need help: o gauge newbie

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by crdenton, Nov 12, 2004.

  1. crdenton

    crdenton New Member

    a few years ago I inherited my Dad's 1956 Lionel O gauge train set. It sat up for the better part of 30 plus years, minus one last setup he did about 11 years ago (one last time for him). At any rate, the track is in need of a good cleaning. It is oxidized, some rust, dirty, etc. Can anyone advise a newbie on how to go about returning the track to pristine shape? I dont want to do anything that would hurt the value of the track, or damage the cars that will run on the track in any way. ALso, does anyone know of a model railroad club in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Texas area, perhaps one that would have some O gauge people? Thanks so much, in advance, and I look forward to learning anything I can on this forum! [​IMG]
  2. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    crdenton, first off, don't worry about the value of the track. I have some absolutely pristine tubular track that predates World War II. The stuff looks like it's never even been used. Value? About $1.50 a section.

    My local Lionel dealer throws most of the track that comes through his shop in the trash. Rusty track is essentially worthless. So if you can bring it back to working condition, it only has value to gain.

    I've had success cleaning the rust off track with a wire wheel attachment on either a rotary tool (Dremel or similar brand) or a drill. Make sure you remove the track pins (I use a pair of vise grips for that) and clean them as well, and then chuck a regular drill bit into your drill and run it through the insides of the track where the pins go to clean the crud out of there as well before replacing the pins.

    The resulting track won't be good as new, but it's perfectly safe to use.

    A couple of months ago, maybe in the September issue or so, Classic Toy Trains had an article about cleaning/fixing old track. A visit to the local library in search of that issue would probably pay off for you.

    Have fun with it. I got my Dad's Lionel out about a year ago after about 10 years in storage. It's been a blast.
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Your local auto shop may have a fluid they use on rusty cars -- mine contained phosphoric acid; be careful with it. (Maybe they don't get rusty cars in Texas.)
    If you have sections with kinks or other deformations of the rail, you can either discard it or cut it down. The rail ends that don't have pins in them may also need to be tightened up so that the electricity flows.
  4. oldmantrain

    oldmantrain New Member

    O Gauge Track Cleanup

    I use a Scotchbrite (can get at hardware or building supply store), a rag and or paper towels with some WD 40 to help remove the rust. I ususally only spray the WD 40 on the rag or paper towel. I only spray it directly onto very rusty areas. Make sure you don't use too much WD 40 and wipe the track to remove all excess residue. The most important part is to remove all rust from the top of the track where trucks (wheels) and the engine contacts, make contact.

    Do not use steel wool or sandpaper. Small pieces of steel wool or grit can get into the internal parts of the engine and steel wool can short out pieces of track if it remains touching two rails.

    hope this helps!! ;) ;)
  5. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    Hi crdenton:
    Fun stuff old trains. The smell of ozone will forever bring back some of the best memories from my kidhood. I run old Flyer equipment and have cleaned a bit of old track. One thing i have noticed about operators is they like to use abrasives on their track to keep it clean. Everything from emory cloth and wire brushes to those yellow "erasers" you can buy at hobby shops. All this old track is "tin plated", which means it is steel track with an electro- plated finish. Once you remove the thin plating, then you have exposed the base steel metal which oxidixes rapidly, most often as rust. Using an abrasive means to regularly clean this track has never made a lot of sense to me.

    If your track is rusted, you do have to get the rust off so use a wire brush in a dremel tool, some emory cloth or other means that will not leave behind any "shrapnel" which can be picked up by your rolling equipment. As others have stated, these bits will ruin your equipment. After you get the rusted parts clean and smooth, i will apply a rust "converter" to just those areas concerned. This converts the ferris-oxide to a non-oxidant and stops the rust process. The metal will look black but that's ok.

    Then i clean the rest of the track, the first time i clean it, with a silver polish like Wenger. I've used "Brasso" too but found it wasn't as effective. Then i apply Radio Shack's Tuner De-greaser to get all the above stuff off the rails and ties. Lastly i apply RS Tuner Cleaner to the rails. This has a cleaner in it as well as a little lubricant which helps to slow down the oxidantion process.

    After that, all i usually have to do periodically is clean with a little RS tuner cleaner. The frogs on Flyer turnouts benifit from a scrubbing with a WHITE eraser. THis isn't abrasive but will remove some more stubborn oxidation. I also clean the wheels of engines and rolling stock with one of these erasers. They don't abrade the plastic wheels found on most rolling stock.

    Sounds like a lot of work for a $1.50 piece of track. But the work goes quickly while watching a movie or listening to some good tunes. You'll have to evaluate the relative value of your time. Just DON'T get in the habit of abrading ALL of your track ALL of the time.


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