Topics

Cleaners & Lubricants

 

No-ox-id A type grease continues to work very well for me.  After
application I remove all that I can with a Masonite type board.  What is
left does not attract dust and largely prevents the black crud from
forming.  I only do touch up cleaning on occasion.  s

This is done in combination with scrubbing all the contacting surfaces
of my locomotives with a fiberglass contact cleaner which in this case
was sold by Badger.  I then treat the surfaces in the same way I treat
the track. 

I clean my wheels by chucking them into my DeWalt (lightly) and running
at high speed while gently applying the aforementioned  Badger contact
cleaner.  I also clean the needle point on the wheels in this way.  The
brass axle holders in the trucks have the axle sockets cleaned with a
toothpick in a drill at high speed and a little polishing compound.  The
polishing compound is then cleaned with solvent.

As a result I can do switching operations with at most a couple of
stalls and this is in N Scale with engines as small as the Kato NW2. 
BTW I use a single engine on the switch job.

Best Regards,

Ken Harstine

Alex Hempel
 

I did a run on the weekend over the main parts of my layout with a Proses cleaning car with both dry and wet cleaning action. For lack of anything better, I used Isopropyl Alcohol on the wet pad. It has definitely brought an improvement - one of my locos with sound and light runs smoothly all over the layout now, without flickering lights or sound dropouts. The other, a Bachmann cheapie, still struggles, but from what I can gather from the net, that might just be a crappy decoder...

Alex Hempel
 

After the isopropyl cleaning did not bring the desired long term effect, I looked around for other options, and on one forum (I don't remember where) someone recommended jewelry polish. I gave that a try today with liquid silver polish from the supermarket. Apply, let dry for a moment, wipe off. My trains have never run this well, all of them, even the light two-axle rail tractor which has been struggling everywhere.

The caveat is that you have to make sure you only apply it to the head of the rails. You don't want it dripping down the side, and certainly not on the ballast or sleepers, it's a bitch to get off again once it's dry. I'm using the Proses cleaning car with a felt pad that's soaked in the polish, run it along the tracks manually, then wipe off with a clean cloth, lightly wetted with isopropyl, and finish off with a make-up sponge. Will see how long this lasts.

Tom G.
 

Thanks for the tip, Alex. 

Thanks.
Tom

On Apr 10, 2019, at 6:21 AM, Alex Hempel <rainynight65@...> wrote:

After the isopropyl cleaning did not bring the desired long term effect, I looked around for other options, and on one forum (I don't remember where) someone recommended jewelry polish. I gave that a try today with liquid silver polish from the supermarket. Apply, let dry for a moment, wipe off. My trains have never run this well, all of them, even the light two-axle rail tractor which has been struggling everywhere.

The caveat is that you have to make sure you only apply it to the head of the rails. You don't want it dripping down the side, and certainly not on the ballast or sleepers, it's a bitch to get off again once it's dry. I'm using the Proses cleaning car with a felt pad that's soaked in the polish, run it along the tracks manually, then wipe off with a clean cloth, lightly wetted with isopropyl, and finish off with a make-up sponge. Will see how long this lasts.

PennsyNut
 

Hmm! I started this with questions about using Radio Shack cleaners/lubricants. But I see no one comment on them. That's OK. I have tried alcohol. It does a fair job if you do it often. (How often is often? Once a week?) Then I tried acetone. Not MEK, but the cheap stuff in the nail polish section, but with no additives, 100% acetone. That seems to do a good job and keeps the track clean enough to suit me. Apply with a cloth and wipe only the tops of the rails. Obviously, this is for a small layout. But I have heard of someone using acetone in a brass rail cleaner car. Finally, I don't use any abrasive unless it's really glunky! As in dried glue or such. The masonite pad sounds good for a large layout. And this is all dependent on what type of air you have. And yes, do all this with good ventilation. I like a small fan blowing over the track as I work.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

Jay
 

Hi, I will say it one more time.
Here in the Midwest US, it is very dusty.
A lot of farming is done around here & it is windy most of the time.
I and 2 others locally, started using CRC 2-26 (Plastic Compatible) 2 1/2 years ago.
All 3 of us have cut our track cleaning to zero, and we all run DCC.
See my posts earlier in this thread on how to apply it, also the warnings on what not to do.

