Help w/ Steel track !!!! RAssafrasign ()*^in sa

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by YmeBP, Dec 22, 2006.

  1. Relic

    Relic Member

    The wiper I refered to is a piece of masonite under an old boxcar, sorry I can't help with a brand name for the contact cleaner,the can {spray can} I have followed me home from work and has no label onit but it has a kind of oily consistancy.
    RE the switch/turnout thing, how about "throw the switch for the siding in anytown."
  2. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    So i've been shopping around in the mouserand tessco catalogues .. and i did not realize there were so many types of contact cleaner. Is there a particular makeup i should be looking for here is one specifically that i'm leaning towards:
  3. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:
  4. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    I've been doing some research and i've found this to help out as well.

    I've been trying to find out what the chemical makeup of contact cleaner is so i can make my decision as to how to use it.

    I just read through the word document they posted a link to on this page:

    It confused me a little becuase i just finished reading an article that says goo gone is not that great becuase it leaves a residue and to use nahptha.

    I'm going to go downstairs and try to clean up som eof my rails manually then used the goo gone on it and see what happens.

    I'll be ordering some contact cleaner and testing it on some brass track.
  5. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Well, I read the back of my can of contact cleaner and it contains: Isohexane, n-Hexane, Methanol, and Petrolium Distillate. Does that help? I've used it with some success but Wahl oil worked better for me.
  6. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    This sounds like stuff that would cut the oxidation on it's own. I wonder what the petrolium distillate is and if it leaves a residue? Well i have some on the way so i guess i'll find out.

    I think i may have to go get some of that oil. I've read that the contact cleaner chemically cuts the oxidation and that the wahl or sewing machine oil does the same thing. I think 3in1 oil is very similar to these two types of oil so i may try that as well.

    I have a bottle of atlas track cleaner on the way. The ihc track cleaner is not so good. It may work well for already clean tracks but ... not on mine haha.

    I've tried the goo gone and it worked w/ moderate success but i had to use the eraser to get it clean clean. Then after it was clean it had a noticably "slick" feel to the length of track. Is this desirable?

    My goal is to only clean my tracks once a month w/ a run schedule of abotu 30 minutes daily. I'm willing to try just about anything :).

    Here is something funny, type this into google "wahl oil alternative" see what you get :D.
  7. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    Beware stuff like contact cleaner may harm plastic, due to the presence of organic solvents like the petroleum distillate and wood alcohol (methanol).

    If you didn't make sure there is no contact cleaner on the rails after using it, it might start dissolving the treads of the plastic wheels on your rolling stock (if you have any that uses plastic wheels). That will gunk up your track even worse.

    The best way to make sure the tracks stay clean is to 1) make sure your rails are free of scuffs and scratches. 2) clean with NON-abrasive cleaners without strong organic solvents. 3) polish the surface to a mirror shine. A smooth surface provides the least amount of surface area to accumulate gunk, compared to a rough surface.

    Hope this helps.
  8. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    It certainly does. I think that is going to be my long term goal to polish up (or create a polishing car) all my tracks with jeweler's rouge which so far has worked the best.

    Most of the contact cleaners i've research are plastic safe electronic type cleaners that completely evaporate. There are a few that have the warning "will dissolve neoprene and other rubbers", so i'll stay away from those.
  9. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    I've used Goo Gone and discovered one thing...the Goo leaves the rails, sure, but soon magically moves off the cloth or towel you use to clean the rail back onto the wheels themeselves! A mystefying feat!

    Once I showed up in the afternoon at a train show where my HO modular club had set up a layout. Earlier that day, just before I arrived, somebody treated the rails with Goo Gone. Now I had cleaned the wheels on my loco, but most of my rolling stock still had plastic wheels at that time. I barely made it around the loop twice when my engine was sputtering and stalling. The wheels were covered with grime! The crud on the plastic wheels of my rolling stock was coming off in chunks, and getting deposited on the engine. Yep. Goo Gone is great stuff alright. Turned my engine into a track cleaning car.

    So I took the unit (an FM H-16-44) to our cleaning station (alcohol on papertowels on live track...hold the engine by one end and spin the wheels on the towel then repeat for the other end) and cleaned the wheels. Then I ran it around again. Same thing, more jitters and stalling. Again, back to the cleaning station. Again, around the loop to pick up more crud. Finally I began cleaning the main line with alcohol and paper towels by hand to remove the goo gone residue (that was doing a great job of cleaning the wheels on my rolling stock). After a few more trips around, more wheel cleaning for the engine, and a few loops of pushing a masonite pad equipped car, I got the track clean enough to run my train.

