Whoops! How *not* to clean your diesel's wheels.

Was visiting a friend's layout and saw him cleaning his diesel loco's wheels by pouring a small amount of solvent on a paper towel, laying it on the
tracks, and letting his locos spin their wheels against the towel until they were clean. Seemed to work like a charm, and it was *quick*! So when I needed to clean some wheels last week I tried same, and it worked just fine for me too.
Until last night when I using the test track and discovered that the solvent had flowed down onto the plastic ties -causing them to soften and shrink as they dried out- and pulling the affected sections of rail circa 1 mm closer to each other than they had been... resulting in rails with a "bottleneck" like so ><.
After rebuilding my 2 meter test track today I concluded that maybe cleaning your wheels this way isn't such a good idea after all. ~#%%*#**!
Pete
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On Fri, 28 Sep 2007 17:59:36 -0700, P. Roehling wrote:

Er, uh, did you rebuild it with wooden ties?
--
Steve

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I went one better and made some steel-reinforced concrete ties just like the prototype.
Works fine, but now I can't lift my test track.
Pete
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Well, there is 'crud' solvent and there is plastic solvent. If you use the plastic solvent, you will need to replace plastic tie track. Use a plastic compatible solvent.
--

Frank Rosenbaum
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Now that I've looked into it, it turns out that there are a number of solvents that will attack plastics.
Unfortunately, they're largely the ones that clean metal wheels quickly, thoroughly, and don't leave a film behind to interfere with conductivity.
I'm back to the cotton swab and loco cradle method. Oh well...
Pete
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Um, why aren't you using 91% alcohol? That's the preferred method at my RR club. Take a paper towel or napkin and put some alcohol on it. Lay it on the rail next to the loco, then run 1/2 the loco over the towel. Hold the loco and spin the drivers. The crud comes off, leaving the wheels nice and clean. The great thing about alcohol is that it doesn't attack plastic, it evaporates quickly, and leaves no film. It will, however, strip some kinds of paint if soaked long enough. But as long as you haven't painted your ties, you should be all set (oh, and don't get any on the loco's paint job, of course). It shouldn't be a problem...my club's been using alcohol to clean wheels for the past 8 years without any trouble at all. Alcohol also works on cars, too. Soak a paper towel and lay it on the rails, then run the car rapidly back and forth over the towel. The crud comes off the wheels (it just takes a little more effort).
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
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On 9/29/2007 1:27 AM P. Roehling spake thus:

Hmm; there aren't actually that many solvents that will "attack" (i.e., dissolve) things like plastic ties. In fact, I can only think of a few, some of which go by different names: lacquer thinner (aka acetone), MEK and related solvents (and fer gawd's sake I hope you don't even *think* of using those nasty substances!). Alcohol will definitely not dissolve them.
Most petroleum-based solvents, including paint thinner, charcoal lighter, etc., shouldn't affect plastic ties at all. (You can and should, of course, test them first.) You must have used something like acetone.
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David Nebenzahl skriver:

MEK is what many of our inks is based on, it is _very_ dangerous.
Klaus
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On 9/29/2007 11:48 AM Klaus D. Mikkelsen spake thus:

MEK in inkjet inks? I thought those were all water based, not solvent-based.
And actually it isn't as dangerous as some other solvents (like acetone and chlorinated solvents like carbon tetrachloride). Check its MSDS.
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David Nebenzahl skriver:

Look at videojet.com for small character ink jet (CIJ). We print on (beer)cans, bottles, steelplates, plastic bags and so on. Here waterbased ink doesnt help.....it dosen't dry fast enough
Klaus
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wrote:

No, not inkjet inks -- they are all water based. I'm guessing David Nebenzahl is talking about inks used in printing presses (probably modern offset ones).

--
Robert Heller -- 978-544-6933
Deepwoods Software -- Download the Model Railroad System
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On 9/29/2007 9:24 PM Robert Heller spake thus:

No, read the response to my post: these are solvent-based inkjet inks. Like the ones used to mark things like wire and cable, drink containers, yogurt containers, etc., etc.
I know about offset inks, having recently owned a printing business. Offset ink is basically the same as it was 50 years ago, except for the newer-ish rubber-based inks.
So where were you guys (speaking to Klaus now) when I needed you? A few years ago the company I was working for was looking for a way to print direcly on plastic (in full color), and I did a *lot* of research into this, but never found a source. Oh, well.
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David Nebenzahl skriver:

Sorry - At that time I was doing wind turbines for NEG-Micon (Vestas).
Klaus
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Klaus D. Mikkelsen wrote:

KDM:
Yes, very flammable, with a very low flash point. I wouldn't use it at all in a basement with a water heater.
Cordially yours: Gerard P. President, a box of track and a gappy table.
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I've used this technique before....use iso alchohol it works well

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What type & brand of solvent did you use?
That would certainly help... if you want to give a warning to other modelers.
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"P. Roehling" skriver:

Why use solvents ?
It is unhealthy, bad for your trains ond your layout.
We use a glassfiber pencil, loco on it "back" in some foam, and a short piece of track to power the wheels. It takes 30 seconds to clean a 6 axel loco...
Klaus
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Klaus D. Mikkelsen wrote:

KDM:
Me and my bottle of carbon tetrachloride scoff at your glassfiber pencils. (Just kidding. I draw the line at cumulative poisons, though people did use carbon tet before it was banned for home use.)
I do use denatured alcohol for cleaning wheels and track sometimes. It's pretty benign. Just don't drink it or spill it all over everything, or set it on fire.
Cordially yours: Gerard P. President, a box of track and a gappy table.
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snipped-for-privacy@gannon.edu skriver:

Or get it on your fingers - it penetrates your skin and gets to you - not even speaking of the smell.... the fumes goes directly to your brain.
Glass fibre pens and "cleaning rubber" (a'la Roco) is quite harmless compared to alcohol.
Klaus
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skriver:

Just watch out for the broken shards of glass fibers. If you get some in your skin, wash it in cold water.
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Frank Rosenbaum
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