Can this track be saved?

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IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Can this track be saved? (Probably NOT)

On my 3-peninsula layout, the one in the center contains track that was laid over 10 years ago, when I still lived in my previous residence. I kept those modules intact [miraculously] and re-did the track wiring to accommodate DCC. There was a lot of oxidization/grunge on the track and a well-meaning friend advised me to use a Dremel with a wirebrush attachment to 'polish' it:rolleyes: Well I tried it, the track sure looked shiny so I proceeded to do it ALL that way...then about a month later another more experienced friend said that would permanently damage the rails with tiny scratches and that I could never hope to get decent electrical pickup.:eek:

I don't have the $$, or the time, to tear out all of this yard trackage [with 20+ turnouts] and install everything new. Is there ANY way the damaged track can be buffed-down so it will be usable again?
 
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SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
I am assuming that your friend is talking about getting dirt build-up in the ridges. Simply wire-brushing it won't break down your electrical connections. You could smooth it out, or you could polish it ala Bob (CMRporducts) and fill the cracks that way. That will do two things, prevent gunk build-up and reduce surface area where oxidation will form.
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Oh yeah, CMR Bob, I remember him - he's the guy in Western PA with the really huge layout, right? Guess I oughta try that stuff, probably less time-consuming than buffing...

Thanx Chip!
 
D

dthurman

Guest
Someone on the MR forums had a track cleaning method that involved various grits of sand paper then some type of polishing stone? Then he used chrome polish on the tracks. That may "repair" that small scratched surface you now have, if I am understanding you right.
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
KenL, if you don't have it gouged then you should be able to polish the rails easily with fine emory cloth. Heck, as long as you got metal to metal you will have electrical contact. I wouldn't put any junk stuff on there that will eventually gunk up, get on your wheels, and attract even more grime.
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Thank you for the feedback, gents!

While you guys were at your various op sessions yesterday, I was performing a final test-run of one of my locos over every linear inch of steel mill track. As expected, the performance wasn't "stellar" - whole lotta nudgin' goin' on - but at least I can have fun with it (my guests can still operate on the main and its lineside spurs). Also, once I have DCC decoders in all the switchers, that may improve things slightly since there will be a constant maximum voltage applied to the track.
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
CSX_road_slug said:
Thank you for the feedback, gents!

While you guys were at your various op sessions yesterday, I was performing a final test-run of one of my locos over every linear inch of steel mill track. As expected, the performance wasn't "stellar" - whole lotta nudgin' goin' on - but at least I can have fun with it (my guests can still operate on the main and its lineside spurs). Also, once I have DCC decoders in all the switchers, that may improve things slightly since there will be a constant maximum voltage applied to the track.
Certainly don't use any polish until you get it working top notch. What do you attribute the "need to nudge"?
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
SpaceMouse said:
What do you attribute the "need to nudge"?
Hard to say; I've brightbuoyed the track to death, and the loco wheels are clean. Maybe the switcher's no good? (It's a P2K sw7)
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
I agree with Space...try another loco. You have the wheels clean on the SW, but maybe the pickups are fouled (journals crudy, wire loose). How long has it been since you ran the SW7? I know my P2k SW gets a little contrary after it has sit awhile. How does it run on other sections of known good track?
 
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IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
SpaceMouse said:
Try another loco. It's not going to hurt them. The tracks are clean, right?
Apparently not. I put some GooGone on a q-tip and there was some residue after I ran it along each rail [on the 3ft test section]. No hesitation after that!

Its always something...
 

Steve B

Firefighter
Hello Ken, if the rails look shiny with no gouges or scratches i would wipe it with methalated spirits on a cloth then polish it with chrome or silver polish if it's nickel silver rail you have, i heard the polish also slows further oxidation
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Well gang, after spending most of Tuesday evening trying to make my mill trackage "perfectly" operational, I'll have to throw in the towel.

As I mentioned in the opening post, that track was laid 10 years ago on homasote (bad move) and it worked OK in my previous basement. It was this "brilliant" idea to counter-sink the tracks as they appear in a prototype steel mill, that really did me in. Originally I used grout (ceramic tile cement) as the "paved" area filler material, with joint compound in the center area (see illustration). What I didn't know back then was that the rails have to be raised on both sides, NOT only the inner sides facing the flanges - now I have poor electrical contact in several areas because the wheel "rides up" above the rail, and that grout is hard as stone - can't be easily trimmed down!

embedded_track_problem.jpg


I'm too far along to tear up all this track right away and re-lay it; I'm just going to have to accept a mediocre layout with a few large industrial structures on it, I want to start running some trains soon - nudges or not!

(Hey, at least the main line and everything outside the steel mill works OK...!)
 
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D

dthurman

Guest
Ken

There is no way to use a dremmel to cut that back? I know you are handy with a dremmel. One other option, and this is one of those outside the box ideas, but what about placing a thin strip of stainless steel on top of the track, Like I said it's a bad idea, but may compansate for the embedded rail.

I know the feeleing on past mistakes. I should have powered all my frogs when laying the track. Now I have to go back and wire them, some are in very tight spots, not sure how I am going to do it, plus I should have used #7's instead of #5's in some areas for ALL my track. The #7's cost the same as 5's for me, look better and run better. Isn't hindsight fun?
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
dthurman said:
There is no way to use a dremmel to cut that back? I know you are handy with a dremmel... Isn't hindsight fun?
Dremeling would be a good idea Dave IF the embedding were the only problem; unfortunately that's only 65% of it, other issues include ancient Altas turnouts whose frogs don't guard as well against derailments as the newer Code 83 ones do, plus warped homasote (after being stored sideways for ~4 years in extreme variations of temp+humidity). Not worth the extra time/trouble by my reckoning.

One consolation is knowing that prototype steel mills frequently had the same sort of issues. Since the steel companies were on life-support financially, maintenance on in-plant trackage was frequently deferred, so their trains always had to stay under 5mph. So what the hey, I'm staying true to the Spirit of the Prototype!:D :p :D
 




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