    I do periodically clean my rolling stock wheels, but not that often. And I've been gradually switching from plastic wheelsets over to metal. They just stay cleaner, in my experience. Something about the plastic wheels just attracts crud. Maybe steel rail is the same way...but I still have plans to make a scenicked test or display loop out of the steel EZ track I've got here and some old ping pong table I'm curious to see what has worked for folks to keep steel rail clean and shiny (other than just running trains continually)

  10. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    What I have found with rolling stock using plastic wheels is that harsh chemical cleaners do leave residue on the rails which can actually interact with the plastic wheel treads.

    No matter how much you wipe with a paper towel, there will always be some cleaner residue that sticks around in the surface scratches of the rail or in rail joints. That stuff will soften the surface of the plastic wheel treads as they roll over the rail, and turn it into gunk, which then gets picked up by the rails due to rolling friction.

    The harsher the chemical cleaner you use, the worse the problem becomes. An acquaintence of mine tried acetone and you can imagine the gooey black gunky mess that ended up on his tracks after running his trains with plastic wheels on the "clean" track in just a few minutes. :p

    So if you run trains with plastic wheels, you want to use the least chemically harsh cleaner you can get.
  11. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    I've been trying to keep a running tally of what works well and what doesn't and so far, masonite is number 1 in my book. Cheap easy to work with no residue and it polishes not scuffs. The only problem i can see is that your rails have to be kinda clean to start.

    In that case, what seems to work best is elbow grease equipped masonite soaked in goo gone then cleaned w/ alchohol, or a buffiung rag w/ jewelers rouge on it.

    I've used a combination of the bright boy eraser and goo gone on the super corroded track (i have som brass that is literally black), but that leaves residue so it has to be cleaned.

    BTW my 2 sons have all steel powerloc and that is why i'm after the "no touch" method of cleaning hahaha. I plan to replace the steel in my sections w/ nickel silver flex.

    I have some contact cleaner on the way and a special rag that gun and knife people use i'll try both of those and let you know what i come up w/.
  12. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    Update to my cleaning situation.

    1) my model power cleaning fluid arrived. Unfortunately i have absolutely no clue how to use it and the only directions on the bottle are "use only a few drops"
    2) My life like steam engine has a ton of arcing scorch marks on its wheels. I have no idea why I'll try to take a picture. I think that is what is making the track so dirty is the loco is arcing all the way around the track.
    3) goo gone leaves crap all over the track :(. I needed to clean it up w/ alchohol after wards.

    So .. looks like good old masonite(hardboard) is still the best way to go. The loop i have w/ my home made masonite cleaning car is sparkling. I can run my new athearn BB engine around at a crawl w/ only 2 wires :).

    Any help w/ the model power cleaner?
  13. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    O.k. here it is .. the mother of all shoot outs. I got all my chemicals and my perfect cleaner and an atlas cleaner. What i was looking for in this test was 2 things, 1) clean heavily corroded brass/steal/ns track w/ little or no elbow grease 2) "seal" the track for protection against future corrosion.

    the chemicals from left to right.
    1. RS electronics cleaner, highly flamable really toxic and super smelly
    2. Model Power Track Cleaner .. funny thing .. it's Wahl Oil
      1. I have a complaint about the bottle, it is very very difficult to get out only one drop... i accidentally doused my bench w/ the stuff.
    3. Wahl Oil, didn't actually put this on the track, as it is the same consistency, color, smell and taste :p ... as the model power stuff.
    4. RS Contact Cleaner, this stuff actually is nice, it's foamy it will bubble out what stuff you have on wheels and the likes. I tested it on a bunch of differnet types of plastic .. but beyond the scope of this post.
    5. "Perfect" track cleaning brick.
    6. IHC track cleaning fluid
    7. Model popwer track block. This is by far the lowest quality cleaning eraser i've used. It is very flexible and crumbles away leaving behind lots of collateral for you to vacuum up. Not only that but if you rub too hard or too fast it creates these "streaks" of rubber on your track. I think it was melting ....
    O.k. some photos.!!

    The competitors:

    The competing field:



    This is the what the contact cleaner did w/ some rubbing w/ a paper towel... not impressive is it?


    This is what the electronics cleaner did w/ the brush at the end of it's nozzle and a little rubbing. I let it soack for about 45 seconds to a minute. Same w/ the contact cleaner.

    Dunno what happened to my photos of the model power/whal oil ... I'll get those up when i find them ahaha.

