Topics

Wet Rail controversy

Ken Clark
 

All,
  On another Yahoo Group there has been a raging discussion for over a week on the inability of HO Brass steam locomotives to pull
prototypical length trains, especially passenger trains.  I participated on a limited basis because my personal collection didn't have
a similar problem.  When the prime antagonist mentioned used a KTM HO 4-8-4 as the primary example, I commented that was the 
opposite of my experience and referred him to my repowering guides.  Then he casually mentioned he was a "wet rail' enthusiast
and would never change.  I did reply that his 'wetting agent" reduced measurable friction as much as 50% in my experience and that
I would expect a similar reduction in a model's pulling power.  Another factor is that he installs "wheelset brakes" on all his equipment
(all his equipment is wiper lighted).  Since then I have been observing not participating.

   However it did certainly bring to light a rather classic naive assumption that is made when we discuss our repowering efforts.  And
that is Are we all playing with the same deck?  I know I am guilty of this; any guidance I provide is pretty much null and void if you oil 
your track to keep it slick and clean.  My experience with oil has been that it attracts, not repels, dust and dirt.  Another caveat to my 
advice is that subsequent installation of electronics can nullify any advantages gained.  If you have electrical current issues, pulling a
15 car passenger train with lights blazing like lighthouses on a foggy shore will not be compensated by a more efficient motor.

  Basically I am not buying into the 'wet rail' proposal; I haven't needed it and lubricating the rails should significantly impact the tractive effort
of our models.  Is "Wet Rails" a question we should be asking at the start of our discussions?  Maybe we should have a "Wet Rails"
discussion within this group?  For me this seemed to be a popular practice when it seemed everyone loved their Athearn Blue Box diesels 
with sintered iron wheels and high current draw motors that forced frequent cleaning of wheels and tracks.  In that environment 'wet rails'
may have worked for some.  But all that is ancient history for most of us.  Back in this era a major model RRing magazine published an
article stating that flywheels won't work in model steam locomotives (unlike diesels), because model diesels have worm and worm gear drives
while model steam locomotives have worm and worm gear drives.  I think my subscription lapsed shortly thereafter.

OK,  thoughts on WET RAILS?
  
Kenneth R. Clark
Moderator
and chief pot stirrer