Dirty track and YOU

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Gary S., Oct 22, 2007.


Does your dirty track drive you crazy?

Poll closed Nov 21, 2007.
  1. I never have track power pick-up issues

    9 vote(s)
  2. I seldom have track power pick-up issues

    33 vote(s)
  3. I often have track power pick-up issues

    9 vote(s)
  4. My locos sputter and lights flicker to my utter frustration

    7 vote(s)
  1. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I was wondering how the rest of you got along with your track. Do your locos sputter and stall with flickering lights, or do they run flawlessly for years at a time without even cleaning the track?

    If you would, vote in the poll and then give us a little report on how often and what method you use to clean track. (yeah, I know we've discussed and cussed this before, but how about another round for me)
  2. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

    I don't have any issues with the track, so I voted none. Only one of my engines, my BL2, has slight conductivity issues, and the BL2 looks like it was stored in a shelf rather than run around before I got it.
  3. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    My layout lives in my dining room and I rarely clean the track by hand. If it has sat for several weeks with no trains running, I push my track cleaning car around several laps. The only time I clean the track by hand is if I've been doing scenicing around the track and I need a little rubber stone to clean off the glue, paint or plaster.
  4. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    My layout is in my garage. I've got 98% of the track down, but am doing scenery, ballast, and structures. To prevent stalling and flickering lights, I pretty much have to clean the track every week. I feel that these problems are caused to a certain extent by the dust from the construction process. To clean the track, I give it a light pass with a bright boy, and then go behind that with a clean rag and some alcohol.

    In another thread, I discussed MUing a couple of locos and wiring the trucks together for better power pick-up. This has helped tremendously and makes running trains a pleasure.
  5. jesso

    jesso Member

    I've gotten really lazy on my track cleaning lately. I bought a couple of steamhead's track cleaners, so on my HO layout i haven't hand-cleaned it since then. On my N layout, I tape the track cleaner to the back of a container car. It looks terrible, but hey, haven't had a track problem since. And I usually only run it around a few times and put it away for a while.
    Before then, I would take a yellow track cleaner to my track about once a week, as it was in an open garage at that point.
  6. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    The only time I need to clean my track is if I am scenicing or don't run trains for a couple weeks.

  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    It has never been as much of a problem for me as all the talk about it might lead you to believe...

    We routinely clean the track at www.hotrak.ca setups, in what might be termed a "proactive" approach. Due to the large number of sound-equipped DCC locos, this is a necessary step.

  8. FiatFan

    FiatFan Member

    I clean track around construction zones and I cleaned the wheels on all of my cars once. I was in the train room a couple weeks ago for the first time since last spring and everything was working fine.

  9. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

    When setting up with any N-trakers out there we've always run the bright-boy around the modules before we run anything right after setup. At the club I was in, in Florida we pretty much had to clean our locomotives wheels every other time we ran our trains around. I assume we always had to because we were always doing something on the layout and dust was everywhere. We had big blocks we nicknamed "bright-man" that we used before open houses or where the track seemed the dirtiest. We got these big blocks from Micro-mark.
  10. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

  11. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Okay, all you folks who voted "seldom have problems" let's hear your story. Is your layout in a climate controlled area? Anyone have a garage layout?
  12. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    No fair voting, but not replying.
  13. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Mine is in the den room just past the front door. No climate control, just forced air heat. The door is removed so it is wide open.

  14. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    I put Wahl oil on the tracks every few months of running. It helps keep the tracks clean. When parts get too dirty, i use a 6ft long broom handle that i attached a sanding sponge to. The sanding sponge cleans the track really well :) remember - this is a G gauge layout :) :)
  15. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    I don't have to clean the track. A few TRACK GUARDS take care of that for me every time I run my trains.... :mrgreen:
  16. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I'm afraid to put the Wahl oil or anything else on the tracks. In my garage, this seems like an invitation for a dust-collecting, gooey mess.
  17. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    i have a boxcar that im going to modify simply screwing a peice of masonite to the bottom of the car and putting a small bottle of alcohol or distilled water and maybe even the clipper oil,but which might like you said "cause a sticky gooey mess" inside with a dripper in front of the masonite.the alcohol cleans the dust and the constant running of the masonite gets the heavier stuff.i figure if i go with a light cleaning constantly by just running the car like normal freight cars ill never have the big build up to require a bright boy.--josh
  18. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I only clean track in areas where I've been applying scenic materials. There are some areas that have never been cleaned in the fifteen-or-so years that the layout has been here.
    My layout is in a separate, unheated, but well insulated room in the basement. The floor is unpainted concrete, and there's a suspended ceiling installed. I occasionally vacuum the cobwebs and dust, and sometimes the floor too. This isn't to say that the track doesn't get dirty, though. I was running the loco, shown below, one day, with a

    fairly heavy train. I was walking alongside as it entered a grade, and as more and more cars rolled onto the grade, the loco's wheels began to slip, until finally, its forward progress was halted. As the wheels spun desperately, I noticed something being thrown from them. I cut the power, then lifted the loco from the track, to inspect the wheels. Most were partially clean and polished, but there were places where the crud was so thick, the wheel flanges were non-existent. :eek: This is a remotored Athearn, with sintered iron wheels, supposedly notorious for picking up dirt. However, if you look closely at the truck beneath the cab, you'll notice the Tomar pick-up shoes, which undoubtedly kept the old girl supplied with power despite the dirty wheels. This loco has also been re-geared, and is extemely slow-running, and I wonder if that has anything to do with the wheels getting so bad. None of my other Athearn switchers, with the original gears, suffer from this problem.
    The only cars that seem to get dirty wheels are the cabooses, all of which have been fitted with Kadee trucks. I only clean them if the crud gets so thick that there's no wheel flange to keep them on the track. :p;)

  19. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    I use Wahl oil on my basement layout. I run a masonite car cleaner, similar to what Bigsteel mentioned, every now and then just to catch dust, not because the locos are stalling. Gary, you use Wahl oil VERY sparingly so I don't see it becoming a gooey mess. One small drop on each track is enough for my 12 X 20 foot layout with a long mainline run. I simply run a locomotive over the course of the layout a feww times. Then I'm good to go for several months. The bottle of oil cost less than $3.00 and provides me more than a life time supply.
  20. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Yes, I too use Wahl Oil for cleaning. I have to do a thorough cleaning every month or so (when I'm regularly running the trains every weekend, that is). I also set up my HO layout in the basement and have to stow it away after use -- so that helps to keep it clean and minimize dust. But I still have to clean my track a fair bit! Rob

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