Dust and Scale

I had a good start on an N scale layout in my basement several years ago, but I abandoned it because I finally decided it was too dusty
down there (see below). I recently began to think that N guage tracks are pretty small, I wonder if there would have been as much problem with the dust with a larger scale, like HO or even O? So that's my question, do you think dust would affect performance less in HO or O than in N? I've never heard this thing being discussed before so I thought I would ask.
This is the specific problem I was having, for those still interested. I can't 100% say for sure that dust was the problem. In fact, I originally thought the problem might have been moisture (it's sometimes a little damp down in the basement, but not particularly so. It's usually pretty dry). It was only later, after tearing it down that I decided maybe the problem was dust. I've posted this before in this group was no one was able to tell me for certain what they thought the problem was. Here's what was happening:
Basically, if I didn't run trains on the layout for a few days the locos started to run kind of jerky. They would sort of stop and start in a jerky fashion while the power was on. The longer they ran, the smoother they ran until they were back to normal. Then, as long as I used them everyday they ran fine. But if I would leave them for a few days they were jerky again and I had to start from scratch. Anyone else have this experience, and what was the cause?
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Possibly dirty track. It doesn't take long for the track to become dirty. My layout is in a spare bedroom and I have an electronic air cleaner, don't smoke, etc. and if I run my trains every day, they run ok. I still clean the track weekly. If I don't run 'em daily, I experience similar problems to those you have. To minimize the dust on your layout, you might want to cover the layout with a plastic dropcloth when not in use.
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad: http://www.billsrailroad.net Brief History of N Scale: http://www.billsrailroad.net/history/n-scale Model Railroad Books, Toys, and Trains: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore Resources--Links to 1,200 sites: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-favorite-links
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iarwain schrieb am 03.02.2007 16:59:

Your assumption is very true. The larger scales suffer less from dirty/dusty rails.
--
mit freundlichen Gruessen Reinhard Peters

mail: snipped-for-privacy@rub-peters.de
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iarwain spake thus:
[...]

As others have pointed out, dust is your enemy, especially in the smalle scales.
Which means you have to take measures against it. One of the instructive things about reading George Selios's books on his amazing layout (the Fabulous Franklin & South Manchester, as he calls it) is how he deals with dust. His environment is especially dusty since the layout is in the same building as his factory. His entire layout has a cloth cover that he pulls down over it each night. And he vacuums the layout regularly, using a small handheld vacuum or a small nozzle on a larger one. This works well because, as he points out, everything on the layout is securely glued down.
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Don't talk to me, those of you who must need to be slammed in the
forehead with a maul before you'll GET IT that Wikipedia is a
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That is why I moved away from N scale to O scale. Dust does not bother the large trains now.

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No doubt the O scale locos are easier to work on as well. I hated modifying N scale locos, what a pain in the arse.
I stick with N scale because my layout wants are always bigger than my space. It would be great to go to a bigger scale though. How many people here model in several different scales do you suppose?
Regarding the dust, if I had a long narrow shelf type layout I would be tempted to cover it with glass, plexiglass, clear plastic or something. I'm surprised this sort of thing isn't done more often. In the malls lately they've been having small vending style layouts under glass and you have to put money in to see the trains run.
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iarwain posted:
No doubt the O scale locos are easier to work on as well. I hated modifying N scale locos, what a pain in the arse.
I stick with N scale because my layout wants are always bigger than my space. It would be great to go to a bigger scale though. How many people here model in several different scales do you suppose?
I may find myself doing that. As I continue to plan and sketch my On30 layout, I keep running out of room for what I'd like to do.
Regarding the dust, if I had a long narrow shelf type layout I would be tempted to cover it with glass, plexiglass, clear plastic or something. I'm surprised this sort of thing isn't done more often. In the malls lately they've been having small vending style layouts under glass and you have to put money in to see the trains run.
The layout at BNF Hobby (our local train shop) is fairly large (HO), placed between a length of ground cabinets and ceiling cabinets and protected in between by sheets of plexiglass. But there are gaps here and there and a close look does reveal some dust buildup. It seems a good sealed off area and/or an air filtration system would be the only way to really keep the dust away. The trains run fine by the way so the owner must keep the track itself clean.
I'd love to see train layouts in the malls here. I remember when I was a kid there was a big mall down in southern California somewhere (it's been awhile) called "Old Town". Very nice at the time. Had a couple built in fun house and haunted house rides like you'd see at a carnival. In one wing there was a large rectangular HO train layout enclosed in glass. If I recall there were 4 actual tracks mixed together (crossed each other via bridges, tunnels, etc.) with one control station on each side. I think it cost a quarter to operate one of them for a few minutes. It's really a good idea and certainly would boost interest in the hobby (as long as the malls didn't charge too much rent for the space to set it up). High rent has run off a lot of nice stores in our malls here. Aside for clothing, shoes, and jewelry stores, there's not much to go for anymore.
~Brad
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I have a cheap Bachmann 0-4-0 loco that does the same thing. I haven't had the same problem with my Bachmann 4-8-4 Southern Pacific War Baby. Maybe the larger motor overcomes the problem.
Even after cleaning the track the 0-4-0 will act like that. If it sits for a few days, it runs in fits and starts (and stops, such that I have to nudge it) for a few minutes and then starts running smoothly.
I haven't had the same problem with O scale stuff. Other than having to crank the transformer up nearly half way before the loco will even start. But from what I've read, that's just the way the cheaper Lionel locos work.
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The wheels pick up the dirt from the track causing poor electrical conductivity. Wheel cleaners such as the Kadee Speedi-Driver Cleaner (and a similar one by Micro-Trains) help keep the wheels clean. I have more problems with my N scale steam locomotives than I do with the Diesels. The heavier the locomotive and the more wheels picking up electricity, the better they perform.
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad: http://www.billsrailroad.net Brief History of N Scale: http://www.billsrailroad.net/history/n-scale Model Railroad Books, Toys, and Trains: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore Resources--Links to 1,200 sites: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-favorite-links
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I meant to include this:
http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-ballasting.html#cleaning
It describes the method I use to clean the track on my N scale railroad.
Bill
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Good evening Bill;
wrote:

