cleaning old Marklin K track

I've inherited a Marklin K setup. The metal parts of the track are oxidized (covered in white powder, plating is Zn? Sn?) and don't make good electrical contact. What can
I do to clean up the track?
A previous posting on this n.g. suggested MAAS, available in Walmart for cleaning wheels. Is liquid wrench OK? (good for iron, but I don't know what it does on the plating on the K track).
Alternately I was thinking of brushing on ammonia or vinegar with a tooth brush.
Thanks Joe
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Joseph Mack NA3T EME(B,D), FM05lw North Carolina
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The original Maerklin K-track had anodised rolled sheet iron rails - that stuff isn't worth reviving as if you take the coating off it rusts.
The second series was a not great quality grade of stainless steel solid rail. You can polish that to your heart's content.
The rail joiners/fishplates aren't particularly good quality and any lost or bent ones can be replaced with Atlas Code 100 joiners. The Ma fishplates can cause poor current transfer. The Ma ones are retained by a bent tag at the inner end so replacements won't always be on the correct rail end when you take the track sections apart. To take Ma fishplates off the track sections, grasp the fishplate with large electrical pliers across the fishplate as close to the rail end as possible. Now roll the pliers up and over the end of the rail for leverage and the Ma fishplate will slide out. Afterwards it will look like a flat metal "C" - never mind, it was useless anyway.
At the ends of the sleepers are copper fingers which go one up-one down under each rail to link the center studs electrically. Make sure those aren't mangled. The amount of upward and downward bend is just sufficient so that the fingers slide over each other and make firm rubbing contact. If you rely solely on the contacts to pass current on a permanent layout you will be disappointed as they require the rubbing from frequent dismantling and reassembly to stay unoxidised.
Regards, Greg.P.
mack wrote:

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Greg Procter wrote:

thanks. Seems like you've dealt with this before :-)
This stuff is from the early '60's and has been stored in a dry attic for the last 35yrs. I would imagine I could tell the difference between these two metals by looking, but I can't. I'll put some steelo to it to see what it might be.

Can see this coming up.

had wondered what they were about. I only just found out a few minutes ago that these are a 3-rail system. I couldn't figure out why both rails were connected. I thought there must have been a short.

OK you need good fishplates too. The copper tabs are quite dark.
Thanks Joe
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mack wrote:

Yes - I moved from K-track to Peco with my own stud added and then to two rail when I bought a lathe.

Wave a magnet at it - the soft iron rail will stick like it's life depended on it while the stainless steel will have a mild attraction.

I'm sure the material altered at regular intervals - why they didn't go for phosphor-bronze right from the start ...

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Greg Procter wrote:

everyone should have a lathe

of course doh! they're iron :-(
(I have some stainless screws as a control).

found these with google

didn't find Ma fishplates. google comes up with
www.modelmegastore.com
but they don't know about "fishplates" when I get there.
presumably I should stay with the same series fishplates as the originals or should I just change to Atlas Code 100's from the start?

yes
presumably I need to clean these copper tabs straight off. Maybe some HCl will do it (with lots of washing afterwards)
Thanks Joe
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mack wrote: [...]

[...]
Railjoiners (or rail joiners) in our English.
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Wolf Kirchmeir spake thus:

>

Right; "fishplates" are also used in our English, but they refer to the metal plates under the rails on the Real Thing.
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On Sat, 03 Dec 2005 18:46:54 GMT, David Nebenzahl

Fishplates in our English are commonly called 'Joint bars' in your English, both are used to join real railway rails. Rail joiners are strictly for models and are not fishplates in anyone's English. Keith
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Keith spake thus:

Whoops. My bad. Not tie plates. Give me my punishment (do I gotta clean all that track *again*?).
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

"Fishplates are the railjoiners - so named because the cross section of the plate/strip is a bit like a swimming fish in shape to fit into the side of normal rail. The metal plates between flat bottomed rail and sleeper is a baseplate. These will sometimes be incorrectly called a "chair" by British modellers as the equivalent fixture for Bullhead rail is called a chair.

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>The metal plates between flat bottomed rail and sleeper is a baseplate.
The metal plate between the flat bottomed rail and the crosstie is a tie plate.
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Those are "tie plates" hereabouts.
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mack spake thus:
[...]

Yikes. I'd try some vinegar first; usually this is enough acid to get that kind of crud off.
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

It helps to add some salt to the vinegar - that makes it a buffered H-Cl solution, which works a little better than vinegar alone.
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

 OK. HCl is overkill.
Have found rail joiners too for those that have been sending me trainslations.
Thanks Joe
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mack wrote:

Well, of course everyone has a lathe, but I was newly married and had my first home and a big mortgage, and well, I had this idea that one should have somewhere to keep one's lathe out of the worst of the weather!

"Dohhs" are so much more fun to the observer!

There are varying grades of stainless steel - Ma stainless steel stains even if it doesn't rust! ... and it attracts magnets!

You don't want Ma fishplates - trust me!

Try " railjoiners" English vs US language.

Just go with Atlas's Code 100. It is the width of the foot of the rail that is the relevant dimension.

It would be much easier to clean them before you lay the track! ;-)

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