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The one thing we tend to all agree on.....

Mark Cartwright
 

>>> DCC especially Sound DCC requires Clean and perhaps bright and shiny to that upper quadrant between the rails where the flanges glide over.
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So....
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.
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With all of the above experiences and now said.
Do I know what I am doing at 100% ?
Absolutely not.
Cause I am not being 100% successful.
If your experience is different from mine...
Please Speak up...
I have much more to learn
:)) Mark

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.