Can model train tracks shock you?

Short answer at the top for those wondering; probably not!

The locomotive body of model trains and the tracks that they go around on are generally manufactured out of plastic.

However, for some intricate detailing and scale model accuracy, conductive metals like copper or brass are sometimes used. Stainless steel is sometimes used for sturdy builds as well that. There are even special model trains with gold detailing on them.

The use of metallic parts on the model train and tracks means that it will be conducive to electricity.

In most cases, the engines of these model trains are powered by regular 12 V batteries. This might cause a significant amount of electricity to be running through the train tracks’ metallic part, if you’re not careful!

However, it’s nothing much to worry about. Since the train tracks are made of a longer length, the amount of electricity that passes through your body is very low when you accidentally touch the track while the model train’s engine is powered on. It’d do nothing more than tickle in most cases, if you could even feel it at all!

While it might not be as severe as to shock you, but the manufacturers advise taking minimal safety precautions. It’s basically the same as the electric shock risk involved in using day-to-day electronics like computers and televisions.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

2 thoughts on “Can model train tracks shock you?”

  1. Hi Peter! I have a collection of brass engines / Vollmer roundhouse/ passenger trains from my great uncle. I’m interested in selling them. What’s the best way to go about it?

  2. I do O an G trains, and I can tell you that yes, those metal rails can sure give you a jolt, NOT a tickle and you dang well sure will feel it. I’ve worked with electrcity for years, and it IS NOT the voltage that actually gives you you the jolt, it’s the AMPERAGE being carried over those rails. It takes LESS than 1/2 {half} an amp to kill a person. And if yu have heart conditions, that mkaes this even more dangerous.

    Small milliamps will perhpas give you a tickle, or a little zap like static electricity does in humid or cold weather. It’s also that same type little zap yu’d get from a weak 9VDC battery when you may test it on your tongue to see if there is any life left in it. Not that I do that, nor do I recommend it, use a certified battery tester, not your tongue!

    But I’ve happened to lie my hand across a live powered track {AC for O Guage} and DC for G scale. And I’ve been given a nice harsh zap from BOTH, especiually of your hand has sweated and is slightly moist/damp. However, I have been bitten my both my O and G tracks with bone dry hands too. So even if one thinks their model train tracks are safe, if powered by ANY type of AC power pack, especially since most og these packs range from as small as 1 AMP to 10 AMPS, that really is enough to kill a person. If there were no amps, wouldn’t matter what voltage is in use, you could hold a wire with 10,000 volts running through it and you wouldn’t feel anything, but add an amp or more and you could be toast {dead}.

    So when working on your model railroads, especially if powered from electrical power packs with 1 or higher amperage ratings, unplug and turn off the power to the rails before making repairs or working on your model layout.


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