Track Cleaning?

I know, a question as old as model railroading. But I'd be interested in comments, as I am starting work on an into the other room and back layout
after a long absence from the hobby.
HO scale and nickel silver rail. How often do you clean your track, and how effective are track cleaning cars as opposed to manually cleaning the rails? How many get away with almost never cleaning NS rail?
I'm a "watch the trains run" kind of guy, so I am looking for the least track maintenance possible.
A side note: How lucky a guy am I?; the layout will be double track around three walls of our large bedroom running through the headboard of the bed, with one return loop in a large closet, and the other in a closet on the opposite wall with the tip of the loop poking out of a tunnel in a corner of the bathroom. When I first considered the idea and mentioned it to my wife she was enthusiastic (she likes taking pictures and video of real trains with me on RV trips.) I asked her, "Why do you like watching trains enough to tolerate one running through your bedroom?"
She answered, "Who wouldn't like watching trains run anytime they want?"
What a woman! Thank you, Meghan.
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Where I can reach, I find the easiest way to clean track is manually. A bright boy works well, but many report that it causes minor scratches on the rail head which promotes further corrosion and dirt build up. I mostly use Flitz on a rag wrapped tightly around a bit of wood just slightly wider than the rail width. Minimum Flitz works well so it doesn't slop over the sides. Then wipe it off with a similar clean cloth while still wet (the instruction say "don't let it dry). If some does get on the rail sides, I clean it with a q-tip.
Flitz has a corrosion inhibitor (and is non-toxic, approved for food service use), and I only need to use it about every 6 months or so.
I've also used the MNP cleaning car. It has rotating pads. I got several pad sets. I moisten the first with the Flitz, drive it over a length of track, then change to clean pads and polish that section. Again, not too much Flitz. Then periodically, I run the MNP car with clean pads just to touch it up. That also works well.
I've never been entirely happy with the various roller cleaners, or the masonite bar slung under a box car. Some folks swear by the masonite technique and always have one in their consists.
I've used the Aztec roller cleaners but without chemicals. They have a cratex (like a bright boy) roller, and a cloth one for use with goo-gone or Aero Track cleaner. My belief (and that's all it is) is that wet cleaners will wind up guking things up by leaving an film which will attract dirt.
On the subject of track cleaning, I suspect MOST track contact problem are less with the NS track getting corroded, but with locomotive wheels getting dirty and either leaving that dirt on the track after a GooGone type application, or just staying on the wheels and causing loss of contact. So, clean your loco wheels, too. I use the MicroMark Rail and Track cleaner or the aforementioned Flitz. I turn the loco upside down in a cradle, apply power to spin the drivers and use a q-tip to apply the cleaner and to clean it off. I do this whenever a loco seems to be having problems.
Another cause of what appears to be stalling due to dirty track is short wheelbase locos and uneven track, especially turnouts. Keep a wary eye when you are laying track.
It is very cool to have a railroading family rather than just one of you. My wife insisted on a garden railroad along with my HO layout. So it is in progress as we speak.
Ed
in article _CiJd.22073$ snipped-for-privacy@bgtnsc04-news.ops.worldnet.att.net, tkranz at snipped-for-privacy@worldnet.att.net wrote on 1/24/05 7:00 PM:

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Ed Oates
http://homepage.mac.com/edoates
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I use a Peco track cleaning rubber or some Isocol Rubbing Alcohol which is readily available in most supermarkets.Well in Australia it is anyway, its also a good cleaner of wheels of locomtoives that have 12 wheel pick up/drive.
Nathan
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Stupid foul mouthed git changed his address. Snuck by filter. Thats easy to fix.
Shame that even when he isn't being foul mouthed, he still can't learn to selectively trim prior posts in a thread.
Back to the byte bucket bozo.
--
Jim McLaughlin

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What do you do for your Lima locomotives with only 4 wheel drive Nathan?
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Terry Flynn


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Do consider a masonite block suspended beneath a stock car ----
#649-6035 - from your dealer through Walthers ---
Bruce
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Those who speak most of progress measure it by quantity and not by quality.
-- George Santayana
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Someone has a new high voltage electronic car out now. Supposed to be the cat's meow. See; http://tonystrains.com/technews/electrak.htm
Miniatronics Electrak Clean II
Over a hundred but appears to work really well. Fast work in those tunnels.
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tkranz wrote: I know, a question as old as model railroading. But I'd be interested in comments, as I am starting work on an into the other room and back layout after a long absence from the hobby. HO scale and nickel silver rail. How often do you clean your track, and how effective are track cleaning cars as opposed to manually cleaning the rails? How many get away with almost never cleaning NS rail? I'm a "watch the trains run" kind of guy, so I am looking for the least track maintenance possible. ------------------------------------------------- Here's how I clean my track:
http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-ballasting#cleaning
I find that the more often you run the trains, the less often the track needs to be cleaned. I suppose the wheels pick up the dirt.
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 Bookstore: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore Children's Books and Toy Trains: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore-4 Resources--Links to 1,000 sites: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-favorite-links
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tkranz wrote: I know, a question as old as model railroading. But I'd be interested in comments, as I am starting work on an into the other room and back layout after a long absence from the hobby. HO scale and nickel silver rail. How often do you clean your track, and how effective are track cleaning cars as opposed to manually cleaning the rails? How many get away with almost never cleaning NS rail? I'm a "watch the trains run" kind of guy, so I am looking for the least track maintenance possible. ------------------------------------------------- Here's how I clean my track:
http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-ballasting#cleaning
I find that the more often you run the trains, the less often the track needs cleaning. I suppose the wheels pick up some of the dirt.
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 Bookstore: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore Children's Books and Toy Trains: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore-4 Resources--Links to 1,000 sites: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-favorite-links
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The Roco track cleaning cars work very well and they sell a track cleaning block that is made from the same material as the pad under the cars. It also works very well.
--
+GF+

