Cleaning Track/Wheels

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by trainwhiz20, Jan 6, 2005.

  1. trainwhiz20

    trainwhiz20 Member

    As you guys know, I just "officially" started in the hobby. I just wondered what methods you all used to clean your wheels on those precious locomotives and what you use to clean your track...

    Interesting story... My sister was painting her nails near my train table (I wasn't there, so I couldn't stop her... but she didn't harm anything) and accidentally left her small paper towel with rubbing alcohol (to remove the old nail polish) on it on my track in the corner. Being so eager to run trains when I got home, I rushed upstairs, blindly passing the towel. I ran a train right over it, and then I realized my mistake!:rolleyes:

    Although, I must say, it was a very, very good mistake. I noticed the black streaks left on the towel from the locomotive, and thought-- "Hey! I can use that to clean the wheels!", and so I did. It worked better than ever. I never thought a simple paper towel and some rubbing alcohol could do the job equivilent to some expensive wheel cleaning lubricant. All I had to do was lay the towel on the track and lightly press the wheels onto it... (Instead of running over it full force like I did the first time! :p )

    Ah, well, it was very peculiar. Weird. So, what methods/techniques do you use to clean your wheels?

    What about the track? I just use one of those Life-Like eraser block thingies... does the job, eh? :thumb:
  2. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Actually running a train over a papertowel soaked in track cleaner is an old model railroader's trick to clean wheels.

    "Bright Boy" eraser blocks are okay but scratch the track.
  3. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    If you put the paper towel in a corner it will clean even better due to the wheel slippage. It's, as said, an old wheel cleaning trick you re-discovered. I clean track with my finger and a alcohol paper towel as I'm too cheap to buy a centerline car. Another clever track cleaner is the masonite drag made for a box car. You glue two roofing nails to a small hunk of masonite and drill holes in the bottom of a cheap boxcar. You then drag it around the track. You sand off the crud as it collects and made a new one ever so often. Fred
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    For the really cheap, a wine cork split down the middle does a reasonable job. You may want to apply a bit of track cleaning solution (rubbing alcohol) to one half and follow with the dry half.
    The paper towel is my method. I do check wheels afterwards -- sometimes not all the gunk comes off and I go at it with a Qtip or small screwdriver or toothpick. The occasional wheel is not round or mounted a bit off and the gunk stays on part of it.
    Watch out for nail polish removers; some of them have acetone and will do interesting things to plastic. It also unsticks your fingers from ACC glue.
  5. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Here's fred's idea in a picture. I use this on my track. A flat weight is added to give it more "ooomph". The club I am a member of requires it on all trains.

    Attached Files:

  6. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Under a car. I use an orange car for visibilty in a yard. On wheels I use Q-tips dipped in Contact cleaner with metal wheels and alcohol on plastic.

    Attached Files:

  7. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    I may have to make a special Masonite car--because I have a lot of in-street trackage, nothing can go below the level of the rails. I'm thinking a couple thin strips of Masonite on either side, parallel with the tracks, would work, glued to a higher piece of Masonite and similarly stuck to the underside of a car.

    I also bought a white eraser-type track cleaner that doesn't scratch the track but also doesn't do as good of a job...
  8. XavierJ123

    XavierJ123 Member

    Does KMart sell masonite?

    Where can I get a small piece of masonite? I surely hope I don't have to buy a 4 X 8 sheet at Home Depot. LOL:)
  9. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I cut them for the guys in my club, Xavier. PM me and I'll send you one.
  10. KCS

    KCS Member

    ok here's a small trick to all you guy's. the box car track dragger in the picture i notice has 90 degree edge's on it. need to get one where the end's are slightly angled up on the ends so it can go up and over any thing that may be protruding from the track. also when using one of these use Qtip's and "GOO GONE" and rub the cleaner down from time to time as it will only pick up so much off the track before it can't handle anymore and redeposit's it back on the track. you can find "GOO GONE at a local hardware store i'm sure. and it doesnt take make at all and leave's a nice orange scent to your trains. :)
  11. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

    Elbow Grease...

    Here's my three part solution.

    #1. Clean the rails with a rag and either alcohol or windex to get up any grease and grim.

    #2. Follow that with a good buffing with a "Bright-boy" rail cleaner.

    #3. Get an artists' Graphite stick at an art store and rub it onto the rails.

    This gives great results on new Nickle-Silver rails and even better results on old Brass rails...

    You can go much longer between cleanings if you use the graphite.

    Wahl's Clipper oil is another idea, but it tends to trap dirt.

    The Graphite is a semi-conductor that seals the rail from oxidization and protects it from dirt. Yes, I know that the graphite is also a dry lubricant, but unless you are overloading an engine, or have really steep grades, you shouldn't experience much wheel slippage...

    After a big cleaning, you will only have to touch up from time to time with the graphite.
  12. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    You can't see it in the picture, KCS, but the angles are there, just as you suggested. I like the GOO Gone idea and will have to try it.

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