He had a fairly extensive layout, that was based on wooden 1x2 and 2x2 with just a steel strap on top. Not even groovy track. I got the impression that it was all sheared from #10 gauge leftover sheet. but I dont know for sure. He was like me, saves too much, but spends little on toys, money is for important things.
I have read about wooden track capped with a steel strip also. It was apparently once fairly common, but suffered from the problem that after a while, with the wear of the train wheels passing over it, the heads of the spikes tended to wear off and the passing train wheels tended to curl up the steel strip. If that happened, it was known as a "snake head" and could sometimes puncture the floor of a later passenger car. Enough people were hurt and enough equipment damaged that eventually that type of rail was no longer used.
It is still interesting to me, though, to recall what *can* be done. Railroading can and has been done with less than might commonly be thought possible...