Best Kind of Track Cleaner

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Howeld

New Member
Hello I need help from from you guys to find the best kind of track cleaner. I am a member of a club in ohio that has a layout that was POORLY designed and is in bad shape. Plans are underway to remove and replace the layout. However in the mean time we need a good track cleaner to make the layout that much less trouble to work with. The main problem is the fuel oil heater we use that spews ash onto the tracks (hopeing to replace that also). Currently we use a car with a small brass roller that is rapped with strips of cleaning cloth but it does not clean the tracks as well as I would like. Any info or suggestions would be appricated.
Thank You
howeld
 

B_Kosanda

Member
The only way to go is with a bright boy. Don't use any substitutes. After the rails are clean, you can apply a few drops of Wahl clipper oil to keep them from oxidizing.

Bill
 

ncng

Member
I would totally avoid a bright boy unless you want to remove paint or the weathering from pre-weathered track. All it does is leave fine scratches that fill up with gunk over time.

I much prefer to just use a very small amount of CRC 2-26 contact cleaner sprayed on a pad attached to a track cleaning car. I usually use old denim for the cleaning pad. As with using the Wahl oil, a small amount of the cleaner remains on the rail to prevent oxidation.

I typically operate my layout once every month or so. In most cases, unless I have been doing scenery work, there is no need to clean the track. The trains run reliably first time every time.

David
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
A bunch of us had this discussion during the NMRA convention, and each of us had a different take as to what works for them/their club.

Me, I use Goo Gone. But, I also use rubbing alky to remove whatever residue remains from the Goo Gone.

I also have one of the Aztec cars with the Cratex scrubber on it; it's like a Brite Boy, but I'm more of the mind to use a liquid cutting agent vs scratching the railhead.

Kennedy
 

lemscate

Member
Avoid abrasives at all cost. They scratch the rail, which lets more dirt stick, requiring more cleaning, and so on. That said, if there's some gunk really stuck on, sometimes it's the only option.

You can use Goo Gone, but it does leave a non-conductive residue which also needs to be cleaned. If the rails just have dust/wheel crud/grime on them, then use rubbing alochol on a rag. If they are corroded, then use vinegar on a rag.

If you use a track-cleaning car, then the cleaning pad needs to be set up so that it slides and not rolls. If it rolls, then it just rolls over the dirt. You could probably tape or chock the wheel on yours to make it slide, which would dramatically improve its performance. If you have a lot of money to spend, then try the Miniatronics electronic cleaning car or the TTX Clean Machine. I've heard good things about both, but they're darned expensive.

Best of luck in ripping out the old layout and building a new one! I know from experience that replacing a bad club layout with a good one is no easy task (not the construction, the red tape).
 

Howeld

New Member
Red Tape ha we have miles of it. I've been a member for 3 years and they were talking about it then. Members have finally relized that the layout is more of a safety consern than anything else. The builders did a horrible job for example they used masking tape to connect wires rather that sodering or at least electrial tape, as well as destroying the historical significance of the railroad depot by drilling holes for track through the foot thick brick walls. However I think i will try stopping the roller from rolling. Unless there is a better type of cleaning car that is on the market that is not that expensive as i will prolly use my own money and donate its use to the club. Some type of cleaning car has to be used because large parts of the layout can not be reached by hand at all (once again bad design).
 

CBCNSfan

Registered Member
Staff member
not the construction, the red tape
I've seen people quit because things wern't done the way they wanted it done. Heck the first ones to quit were the ones who could never remember to pay their dues. Wanted to have the loudest say in how the money was spent though.
Cheers :D willis
 

B_Kosanda

Member
I agree that a bright boy should be avoided, but if the track is covered with oxide or paint, it may be required. I have not cleaned the track on my layout since I started to apply Wahl clipper oil more than 3 years ago.

Bill
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
lemscate said:
Avoid abrasives at all cost. They scratch the rail, which lets more dirt stick, requiring more cleaning, and so on. That said, if there's some gunk really stuck on, sometimes it's the only option.

You can use Goo Gone, but it does leave a non-conductive residue which also needs to be cleaned. If the rails just have dust/wheel crud/grime on them, then use rubbing alochol on a rag. If they are corroded, then use vinegar on a rag.

If you use a track-cleaning car, then the cleaning pad needs to be set up so that it slides and not rolls. If it rolls, then it just rolls over the dirt.
That's why I run the alky car right behind the one with the Goo Gone. The Aztec rollers are cocked a bit to the rails so they slide, but also rolls so there's always a somewhat clean spot to scrub the rail.

Kennedy
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
Howeld said:
Unless there is a better type of cleaning car that is on the market that is not that expensive as i will prolly use my own money and donate its use to the club. Some type of cleaning car has to be used because large parts of the layout can not be reached by hand at all (once again bad design).
This is what I use.
http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/116-10003
Just attach to a 40' box.:D and it becomes a piece of MOW equipment!
 

Larry

Long Winded Old Fart
I've been using Acetone for years. It takes off paint, glue, gunk, grease, & whatever else you have on your rails. It doesn't leave any residue & the rail stays clean for a long time, as long as you run your trains at least once a week. I have lots of ventalation in my train room (8 by 12 ft. door on one end & a 8 by 10 door on the other) & don't have to worry about getting high on the Acetone. I sometimes use metal polish if I have visitors on rails that haven't been used for a long time. U have to remember to rub off the polish before you run your trains. The polish works real well & there is no oxidation from it. I use chrome polish from the automotive dept. at Walmart. I have tried many cleaners over the years & Acetone works the best. Just put a big fan in the room sucking out the fumes to the outside & wear a respirator if you don't like the smell.

Larry (45 years in the hobby)
 

Larry

Long Winded Old Fart
I bet 409 or Fantastic orange would be just as good as the hard stuff, maybe even better & you wouldn't have to worry about the fumes & it would make your train room smell like an Orange Grove.
 

modelbob

Administrator
> I think i will try stopping the roller from rolling.

If it's the Centerline car like I think it is, it's actually designed to have a small amount of resistance to rolling, and should work fine. But it's better for keeping track clean than it is for getting really dirty track clean the first time.

As for getting the track clean to start, I've heard really good things about this one, from quite a few folks: http://www.tonystrains.com/technews/clean_machine.htm
 

NZRMac

In Training Down Under.
The guys over on the Trains.com forum swear by car paint polish ( mothers or whatever ) once it's polished it stays clean for ages.:)

Ken.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
D

dthurman

Guest
NZRMac said:
The guys over on the Trains.com forum swear by car paint polish ( mothers or whatever ) once it's polished it stays clean for ages.:)

Ken.
Ken is right, the end all be all to your track cleaning headaches is to use MAAS or Mothers Chrome Polish. I had read about it at MR also and finally took the time to buy some. I have to say it has made my days of using all the items mentioned above, Goo Gone, BrightBoy, RailZip, Alcohol Pads, Centerline cars, etc to be a waste of time. Since using the chrome polish, I HAVE NOT HAD TO CLEAN my track for 3 months. I used to clean it every other session. I do still clean the engine wheels, and I am running N scale, which we all know the metal to rail footprint is one of the smallest out there.

Just my 2¢
 




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