Jay

Mark Cartwright
 

Jay, 
In the Central Valley of California...We have Peat Dust, Valley Fever and now Ashe from the many Northern California Fires.
===?
And abrupt temperature changes which create a very strange phenomenon up into the Sierra's known as Exploding Rocks.
This is were the core temperature of a rock is still near like freezing point and then near suddenly - the Sun Rises on a clear day.
Anyone who has cooked a semi-frozen Turkey has witnessed this phenomenon on a smaller scale. At least a 10 degree change in weather from Night to Day is needed.
This means....Your track will bend...even under less extreme conditions, if not in a stable environment.
My basement proved to be such a NON-Stable Environment. Even the Pepsi's in the normal small refrigerator without an ice box in it Froze and exploded.
So I upped and moved and found a Family/Train Room above ground for my Hobby. But I am still experimenting.
I considered running an outside trackage of Kato Unitrack to create the Port of Stockton's Channel...with the aspect of picking up the track every day...but knowing me? Just one over-night lazy excuse and I would probably need to replace all the track.
====
With all of the above said....
The best method of keeping my track clean...with all the helpers I can get such as CRC 2-26 and a whole house vacuum system...plus a portable one as well...
Is not to allow the track to get overly dirty in the first place and attempt at best never to allow it to freeze. 
Very difficult to do...but my (new to me) main Train Room will hopefully be re-created into a sort of Clean Room with a specialized HVAC System for pollutants.
====
DCC especially with sound requires bright shiny rails along the top quarter inside. The best I have come up with is to create my own wand to run between the rails with various cleaners. Mostly I use a heavy duty paper towel attached to the wand, but at times I find myself using Q-tips. 
What is more....
All my track (for now) is removable, as it is Kato Unitrack.
I have experimented with Atlas, Peco, Shinohara and Hand Laid....and for now in some locations, I am recreating Kato #6 Turnouts into #9's and #12's.
Since this procedure takes me upwards of 12 hours to complete with the skill of a Jewelry...I have so far only recreated 2. Yet I have several hundred turnouts in my inventory...one day expecting to use them as is?
Good Luck with that ! > N Scale does not really have a Great Turnout. I am working on that too.
Sorry for not conveying a quick fix or even better news.
Mark

Alex Hempel
 
Edited

Morgan, I would love to comment on the RadioShack cleaners, but I can’t get them where I live, and importing is expensive. I am new to DCC as you are, and have limited funds, so I am not only looking for effective methods, but affordable ones, too. 

Jay, the same applies here, I haven’t been able to find an explicitly ‘plastic-safe’ CRC 2-26 type product here, and I’m not going to risk it. 

I live in an area with clean air, but very hot and humid summers. My main problem is not, at this stage, pollution, but corrosion. My track has been sitting for about half a year without anything running on it, and now that I finally have some of the locos I wanted, they’ve been struggling to run, especially the smaller ones. I was getting pretty desperate.

All the fancy cleaning tools cost a lot of money (the brass cleaning cars are equivalent to a decent loco here), and I’ve already bought two contraptions that, so far, haven’t brought much return on investment, even though people recommended them.

I figured that I needed to do a proper deep clean, and from all the research I’ve done across many forums and groups in two languages - and everyone has their own ways and preferences - I found one that not only sounded like it would solve my key problem, but was also easily available to me. That’s the silver polish method. I am hoping that with a proper deep clean using that, and subsequent regular running of my trains, I can save myself grief in the future. Clean track is especially important to me because I have a fair amount of track that’s covered, and I can’t really afford for trains to get stuck there. 

I will probably invest in a track vacuum car further down the line. But what I’ve found is that in the cleaning debate, there’s pretty much only one thing that more than two people will agree on at any given time, and that’s the fact that clean track is essential, especially for DCC. Anything else seems to be up to individual experiences and preferences (and availability), and it’s really hard to find any single thing that gets widespread support. Many people don’t use any abrasive methods, many others won’t let isopropyl alcohol anywhere near their layout. 

I am grateful to anyone who can talk about their experiences with a specific cleaning method. It’s just unfortunate when those successful methods aren’t easily available to me.

