Track Cleaning

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Prof1000, Nov 30, 2007.

  1. Prof1000

    Prof1000 New Member

    Hi I am new to this hobby and am having trouble with trains stopping on tracks then they go with a little push. I am planning to clean the track with Goo Gone or wet baby wipes. I would wrap them over a small piece of plywood and do the whole track layout. I also heard that the pink school erasers are good. Any help would be appreciated thanks.

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Haven't tried baby wipes... That's a new one for me!

    Basically, try to stay away from anything abrasive (including the much touted "Bright Boy") unless absolutely necessary. A soft cloth wetted with isopropyl alcohol is a good start.

    Don't forget that the locomotive wheels (on the engine and/or tender as applicable) that pick up power should also be cleaned.

  3. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Prof, I use goo-gone and it does a good job for me, followed with sparing amounts of Whal clipper oil. I would not use the baby wipes because most of them contain oils that will trap the dirt and not conduct electricity. Whals does not seem to trap the dirt and it does conduct electricity.
    Also, the pink erasers seem to crumble, meaning you would have to vacuum the track after cleaning or the eraser particles might get into the locomotive gears and cause problems.

  4. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Wahl oil does do a good job in cleaning the track. However, if you run any locos that have traction tires, this can cause a problem. The wahl oil expands the rubber traction tires making them too large and useless (I know from experience and it took me months to find replacement ones!!).

    Place a few small drops of wahl oil on the track, then run one of your heavier locos around a few times, and keep wiping up the dirt. You'll have to wipe up the crud from the track as well as the loco's wheels. It's a little messy and takes quite a bit time to wipe up all the crud, but it does work well. This is what I would call a thorough cleaning

    Alternatively, a soft damp cloth, moistened with isopropyl alcohol should also work (but may not be as thorough?). I might even try this method this weekend.

    Yes, you can buy track cleaners/erasers from hobby shops that do look a little like the usual pencil erasers. These work well also but (as mentioned) are more abrasive. I use one of these quite regularly (but maybe I shouldn't?! if they're so abrasive).

    HTH, Rob
  5. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Thanks Robert, I keep forgetting about those pesky traction tires:oops:.

  6. w8jy

    w8jy Member

    Somewhere I had read about using CRC 5-56 on clean track to improve conductivity. I tried it, and it seems to work well with no bad side effects. My ten year old can is nearing empty, and I have been unable to find a source for replacement. Has anyone used this, and does anyone have any ideas where I might be able to find some?
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Jess, the only other CRC product I have seen is there electric parts cleaner. Do not use it ! I melted a throwbar on a Atlas turnout.

  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    MasonJar stopped a little soon. All wheels should be cleaned at the same time as your track (I know, this can be a big job) because they will just put the dirt back on, quite quickly if there's any solvent left on the rails.
    To clean most wheels, take a spare length of track and put a paper towel over it. Put a few drops of track cleaner on it so there's a wet spot an inch to and inch and a half long over the rails. Run one end of the car through this a few times then onto the dry towel. Move the towel when it gets black; keep going until there's no more black coming off. Then do the other end.
    If the black gunk doesn't shift, you may have to loosen it with a bit of stripwood or plastic. A slightly out of round wheel may pick up more on one side.
  9. wpyr

    wpyr Member

    I use special model power track cleaner
  10. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    There are a number of products by various companies that will work as well as CRC 5-56. The secret is to look for "Electronic Cleaner," not "electrical cleaner" or "brake cleaner." Electronic cleaner is also sometimes called tv tuner cleaner. The brake cleaners are designed to wash down asbestos brakes and keep the asbestos in suspension for disposal as well as to wash the newer brake compositions with out putting a lot of dust in the air. Since there is no plastic involved in brakes, it won't be plastic compatible. Electrical cleaner is designed to clean electric motors and contacts, again, it is not plastic compatible. Electronic cleaners are designed to clean electronic circuit boards wqithout disolving the plastic. You can pick them up at Radio Shack (expensive), or any electronic supply house, also at any industrial hardware warehouse like Grainger, etc.

    I forgot to mention that a good thing to use instead of baby wipes which will tend to be lubricated are those little alcohol wipes that you are given at the local barbeque restaraunt when you order ribs. Another source of the wipes is a medical supply, since that is what the nurse uses to wipe your shoulder off with when you get a shot. You could make a nice track cleaner by using a small wooden block with a dowel for a handle drilled and glued into it. Then use a couple of rubber bands to hold the wipe on the block. I don't know if those wipes are available in grocery stores or super markets, but if you have a restaraunt supply distributor in yoour area, you could check with them. The other source might be to talk with the owner or manager of a local restaraunt that uses those wipes and see if you could buy a case of them from him/her.
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    My wife has a constant supply of those wipes; I think the drug store has them.
  12. DeckRoid

    DeckRoid Member

    They also make excellent wheel cleaners for locos. Put the wipe on the track, put the train 1/2 on the wipe, 1/2 on the track. Hold the loco and turn the speed up to about 3/4. Then turn the loco around and do the other side.

    They clean the wheels very quickly and if you use the ones from a doc office, they also disinfect the wheels too!

  13. Tomytuna

    Tomytuna New Member

    ok..nice thread....question is?has anyone applied polish to rails AFTER being cleaned...I read somewhere that silver polish is good..any comments?..thanks Tom
  14. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    A 89 cent bottle of alcohol and cleaning pads made from a old Tshirt will also clean track..To clean wheels put alcohol on a paper towel and place on the rails and run you train over the paper towel.
  15. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Tomy, from what I have heard, most polishes contain carnuba wax which will insulate the rails.

  16. JR&Son

    JR&Son Member

    Good Vodka works for me
    Either for cleaning or for drinking if I get really frustrated.

  17. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    Not sure how these will work for track cleaning because I never had a chance to run them. Bought these in germany 15 years ago. The pads on the bottom are not very abrasive (more like felt) and they rotate as the car is pulled along. Some day I will be able to let you know how they work:oops:. Hopefully sooner than later.:mrgreen:
  18. prodigy2k7

    prodigy2k7 Member

    I had the same problem. What cleans it for me is erasers from pencils. I even used the big 2 inch long erasers without the pencil part. and went over the whole track. I ran my loco in circles and when it slowed down I just passed my eraser over it and that was that!

    If it still wont come clean try alcohol
  19. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    I use the GLEAM process myself. I did it in June of '06 and haven't had to clean my track since, except for a light dusting once in a while it the layout hadn't been used in some time. First I sanded the railheads with 800 grit sandpaper going in the same direction as the rails. Sanding across is bad. After that was done I wiped it all down with a dry cloth then burnished the railheads with a piece of stainless steel that's long enough to span the rails. This makes the surface of the rails smooth and closes up any places where dirt can collect. I then applied a thin coating of Blue Magic Metal Polish paste to the railheads with a piece of cork roadbed. After this had dried I then buffed the polish off with a clean piece of cork. I was amazed at the amount of crud that was coming off the track. The piece of cork is good for about three feet of track then must be thrown away and a new piece used for the next stretch. Once the polish was buffed off I lightly wiped the track with a dry cloth and commenced to running trains.
  20. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    the help you sre sking for has eluded model rail roaders since the beginning of time. there is no sure fire answer to this delemawall1. all of the answers you have recieved are good, I would stay away from goo gone it will leave a film that cancollect dirt. If you read the directions on the bottle it says to wipe the surface after applying.I like the contact cleaner and alcohol wipes myself

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