Ocalicreek builds (another) layout...finally!

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by ocalicreek, Dec 30, 2006.

  1. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    I've decided to use just one of the two turnouts I purchased, so the other will be returned...probably exchanged for something else, more likely. Trains have been running fine. I need to build a masonite pad cleaning car, however.

    Pictures to follow eventually...now I need to think more seriously about lighting. I have a few options, it's just a matter of choosing one. Trouble is, none of them are really ideal.
  2. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Latest on the layout...

    I've been running trains and cleaning track. Well, mostly cleaning track and then running trains followed by more track cleaning. I was just about ready to consider giving up the steel stuff and going with all new nickel silver (an investment I'd rather not make since there are other things I'd prefer to spend my few hobby dollars on) when I had two thoughts.

    One, I remembered a day running on the club modular layout where my loco became the track cleaner...I've described this in detail on another post I'm sure, so here's the shorter version. Somebody had used Goo gone on the track and after much testing it was determined that the Goo gone residue had done a great job of cleaning the dirty wheels on our rolling stock...and depositing it on the loco wheels.

    Well, what if the alcohol I was using was accomplishing the same thing here? Different metals behave differently in how much crud they attract or repel and, as a result, how much is deposited on or removed from the wheels. So I cleaned the wheelsets for the equipment I had been using and that seemed to make a big difference in engine performace...for a while...

    The next thought was confirmed in an NMRA symposium letter from John Allen back in 1960 about the merits of different types of metal rail. He mentions steel rail as providing better traction but arcing when clean. He also posits a coating of oil (Wahl clipper?) for good electrical pickup and to prevent rust. Hmmm.

    So perhaps I can do a light oil test and see how that goes. If it doesn't go well then I'll more seriously consider going to nickel silver. I don't want to spend all my time cleaning track, wheels, or both!

    On other fronts, the scalescenes structure is 98% finished (final details and touch-up painting) and I'm itching to get back to work on my Mantua Shifter detailing, as well as the Spring '07 scratchbuild challenge. The latter will eventually find a home on the layout...now developing a story line as the 'Silver Springs' branch of the Ocali Creek Railway. Silver Springs is actually a natural theme park (home of the world-famous glass bottom boats!) near Ocala, where I was raised. I just like the sound of the name.
  3. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Galen. There was a thread here some time ago called "The Great Wahl Oil Experiment" and I believe the concensus was that it actually worked. You might give it a try...
  4. Nickel silver, just go with nickel silver...I've had so many PROBLEMS with steel alloy that I just don't ever want to see another piece of that track...
  5. Iron Goat

    Iron Goat Member

    AMEN on Nickel-Silver track!!! I'd never go back to all that grief...

  6. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    i don't have problems with my steel alloy track. My entire layout is a mix of brass, steel alloy, and nickel silver, and it takes montsh before things get dirty enough that i might have to clean it in some spots. i haven't cleaned my layout in probably 9 months, excpet for areas that needed ballasting. Now is probably a good time to go over it.

    i notice that the bachman ez track i have in steel alloy build up black grime after awhile, but then again i don't use the track that much, and whatever was there was probably therer form the previous 2 times i was running it.
  7. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    I built a display track for my friends' store window. I used Bachmann steel EZ-track and a circuitron reversing unit. It would last about 3 days of continuous running before the "black grime" (oxidation) got to the point where the train would not run reliably.

    After switching to NS track, it only needs to be cleaned about once a month. This is a section of track that has a train running back and forth about 3 times a minute for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

    Nickle silver track oxidizes just like brass and steel track, but unlike brass and steel, the oxide is conductive, and the trains keep rolling. You can't do much about dust and dirt, except clean regularly, but they take much longer to slow things down than oxidation.

    If you use an abrasive track cleaner (like a Brite Boy), you wind up scuffing up the top of the rail and making more surface area for oxidation, so that ironically, the more you clean brass and steel track, the more often you have to clean it.
  8. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    yeah I use the lionel cleaning and maitenance sets the the full 18 inch curves on my layout are all steel alloy, and there does not seem to be a black grim build up on them. it seems to only effect my easy track.
  9. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Thanks everybody for the great responses, pro and con!

    Squidbait - I too noticed an increase in cleaning frequency using my brite-boy, even on my timesaver layout (hand-laid code 70 nickel silver). SO I had switched over to a very fine sanding stick...well used and hardly abrasive at all, just really polishes the head of the rail.

    I have used masonite pads under rolling stock in the past with good results...just haven't built any for this layout yet, and the old ones I had have been converted to box cars with open doors showing loads inside (ERTL, now LL crates & lumber). I had to pull out the weight strip to mount the pad beneath and replaced the weight with pennies. Cheaper than lead from Aline and impervious to corrosion when sealed.

    No, there's gotta be a way to make this ez trak work...and I think I may have found it. I don't have any Wahl clipper oil, but I do have some Singer sewing machine oil I use for lubricating steam engine valve gear.

    I put a half a drop on the rails last night and ran a train around to spread it. A BS 4-6-0 and short train of Athearn hoppers with a 'aboose' on the rear (as my 2-1/2 yr old says). This has been a smooth runner as long as track and wheels are clean, but within no time (a few hours even) it becomes balky again, stalling and sputtering in some places.