PennsyNut
 

I will add. Alcohol is usually pretty common. Available in most places on this planet. So is putting a pad on the end of a stick/yardstick comes to mind. So, that's the first and most important method I can think of that is cheap, readily available and doable. Especially in tunnels. A good old yardstick with a good pad on the end with alcohol should do a large part of cleaning. And if you need more, that's where the silver polish might be best. Although I still like my acetone, it does have drawbacks, namely smell and/or damage to plastic. And Alex: it's not just a lack of funds, or availability, but I am frugal. That means I want the best bang for the buck I can afford and locate, etc. Being frugal means there's no way on earth I'd purchase an $80 track cleaning car. Now if I had a layout that was all tunnels, it might be worth looking into some sort of track cleaning car. But $80? No way! So, like you have said. You do what you can do with what you have available.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

PennsyNut
 

Whoops! More of my opinion. And to all. Take it with a grain of salt. I never would put anything on the rails that is a lubricant, especially petroleum based. I've heard about graphite, but have never tried it. The CRC sounds great, but it is a lubricant, so I would be very shy of it. I have no grades, so it don't worry me there. But any engine must pull a good train, not 2-3 cars and start slipping. How about some one of you that has a 4% grade, say a lumber layout, that has tried any sort of lubricant on the rails that still allows a train of 6 cars or so. And I personally feel this all applies to any scale. Most of us with HO or N, seem to predominate the forums. So, comments from S and O, maybe G LOL are welcome. Finally, I try to be nice. I'm not here to antagonize anyone at anytime. We are all here to help each other.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

John Bishop
 

As an O scaler butting in,  I use a Bright Boy, or occasionally alcohol.  I have Code 100 steel rail. The layout's been around quite a while, and this works fine. I probably don't actually clean the track more than 2, 3 times a year.  

My layout has a powered overhead wire over most of the track, as an interurban, although I can also run 2-rail by flipping a switch.  I can run both DCC and DC, again by flipping a switch. 

 I apply Lock Ease to the wire occasionally, which keeps the wire (phosphor bronze) clean enough for good operation, even if not run for a month or so.

Hope this is useful to someone!

John Bishop  

On Friday, April 12, 2019, 2:11:11 PM PDT, PennsyNut <pennsynut@...> wrote:


Whoops! More of my opinion. And to all. Take it with a grain of salt. I never would put anything on the rails that is a lubricant, especially petroleum based. I've heard about graphite, but have never tried it. The CRC sounds great, but it is a lubricant, so I would be very shy of it. I have no grades, so it don't worry me there. But any engine must pull a good train, not 2-3 cars and start slipping. How about some one of you that has a 4% grade, say a lumber layout, that has tried any sort of lubricant on the rails that still allows a train of 6 cars or so. And I personally feel this all applies to any scale. Most of us with HO or N, seem to predominate the forums. So, comments from S and O, maybe G LOL are welcome. Finally, I try to be nice. I'm not here to antagonize anyone at anytime. We are all here to help each other.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

Carl
 

Hello Alex:

I made my own cleaning car for "O" gauge track, but I think you could build something similar for any gauge.

I took a gondola, put a block of wood in it. Drilled two vertical holes for two bolts. Then put Scotch brite disks on the bolts with some light springs. A few times around the layout and all is well.

Carl.

On 4/12/2019 4:34 PM, Alex Hempel wrote:
Morgan, I would love to comment on the RadioShack cleaners, but I can’t get them where I live, and importing is expensive. I am new to DCC as you are, and have limited funds, so I am not only looking for effective methods, but affordable ones, too. 

Jay, the same applies here, I haven’t been able to find an explicitly ‘plastic-safe’ CRC 2-26 type product here, and I’m not going to risk it. 

I live in an area with clean air, but very hot and humid summers. My main problem not, at this stage, pollution, but corrosion. My track has been sitting for about half a year without anything running on it, and now that I finally have some of the locos I wanted, they’ve been struggling to run, especially the smaller ones. I was getting pretty desperate.

All the fancy cleaning tools cost a lot of money (the brass cleaning cars are equivalent to a decent loco here), and I’ve already bought two contraptions that, so far, haven’t brought much return on investment, even though people recommended them.