"I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make
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It's when all your buddys are sitting on the bed and drinking beers and running the trains at 3 AM that your wife will have problems.... No, I will keep the trains in the spare room, thank you.
Jim Stewart
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Naaah! Meghan says, "I'll be serving the beers and flirting with the guys!"

layout
bed,
corner
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I want to create a MOW rail grinding car/maintenance set, that is self propelled. Of course it won't really grind/mill the surface, but it will clean. That's why I have been trying to find a source for small gears and ring/pinion sets, NOTHING!!!
I, like you, am a lucky man. Hamilton and I were married almost 14 years ago (I'm now 63) and of coarse she brought with her, family baggage, including her fathers old Marklin 3 rail stuff from Germany. She loves it and we were considering a setup much like the one you have. A wall RR.
I posted a message earlier in the group, asking for any info anyone would have on a wall, ceiling, nooks and crannies type RR in HO. I would love some pictures to snuffmuffinATworldnet.att.net just change the AT.
Our house has vaulted ceilings, pillars, ledges and I see lots of possibilities for tunnel arches, bridge suspensions and so forth.
Any suggestions and pics would be appreciated.
Thanks Dave & Hamilton

how
rails?
around
of
wife
enough
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Have you looked at the NWSL stuff? Them plus the Grandt Line stuff should do a lot towards what you are looking for.
-- Why isn't there an Ozone Hole at the NORTH Pole?
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Bob !!!
Exactly what I was looking for and damn decent prices at http://www.grandtline.com for anybody else that wants to peek.
Thanks a bunch Dave

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http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MRPics http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vintageHO
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I use a roller track cleaning car with alcohol. Run it around every few sessions and change the roller fabric frequently. No worries.
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tkranz wrote:

About once a year. If it needs it. I don't smoke, this is an all-electric house, the train room is in the basement a long ways from the kitchen, and I run trains about once a week.
That should be enough data to go on. :-)
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I use contact shoes to the track with all of my locos and find that I don't have to clean the track unless I've been doing some woodworking (lots of sawdust in the air type stuff) there is no need to clean the track with the shoes. I'll note here that the track is usually so dirty that when an unmodified Athearn loco is placed on the track, it will not run well after about 10' and by the time it has made it 40', it is basically so crudded up that it won't run even at full speed.
-- Why isn't there an Ozone Hole at the NORTH Pole?
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I have struggled with this for 30 years, including command control CTC 32 system which was very susceptible to dirty track crosstalk problems. I have tried pretty much all of the chemicals on the market or that have been advocated on various discussion lists, and I always come back to a product called Dr. Bonzola's oil, available from Walthers. A few drops here and there while trains are running will be spread out and protect the layout. In particular put it at the exit from any staging yards or engine facilities, as oxydiation of pickup wheels is just as bad a problem as track dirt. It takes a few minutes to have an effect, and I generally treat the railroad the day before a scheduled operating session to assure it will work properly. Dr. Bonzola's is my "ultimate weapon" for improved contact.
I have a lot of hidden staging track and have also tried many different solutions for cleaning them. Including various dragged cleaning pads (which have a tendency to snag on switch points and derail, which is bad in hidden areas). For some time I used the motorized track cleaning car from MNP, which was very effective cleaning track after a bit of fiddling with weight and different types of sanding pads. But it also had a tendancy to derail (rather violently, at that) and once took a Stewart F set to the floor.
I have since used an excellent combination of two types of cars from Lux, a German firm. One is a scrubber that uses a roller that looks like a plastic brillo pad. It runs on a horizontal axis, perpendicular to the rail, so it doesn't seem to have the problem with derailing that I found with the MNP car (which has pads spinning on a vertical axis). So far, I haven't had to replace the pad, whereas the fine sanding pad on the MNP car clogged up and had to be replaced after one or two trips around the layout. The other car is a vacuum. It is quite amazing to see how much stuff this car picks up (no my basement is not particularly dirty, though I do have an aggressive collection of spiders making their homes in hidden areas during the warm weather).
Lux also makes a very interesting wheel cleaning device that has been reviewed in MR. I haven't tried it though.
I am interested in trying the Miniatronics electronic track cleaner car that just came out. Seems to me that would be a nice thing to use as part of a lashup of locos running around the layout routinely.
Good luck Rick

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