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

    Okay DocWayne, just what exactly is a Tomar Pick-up Shoe?

    BigSteel, I need to build two or three "masonite boxcars" myself.

    Ralph, gooey messes aside, do you think a drop or two would help me in my garage? Or would it attract more dust to the rails?
  2. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!


    A couple of years ago I decided to try a Wahl Oil experiment before putting it on my whole layout. I chose a siding and oiled that up with the tiniest amount of oil. I ran only one small switch engine up and down it and noticed immediate positive results. Then I waited a month to see what would happen. The switcher ran beautifully and I didn't see dust sticking to rails. Things continued to go well so I oiled the remainder of the layout.

    I'm reluctant to recommend you go ahead and Wahl Oil your layout since I don't know how dusty it might get in there. How running about a similar experiment in your garage? Maybe you could get a section of flex track, oil it, and observe for a few weeks to see how garage conditions affect it. I'm guessing that any dust you have cold be wiped off easily by virtually any track cleaning car set up.

    Good luck!
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I'm in the "seldom" section; too careful to say "never".
    I was helping with a friend's DCC layout and he was having pickup problems (and they're much more noticeable with DCC). He was using almost everything, including Centerline cars with GooGone. I changed it over to Aero Locomotive Works cleaner and most of the problems disappeared.
    My layout is in the basement with a fabric door between the layout room and the laundry/furnace section. I use the Aero and Centerline car and have few problems (although I noticed a couple of black lines on a loco today). My other procedure is that any car being added to the layout gets the wheels cleaned -- especially those that have been stored for a while and those that have been run on some other layout.

    Tip on the Aero fluid: it comes in a tall bottle. I managed to get an eye dropper with a screw on lid for it and I dole it out in small amounts -- 4 drops on the cleaning car, one or two on a Q-tip.
  4. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Gary, I use Wahl clipper oil to. Like Ralph, I hesitate to reccomend it to you. But I will tell you it works wonders for my track. I said I clean my tracks if I don't run trains often, but all I do is dry wipe the rails just to get the dust off, less chance of it being picked up by the wheels.
    I would run a test and see if it will helps.

  5. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Gary, a test might be a good idea, since you're having to clean your track anyway. I believe that the clipper oil contains flux or flux by-products, so it may just work. ;)

    In Canada, we seldom clip our Wahls, mainly due to the colder weather. :p :-D

  6. mummert

    mummert Member

    The only time I have cleaned my track so far was right after I spray painted it. I put a piece of cloth (old t-shirt) around a sanding block and then put some rubbing alcohol on it and cleand the whole track in no time.
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Well dang Gary, there you go. You can use pure flux on your track, since your shipping it now.:p

  8. Atlas NS Code 83

    I go over my layout HO Gauge, Atlas Nickel Silver Code 83 about twice a year as preventative maintenance, with a big eraser, seems to do a good job at removing the dark areas. I don't usually have any dead spots, except the other day, I did have one, and after cleaning most of the track and still having the problem I found out it was a dead turnout.wall1

    I guess I should reiterate, that I used to have a lot of problems with dead spots, before I rewired with 14 GA Buss Wire, and soldered in pickup terminals in plenty of areas around the entire track, and also soldered in nearly all of my track joints, the problems were gone from the first time I ran a loco after that.

  9. Where Can I Buy Wahl Oil

    Over the years I have heard of using the Wahl Oil, and everyone that has used it has had nothing but praise for the stuff, I still don't know where to buy it, I have looked at our local hardware store, and they don't carry it. Anyone have a website to order it from?

  10. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Here's a picture of one truck on that switcher. The pick-up shoe on the other truck works off the opposite rail.

    Here's an older steamer that I'm going to be rebuilding. I added the pick-up shoes because the drivers are brass. The pick-up for the opposite rail will be on the tender trucks.

    They're pretty visible here, but some black paint (and some improvements to the loco) should ensure that they're not too noticeable.

  11. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    I voted "seldom". My experience with our large club layout is clean at the first indication of flickering lights. We add cleaning cars periodicly on all three of our trains that are controlled by the coin operated system. Every spring when the layout is opened to the public we have a cleaning party to get things up and running.
  12. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    So the pick-up shoes actually carry some of the weight of the loco? Does this explain why the switcher begin slipping going up the grade?
    Do you have any Athearn diesels equipped with the shoes?
    I'm not sure I need them, the MU set-up is working wonderfully, but another tidbit of knowledge never hurts.

    If the Wahl clipper oil contains flux, I would expect at least a 3% improvement in conductivity.
  13. Give Me A Good Runner Over A Good Looker Anyday!!

    :thumb:Wow Dock, for the work they do, the visibility wouldn't be an issue for me, as personally I derive as much joy from running of my railroads, as much as the model and diorama building itself, and I would have much more fun running a locomotive that runs well, than one that looks perfectly prototypical, but has constant running problems. Hey, they don't distract from the appearance all that much anyway, and like you said a little flat black paint will do wonders. :twisted:
  14. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Well, the pick-up shoes are "springy" and are bent so that there is some downward pressure on the rail - the trick is to get enough pressure to maintain good electrical contact, but not so much that they negatively effect the weight on the wheels. This loco is a bit lighter than I prefer, as it was one of my first remotoring jobs, and the motor is too large - I had to thin the inside walls of the already overly-wide hood just to get it to fit. I'll probably put the original gears back in, as it's too slow to run with anything else.

    Gary, the loco shown is from Athearn, although this one is an older one, with metal sideframes.

    Not only that, but the "Clipper" component insures that no unsightly "Rail Hair" will impede the progress of your trains. :p ;) :-D

  15. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    A friend of mine use methelated spirits. He firstly cleans all the locos' wheels and then he puts two modified (using the masonite method) on the train. One in front of the loco and one behind.
    Before we run the train round the layout we use soem elbow grease and clean the tracks with a track cleaning eraser, once we've done that we add the methelated spirits to the two wagons with masonite and send them off.

    The trains run well after that.
  16. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Strangely enough - it doesn't... And no - I don't know why it doesn't... :(

    All I can think of is that they oil hair clippers with it and the last thing you want is the blades getting gooey...
  17. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Here is one place

    http://www.wahl-store.com/product_detail.asp?T1=WAH 3310-517

    Search Google for more :D
  18. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    I found Wahl oil by asking a barber who then directed me to a store where he buys his supplies.
  19. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    I got clipper oil at a hair salon supply store where my wife buys her shampoo and stuff.

  20. FiatFan

    FiatFan Member

    Mine is in the basement. Ore of the steps I took was to paint the entire basement floor with Rustoleum epoxy paint for basements. Not only does it cut way down on dust, it brightens up the basement.

    The other step ws to occasionally ( once or twice a year) put a couple drops of Wahl Clipper oil on the tracks. In my experience, this cuts way down on track cleaning problems and conductivity issues e.g. no more flickering headlights.:thumb:


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