I figured that I needed to do a proper deep clean, and from all the research I’ve done across many forums and groups in two languages - and everyone has their own ways and preferences - I found one that not only sounded like it would solve my key problem, but was also easily available to me. That’s the silver polish method. I am hoping that with a proper deep clean using that, and subsequent regular running of my trains, I can save myself grief in the future. Clean track is especially important to me because I have a fair amount of track that’s covered, and I can’t really afford for trains to get stuck there. 

I will probably invest in a track vacuum car further down the line. But what I’ve found is that in the cleaning debate, there’s pretty much only one thing that more than two people will agree on at any given time, and that’s the fact that clean track is essential, especially for DCC. Anything else seems to be up to individual experiences and preferences (and availability), and it’s really hard to find any single thing that gets widespread support. Many people don’t use any abrasive methods, many others won’t let isopropyl alcohol anywhere near their layout. 

I am grateful to anyone who can talk about their experiences with a specific cleaning method. It’s just unfortunate when those successful methods aren’t easily available to me. 

Virus-free. www.avast.com

Carl
 

Hi Gang:

I have a friend who put so much graphite on his turnouts, he shorted them out!

Carl.

On 4/12/2019 5:11 PM, PennsyNut wrote:
Whoops! More of my opinion. And to all. Take it with a grain of salt. I never would put anything on the rails that is a lubricant, especially petroleum based. I've heard about graphite, but have never tried it. The CRC sounds great, but it is a lubricant, so I would be very shy of it. I have no grades, so it don't worry me there. But any engine must pull a good train, not 2-3 cars and start slipping. How about some one of you that has a 4% grade, say a lumber layout, that has tried any sort of lubricant on the rails that still allows a train of 6 cars or so. And I personally feel this all applies to any scale. Most of us with HO or N, seem to predominate the forums. So, comments from S and O, maybe G LOL are welcome. Finally, I try to be nice. I'm not here to antagonize anyone at anytime. We are all here to help each other.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

Virus-free. www.avast.com

Charles Russell
 

To all,

A dear friend told me a long time ago how to keep your track clean. RUN TRAINS!!! Especially one with metal wheels. I know this can be difficult if your layout is under construction. I have tried to follow his advice on my home layout even during construction. I can at least run my layout and have a few the of older cars still with Rapido couplers and metal wheels. This is my official track cleaning train. Sometimes it is the only train I run at times especially as I have spending more time under the layout wiring and it is a great test train.

Charlie Russell


From: w4dccqa@groups.io <w4dccqa@groups.io> on behalf of Mark Cartwright via Groups.Io <marcdecapri@...>
Sent: Friday, April 12, 2019 9:29 AM
To: w4dccqa@groups.io
Subject: Re: [w4dccqa] Cleaners & Lubricants
 
Jay, 
In the Central Valley of California...We have Peat Dust, Valley Fever and now Ashe from the many Northern California Fires.
===?
And abrupt temperature changes which create a very strange phenomenon up into the Sierra's known as Exploding Rocks.
This is were the core temperature of a rock is still near like freezing point and then near suddenly - the Sun Rises on a clear day.
Anyone who has cooked a semi-frozen Turkey has witnessed this phenomenon on a smaller scale. At least a 10 degree change in weather from Night to Day is needed.
This means....Your track will bend...even under less extreme conditions, if not in a stable environment.
My basement proved to be such a NON-Stable Environment. Even the Pepsi's in the normal small refrigerator without an ice box in it Froze and exploded.
So I upped and moved and found a Family/Train Room above ground for my Hobby. But I am still experimenting.
I considered running an outside trackage of Kato Unitrack to create the Port of Stockton's Channel...with the aspect of picking up the track every day...but knowing me? Just one over-night lazy excuse and I would probably need to replace all the track.
====
With all of the above said....
The best method of keeping my track clean...with all the helpers I can get such as CRC 2-26 and a whole house vacuum system...plus a portable one as well...
Is not to allow the track to get overly dirty in the first place and attempt at best never to allow it to freeze. 
Very difficult to do...but my (new to me) main Train Room will hopefully be re-created into a sort of Clean Room with a specialized HVAC System for pollutants.
====
DCC especially with sound requires bright shiny rails along the top quarter inside. The best I have come up with is to create my own wand to run between the rails with various cleaners. Mostly I use a heavy duty paper towel attached to the wand, but at times I find myself using Q-tips. 
What is more....
All my track (for now) is removable, as it is Kato Unitrack.
I have experimented with Atlas, Peco, Shinohara and Hand Laid....and for now in some locations, I am recreating Kato #6 Turnouts into #9's and #12's.
Since this procedure takes me upwards of 12 hours to complete with the skill of a Jewelry...I have so far only recreated 2. Yet I have several hundred turnouts in my inventory...one day expecting to use them as is?
Good Luck with that ! > N Scale does not really have a Great Turnout. I am working on that too.
Sorry for not conveying a quick fix or even better news.
Mark

