Dirty wheels on old steamer

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Dakota train, Nov 30, 2006.

  1. Dakota train

    Dakota train Member

    I have a problem with an old bachmann 2-8-0 steamer. Only the left side wheels get extremely dirty and the right are practically clean. I use rubbing alcohol to clean with, but it doesn't clean the wheels completely. If I scrape on them with a hobby knife the grime comes off. But I dont want to scratch the wheels. Could anyone tell me what is wrong and what I could use to clean the wheels with, possibly steel wool.

  2. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    Don't use steel wool!! It will scuff up the treads and make it suck up dirt even faster.

    Use a plastic buttering knife (you can get those from fast-food restaurants). The plastic buttering knife is hard enough to scrape crud off of the wheels, but won't scuff up the metal.

    Hope this helps.
  3. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    There is a great track cleaning tool but I don't know the manufacturer: it is basically two brass brushes with a set of alligator clips that connect to the track of a layout or the leads from a power pack. You touch the brushes to the locomotive with the power on, which delivers power to the motor and the wheels spin. Instead of having to scrub the wheels, they spin themselves and you just push the brass brushes against the wheels to clean them.
  4. jflessne

    jflessne Member

    I would discourage the use of anything abrasive. Abrasive materials will cause micro pits to form in the wheels actually encouraging more dirt and grime to adhere to your wheels. Normally not neccessry to use anything abrasive. I guess if it's that bad a plastic knife would work without doing any damage.

    I use goo gone and a paper towel. Lay the paper towel accross the tracks and wet it down with the goo gone.

    My old module club no longer allowed rolling stock with plastic wheelsets because they seem to leave the black stuff on the track. I've never heard of it only being on one side.

    They also adopted a "burnishing" technique for the rails. If I can find the article I'll post it.
  5. jflessne

    jflessne Member

    Found it.

    I grabbed this article sometime ago from another forum. I'm afraid I can't give him the proper credit as I didn't grab his name.

    I'm talking GLEAM!: ULTRA_SHINY and Smooth rails can now be had with my 'WHAT box?" approach to this conductivity problem. An HO modeller since 1970, I know the problem WELL!
    1] On an appropiate-sized block, use 400 wet/dry paper to remove the extrusion milling left on the railheads. The block must span both rails.
    2] Now use 600 or finer, repeat process.
    3] Using an appropiate-sized STAINLESS-STEEL piece, apply moderate pressure and BURNISH the rails! The more you slide back and forth, the smoother and shinier the rails become! [ the GLEAM part ]. This is because you have removed the ridges, bumps, and pits. Burnishing helps seal pores with metal, eliminating traps for dirt and tarnish; almost like a MIRROR!
    4] [For Bob H.] Use BLUE MAGIC or equivalent metal polish to deep-clean the remaining contaminates.
    5] Last, buff the rails to your eye's content!
    The shine is 5x more lusterous than just polish alone. The wax left behind is minimal, is not insulating, and virtually eliminates rail cleaning.
    This is a process HOT OFF THE PRESSES! [Of my brain] I've only been at it 6 weeks with amazing results! {I just added the wax step today.} prior to that, though, the NS HO rails I'm guinea-pigging (300') sans wax STILL gleams today, with slight tarnishing, so I'm gonna wax 'em next!
    I will also try some classic brass rail to see how that stands up.

    Or you'll just ruin your mirror finish, and will have to gleam and wax AGAIN!
    Dry-wipe with paper towel or cotton. You can always polish anytime; wipe away excess.