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Is it possible that wheel diameter plays a part? N scale wheels are about 1/3 the circumference of O scale and therefore have a comparably smaller contact area for connectivity. More wired wheels will give a greater contact area. I agree with you that track/wheel connectivity becomes more critical as the scale size decreases.
Cheers, John
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On Mon, 05 Feb 2007 03:09:47 GMT, "John Fraser"
of course it does. and the smaller the wheel, the more difficult the electrical contact.
regards,
--
Gianni Rondinini (31, tanti, RA)
Nikon user - Bmw driver
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snipped-for-privacy@Mars.org wrote:

The problem with the 0-4-0 is probably the number of points contacting the rails.
For me, this problem is quie noticable when comparing HO diesel locomotives that only have two contacts per side vs. Athearn and others that have four contacts per side.
What scale is your 0-4-0 and how much extra space do you have in it?
There is a particular locomotive I have that is troublesome because of the small number of contact points it has. What I have considered doing is getting the largest non-polarized electrolytic capacitor I could find that would fit in this locomotive (or maybe put several in parallel). This would store enough energy in the locomotive to get it over trouble spots. Flywheels will do the same thing, but adding a flywheel to a locomotive requires a bit of mechanical ability such as shaft alignment and adding support points for the bearings. It also assumes that there is space on the motor shaft for a flywheel. Capacitors can be added anywhere in a locomotive or tender so long as they are electrically connected across the motor poles.
--
-Glennl
The despammed service works OK, but unfortunately
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On Sun, 04 Feb 2007 23:33:50 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com ( snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com) wrote:

I mistyped that. It's an HO 0-6-0 loco (Bachmann - Smoky Mountain Express). I've never taken it apart. That is a little beyond my fiddling threshold at this point.
It will probably just be a display item. The only reason I bought it was because it's the only smoking loco the hobby shop had. They were all sold out of the Lionel Polar Express sets, and I wanted something quick to put under the tree.
I'm planning an O scale layout. But I might just go ahead and put an HO layout within it. I've seen here that other people say they do it. At least those who just want to run trains without as much thought given to absolute realism.
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The lazy man's answer to electrical conductivity is a product called Rail Zip. Works wonders on conventional DC. Should be available at the LHS. If instructions are followed, it works. I've used it for years on my home layout with excellent results. When we started using it on the club layout, 80-90% of our electrical conductivity problems disappeared - the remaining ones being mostly dirty wheels on engines. Since the club layout went to DCC, we've hardly ever had to use it at all. I'm not qualified to speculate as to why or how the DCC cuts down the dust, gunk, etc., but empirically, it sure does.
Rail Zip says just use a couple of drops - believe them. Too much will cause gunk and slipping. However, properly applied it appears to actual increase wheel adhesion to the rail. [Back a few years when I was trying to "convince" some doubting club members, a heavy train was spinning going up one of our steepest grades. I put a small drop in each rail in front of it. It hit the drops and took off like a rocket.]
A Google will give all sort of information leads.
--
Hank Murray
Quincy, IL
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