 

Graphite powder works but should only be applied where there is a
significant gap between opposing polarities.  I have used in on N Scale
locomotives and ruined one because the axle to wheel insulator was
extremely thin.  Arcing occurred which created a permanent carbon
short.  Where is works it can be a god send.

For track work I have used artist graphite sticks.  This solves the
problem with the powder.  It is a lubricant and so will reduce pulling
power if you have grades.

Best Regards,

Ken Harstine

Carl
 

Hi Gang:


Here! Here! Lets hear it for Charlie! Run Those Trains!


I ran trains in my room even before I had built any tables. First trains ran on modular tables set up for parties. As the layout track was finished trains had to cross the vertical lift. It  made a cool noise as the train left Gargraves track and ran on the Aluminum Shelves. The finished layout loops the room three times, but for years it looped only twice with a steep cut-off that we could only run down hill.


Did I mention parties? I would have train party days where folks would come over and run trains in the yard, or as it was built, on the layout. With wide curves some brought trains they couldn't run on their home layouts.


So run your trains! And for testing, run them in reverse. If you can run a long train backwards through all your track work it should run much better in years to come.


Carl.


On 4/12/2019 8:48 PM, Charles Russell wrote:
To all,

A dear friend told me a long time ago how to keep your track clean. RUN TRAINS!!! Especially one with metal wheels. I know this can be difficult if your layout is under construction. I have tried to follow his advice on my home layout even during construction. I can at least run my layout and have a few the of older cars still with Rapido couplers and metal wheels. This is my official track cleaning train. Sometimes it is the only train I run at times especially as I have spending more time under the layout wiring and it is a great test train.

Charlie Russell

From: w4dccqa@groups.io <w4dccqa@groups.io> on behalf of Mark Cartwright via Groups.Io <marcdecapri@...>
Sent: Friday, April 12, 2019 9:29 AM
To: w4dccqa@groups.io
Subject: Re: [w4dccqa] Cleaners & Lubricants
 
Jay, 
In the Central Valley of California...We have Peat Dust, Valley Fever and now Ashe from the many Northern California Fires.
===?
And abrupt temperature changes which create a very strange phenomenon up into the Sierra's known as Exploding Rocks.
This is were the core temperature of a rock is still near like freezing point and then near suddenly - the Sun Rises on a clear day.
Anyone who has cooked a semi-frozen Turkey has witnessed this phenomenon on a smaller scale. At least a 10 degree change in weather from Night to Day is needed.
This means....Your track will bend...even under less extreme conditions, if not in a stable environment.
My basement proved to be such a NON-Stable Environment. Even the Pepsi's in the normal small refrigerator without an ice box in it Froze and exploded.
So I upped and moved and found a Family/Train Room above ground for my Hobby. But I am still experimenting.
I considered running an outside trackage of Kato Unitrack to create the Port of Stockton's Channel...with the aspect of picking up the track every day...but knowing me? Just one over-night lazy excuse and I would probably need to replace all the track.
====
With all of the above said....
The best method of keeping my track clean...with all the helpers I can get such as CRC 2-26 and a whole house vacuum system...plus a portable one as well...
Is not to allow the track to get overly dirty in the first place and attempt at best never to allow it to freeze. 
Very difficult to do...but my (new to me) main Train Room will hopefully be re-created into a sort of Clean Room with a specialized HVAC System for pollutants.
====
DCC especially with sound requires bright shiny rails along the top quarter inside. The best I have come up with is to create my own wand to run between the rails with various cleaners. Mostly I use a heavy duty paper towel attached to the wand, but at times I find myself using Q-tips. 
What is more....
All my track (for now) is removable, as it is Kato Unitrack.
I have experimented with Atlas, Peco, Shinohara and Hand Laid....and for now in some locations, I am recreating Kato #6 Turnouts into #9's and #12's.
Since this procedure takes me upwards of 12 hours to complete with the skill of a Jewelry...I have so far only recreated 2. Yet I have several hundred turnouts in my inventory...one day expecting to use them as is?
Good Luck with that ! > N Scale does not really have a Great Turnout. I am working on that too.
Sorry for not conveying a quick fix or even better news.
Mark

