This data, the average of several different rail types,
indicates "silver" rail has about three times more resistance per foot than
If we have ten feet of copper wire bridging 2-1/2 feet of silver rail, the copper has slightly lower resistance.
Joint or Rail Joiner Resistance
A common debate is whether to solder rail joiners, or how much
resistance rail joints add to the system. I measured joint resistance on a few
dozen unsoldered joints.