Cleaning up (in more ways than one)

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by ezdays, Mar 27, 2004.

  1. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    A friend of mine runs a Mustang car club in the Phoenix area. A few weeks ago they lost one of their members. There was an N scale layout in the garage that looks like it hadn't been run in at least 10 or 15 years and the wife wanted to clean out the garage and get rid of it, along with a '71 red Mustang convertible in cherry condition. Another guy in the club wanted to help her so he bought the Mustang and the layout and sold the layout to me for what he paid.

    It took most of today to dismantle and move everything. I put the layout in a storage locker since I don’t have room for it right now and I brought the cars and locos home. I haven't sorted everything out yet, but it looks like I have about 136 assorted cars including several passenger sets and some 29 locos both steam and diesel. They layout came apart in four sections and totals about 80 square feet. Each section has dual power packs and runs independent of each other. It is complete and has hundreds of structures and other stuff. Each turnout is wired to the control panels. I haven’t counted the bridges, viaducts and tunnels, but there’s a bunch. Unfortunately, the trees were too brittle and dried out and kinda fell about when we moved the layout. The layout and all the cars and locos are covered in a thick layer of dust.

    Just a quick look and I find Bachmann, Atlas and a few others. One I’m curious about is TRIX. I though that was a cereal, but since I’ve only been in MRR for about a year and a half, I gotta ask, who are (or were) they?

    Now the kicker, I paid $300 for it all, lock, stock and barrel. :thumb: :thumb:

    Now a question: does anyone have any suggestions on how I can clean these up? I’m thinking I can take the cars and wash them in soap and water and blow them dry with a compressor. Is that the best way, or does someone have a neat trick worth doing? They are really, really dusty. The locos are another thing since I doubt that I can do likewise. Any suggestions? The layout is another whole matter, but I’m not worried about that for a while yet; but just so you know, the grass, rocks, ballast and buildings all look like one of Charlie’s B/W photos. :D :D

    Thanks, any tips will be appreciated. Anyone want to help, I'll buy the sandwiches and beer.:wave: :wave:
  2. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Don, I don't see why you couldn't remove the shells and wash them off. You might want to use some kind of very mild detergent maybe like Ivory that doesn't have any harsh chemicals. It might be best to remove as much of the dust as possible with a soft bristle brush first though.

    I used to work part-time at a pawn shop. This is a trick we would use to make plastic look like new. Use a soft bristle brush to remove as much of the dirt as you can. Then rub the brush across your forehead several times to pick up oil from your skin. Then start brushing the item with the brush. Keep repeating the process until you get the sheen you want. Car modlers also use this trick to get that "just waxed" look on their models.

    As for the powered engines I wouldn't try to wash the guts of them. Just brush them out, blow them out with some compressed air and oil them and they should be fine.
  3. Ray Marinaccio

    Ray Marinaccio Active Member

    Not a bad deal at all Don.
    Vic,s suggestion is how I usually do it. (Never heard of the forehead thing though.)
    Minitrix were made in the 70s. Not a bad locomotive in their day. I just rebuilt a couple last week and got a couple parts locos last Saturday.
    And No, Trix aren't just for kids. :D
  4. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I third the brush thing...I have an 1 1/2" sable brush just for this. With 100+ cars, removing the bodies and washing them doesn't sound like a bad idea---just let them air dry after "scrubbing" them with a soft brush. The lokeys are going to take time, I came upon a lot of 20 some years back and I would set down to some favorite tunes and clean one a night. Took awhile but I never regretted taking my time. Trix goes back to the late 60s, early 70s, one of the Founding Fathers of commercially available N scale.
  5. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Don, I'd say you made a once-in-a-lifetime deal! Congratulations!

    As Ray said, MINITRIX made some of the best quality N scale rolling stock in the '70s and '80s.

    The TRIX factory was (beside Märklin and Fleischmann) the third greatest producer of H0 model railroads already in the '50s. Unlike Märklin they used DC. They were famous because they made tracks with a third rail in the center (similar to Märklin). But left, right and center rail were isolated, and so you could run two locos on the same track - both using the center rail as the common lead. Then they joined the N bandwagon by creating the MINITRIX line - but mainly European prototype of course. LAter they added a line of US rolling stock

    I had many locos and cars (American prototype) and they ran very fine. You'll enjoy them once they are cleaned and oiled! :) :) :)

  6. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Thanks for the info and help. Cleaning the cars right now is a must since just going near them puts me into a sneezing frensy.:eek: :eek:

    If you think I got a deal, just think about the guy that bought that Mustang.:thumb: I don't know what he paid for it, but she wanted the garage cleaned out one way of the other.:D :D My wife was with me and she walked away with a bunch of stuff. An old globe in pristine condition, a few collectable dolls, lamps, stuff for our grandkids and a whole lot more. The longer we were there, the more this woman gave away.

    The dates are about right for the Minitrix equipment I got. I found some stuff in one of the boxes postmarked '78 -'79. I don't want to run anything until I clean and oil it since I'm sure it will be all dried out just sitting on the layout that long. A garage is like an oven in the Phoenix summers and they've had many a summer out there not being looked after.

    Do I need to take the cars apart or can I just dunk them in soapy water, trucks and all?
  7. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Don, I would take the cars apart and remove the trucks if possible and clean them seperately. While you are at it pick up an NMRA N Scale gauge so you can check the gauge of the wheelsets. No doubt the wheels are gonna need cleaning too. The reason I say take them apart if you can is that water will tend to get inside of them and they will take forever to dry. But if they are all plastic "dunking" them whole probably won't hurt anything.

