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Author Topic: Track lubricant?  (Read 12978 times)
crb


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« on: October 06, 2015, 03:03:21 PM »

Hello fellow train lovers.  Smiley

I'm a newbie and finally have my G scale brass track laid and have been having fun playing with my train.  I think I read once about some type of oil that can be used to help the train glide across the track more smoothly?  I have a Bachmann Big Haulers starter set (I substituted with Bachmann brass track since it is being used outside).  Does anyone know what kind of oil, if any, should/could be used?

Thank you in advance!

Chris Smiley
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Chris Smiley
Train newbie, faerie garden oldie
Chuck N

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« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2015, 05:02:52 PM »

I don't recommend a lubricant for the track.  Most lubricants are an organic oil, which is an insulator, not a conductor.  It will reduce traction, reducing the number of cars you can pull.

If you must have a lubricant, there is a product called RAIL ZIP that is supposed to work.  Years ago I tried it on my rails following the directions and my engine just sat there and spun its wheels.  Now occasionally, very, I will put a cpuple of drops at the top of my grade and let the train spread it out.  I haven't done that for several years.

What diameter (radius) curves are you using?  If you are having a problem with binding on the curves go to a larger diameter curve.  Our general recommendation, is to use the largest diameter that will fit in the space.  Everything will run better and look better.  Four foot diameter curves are great for under a Christmas tree, but not for a more perminant layout.  It puts a lot of wear and tear on the rolling stock and the track.

Chuck

PS too much lubricant and it will attract dust and dirt, which will not improve your engines performance.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2015, 07:43:11 PM by Chuck N » Logged
Kevin Strong


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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2015, 09:00:58 PM »

Bachmann (and others) make what's called a "conductive lubricant." It's designed to be used on electrical wipers and the like. I've seen it used on wheel treads as well, which (obviously) come contact with the rails. It's supposed to maintain/improve electrical conductivity. I don't know of anyone routinely using this stuff outdoors, though.

Later,

K
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crb


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« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2015, 08:30:08 AM »

Thank you for the input!  I am using 4' diameter curves, and believe it or not, the curves aren't the problem.  It slows down tremendously on the straightaways and keeps derailing in the same spot.  I am currently working on more leveling (tedious process, for sure!), but it just seems to not run as smoothly as I had thought it would.  It speeds up and slows down (without me changing the speed) and comes almost to a complete stop at times.  I will see what happens after I work on leveling some more and clean the track again.  Who knew this would be so much work?  A labor of love, for sure.  Smiley  I will hold off on lubricant for now and see what happens.  I so appreciate all of the help and advice available here!  I don't know ANYONE that has a train garden, so I rely solely on what I can find online for help.  Thanks so much!
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Chris Smiley
Train newbie, faerie garden oldie
Loco Bill Canelos

Model railroading since 1947


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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2015, 09:59:56 AM »

CRB,

IMHO do not use oil or lube on your track.  Conductive lube on parts of the loco that conduct electricity are fine.

Bill
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Loco Bill,  Roundhouse Foreman
Colorado & Kansas Railway Missouri Western Railway
Semi Official Historian; Bachmann Large Scale
There are no dumb or stupid questions, just questions!
Chuck N

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« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2015, 10:13:14 AM »

It sounds to me that your track isn't level, side to side, and quite possibly dirty.  Make sure the rail joiners are tight.  When I put my track together, I use a small dab of conducting grease in each joiner.  I am now securing the connections with rail clamps or screws.  This will give better electrical connections from rail to rail.

I suggest that you go to a hardware store and get a dry wall sanding pole and some green Scotch Brite pads.  This is an easy way to clean the track.  Also check to see if the wheels are clean.

This is what I use to clean my track.











Where do you live?  It is quite possible that there is a local club or informal group near where you live.  They would be a valuable source for local help.
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crb


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« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2015, 10:21:07 AM »

Great tips and pic tutorial!  Thanks, Chuck!  I have been using a fine grit sandpaper to clean the track.  Not sure how it has gotten so dirty already, since it has only been outside for a couple of weeks.  I live in west central Ohio, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  I belong to my local garden club, and none of them have ever heard of railroad gardening.  I am blazing a trail into the unknown.  Wink
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Chris Smiley
Train newbie, faerie garden oldie
crb


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« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2015, 10:23:55 AM »

Do you use anything in particular to clean the train wheels?  Or just the scotch brite pad??  My Bachmann track has brass rail joiners that are held in place by screws.  I have power connections in two different areas of the track (about 50 feet of track total).  Does that seem like enough?
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Chris Smiley
Train newbie, faerie garden oldie
Chuck N

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« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2015, 10:29:26 AM »

Most of us gave up on sandpaper years ago.  No matter how fine the grit size, it seems to leave scratches in the rail that will collect dirt.  Brass track needs to be cleaned every couple of days.  

For the wheels, I use a smaller green scotch bright pad, the size that you can get in a grocery store for cleaning pots and pans.  You will need a hardware store for the larger size.  Or you could cut one of the larger pads into smaller strips to clean wheels.