Virus-free. www.avast.com

PennsyNut
 

Carl: Graphite. Thanks. That is kind of what I keep referring to. A little goes a long way. Same with cleaners, lubricants, etc. And especially solder. Use a minimum, keep the area ventilated, be cautious. I suppose technically, graphite is a lubricant, or at least acts like one. Also, most of the other "lubricants" may or may not be petroleum based. Silicone comes to mind. Put silicone on your rails and you'll have cars sliding all over, and a long train rolling down hill loose without an engine. Wow! But that goes back to what I think. No lubricant. Or at least not something that might make locos slip or cars run rampant on a grade. I admit, CRC 2-26 sounds good. Just a little pricey for me. The gondola car with a good bit of weight might be good, especially in tunnels, etc. But that is abrasive and the Masonite might be better there. Sketch Bright is too abrasive. Run a liquid car followed by a Masonite car should work in a tunnel. How the heck do you get a Bright Boy in a tunnel? Glue it on the end of a yardstick. LOL Thanks to all for your input. Those of us with questions, suggestions and such can help each other.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC, modeling PRR in 1952

Annette and Dante Fuligni
 

When I laid my track several years ago, I researched the issue of cleaning and eventually decided to apply the No-Ox system which was thoroughly discussed online at the time. It works like a charm! I have never cleaned my track, and it works fine even after extended periods of inactivity. The layout is in a controlled environment, but it is not completely dust-free. Also, there has been some research indicating a lot of the crud that forms on rails/wheels is due to the minute electrical sparking that occurs between those basic elements and not just on the amount of dirt in the air that settles on the track. Check online for the discussions about No-Ox and try it-you’ll like it!

Dante

Michael Snyder
 

Did you use the No OX ID A or just the straight No OX?

On Sat, Apr 13, 2019 at 9:23 AM Annette and Dante Fuligni <dfuligni2144@...> wrote:
When I laid my track several years ago, I researched the issue of cleaning and eventually decided to apply the No-Ox system which was thoroughly discussed online at the time. It works like a charm! I have never cleaned my track, and it works fine even after extended periods of inactivity. The layout is in a controlled environment, but it is not completely dust-free. Also, there has been some research indicating a lot of the crud that forms on rails/wheels is due to the minute electrical sparking that occurs between those basic elements and not just on the amount of dirt in the air that settles on the track. Check online for the discussions about No-Ox and try it-you’ll like it!

Dante


PennsyNut
 

Let me understand graphite: From what I can tell from the few comments above is: Use it sparingly on the tops of the rails. Wipe it off immediately, which leaves a very light coating. Keep any rails of opposite polarity from touching. (How do you do turnouts?) If you wipe all rails except the turnouts, won't the graphite spread via wheels? And that gets to the concern I have with turnout points. Example: if a wheel is a little wider and touches both the point and the rail of opposite polarity, you've got a short, but also it will be worse because of any graphite? What I was thinking and considering is to use a fine paint brush and pencil graphite/where there was no wood, but just pencil lead. (I know, not pure graphite, but certainly cheap.) and carefully touch the tops of the rails. Do about a foot or so and wipe immediately. All this is done after the cleaning - usually with alcohol. And finally, run the trains over this freshly done rails. I also get the impression that you don't have to do the entire layout. Perhaps just a few "foot long" sections, let's say, every 6 feet. Does this sound logical to y'all. Anyone ever try it this way? As I've stated previously, being frugal means using the best method I can at the best price. Drafting pencils use solid lead/graphite and I have a jar full from back when drafting was done on a board, not on the PC.
--
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC