Pearl Drops Tooth Polish and Gears

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by sapacif, Jun 3, 2003.

  1. sapacif

    sapacif Member

    Listers: I have seen Pearl Drops tooth polish placed in the truck gears of an Athern HO scale engine to polish the gears and make the engine run smoother. (The engine was operated for a fer minutes and then the Pearl Drops was washed out.) It was a fantastic difference in operation. has anyone tried this in N scale? Will ordinary tooth paste work? Anyother substance I shoud try? Thanks.
  2. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    First a big Welcome to the Gauge:) sapacif .
    I have not heard of that as a cleaning agent;) Then again I don`t get out much:D
    But I don`t see why it wont work. So if you try it on your N gauge let us know.
    PS i would stick with the pearl drops If you can get any, if you now it works.:)
  3. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Welcome sapacif
    Thanks for the tip. Sounds like I should be using it on a few of my old locos.
  4. sapacif

    sapacif Member

    Understand that what you are looking for is something mildly abrasive that will burnish all the edges and burrs off the gears. In the case of the Athern HO, the gears were all enclosed in a gearbox. The demonstrator put the Pearl Drops in the gearbox and closed it up. Then he ran the engine on the track for about 3-4 minutes. In the case of N scale, the gear boxes would not be sealed up. I am wondering if this is going to go all over the place when it is put on the track. If it works, it probably doesn't matter.

    What is the difference in Pearl Drops and toothpaste? My impression is that Pearl Drops is more abrasive. Maybe it is for dentures?
  5. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    Welcome to the Gauge. I have dentures and have never heard of pearl drops for dentures. All tooth paste is slightly abrasive. I have used tooth paste to get rid of small scratches in eye glasses and when we had the motel, I used tooth paste to get rid of small scratches in mirrors.
    I don't see why any tooth paste would not work cleaning N scale loco gears providing you don't use to much. Just a drop will shine them right up after a couple of minutes run. Just remeber, most N Scale gears are plastic so be sure to clean them up good, then put a drop of # 102 Labelle Gear Oil on the gears and it should run like clockwork. You can get this gear oil at your local Hobby Store.
  6. sapacif

    sapacif Member

    Dick (Clerk): I think you have it pretty well summarized. I received other information stating that Pearl Drops is less abrasive than toothpaste. Also, this burnishing process is called "lapping." I am going to try it today and will report back to see if it solves my binding problem on LifeLike SW9 truck gears.
  7. rsn48

    rsn48 Member

    Toothpaste is a polish. Of those using toothpaste on their engines, crest is the brand chosen most often - more abrassive than other toothpastes.
  8. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    Rick. You are correct. I just forgot about it.
  9. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Welcome, sapacif on the Gauge.

    Yep, already years ago I used toothpaste for lapping (polishing) gears, first when I raced slot cars, then for breaking in N scale locos. This really worked fine, and the rise in performance was outstanding in some cases.

    However, I'd like to add two remarks - warnings, if you like. I found out the hard way! :mad:

    1. Use toothpaste only for metal gears (brass or steel, both are ok). Plastic gears either show no significant improvement - or they are destroyed. :(
    (Ok, this was years back - perhaps todays plastics are better. If you want to try it, be VERY careful!)

    2. After running in the gears (I never ran them longer than 3 minutes), C-L-E-A-N those gears meticulously! If you leave only traces of the toothpaste on the gears, you'll end up with no gear teeth at all.
    (Once I did a sloppy cleaning job, and after perhaps two hours running time, an ATLAS loco began to sound strangely. She stood there, full power on, whining and vibrating. And when I inspected her, the gear teeth simply had been chewed away by that abrasive stuff. :eek: ) If you have access to an ultrasonic cleaner - use it!


    PS: As far as I understand, 'Pearl Drops' is simply a liquid toothpaste which contains some bleaching agent to get those whiter-than-white teeth, like this --> :D
  10. sapacif

    sapacif Member

    Railron: I tried it and the engine is running much better, no doubt about it. It does have plastic gears (a LifeLike SW9). I put the toothpaste in the gears and only ran the truck back and forth by hand for about two minutes. Then I cleaned the truck with warm, soapy water; then a rinse with warm water after that. I relubed the truck as it felt rough after washing. Right now, it is running merrily around the test track. No more binding or hesitating. Also seems to start at a lower voltage. I will heed what you said about grinding the gears away. That may be the next thing that occurs. In any case, thanks to all for this info. If it works out, it may be the first thing I try when I have a problem.
  11. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    Thanks for the report Flash. I am glad it worked for you. I have a Northern 4-8-4 I have been meaning to do this to.
  12. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    OK, how about Jewelry polish, or stainless steel polish they are mild abrasives also :)
  13. sapacif

    sapacif Member


    This is just IMHO. I discussed this with a local guy here in San Antonio. He said that he thought the toothpaste was done because it is fairly easily cleaned out of the gears. If you don't get it all out, the remaining material may grind the plastic gears to dust. Automobile rubbing compound, jewelers rouge, etc. are probably not as easily removed with soap and water. Maybe others have another opinion. I do think that other types of material are more fine than toothpaste.

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