    Now ... this is what the perfect brick did:


    Lightly corroded ns track

    Contact cleaner w/ some elbo grease (top rail) Electronics cleaner w/ some elbow grease (bottom rail)

    Top rail is the model power cleaner bottom rail is the perfect cleaner brick.

    Now .. after i applied all these chemicals i ran back over it w/ the perfect cleaner and it is definately easier to clean.

    The winner of this shoot out ... Clearly the pefect track cleaner brick. I have to get more of these things :). You can see that mine is well used (curtousy of ebay'ed track ahahah).

    A close second place is the model powe/wahl oil. The model power solution i think will work great if the wheels are rolling over and over and over .. it acts like the cleaning brick. You just need somethign to clean up the goop so it doesn't get on your wheels.

    Now .. I'm sure you are all asking .. well what about goo gone why didn't you try it .. I did... and it was work .. it smelled up my house .. and i got yelled at by my wife so i didn't do it again for these photos. I'll wait till she leaves for the supermarket or something and take some pix of the tracks ahhha. I can say it didn't fair any better than the others.

    I also didn't take any photo's of the IHC cleaner as it doesn't do much w/ just a paper towel either. It works best w/ their cleaning car or a masonite pad. I've had limited success w/ that.

    Once i get my mofw car running and figrue out where to get pads for the cleaning disks from i'll report on that.

    Please let me know what you think and if i can provide omore information about the not so scientific tests :).
  14. hiscopilot

    hiscopilot Member

    great info in this thread. since I am doing my layout with mostly old hand me down brass track, I am sure I will find this useful.

    I read a cleaning instruction somewhere I need to find, it supposedly uses stuff that reduces need to clean to MONTHS literally. hmmm
  15. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    I've been watching the condition of my "untreated" steel and ns track and the "treated" and the treated ones are definately shiner than the untreated ones. I've been manually cleaning the track w/ my yellow brick o gold and sometimes i use 800 grit sandpaper for the really rough ones then use the yellow guy to polish it up. After that i put a little model power cleaner on it and rub it in really well w/ a paper towel. It comes to a bright shine/ and it seems to be staying that way.

    The masonite pads seem to be the best way to keep the track clean of scorch/arc marks once layed though.
  16. leon

    leon Member

    I was just wondering----would a 'Ink Eracer' work as good as as the abrasive track cleaner?
  17. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Hi Leon,

    I've heard people talk about using ink erasers. Sometimes folks remark that the abrasive cleaners create tiny scratches in the track that collect dirt. Maybe the eraser would be less abrasive than the hobby product?

  18. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    Ink erasers actually have little bits of abrasive in them - more so than the softer pencil erasers. They are essentially the same as the track-cleaning blocks.
  19. leon

    leon Member

    Hi Ralph and Squidbait;

    Thanks for verifying my thought on steel track cleaning. I am sure the erasers will be much cheaper than the abrasive blocks that are sold for track cleaning now.
  20. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    Just for the record i tried the ink eraser method too and it wasn't very good for my track. It leaves small but noticable scratches in the surface that in turn pick up dirt more quickly making it a chore and a half because now you not only have to clean the track but you have to polish it too.

    The perfect brick eraser is actually a finer grit than an ink eraser and while it it doesn't buff your track to a mirror smooth polish, it isn't nearly as bad as w/ the ink eraser,

    Funny story, i was walking through the mall and a very attractive lady jumped out and grabbed my hand and started rubbing this sea salt stuff on it. She gave me her whole schpeal about the dead sea salt hand moisturizer and how it was used for a thousand years blah blah, she also put this liquid on my finger nails and pulled out this little square brick and then put a self stick abrasive pad on it, probably equiv of a bout 700 grit sand paper and started buffing my nails. After about 30 to 45 seconds my nail was SMOOOOOOTH!! First thing ran through my head was, wow my skin really is softer, the second thing was wow i need some of these for maintaining my track !!!! hahhahasign1

    Needless to say the attractive sales lady got a sale i bought the crap she was selling i gave all the liquid stuff to my wife and headed downstairs w/ my buffing squares. They work like a charm on track!! They take the scratches right out AND they have replaceable pads AND they have 4 different grits ranging from about 300 all the way to about 1000. I found that ebay also sells them do a search for "nail buffing block" you'll find that they are really cheap!!

    nail buffing block, Nail, Health Beauty items on

    Anyway just my 2 cents :). BTW the track treated w/ the modelpower/whal oil needed cleaning only once in the last 12 months in a basement w/ roughly 40% humidity (i have a dehumidifier down there).

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