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Author Topic: Track cleaning questions? how do the pro's clean track  (Read 2814 times)

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« on: February 18, 2011, 01:48:50 PM »

im wondering  are there multiple ways to clean track to make it spotless ?  i want to expieriment with all the different methods

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« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2011, 04:40:08 PM »

I am sure that someone is always going to be able to tell you about a better way to clean your track.  The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

At the end of the day. what it boils down to is what works for you with a minimum of hassle and what you are comfortable with.

For me, alcohol and a soft cloth works fine.  I tried and have that little piece of whatever it they call it (I think it's called "bright bar") to rub on the tracks like an eraser and it works, too.  I would NOT go with sandpaper, though.

Clean wheels on your engines are just as important as clean track.  I use the "paper towel" method for that (Place a paper towel weighed down across the tracks lightly coated with alcohol or another cleaner.  Put an engine on the track with either the front or rear wheels making contact with the metal track...then apply power  The resulting black tracks that you leave on ther paper towel is the dirt you just got off the wheels).

Simple and effective.  That's all you need.
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2011, 04:41:18 PM »

Don't use anything coarse like a bright boy block. The rail can be scratched witch can lead to places for dirt to accumulate and cause issues when running DCC and I suspect you will want DCC someday.
You can spend some bucks and buy different track cleaner cars.
Our club uses a fine paper like #2000 grit to POLISH the rails. You can get fine paper at auto body shops. Probably #900 grit. Don't even think of using a file. Some have.
Sometimes after ballasting and scenicking, there can be junk on top or the rails.
Our club uses a couple John Allen track cleaner we made. Most of the rails have been in place since the 1980's and we run the NCE Power Pro system with a bunch of sound locos.
Alcohol on a lint free rag is very good also.
Some use a compound to clean the rails but you have to completely wipe off the compound after cleaning.
Results of a Google search for plenty of reading and possibly confusion.
At least you will have links you can keep in Favorites.

« Last Edit: February 18, 2011, 04:46:25 PM by richg » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2011, 07:08:57 PM »

For 40 years i have used nothing but a rag with some paint thinner (mineral spirits).
Maybe once a month. Never cleaned the wheels on any engines just the cars. Works for me.


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« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2011, 09:10:20 PM »

All the above advice above is good, tried and true.

Another is track cleaning cars. Bachmann just happens to make some. The Bachmann cars do a good job.
I have one and it does work.
The cleaning pad itself needs to cleaned now and then, let your eyes be the judge as to when.
To clean it, just remove the pad and put it in the silverware basket of your dishwasher [assuming you have one] just be sure to remove the connecting pins from the pad 1st!

The car does have some weight to it, it is heavier than a normal car,I tend to put it right behind the loco on a consist.

To remove the really caked on stuff, a plastic scrubber works well.
If it won't scratch non-stick pots and pans or metal pots and pans, it will not hurt your track.
Scotchbrite,,you can get these at the supermarket, dollar store,,almost anyplace.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2011, 09:12:31 PM by jbsmith » Logged
Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.

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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2011, 09:36:10 PM »

A tiny amount of conductive oil applied to the rails after cleaning will go a long way to keeping them clean.


Growing older is mandatory but growing up is optional.

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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2011, 10:01:18 PM »

What experience does anyone have with the electrostatic track cleaners?
Woody Elmore

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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2011, 09:43:09 AM »

An ink eraser, not the pink pencil eraser, is great for cleaning track. I think you can find them at Staples.

Put a drop of Wahl clipper oil on a toothpick and apply that to the rails. It helps conductivity and will keep the tracks clean. Also, cleaning wheels is a must.
CNE Runner

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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2011, 11:05:05 AM »

Hmmm, I guess it is time for me to add my 'pearl of wisdom' to the string.

I use a BriteBoy cleaning pad (sold by Walthers) and used to go over the freshly cleaned track with a finger-wrapped rag dipped in isopropanol [isopropyl alcohol]. Whether you realize it or not, the BriteBoy will leave a very fine black deposit on the tops of the rails - which will transfer to the wheels of locomotives and rolling stock (especially those with plastic wheels). The isopropanol removes this fine deposit. Being somewhat 'klutzy' I sometimes rearranged structures and scenery with my out of control (and out of scale) index finger.

Because my layout is small - but densely 'tracked' I always had trouble with the alcohol/rag technique. Recently I sprang for the CMX Track Cleaning Car. This car is not cheap...costing around $124; but does an excellent job. The recommended solvent, for use with the CMX car, is ACT 6006. There is a problem though: The CMX car weighs  approximately 1 pound! My little Bachmann GE 45-ton locomotive sits in one place, wheels spinning, and asks; "Are you kidding?" I ended up by pushing the car around the layout using the 0-5-0 method. I'm sure a larger, six-wheeled, locomotive would pull the car without a problem as most of the GE's traction problem results from the friction between the soaked pad and the rails.

I guess my point is: If you use the BriteBoy method, you have to remove the residue chemically. Track cleaning, on the Monks' Island Railway, usually only has to be done 2 or 3 times a year as I run trains every day (given the switching nature of the line that includes virtually every siding). Locomotive wheels are cleaned monthly using the wet paper towel method and ACT 6006.


"Keeping my hand on the throttle...and my eyes on the rail"

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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2011, 11:48:55 AM »

How do the pro's clean track? Well, you can't get much more professional than the folks at Miniatur Wunderland, (the largest model railway in the world). This is how they do it.
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