Relco Track cleaner

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by camelot, Feb 22, 2004.

  1. camelot

    camelot Member

    Seen this mentioned a few times around , somehow it cleans the track and wheels as you run your trains :confused:

    My Questions are...

    what is it and what does it do ?

    is it dangerous to the Loco at all ?

    is it OK for HO scale and N scale ?

    does it fry DCC decoders ?

    thanks in advance for any help you can offer.


  2. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Ian,
    Yes it works for N-HO and 0 (2 rail)
    The RELCO track cleaner has been around for at least 15 years and was very good at cleaning track, it works on a high frequency and works like this. When dirt is found between the wheel and rail, a small electrical high frequency current discharges and burns the dirt away. On the market today are I think better ones such as the one made by “Gauge master” . The only problem I found with either one was the fact that if you have a loco standing in on a track which was Isolated from the controller, it would buzz and light the lamp on the front. Works on a similar way to high frequency coach lighting system.

    As for working with DCC, wouldn't know as I have never used DCC.
  3. Catt

    Catt Guest

    If memory serves me right this thing is NOT DCC friendly.
  4. neilmunck

    neilmunck Member

    I am pretty sure that you absoluletly cannot use high frequency track track cleaners with DCC.

    The high frequency can appear as a data signal to the decoders and totally screw them up!!!!!!!!!

  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    If you use a Relco, you may find that, as you push points over to make contact, you get a little buzz from the unit as it tries to fry your fingertips.
  6. vk3kpj

    vk3kpj Guest

    I have been using the old hand powered abrasive type track cleaning. Tedious hey!!

    I have HO and presently use pulsed type controllers. Maybe on the 'next' layout I will go DCC. But then I will wire it to allow me to choose DCC or my current analugue usage.

    I have only heard of the Relco brand. Without belittling Relco in any way;

    Q: What would the best, most reliable brand be?
  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    On dc the Relco is probably fine. Watch any locomotives with can motors, sometimes the high frequency ac could cause motors to overheat. The Relco has to have a locomotive running on the track to work. The best and safest way to use it would be to keep an old style Athearn with the open frame motor, and run it with the Relco with any locomotives with can motors kept off the railroad while cleaning.
  8. vk3kpj

    vk3kpj Guest

    Hi Russ

    Thanks I will same my bickies up and give it a try. Maybe ask for one from the kids.

    On an aside. I see you also have an ineters in cars. Here's my old one. Family type now. We used to cruis (yep) on 120-130mph from Sydney to Melbourne to see the girls each 2nd weekend. And it was legal back then.

    Thanks mate for the answer. It is tedious as I have a large layout under construction. And its all mine.


    Attached Files:

  9. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    That's sweet, and a nice wall in the background! :D
  10. Digby

    Digby New Member

    Connecting Relco

    I have recently returned to railway modeling after an absense of se eral years. Among my bits and bats I have come across a Relco track cleaner. Without instructions, I am at a loss as to how to connect it to my single track layout. Can anyone oblige? :wave:
  11. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I haven't seen one in a long time. Does it have an on/off switch? Does it have a 110 volt plug? I don't remember if it runs off household current or if it picks up power from your power pack. You do not want it on all of the time. It uses high frequency a/c to burn off dirt and corrosion. The high frequency a/c will sometimes fry can motors.

    If it plugs in to household current, you would plug it in and hook up the low voltage wires to your track. If you have an old Athearn locomotive with one of their open frame motors, run it around the layout with the Relco turned on. Make sure the locomotive runs on every single piece of powered track. The track, the locomotive wheels, and the commutator will be cleaned. Once the cleaning is done, either turn the unit off, or disconnect it from the layout. If it doesn't use house current to operate, it will work off the a/c termonals of your power pack. Again hook up the input wires to the a/c terminals and the output wires to the track. I think they should be marked or else the point of origin of the wires will be marked. Then you just run your old Athearn open frame locomotive all over the layout.

    It is very important to either unhook the Relco unit from the track or shut it off before operating the layout if you have locomotives with can motors.

    If you don't have an old Athearn locomotive woth an open frame motor, they are available inexpensively used at train shows, swap meets, etc. You may even find some available here on the Gauge "Buy & Sell" forum.
  12. Digby

    Digby New Member

    Connecting Relco

    Thanks for your prompt reply, Russ. The unit I have is unswitched with two terminals for 16v power input and two terminals marked track. I seem to recall that the track connections are intended to pass through a capacitor of sorts. Other than that I am at a loss. :rolleyes:
  13. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think you hook the 16 volt wires to the ac terminal on your transformer. The other wires go to the track. Now you run your old Athearn locomotive over the layout and it will clean the track. Once all of the track has been cleaned, you should unplugit from one end or the other before you put locomotives with can motors on the layout. The other method you could use is to hook the Relco up to the ac termoinal of a spare throttle if you have one. Then when you have finished cleaning the track, just shut off that power pack and unplug it before you run the trains on another pack.

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