Clean track/wheels

A thousand people or so pass through the viewing areas of the San Diego Model Railroad Museum every day, and they bring in lint, dust, salt air, pet hair, and a number of other things along with them. If the rails are not cleaned regularly the locos begin to stutter and stall even in DC mode after just a few days. And we've found that clean track is even more critical when we're running in DCC mode.
On my home layout, our air-conditioner sucks pollen and dust in from outside and distributes it over the layout with a profligate hand from spring to fall, and the furnace does likewise through the winter months.
There's nothing "alleged" about either dirty track or it's effect on rolling stock performance. If it weren't a real problem we wouldn't spend so much time cleaning rails and wheels.
~Pete
Reply to
Twibil
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Except for this, mostly good advice especially about keeping things clean.
Don't put anything on the commutator. Any oil like substance will turn the carbon dust to a conductive paste between the segments. In larger machines operating at higher voltages, this will lead to destructive commutator flashover. On a small low voltage machine (such as a model locomotive motor) it just mucks up the works and hurts performance. Conductive oil will just make it happen faster.
Any cleaning substance will interfere with the chemical voodoo that takes place between the brush and commutator surface. The com surface should be of uniform color, smooth with nothing sticking up between the segments and the brushes should move easily in their holders and not bounce or throw sparks. Brush pressure should be between 3-4 Lb/in^2. That's a pretty small force given that the area of a brush in a model motor is maybe 1/64th of a sq inch. The force on such a brush is on the order of 1 oz.
Reply to
Fred Lotte
The filter on ours (Trane - how apt - Clean Effects) seems to have made a significant difference in dust thoughout the house, despite being largely negated during the summer when we run a whole house fan during cool Delta Breeze nights.
Reply to
Steve Caple
Hi,
Big_Al wrote:
My layout's track and track power supply has been completed last weekend ;-) It's N scale and rather small, though ;-)
Well, I have a loco with dirty wheels which runs very badly. I found the wheels to be very dirty and actually the running surface not even. Instead there are small groves along the wheels' running surfaces, similar to a very fine tread (like on a screw but much finer). Since I got the loco second-hand I don't know what abuse it has taken ;-) How do I best remove the dirt (and do I need to polish the surfaces)?
Thanks for any hint ;-)
Reply to
Bernhard Agthe
Bernhard Agthe wrote in news:gm96jp$jt3$ snipped-for-privacy@daniel-new.mch.sbs.de:
In extreme cases, I've had luck with a wire wheel (brass would be best, steel might be a little stiff) in a motor tool. After removing the main layer of gunk, I applied a thin layer of oil to the wheels. Pickup is still a little iffy, but I think that's more due to the pick ups themselves and not the cleaning process.
Once a surface is messed up, it's going to be difficult to restore. It might be advisable to simply replace the wheelsets.
Puckdropper
Reply to
Puckdropper
My layout room is a single-car garage under the main house (we live in a tri-level). I keep that room always closed and have installed a small de-humidifier. On the "intake" side of the de-humidifier, I taped a regular furnace filter (cut to size). This seems to keep the room and layout almost totally dust free.
Reply to
Whodunnit
Once the wheels are polished (P's method should work well), apply gun-bluing. This darkens the wheels (nice touch), and creates an non-oxidising thin conductive film (don't know the chemistry). I've found this especially helpful on brass drive wheels.
HTH
wolf k.
Reply to
Wolf K
Hi,
Wolf K wrote:
I'm a bit afraid of doing more damage using a wire brush but then the wheels seem damaged anyway ;-)
Probably :-/
Nice Idea! Thanks.
Ciao...
Reply to
Bernhard Agthe
On 2/3/2009 7:28 AM Wolf K spake thus:
Wolf, I don't know why you keep coming up with this gun-bluing stuff. You know, this has been discussed here before; first of all, doesn't it only work on steel, and not on other (non-ferrous) metals?
But more importantly, you seem to have the mistaken idea that the coating left by such methods can be *more* conductive than the base metal itself, which is ridiculous. No coating which results from a chemical reaction with the metal is going to be more conductive; chances are it's going to be a lot *less* conductive. This applies to oxides as well as anodic and cathodic deposits. (The only kinds of coatings which might be more conductive would be metal platings.)
It is possible that the resulting coating may have properties that allow it to stay cleaner than the base metal; I don't know. But I don't see why one needs to look for anything with "magic" properties like the ones you're imputing; just keep the damn railheads clean and your layout will run well.
Reply to
David Nebenzahl
[...]
Yes, it works on non-ferrous metals. Try it. It's toxic, BTW, so don't ingest the stuff. ;-)
I googled on "gun bluing chemistry", and found:
From Wiki:
"There are also methods of cold bluing, which do not require heated solutions. Commercial products are widely sold in small bottles for cold bluing firearms, and these products are primarily used by individual gun owners for implementing small touch-ups to a gun's finish, to prevent a small scratch from becoming a major source of rust on a gun over time. At least one of the cold bluing solutions contains selenium dioxide, to accomplish the bluing. Cold bluing is not particularly resistant to holster wear, nor does it provide a large degree of rust resistance. It does, however, often provide a very good cosmetic touch-up of a gun's finish when applied and additionally oiled on a regular basis."
