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Author Topic: Track Cleaning Car  (Read 18893 times)
wb2002

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« on: September 19, 2013, 07:18:21 PM »

Are there any good track cleaning cars and which are they. Are the motorized track cleaning cars good? Please share whatever knowledge you may have.
Thanks
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Doneldon

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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2013, 08:06:11 PM »

wb-

I predict that you'll find a broad range of opinions on this question, none of which (including mine) will be definitive or indisputably correct. Nevertheless, I'll toss in an answer.

In my experience the track cleaning cars aren't all that great. Plus, some are abrasive which can actually cause the rails to need another cleaning sooner. I personally have had fairly good luck with both an electrostatic cleaner and a weighted car with a home-built, "floating" piece of Masonite. In every case, however, there is the likelihood that the cleaner won't get everywhere so some hand cleaning will be needed.

If rails are polished and there is an incredibly thin coat of Wahl Clipper Oil on them it shouldn't be necessary to clean rails all of the time. Depending on the cleanliness of your layout room, the rail material (IMHO nickel-silver is best) and how often you run trains, your need for track cleaning can vary greatly. Also, be aware that keeping the wheels on your motive power and rolling stock clean is just about as important as keeping your track clean when it comes to both electrical conductivity and the need for track cleaning.

I'm aware I haven't exactly answered your clearly worded question but it's where I am on the issue.
                                                                                                                                                       -- D
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jbrock27

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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2013, 09:35:19 PM »

wb, how big is the layout you are looking to clean?

I am with Doc (Doneldon) for the most part.  I think you will get better results cleaning by hand vs a car.  As a kid, I bought a Life Like tank track cleaning car and bottle of Life Like cleaning fluid.  You would pour the fluid in the tank that had a black cap and it would dribble onto a pad at the bottom of the car and you would run it around the track.  Once or twice it derailed and created an HO hazmat situation when the fluid spilled out of the tank.  I still have both the cleaning fluid and the chassis of the car (the tank and everything else that would identify it as any kind of rolling stock is long gone).  It still has the pad (dirty as hell now) and a lot of extra weight I added to it so the pad pushes down on the rails.  For old times sake, once in a while I take it out and swab a little of the cleaning fluid on the bottom of the pad and race it around the layout using a Model Power Canadian National Alco C-430 (zebra stripe) bc that is all the loco is good for, as fast as it will go. 
I get better overall results using the Wahl clipper oil that Doc mentioned.  I use a makeup style Q tip to rub some on the rails.  Not a lot is needed.  That style Q tip does not fray like the one you would use to clean your ears.  I have blessed myself with using brass track (bc this is what I have a lot of) and it does need cleaning from the oxidation.  If I had to start over from scratch I would definitely purchase and use nickel silver track.
All that said, I have plans to use some Masonite a good friend of mine gave to me and make a track cleaning car out of an old TYCO El Capitan 50ft boxcar that has little resale value.  I would like to build it mostly to see how it works.
From what I have seen, you can spend a good penny ($100+) for a tanker style cleaning car.  Not my cup of tea.
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richg
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2013, 09:56:40 PM »

Our club has a couple John Allen type cleaning cars which use the Masonite pad.
Do a Google search for john allen track cleaning car.
Many of the links bring you to another forum is why I will not post the links here.

Rich
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richg
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« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2013, 10:07:46 PM »

Don't be lazy when it comes to track cleaning. It will really bite you if you go over to DCC.
A DC loco on a DC powered layout sometimes gets a power interruption but the loco tends to drift over that bad spot.
With DCC, the slighted interruption and the decoder resets. That causes the loco to instantly stop. With a sound loco, it is really noticeable.

Rich
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the Bach-man
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« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2013, 11:12:29 PM »

Dear All,
We have a track cleaning car that works very well:
http://shop.bachmanntrains.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=258_324_337_342&products_id=2221
Have fun!
the Bach-man
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jbrock27

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« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2013, 11:35:44 PM »

Thanks Rich; I have been to other places on the net and have see the Masonite track cleaning car.  That is where I got the idea to build one from.
And yes, I have heard that subject mentioned many times here-dirty track = bad for DCC running.  I run DC and have no immediate plans for DCC, but thanks for the reminder.

And thank you Mr. Bach-man!
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Bob_B

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« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2013, 01:04:00 AM »

Dear All,
We have a track cleaning car that works very well:
http://shop.bachmanntrains.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=258_324_337_342&products_id=2221
Have fun!
the Bach-man

I have one of these and it does work very well. I use it to augment my hand cleaning practices.
Particularly useful in hard to get areas like tunnels.
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CNE Runner


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« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2013, 11:48:39 AM »

I couldn't agree with RichG's post more...clean track is essential for reliable operation (especially so with DCC). I like to run a Bright Boy pad over all my track - once every 2 or 3 months. Without getting into chemistry and nickle oxide (III); one has to remove this oxide mechanically. Having said that the old Masonite-equipped pad (under a boxcar) works fairly well IF one starts with clean rails. [My Monks Island Railway is too short for this method to be practical.] So, bite the bullet, and realize that you will have to [occasionally] mechanically clean your rails...both rail heads and inside the top of the rail as well.

I have used liquid cleaner cars, such as the CMX model, but have found that they tend to be too heavy for my Bachmann GE 45-Ton locomotive to pull (the CMX car weighs 1 pound). What I have found useful is the old IHC Track Cleaning caboose. Since I have a short switching layout (10' x 15") I don't bother filling the enclosed tank - preferring to use a pipette to soak the felt pad. I highly recommend the Aerocar cleaner as the solvent. The 'caboose' can be pushed/pulled by a locomotive or the good old 0-5-0.

OK, so we have cleaned the rails; what else needs attention? I recommend that you consider vacuuming the rail bed with a low suction (electronics) vacuum. Additionally the operation of some sort of dust filter (I use the Sharper Image units) in your train room to lessen dust - which is a major contributor to layout 'gunk'. Do not over oil your locomotives and rolling stock as the excess oil will drip onto the roadbed - causing additional clean up problems.

Take a long look at the environmental conditions your layout has to endure. Is it in a basement? Are the walls and floor sealed? Is there a ceiling? Controlling the layout's environment can go a long way in keeping things clean.

Keeping good electrical contact has been a problem for our hobby since its beginning. Until battery technology is drastically improved we will continue to draw operational energy from the rails (well, except you cantenary guys)...at least in the smaller scales: Z, N, HO, OO. There are ways to lengthen the time between cleanings...but no reliable way to eliminate them.

Regards,
Ray
« Last Edit: September 20, 2013, 11:50:35 AM by CNE Runner » Logged

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jbrock27

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« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2013, 12:19:23 PM »

Thank you Ray.

Can I ask 2 questions please?  a) What method to use to clean the inside of the rails?  b) What is the reason(s) to clean the inside of the rails?

Thank you as always.
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wb2002

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« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2013, 02:12:07 PM »

Thanks for all the responses. I am using HO (nickle 100 thingy), DCC,  on 4X8 with a 5X8 plywood attached to a side end. I have plenty of track (more than I should have) with about 35 turnouts. I built this about 1995 and used about 1 year, disconnected the boards and move from Texas to Florida and did not use until I moved back to Texas and decided to get involved again a year ago. Needless to say, the tracks were dirty (I imagined oxidized) quite a bit. I have heard many recommended ways  to clean tracks and decided to use an eraser (non-abrasive type) and lacquer and paint thinner. The setup is in my garage and expose to dust.  After a sever cleaning of the tracks and all rolling stock, I want something to use like a track cleaning car to use perhaps once a week to keep things reasonably clean.

Again, many thanks.
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GG1onFordsDTandI
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« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2013, 02:48:10 PM »

If you have plastic ties keep the lacquer thinner, other petroleum simple green,etc. away from from it. It may "melt it". I use alcohol and diaper cloth for gunk on the rails. Try dusting, plastic first. Pledge lifts crud on plastic well, remove from the rails with alcohol too. I use fine Scotch-bright lightly on the rails one in a while, then dust it with a paintbrush. It keeps gunk down.   
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Doneldon

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« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2013, 04:19:25 PM »

We have a track cleaning car that works very well:

B'mann-

I have to acknowledge that I'm unfamiliar with the B'mann track cleaning car. Is it abrasive? Is it recommended for constant use to keep rails in good trim or is it an on-the-layout-off-the-layout kind of thing? What is the material for the piece which slides along the track? Do the sliders need to be replaced? If so, how often? Is the car extra heavy? Have I already asked way too many questions?

Thanx.
                -- D
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Bucksco

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« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2013, 04:25:08 PM »

http://shop.bachmanntrains.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=258_324_337_342&products_id=2221
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Jerrys HO
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« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2013, 06:07:03 PM »

Doneldon,

I can answer most of your questions as I own two of them.

1) Yes it can be ran all the time,but why?
2) No it's not abrasive, more like a felt pad (don't know exactly what it's made out of).
3) Don't know what you are referring to on the sliders? It's just a pad sitting on top of the rails.
4) The car ways 3.43oz.

I use two because one I soak with alcohol and the other I put a couple of cars back with a dry pad to wipe clean. The pads go in the dishwasher to be cleaned.(by them selves of course).
There was a post on this a while back that EBT Bob and myself explained.
Yes my rails are clean afterwards. I have not had any issues with dirty track.

Hope this helps.

Jerry
« Last Edit: September 20, 2013, 06:17:45 PM by Jerrys HO » Logged
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