How to clean a massive amount of Lionel track!??

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by TedTrain, Dec 13, 2009.

  1. TedTrain

    TedTrain Member

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    Hi all!
    I suspect that their is NO easy answer to this question!
    I just bought a large lot of Lionel trains. Of course it came with one of those boxes full of lets say...on the scale of 1-to-10, a 5, of Lionel three rail track. I have maybe 300 pieces of track. A little rusty, dirty etc. My question is...is thier an EASY way to clean masses amounts of Lionel track? I have dreams of filling a tub with warm water...and "X" and "Y" to it...wait 24 hours then...instant cleaned track! FAT CHANCE!!! Any ideas???
    HELP Ted
  2. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

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    Your best bet is Evaporust, which I think you can get at Auto Zone. It'll take care of the rust for you, and at least soften up the dirt.

    You could also run the track through the dishwasher, if worse came to worse, to take care of the dirt.
  3. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

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    It is never fun having to clean rusted tracks. Just don't try to use any steel wool type of products.

    If it is just surface rust on the tops of the rails then a good cleaning with one of the Scott bright pads will do the job.



    BTW hi Dave it has been a long time.
  4. cdavenport

    cdavenport Member

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    What's the point? If there is surface rust, that means that the nickle plating has worn away exposing the soft iron underneath.

    Unless you plan to replate the tracks, they will just rust again. You are better off chucking the lot and buying new track. Check EBay; there is no value in old track unless it is really unique.
  5. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

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    They really don't rust again that fast unless you store them in a high humidity area. In fact I have some old track that I cleaned several years back and they still haven't rusted.

    Here is the way I protect / clean mine. After cleaning the rails I use some WD-40 on a soft cloth and use it along with a Scotch brite which takes off rust and dirt.

    If the rust is heavy I will use 360 sandpaper. Just sand enough to get of the rust or pits. The light touch is better. Go with the rail. After sanding give another wipe with the soft cloth and WD-40.

    Usually the WD-40 doesn't present any problems and gives the track enough protect without a lot of oil. If you like you can wipe the WD-40 off with alcohol prior to running trains.

    It works well and saving older track cuts the budget.
  6. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

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    I'm in the same boat, I have track I cleaned in 2003 or so that hasn't re-rusted. Rusting tends to happen when you store the track in non-controlled environments where temperatures and humidity can swing a lot. When I see an old train, I can immediately tell you whether it spent the last four decades in a closet or in a garage.

    If the track is on a layout and the layout is somewhere human beings are comfortable, it'll probably do just fine.

    My bigger concern is how tight the track joints and continuity will be. Be prepared to spend some time tweaking track ends. And you may want to go ahead and replace all the track pins.

    Renovo brings up another point too. If you can get the a loop of track just clean enough that an engine will run on it, make a cleaning car. Attach a piece of Scotch brite pad to a piece of Masonite or plywood. Drill a couple of holes for long screws, then drill matching holes in the bottom of a junker car you don't care much about. Set up a loop of track, put the locomotive and the homemade cleaning car on the rails and let it run for however long it takes to get the track clean.