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Author Topic: Cleaning equipment  (Read 1749 times)

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« on: November 30, 2008, 06:21:40 PM »

I have an HO scale train that has been in the attic for 10-12 years. what is the best way to clean track and trucks?
Yampa Bob


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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2008, 07:05:46 PM »

Hi Clewis, and welcome to the board. (You are member 4038, the board is growing fast)  Smiley

Use 91% Isopropyl alcohol, blue Scot "Shop Towels" and Q-tips. Clean track and all wheels, if any cars have plastic wheels, suggest replacing with metal wheelsets. Otherwise, track and all wheels should be cleaned more often. A soft bristled toothbrush works well on driver wheel treads and flanges.

Lightly lubricate the locomotive gears/bearings/axles with Labelle 108 oil or equivalent, and use VERY SPARINGLY.  Apply a thin film of conductive lube on back of drivers where the wipers pickup current for the motor. Sitting in storage all those years, the grease or other lube may have congealed, or moving parts may be lacking lubrication, so operation may be sluggish and noisy until you get it loosened up and lubricated.   

If the locomotive and cars are dusty, clean with a wide sable brush or Q-tip dipped lightly in water.  DO NOT use the alcohol to clean body surfaces, it can dissolve paint and decals.

For best performance, suggest reaming car journals with a special tool, available at Micro-Mark and other dealers.  The couplers are probably the older "Horn-hook" type, if they all work ok continue using them.  If it's a really nice set, you might consider upgrading all the cars to body mounted Kadee #148 knuckle couplers. However a set that old might not justify the cost of upgrading, it's a decision you have to make.

Tutorials on upgrading truck mounted and/or horn-hook couplers are in the board archives and can be searched or linked to if you need them, all you have to do is ask.

If I missed anything, others will add comments.

Good luck
« Last Edit: November 30, 2008, 07:41:46 PM by Yampa Bob » Logged

I know what I wrote, I don't need a quote
Rule Number One: It's Our Railroad.  Rule Number Two: Refer to Rule Number One.
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2008, 09:12:01 PM »

Ditto what Bob said. On the lubrication side use only recommended lubricants. House hgold products like wd-40, vasoline, 3 in 1 oil are not recommended and can do extreme harm to your trains as they are not compatible with plastic. Make sure any lubricant is plastic compatible such as the labelle lubricants. Walthers supplies many things that you could use such as a bright boy, used to clean the track
James in FL

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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2008, 09:51:49 PM »

Ten years in the attic huh…

Whatever your rail type is, it will most likely have oxidized to some extent.

If it’s Nickel Silver, initially clean with a lint free cloth (T-shirt) and the 91% isopropyl alcohol, rubbing each section until the cloth shows no residue. Then burnish it by rubbing the rails with a coin, laid flat, covering both rails at the same time. This polishes the railhead to a shinny surface. Do this on each section of rail and finish by wiping again with the alcohol and cloth. Then assemble.
If your track is either Brass or Steel, use a “Bright Boy”, Crocus cloth, or Emery cloth graded 600 grit or finer. Some manufacturers just grade it course, medium, or fine. Use the “fine” grade. Then burnish as above preferably with either brass on brass or steel on steel. Again a final wipe with the alcohol before assembly.

After ten + years of storage the grease in your loco will most likely have little to no lubricating properties remaining in it. It may have turned into “gum”.
Get an old “pie tin” or suitable container of the “Tupperware” type or equivalent. The cheap disposable “Glad” type is what I use.

Remove the loco shell.
I use an aerosol product made by “CRC” named “QD Contact Cleaner” quick drying formula #02130. It’s safe on all plastics and is generally used as an electronic contact cleaner.
It’s available at any big box or electronics store, Lowes, Home Depot etc.
LPS also makes a similar product.
Use the red straw into the spray nozzle.
Holding the loco frame vertically over the pan, spray heavily from top to bottom, blasting away all old grease and grime around the drive and gears. Spray the axle cups as well.
If exposed, spray the motor armature commutator and the brushes to remove carbon deposits.
What I’m saying here, is basically hose down the entire chassis, and everything in it, heavily, twice.
When it’s clean (drops are clear) stand it (on its wheels) on a piece of cardboard or similar to absorb the residue.
Let it stand 24 hours or until condensate has dried.
Lubricate as per Bob’s recommendation and reattach the shell.

I use “Hob-E-Lube” rather than “Labelle”,  (6 of one, half dozen of the other) there are many to choose from just make sure its plastic compatible. It’s what my LHS carries.

I do not use any type of conductive lube, to me, just another place for crud to collect.
Twelve years in the hobby, never felt like I needed it.
A pencil eraser works well to remove residual carbon from wipers.

To clean the loco wheels I simply cradle the loco upside down and apply power leads to each wheel, and as they are turning, hold a “Q-Tip”, moist with the alcohol, to them until each are clean.

While you’re in the cleaning mode, remove all the wheel sets from your rolling stock and “dig out” (toothpick) all the junk from the truck journals (axel point cups).
The shells are easily cleaned by removing the trucks followed by a short soak (2-3 minutes) in the sink using “Joy” or “Dawn” dish soap or similar and a light scrub with an old toothbrush.
If you can separate the shell from the frame do so.
Rinse well.
When dry (about 24 hrs) put the wheel sets back in the trucks but don’t lubricate them.
Clean the wheel sets using the “Q-Tip” with alcohol, and rotate by hand.

Depending on your curve radius you may, or may not, consider body mount couplers.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

« Last Edit: November 30, 2008, 10:34:36 PM by James in FL » Logged
Paul M.

T&P Railway in the 1950s

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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2008, 10:01:50 PM »

If no one has mentioned it, Walthers sells a track eraser called a "Brite Boy" that is a good cleaner, especially for tough jobs like your 10-years-in the attic track. DO NOT USE SANDPAPER, STEEL WOOL, ETC. TO CLEAN YOUR TRACK.

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