Alternative to Bright Boy

From the DCC4Everyone list

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Re: DCC and Rail Cleaners Posted by: "Hart Corbett" hwcwsl Fri May 23, 2008 9:14 pm (PDT)

However, I also have approached cleaning rails differently and it works very well:

Most people have used "Bright Boys" on their track at one time or another. These leave fine scratches that accumulates dirt. The material in them is a crude form of cratex, a hard, rubberized material with abrasive in it. The Bright Boys use a coarse abrasive and also harden over time.

I decided to look into cratex material further, so I went straight to the Cratex Manufacturing Co., Inc., at:

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This takes you directly to the "Rubberized Abrasives" section where the properties of cratex are described. Read it, then click on "Blocks and Sticks" to see what sort of flat sizes the stuff comes in. There are a number to chose from. I bought one stick about a year ago -- 6" long by 2" x

1". It's in "Extra Fine" grade [part no. 8804]. You'll have to ask the Cratex company for prices, using the e-mail link on the page.

When I received the stick, I cut most of it into smaller sections, roughly resembling the size of a typical Bright Boy. I used a radial saw with a very old blade. Be SURE to use an old one because when you're done, the blade will be unusable and unsharpenable!

This stuff is FAR superior to anything like a Bright Boy! It gives a very fine polish to the rails, much like using a liquid or gel metal polish applied with a rag but without the mess. It also does not wear down appreciably which is far different than a Bright Boy. If you want to clean a block after use, run it under warm water with a detergent powder applied to it. Rub the powder in with your fingers and then rinse. I use Boraxo powdered hand cleaner for this.

Here's further info on the Cratex Co.:

Cratex Manufacturing Co., Inc.

328 Encinitas Blvd., Ste. 200 Encinitas, CA 92024-3723 USA

Phone numbers: (800) 800-4077 and (760) 942-2877

Fax numbers: (800) 788-0463 and (760) 942-4513


Mark Mathu Whitefish Bay, Wis.

Reply to
Mark Mathu
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I turned to using plain wood, carefully cut to HO rail size... worked so well my local dealer said I should sell them...


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Didn't John Allen use simple sliders cut from Masonite on his track cleaning cars? I'm thinking that he just have used the side with the little square pattern on it as opposed to the smooth side...


Reply to
Dan Merkel

Yeah, I do the same thing with scraps of 1x4 left over from benchwork construction, or even 2x4 scraps if that's whats available.

But I don't bother with grooves. The cross-cut ends work just fine as-is, and it only takes a little care to clean the turnouts.

If/when they get loaded up too bad, I'll just grab another scrap piece. If nothing's handy (doesn't happen often), I'll just trim the ends off the one that's loaded to expose fresh surfaces.


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Some 35 years ago when I was a member of the NVMRRs in Alexandria, VA (now in Vienna), we cleaned our track weekly using pieces of cork roadbed. No idea what they use now, but it worked quite well then.

Ray Hobin

NMRA Life # 17XX; TCA # HR-78-XXXXX; ARHS # 2XXX Durham, NC [Where tobacco was king; now The City of Medicine]

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On 6/12/2008 6:20 PM DMS spake thus:

A small piece of illustration board, used on edge, works well too.

Reply to
David Nebenzahl

Seems to me a basic ink eraser would work. But then, the Received Knowledge in the computer community is that if you have any questions about the contacts for the boards, pull 'em out of the slots and use a pencil eraser on the gold (or whatever) contacts to remove any corrosion.


Reply to

"Dan Merkel" wrote

Yes. So does our entire club. And if you make certain that there's a track-cleaning car in every train, and you remember to clean the sliders after every operating session (120 grit sandpaper), they work quite well, too!

We actually use 3/16" hardboard "tempered service" instead of the Masonite brand, but yes; we use it with the rough side facing down and the smooth side facing up. They seem to collect most of whatever the train is leaving behind when they're run as the car next to the caboose.

And when you look at the crud they've picked up after an afternoon's operating time, you'll be certain that they're doing their jobs, too!


Reply to
P. Roehling

mark wrote in news:fvGdnUmwPbwDgcrVnZ2dnUVZ

An ink eraser would scratch the contacts on the board, so that's why you'd use a pencil eraser. Your track, however, is much tougher and sometimes needs the added abrasiveness. (Other times, all it needs is a pencil eraser.)


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