From a forum for machinists:
"Liquid gun blue is a two step process, the fitst deposits a very thin copper layer from copper sulfate (the blue color ) and the copper is immediately turned black by the selenium in the solution. It must have free iron on the surface for the copper and the iron to swap so the copper plates onto the iron."
IMO, the fact that the selenium reacts with the copper is the reason that the stuff works on copper bearing non-ferrous \alloys such as brass, nickel silver ans Zamac.
I never said it was more conductive, just conductive. The main advantage is that it prevents oxidation, and as you know, the oxides that form on brass are insulators. That's also why thin oil films work - they do add resistance, but not enough to matter, and they prevent both oxidation and arcing.
I think you're reading too much into my comments.
Bottom line: I treated the n/s rail on my shelf layout with the stuff before building the track. I polished the railhead with a wooden stick, 1200 grit crocus cloth, followed by a wipe down with a soft cloth. I applied Labelle 108, ran the engine up and down every track a few times, and that has been that. The railhead is brighter, but not as bright as bare n/s. And I have haven't had to clean the rail in years. When an engine won't run, it's the engine, not the track that has a problem (as narrated in a previous post.)
HTH
wolf k.
Reply to
Wolf K
Now I feel like jumping in here and attack Wolf! :-)
From reading this thread and Wolf's comments, the gun bluing chemical seems almost identical to A-West Blacken-It solution which model railroaders have been using for many years. Both use the same chemicals. Micro Engineering also sells a similar solution for weathering their track and I suspect they use it in making their own weathered track.
Wolf, you mention that you "blued" your NS rails and then promptly polished them with crocus cloth. Guess what: the bluing layer is so thin that you just removed it! You now have bare NS rail tops! Remember your quote about bluing which states that the bluing layer is not particularly scratch or abrasion resistant? There you go.... The key here is Labelle oil - it (Not the bluing) protects NS from oxidizing.
Peteski
Reply to
Peter W.
On 2/3/2009 1:43 PM Peter W. spake thus:
I still think the whole idea of coating one's rails and wheels with a film of oil is horrendous and asking for trouble. However, I recognize that there are lots of folks out there who swear by such stuff as Wahl's clipper oil, etc. May be urban folklore or mythology. I guess if it works for you ...
Reply to
David Nebenzahl
Hi,
Puckdr> In extreme cases, I've had luck with a wire wheel (brass would be best,
Well, I used a sturdy paper towel and some alcoholic cleaner. Basically put the damp paper on the rails, hold the engine in place and turn up the power. The dark smear on the towel is quite impressive...
Before doing this, the loco ran only when the power was at "50%", now it runs at about 30%, so this was/is quite a success ;-) Still need to take it apart to clean the dust off the pickup. And find a way that the bogies' outside decoration doesn't get stuck at turnout frogs ;-)
Thanks for the hints ;-)
Reply to
Bernhard Agthe
Have you found that this procedure causes any ill effects on the traction tires? Thanks Bernhard Agthe wrote: : Hi, : : Puckdr:: In extreme cases, I've had luck with a wire wheel (brass would be :: best, steel might be a little stiff) in a motor tool. After :: removing the main layer of gunk, I applied a thin layer of oil to :: the wheels. Pickup is still a little iffy, but I think that's more :: due to the pick ups themselves and not the cleaning process. : : Well, I used a sturdy paper towel and some alcoholic cleaner. : Basically put the damp paper on the rails, hold the engine in place : and turn up the power. The dark smear on the towel is quite : impressive... : : Before doing this, the loco ran only when the power was at "50%", now : it runs at about 30%, so this was/is quite a success ;-) Still need : to take it apart to clean the dust off the pickup. And find a way : that the bogies' outside decoration doesn't get stuck at turnout : frogs ;-) : : Thanks for the hints ;-)
Reply to
Joe91735
Hi,
[Cleaning loco wheels with alcoholic fluid]
Joe91735 wrote:
Actually the loco has no traction tires. But I do imagine you could use this method for the non-traction-tire axles?
Sorry for not being helpful.
Reply to
Bernhard Agthe
Yup. A german one, to be exact (1). It's quite a nice-looking loco, not as boring as the most modern locos (e.g. Siemens Taurus) but more boring than the american diesels (e.g. SD70)... In reality it was quite successful, mainly due to low axle loads and good enough pulling power for light trains in hilly terrain.
The model is the two-axle-bogie version with the outer axles supported by springs (only the inner ones are driven). Thus, the outer end of the bogies hangs quite low and often hits the frogs... I consider modifying the decorative outer plates by filing the corner off (don't like this) or stabilizing the complete bogie (don't know how yet)...
Ciao and thanks for all the hints..
(1) (german only)
Reply to
Bernhard Agthe

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