>>> DCC especially Sound DCC requires Clean and perhaps bright and shiny to that upper quadrant between the rails where the flanges glide over.
Here is what you may not agree with...but is My Experience.
> I find myself vacuuming often.
> Clean with 70% Alcohol and though I test lubricants...tend to wipe them off.
> Creating a Sort of Wand (more than one of them) which fit not jut to the op of the rails but between them as well.
> I tend to be very skimpy with Ballast and then hard paint it on.
> Note differences in the type and depth of so called Nickel Silver...especially at times when it has become expensive to the manufacture of Code 55 Track.
> My hats off to those N Scalers who can hand lay Code 40 but that is not me....I struggle with hand laying or re-creating Code 55.
> My N Scale voltage is a bit higher at 15.4 volts and if I ever standardize my decoder collection to only ESU...I may up them again to near 18 volts.
> I use a soldered drop down lead every 18-24 inches ...a work still in progress.
> I solder even Kato Unitrack with a snap connection for expansion every 18-24 inches.
> I limit my grades to 1.5% and do not use Traction Tires. No Bull frog snout nor the need for it.
> For now...I am not Weathering. The chemicals may slow down the transfer of electrical ions through the rails.
> I use metal/wood templates (then solder) so the line between sections is stable and not kinked.
> I use a variety of files and rifflers while checking every mm of my trackage with an NMRA Gauge..but do more.
> I test my trackage not just with a single locomotive but with entire trains of at least 10 matched cars.
> As I can...I replace all plastic wheels with metal.
> I seem to own every sort of commercially available N Scale Track Cleaning Car in twos or better. Aztec, CMX and Tomix as well as some created by me.
> My radius tends to be wider than most N Scalers use at 28 inches. So it seems easier to clean as well.
> I gave up on my ever dirty and somewhat damp/cold basement (below ground) for a Family Room above ground which may one day have a near constant temperature, once I further upgrade the HVAC System to nearly that of a Clean Room.
> I reweigh and reset all of my rolling stock and then also check the measurements of the wheels on my locomotives.
> I prefer body mounted couplers, especially with Passenger Cars. Less drag on the entire train and less reliance on BEMF.
> I am recreating turnouts and their lengths to better match the conductivity of my longer steam locomotives with DCC and Sound.
> The top of my mountains are removable.
> For now...My track is removable...Even hand laid on platforms borrowed from Tru Scale HO wooden re-shaped blocks. I hope to clean or replace as needed.
> I prepare/sand the area under my tracks then line it with 5 mm CCR-705 underlayment. I use long straight edges to check the flat of my track and long sanders used in Automotive Body Work.
With all of the above experiences and now said.
Do I know what I am doing at 100% ?
Cause I am not being 100% successful.
If your experience is different from mine...
Please Speak up...
I have much more to learn
I am for now in a totally separate project of running N Scale Kato Unitrack along a crown molding around the perimeter of my Home.
This project is proving to be quite substantial on it's own.