Or you could use a small power drill, like a Dremel, with a brass wire brush to clean the wheels.

I have two power connections for my layout which has a main line of about 90' in length. So your two for 50' should be fine.

Chuck

Chris

You might go over to one of the other Large Scale forums and introduce yourself and say where you live and ask if there are any formal or informal groups in west central Ohio.  This site is great for Bachmann products, but the other sites have more participation, because they aren't restricted to just one manufacturer.

I use <mylargescale.com>.  

Another one is "large scale central".  I don't have it's URL.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2015, 10:41:03 AM by Chuck N » Logged
crb


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« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2015, 10:43:21 AM »

Good info, Chuck!  Thanks for sharing!  I will try your suggestions and let you know how it works out! 
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Chris Smiley
Train newbie, faerie garden oldie
RkyGriz
Guest
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2015, 12:11:07 PM »

Hi crb! These big trains have a tendency to get their tracks dirty real fast. A fellow poster here told me that it's not actually grease, but residue from the wheels!  Short of spending at least $60.00 on a track cleaning car to help maintain your tracks, you can try using Isopropyl  alcohol to clean your tracks. If you don't mind getting on your hands and knees and using a little (or  lot depending on your track size) of elbow grease, Isopropyl alcohol strips grease and other surface contaminants without damaging the track. Just wet a paper towel with it and wipe!For really bad oxidation, I use 2,000 grit Emory cloth to polish the rails. Gets them nice and shiny.
Enjoy your train and have fun!
Later,
Andrew
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Chuck N

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« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2015, 02:42:21 PM »

Andrew

There are two different things that show up on the track.  Tarnish which darkens the surface of the rail and the fine grained black dust.  The tarnish comes from the metals in the brass reacting with gasses in the air, primarily oxygen and sulphur and some of its compounds.  This tarnish is an insulator and can effect the electrical contact with the engine and the rails.  The fine grained black dust is ground up brass from the friction of the harder wheels rubbing against the softer metal, brass, of the rail head.  If you have plastic wheels on your cars, some of the black dust is from the flanges being ground down by the harder rail.  I have heard of people, who run the same cars a lot, having their flanges on plastic wheels being entirely ground away.

All of this grinding is more pronounced with the smaller curves (4'diameter).  

Chuck
« Last Edit: October 07, 2015, 02:44:53 PM by Chuck N » Logged
crb


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« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2015, 03:33:16 PM »

Thanks, Andrew and Chuck!  I will definitely try the rubbing alcohol.  It is getting dark too early here in Ohio, so my train time is severely limited!  I am hoping to get it running smoothly before the nasty winter weather sets in.  I so appreciate all of the advice that I receive here!
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Chris Smiley
Train newbie, faerie garden oldie
RkyGriz
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« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2015, 05:43:05 PM »

Chuck:
I remember our previous conversation about what the residue on the tracks is and I've noticed how fast the track gets dirty from plastic wheels. The metal wheels take quite a bit longer to dirty the track . I had a fellow modeler say that he gets the same thing on his h.o. scale track and he suggested trying the rubbing alcohol and it works great for removing the residue on the rail head.  I've found nothing that will remove the tarnish on the brass rails except the 2,000 grit Emory cloth and wet sanding. I' bought a 27 year old Ll starter  set last year and the only thing that workrd to clean the tracks that came with that set was 2,000 grit Emory cloth. The Scotch Brite pads were totally useless to clean it. I think that you and I talked about that ,too, on my Verdigris topic( which I finally solved by taking and removing each 3 foot rail section from the ties and then washing them with Dawm and a wire brush. I then wet sanded the rails in the area where the verdigris was forming, throughly flushed anbd cleaned out the ties and rail beds and the problem finally completely  went away. A lot of work that was!I have two other passenger cars (Ll brand) that I want to replace the  plastic wheels with metal wheels on. I need wheels that are smaller than the Bachman wheels are. It's ironic in a way as I have 16 extra pairs of Bachmann metal wheels and they're too tall for these cars as the cars are lighted using  copper track skates and the Bachmann wheels raise them up too high for the skates to make contact with the rails. I'm looking at some wheel sets from a place in California and they have their shop a short distance from where I'm currently living so I can drive over and see if they have what I need.. As far as I can tell, the wheel diameter on those cars is slightly over 1 inch, or about 29MM and this place lists 2 different wheel sizes that just may be what I'm looking for.
Thanks for your time, Chuck!
Andrew
« Last Edit: October 07, 2015, 05:48:37 PM by RkyGriz » Logged
Chuck N

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« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2015, 07:31:51 PM »

I' m confused.

All I can say is that the green pad on a sanding pole does the job.  I can clean and polish my 90' mainline in about a minute.  The passing sidings will take another minute.  Many of my friends use the same system.

Chuck
« Last Edit: October 07, 2015, 07:52:58 PM by Chuck N » Logged
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