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Author Topic: The best way to clean track and engine wheels?  (Read 5773 times)
Running Bear

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« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2008, 11:07:53 AM »

Automatic transmission fluid is NOT good as a cleaning agent. It leaves a film that's a great dirt magnet. Dexron/Mercon transmission fluid is a great lubricant though for plastic gears.

The cure for rail joints working loose is to solder them in place. They'll never work loose again.

A very good cleaning method that will cut your track cleaning down to almost nothing is to polish the rails with metal polish. I used Blue Magic cream metal polish on my layout (about 8x10) back in June of 06 and haven't had any problems with dead spots since. The most cleaning I have to do is just a quick wipe with a dry cloth if the trains haven't been run in  along time. Here's how I did it.

The GLEAM process:

First I sanded the railheads with 600 grit wet/dry sand paper followed by a another sanding with 800 grit. I then used a piece of stainless steel big enough to span both rails to burnish the rail heads. I would press down on it as I ran it back and forth along the track. This closes up any remaining gauges and/or pits that can trap and hold dirt. After the burnishing I used a piece of cork roadbed to apply a thin coating of the Blue Magic metal polish to the rail heads. I did the entire layout. When the polish was dry I used a clean piece of cork to to buff the polish off the rails. I had to get a new piece of cork about every 18 inches. The amount of black crud coming off the track was absolutely astounding! It took me a couple of hours to do the entire layout. Since then I've only had to clean part of the layout once, that was when I spilled some plaster dust on the track. That involved a quick vacuuming and a wipe down with a dry cloth.

Running Bear

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« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2008, 09:01:00 PM »

with just using 99% alchohol and a face cloth how often do you think it'll need to be cleaned?

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« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2008, 11:16:34 PM »

My primary recommendation is to clean track railheads (nickel silver) and wheel treads with isopropyl alcohol. Second choice if the alcohol does not do the job is to use Goo-Gone. Several choices in between with last choice on my list being lacquer thinner.

It seems one person and thus perhaps someone else is having difficulty understanding my recommendation to use lacquer thinner instead of gasoline.

Every one need to realize both gasoline and lacquer thinner are hazardous and should be handled properly and used with caution in the manner in which they are intended to be used.
Those not aware need to be aware gasoline is made for a single propose -- to explode!  It is not intended to be used as a cleaning agent.

I recommended lacquer thinner for limit use model railroad cleaning in place of gasoline, even though both are hazardous, because,
  • One of the intended uses of lacquer thinner is a cleaning agent.
  • Lacquer thinner is not near as hazardous as gasoline if responsibly used to clean model railroad track railheads and equipment wheel treads.
  • Lacquer thinner works better than other solvents to remove the difficult types of contamination that can be found on model railroad track railheads and equipment wheel treads. (Do not use on polystyrene wheels)

« Last Edit: May 13, 2008, 11:34:05 PM by Hunt » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2008, 11:32:27 PM »

Has anyone else tried this: Wahl Hair Clipper Oil?   

I use to use it when I had brass track, Jim Banner still does -- see,4839.msg41405/topicseen.html#msg41405
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