    I've had DCC and DC locos/lash-ups creep at a scale 3-5MPH around the staging level loop 100' with NO STALL or FAULTER. gotta love it
  6. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    The wheel cleaner mentioned is made by Kadee.
    The method I use to clean loco wheels is to place the locomotive securely upside down, with leads from the power pack or track attached so that power can be applied to turn the drivers. With the drivers turning fairly slowly, use a small paint brush to apply some lacquer thinner to the wheel tread, then lightly touch a tissue or paper towel to the tread, picking up both excess thinner and the dissolved wheel crud.
    Do not use steel wool, as not only can it scratch the plating on the wheels, but bits of it can quickly damage bearings and running gear. Because it is steel, it is also readily attracted to the motor magnets.
    Is there any chance that your loco might have traction tires on one side? I have one of those older 2-8-0's, but it uses the drivers on both sides for current pick-up. Some older steam locos use the drivers on one side and the tender wheels on the opposite side for electrical pick-up. The non-conductive-side drivers were sometimes fitted with traction tires. If this is the case with your loco, the traction tires do not need to be cleaned, at least as far as electrical continuity is concerned. Do not use lacquer thinner on the traction tires.

  7. pettiger15

    pettiger15 New Member

    I have the same problem, on one of my trains, you can see the brown tarnish on the wheel but don't know how to remove it, in order for it to run smoothly, i will try the goo gone method and the plastic buttering knife to see if it comes of. I read somewhere wlse that the goo gone leaves a residue on the wheels, and hard to remove, is that true?
  8. jflessne

    jflessne Member

    Never seemed to affect my trains. And we ran long frieght runs on a module layout.
  9. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I've always used rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip, kitchen matchsticks providing the extra scrubbing I may need for tough dirt. Patient hand cleaning is the key, cleaners and techniques vary with the modeler. I keep one of those Kadee wire brush cleaners for nostalgia's sake, as a teenager, I always longed for the magic cure for dirt and found this and my MDC/Roundhouse track cleaner loco weren't it :rolleyes: :D
  10. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Member

    I use a rotary tool with a plastic bristle brush head dipped in alcohol. The plastic won't scratch or pit like brass.
  11. Dakota train

    Dakota train Member

    I think I'm going to have problems with keeping the wheels clean on it. Upon closer inspection the wheels have casting flaws in alot of the wheels.:curse: So it will always pickup more dirt. I just cant believe that I can not remove the crud with my finger nails. Its some tough stuff. And why does it get dirtier on one side than the other, it has traction tires on both sides, a mystery!:confused: Thanks for all the replies

  12. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    It sounds like you have a Bachmann from the days when their train set stuff was at the bottom in terms of quality. You may want to give up and get a better engine. It sounds like it won't matter what you do, the Bachmann you have will always be a problem.
  13. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Keeping the track clean goes a long way, too. Mount a Masonite pad like so under one of your cars and run it with the rest of the train. The mild abrasive action keeps the rails quite clean allowing no major gunk build-up. The nails ride freely in holes drilled into the bottoms of the cars. If you pick up the car, the cleaner simply stays on the track, there are no fasteners. I've shown it installed in an Athearn Blue Box Hi-cube and a coach from my Thomas the Tank engine consist. The pics pretty much tell it all, if you need pads just PM me, I have several.

    Attached Files:

  14. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Any doubts for effectiveness can be settled here...after 20 laps on "clean" track.:thumb:

    Attached Files:

  15. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    My tinplate gave me pause. No way could I drill thru the floors on these. I came up with a magnetic pad for the cars that work great. Using a small flexible piece of plastic I sandwich glued it onto the pad. I sandwiched small magnets into a pad on the other end that catch still more magnets on the bottom of the car. Once "stuck" in place, it does a beautiful job of cleaning the track.

    Attached Files:

  16. Collyn

    Collyn Member

    If you clean the wheel with a q tip or something simmilar have a 9 volt battery around so you can touch it to the wheels to get them to turn
  17. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    I think the reason one side gets dirty more than the other is that only one side of the loco picks up power. The arcing causes faster dirt builup.
  18. Dakota train

    Dakota train Member

    Shaygetz, sorry I haven't gotten back to you sooner. I would be interested in one of those pads. One question is their a way to clean them or just throw them away after a few runs.
    Thanks Again

    P.S. will send PM of my address

    Have a Merry Christmas
  19. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Thanks, once worn, just buff them out with some light sandpaper, it'll be years before you need to change them out.

Share This Page