The Great Wahl Clipper Oil Experiment!

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Ralph, Feb 22, 2006.

  1. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    After reading threads here and elsewhere touting the virtues of Wahl Clipper Oil for maintaining clean track and good electrical contact I finally found a bottle at "Beauty Mart" in the Northern part of the Twin Cities. Some people have reported months of smooth operation after only one administration of a few drops every ten feet or so along the line.

    I'm going to experiment with it on only one portion of my layout with one locomotive.
    I have a long siding with a couple of spurs coming off it at my cement plant. I like to drop off a few covered hoppers there and have a switcher dedicated to the plant push the cars into the loading area. This series of tracks and the switcher will be the only part of my layout using the oil for a couple of weeks. I plan to put a few drops on the tracks just once and see how long the switcher runs smoothly compared to my other locomotives on the rest of the layout that need to have track and loco wheels cleaned about once a week (which I nornally do with isopropyl alcohol).

    I'll keep you up to date on the results of this highly scientific experiment. :rolleyes:

  2. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Cool! I look forward to your results. I found some in the Micro-Mark small tool catalogue but have not ordered any yet and so have not had the chance to experiment.
  3. Wyomingite

    Wyomingite Member

    Hi Ralph,

    Keep in mind a very little goes a long way as that stuff is slick. First time I used it I ended up back with the alchohol. Any type of grade and the engines will just spin. Have fun.

    Ron :wave: :wave:
  4. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    Ralph the way i apply wahl is on the masonite blocks that i have under several cars it has worked for me for years the blocks have to be replaced the wahl seems to loosen a lot of crud.put a drop of wahl oil on a sheet of white paper and see whats left in a couple of weeks.:)
  5. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Jim,My take on clipper oil is "Why in high heavens would anybody put oil on their track?" :eek:
    I look forward to your test results..:D
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    If you're looking to experiment with it, ask your barber (or hairdresser, if you're that persuasion). They actually use it on hair clippers (if the clipper tugs on your hair, they add a drop of oil to it) and they might give you the last few drops in a bottle.
  7. babydot94513

    babydot94513 Member in training

    I have to ask this question, but what does the oil do to the glue that holds the ballast together or the track to the roadbed?

  8. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    I don't know what Wahl oil would do to the glue in the ballast, but this isn't really a problem: You have to apply the oil so sparingly on top of the rails that it never should reach the ballast!

    I got some Wahl oil from my barber and keep it in a tiny bottle. To apply I hold the bottle sideways so that the bottleneck inside just is wetted by it. Then I dip and rotate the point of a wooden toothpick into the oily film on the glass. Don't soak the wood with the oil, just wet it! Finally I slide the oily wood over the top of my rails for about an inch. You shouldn't have a blob of oil on the track, just a thin film. All you see is that the track in this location is a little bit more shiny. I repeated this application in only six spots on my layout - at about every four meters.
    The oil will be spread by the trains - so after applying it I ran a long train for several hours.

    Now I have to admit that I completed the entire lap around the layout only five months ago. (In the actual layout party just I finished laying all the sidings, too.) I applied the oil once in late September and never had a problem with stalling or jerking trains so far.

    But of course I can't say how the trains would perform if I hadn't applied that oil. Perhaps it wouldn't have made any difference??? Therefore I am really curious to see what Ralph's experiment will show. Thank you for keeping us informed, Ralph!

  9. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    Labelle 108 also works well. Perhaps not as good as Wahl, but good.
    Why would anyone put oil on their track? To keep the oxidation down and to cut the gum making for better electrical contact. A drop goes a loooonng way. Indeed, I take a drop on my finger and wipe it along the rail. The wheels of the loco and cars pick it up and distribute it. If your wheels start to slip on a grade, you've used far too much. :)
  10. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    OK then! Day 1:

    I hear you all loud and clear about using the oil sparingly and only dabbed on a tiny amount that I ran along the rails with my finger.

    The locomotive for the experiment is an Athearn switcher (a Baldwin, I think) in NYC lettering that I bought in 1982. Its not a bad runner but tends to need wheel cleaning fairly often and never ran great at slow speeds, sometimes requiring a nudge to get it moving. I cleaned the wheels tonight by running them over a piece of cloth soaked in alcohol. Later, after I oiled the rails I set the loco on the track.

    First observations were impressive! The switcher ran smoothly at slower speeds than it can usually accomplish and when stopped did not need a push to get it going again! I'm liking what I'm seeing.

    I'm making myself carry out the whole experiment though because I want to know what happens in a couple of weeks. Will the oil attract gunk to the wheels and reduce running ability or will tonight's performance become the new standard?

    Stay tuned!

  11. babydot94513

    babydot94513 Member in training

    This would be another concern and I like everyone else will await the results.


  12. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I use it since the idea was first brought forth in the eary 80s with good results, enough that I continue to this day. I have found that it doesn't work well on Marklin's steel track, it just gets dirtier quicker. As for your Athearn's wheels, I replace half the wheels with NWSL nickle silver replacements as they are the same diameter as the originals. Athearn wheels are sintered iron and prone to collecting dirt but they do have better traction than the NWSL ones. By alternating the two I get the best of both at half the price.
  13. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Been using it for years - - No worries except for thr "grade & the Climax" A bit too much oil...

    I simply dried off the oil with a paper towel in that section of the track and everything ewas back to normal. The Clipper oil does keep everything clean... but you can never put it on light enough LOL
  14. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Since "oil + rails" seems so counterintuitive (doesn't the prototype use sand + rails? ;)) I appreciate your experiments and report Ralph!

  15. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

  16. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Day 2:

    The loco continues to smoothly run at nice prototypic switching speeds! I'll run it every day, back and forth several times. I'll post observations about how its running a week from now.

  17. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    I have tried every thing yo can think of from waxing to googone. I use wahl. But I clean the track first. I use a centerline track cleaning car with a radio shack contact cleaner can't remember exactly what it is called but it is around $11.00 for a small can and has a brush applicator. After I clean it I use the oil. I use a Qtip cotton swab to apply it about 1 inch of rail every 30 feet or so. Then no problems for several months.
  18. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The prototype doesn't use electricity goiing throught he rails to power the trains, except electrics with third rail power or overhead wire. Also the prototype has much heavier equipment. I've noticed that the garden railroaders with large scale trains seem to have a lot less problem with dirty track than ho modelers, and I assume that n scale guys have more problems with keeping track clean than ho guys
  19. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Its been a week since my last post and I can tell you that my switcher continues to GLIDE down the rails and slip though turnouts without hesitation at wonderfully slow speeds! I am so tempted to oil up the rest of the layout! But, I will wait for another week just to see if any problems develop with the experiment.

    My intrepid switcher happily waiting for another slow speed assignment at Hudson Cement Co.

    Attached Files:

  20. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    Oil & rails isn't a combination that sounds right, but keep us informed Ralph. By the sounds of it, we might all be 'Oil'in up the rails' soon! :thumb:

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