    After a few laps it was immediately evident that this works, well, like magic. A few more laps and I did need to clean the loco wheels, but this was expected. A quick rub on the tender pickups and it was back in business.

    Today I have noticed a slight buildup of black crud on the rails, but this seems to in no way hamper performance. I will continue with more testing using solid trains of rolling stock with metal wheelsets vs. plastic. I will also be building a slider pad car (maybe heavy cardstock instead of masonite) and see if that makes a difference.

    But for now I am cautiously relieved that the oil has made such a tremendous difference to the positive in how this track performs.

    Again, thanks for all the good thoughts and helpful criticisms.
  10. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic


    Before replacing the steel with NS, I tried using Rail Zip several times... wiping it on, letting it sit overnight and wiping it off the next day. While it helped a little bit, all it really did was extend the cleaning interval by a day or so...

    It (and clipper oil) also have a tendency to attract dust, so while it inhibits corrosion, it increases the physical accumulation of gundge.
  11. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    Jerome is haunted, I know people who have seen some weird things there. lol
  12. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member


    Ummm....are you refering to the picture of the slums on the hillside? If so, it'd be helpful if you quoted part of a previous message to which you are replying.

    I am actually quite interested in the paranormal (and a big Ghost Hunters fan) but really, try to keep the discussion on this thread about the topic of this thread...the layout I'm building and related issues. Thanks.
  13. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Yeah, I've noticed the black buildup is now more concentrated...but it seems there's less of it and the trains do not appear to be affected by its presence at all. Yet. Still, I plan on building a slider car to wipe away any grunge my engines wheels don't pick up.:D

    The oil seems to be working well enough so I will procede with soldering sections together and attaching the track to the foam base. When I get a nice dry day I will airbrush the ties and begin upgrading the track.

    There will be a timber trestle over a road and another small bridge (possibly two) over a creek. The timber trestle section will be cut away after the bridge is built to replace it. Depending on what type of bridge(s) I use over the creek will determine how that track is modified. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it...:oops:

    Also the turnouts are powered, so I will have to decide if I want them wired or not. I may just operate them manually. We'll see.

    Alright...outdoor projects and work have been keeping me busy lately...gotta get back out in the garage!
  14. Har har, har de har har.


    Can't wait to see your next pics!
  15. waredbear

    waredbear Member

    Greetings from the other side of the mountains. :wave:

    I was looking at your picture for the inspiration of your new RXR. I was wondering how you are going to get everything black, white and gray colored? :D

    In His Service,
  16. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Heh heh heh...that'd be an interesting layout indeed. At first I was thinking you were talking about the balasting/track painting, but then I caught on. It's a slow morning...at least in my head.
  17. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Ugh...finally got around to fixing the links in my signature.

    Been debating shelving (tabling just seemed too punny) the current 4x6 as described in this thread for a later date. Possibly it'd become a first layout for my kiddo when he wants his first 'real' HO train layout.

    Instead I'd build a larger layout (probably one of the older plans described in the planning thread of ages ago) so I could run all my longer passenger cars & larger steam engines and not just the shorty stuff.

    While I mull over the larger radius layout options I'll be continuing work on my Mantua Shifter and the Timesaver shelf layout, along with the little station I had planned on scratchbuilding for the Spring Challenge, even though it may not be placed on the 4x6 layout.

    Any thoughts? I'm returning to WA from my CA vacation soon with a day to recoop before going back to work. I doubt any modeling will happen on that day, but we'll see. I DID purchase a NWSL Chopper II from my former LHS (in its great new location) and some hobos from WS. A belated birthday present to self.

    Also, can anybody tell me how to restore the images in my old threads?


  18. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Old Pics and Blog Update

    Hello All!

    I just fixed the pictures in this thread. The cardstock freight house thread is next.

    And if you'll read the latest entry in my blog, you'll notice that I'm taking the summer off. I'll let the blog explain.

    Zealot Hobby Forum - Summer Fun

    Also, sketching a larger layout plan was productive in that I had fun doing it (even frustration can be fun, in a sick way) and came to a close-to-final plan that may just work well in the space to allow longer trains with longer cars pulled by larger locos...well, larger than would fit comfortably on the 4x6.

    But as I mentioned elsewhere I may not be here in two years so I decided it would be best to work on my timesaver staging extension and really get it 'finished'. Perhaps even write an article(s) about it for RMC or MR. Plenty of modeling to do in the mean time that can work someday on a larger layout.

    And who knows what fate the 4x6 will meet? I may use it afterall for an On30 mining line...
  19. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Galen, when I read here that you were taking the summer off, I wondered how you could get an employer, even a church, to let you take the summer off with pay. Then I read your blog and realized you were talking about taking some time off from model railroading instead of from your job!
  20. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    I used steel for my kid's 4x8, there is a gauger here that suggested lemon juice salt and vinegar in boiling or very warm water will help w/ the cleaning process. I've cleaned quite a bit of ebay'ed steel w/ just elbow grease hehee.

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