    Don't oil the wheels on the cars. This tends to cause more problems than its worth as the oil will "creep" down onto the wheel treads and make more mess as the wheels roll on the track. Trucks with plastic wheels, axels and sideframes don't need to be oiled anyway as they are self-lubricating.
  8. neilmunck

    neilmunck Member

    You might also want to get a bottle of spray electrical contact cleaner for the commutators in the motors of the locos as they will probably have tarnished if they haven't been run in a while.
  9. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    OK, they are cleaning up nicely. So far I haven't seen any plastic wheels, I think these cars were all made before they started cutting corners. :) I have not taken any trucks off and only taken a few apart, like the passenger cars and others that hold the water inside. Like what was suggested, mild detergent in warm water and a soft brush gets the deep crud off. A quick rinse then blowing them off with the compressor takes most of the water off, the Arizona sun makes quick work of what's left.:cool: :cool:

    Good thought on the contact spray, I'm sure that none of the engines have been run in a long, long time so I'm not going to try to run any of them without first cleaning and oiling.

    Now, another question. Since I've never had to do this before, what's the best way to approach oiling these locos and what kind of oil should I use? I've got some gun oil, some synthetic spray lubricant plus a bunch of WD40. Will any of those work and do I oil everything that moves or just the axles and drive gears? I want to approach this with caution and care or else I might have a bunch of spare parts to ship up to Dewey, Arizona. (No Ray, only the parts that fall off are yours) :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
  10. Ray Marinaccio

    Ray Marinaccio Active Member

    As much as I like boxes of spare parts, I'd much rather see you get them running.
    Most often I've found that the trucks need the most attention on these Minitrix locos. Removing carpet fuzz, pet hair and things of that nature.
    After removing the shell, remove the pin(shown in photo) and the truck will come off. The large idler gear rides on this pin and can be removed also.

    Attached Files:

  11. Ray Marinaccio

    Ray Marinaccio Active Member

    To remove the bottom cover and sideframes, remove the screw on the bottom and release the tabs on the ends. I find releasing the 2 tabs on the coupler end first helps. Watch out for flying coupler springs at this point.

    Attached Files:

  12. Ray Marinaccio

    Ray Marinaccio Active Member

    If yours are as clean as this one was , I would just check to see that the electrical contacts are clean and in contact with the wheels then apply some light oil to the bearing surfaces, a little grease on the gears then reassemble the truck. Otherwise remove any foreign objects and clean the parts with the contact cleaner or alcohol.
    At this point I test the motor. If it runs oil the bearings on it and the worm assemblies. Clean the electrical contact pads (under the fuel tank), Install the trucks. Check to see that the contact on the truck contacts the contact pads correctly.
    Give it a track test.

    I'm not sure if those oils you mentioned are plastic compatable.

    Attached Files:

  13. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Don, Labelle synthetic oils and synthetic gear lube IMHO is the best going. Well stocked hobby shops usually have it but they are getting harder to find:eek: They work just fine on both plastic and metal. You don't want to use any petroleum based oil like 3 In One because they will soften any plastic or nylon or delrin gears or parts. WD 40 is electrically conductive and can cause shorts. Spray lubes usually have some kind of solvent mixed in them so they will atomize so they are not a good choice.

    You want to put just a tiny drop (use a needle or pin) on each end of the motor at the bushing.

    As for the gears just a light coat should do the trick.
  14. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Great oogly-moogly, tryin' to shame us. That is one seriously clean mech:p
  15. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Don, If you use Vic's forehead suggestion, make sure you wash your forehead before going out to dinner!

  16. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    No, I can't go out to dinner now. I tried his suggestion and it seems like I now have a headache.:eek: :eek: :eek: :cry: :cry: :cry:

  17. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    If you come across ny cars that you don't want to wash, i.e. non-factory paint jobs, try one of those mini attachments for the vacuum cleaner. It has a reducing tube and several ends with and without brushes. I put a piece of screen over the wide end to catch anything that's loose.
    I also use a shaving brush to dust trains. A good quality one is soft enough not to do any damage, but may not take off the "baked on grease and grime."
    I second the laBelle oils and also the grease -- the teflon one.
  18. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Well, all the cars are now cleaned up. It took the best part of yesterday, but they all look like new... that is except for the few that have been wethered a bit.:) There were a few that are 1976 bi-centennial commemorative cars and cabeeses. I don't know if these are especially more valuable but if anyone knows, I'd appreciate knowing. There are a total of 137 cars in the group.

    The locos are another thing. There are 29 of them ranging from a MINITRIX diesel swicther to Bachmann 4-8-4. They are going to take a bit of work to get running, all but the two 0-6-0 switchers that have no motors in them :eek: I think I can do without those two.:D I'm heading into the Phoenix area today so I'll see what I can find for oil and contact cleaner. I've got two GP??'s running, sort of. The motors run fine if I hold them in place and let the wheels spin, but when I let them go, the get kinda jerky and need help. Ray Marinaccio is just a phone call or an hour or so drive away if I really get into trouble and need some expert help.:rolleyes: :wave: :wave:No Ray, those engines are not as clean as yours, inside or out but I'm hoping they will be someday.
  19. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Don, don't throw those two motorless switchers away. Probably they would look great on a rip track in your future engine service area. You can put them into a real derelict state and partially 'give them the torch'! :eek: :eek: :eek:

    Such a scene makes a good discussion starter with visitors. :D

  20. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    They were in '01 on the 25th anniversary of the Bicentennial, but have tapered off a bit. I bought an AHM Bicentennial Seaboard U-boat on Ebay, unopened mint in the box recently for less than $20.

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