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While consolidating some old storage boxes, I came across about fifty N gauge number 6 and 8 Peco turnouts and motors which must be nearly forty years old. They are in generally good condition but some seem grimy. The boxes were not sealed and dust has leaked in.

Together with over a hundred Kadee N scale cars and a few steam locos, I am now ready to tackle a modestly large layout.

In the old days, I would have dipped them in CCl4 (carbon tetrachloride) and strung them on a wire to dry. I don't want to use a dangerous (to me) solvent nor do I want to dissolve the plastic of the ties or do damage to the points pressure spring under the tie rod.

QUESTION: How do I get the grime of the years off the turnouts so that I can be assured of reliable operation?

Any suggestions based on experience?
Hi KTower

Hi KTower, dont know about your cleaning question but hope your first name isn't Ken because then there's two of us :)

take care ,,, ken (Tower)

NH Mike

CEO & Wheel Cleaner
I had a similar situation with both Peco and Atlas turnouts that sat around for 25 years or more. I filled the kitchen sink with warm water and dishwashing detergent and dropped the turnouts in to soak about 15 minutes. Minus the switch machines of course. Then one by one I scrubbed them with a medium bristle toothbrush and rinsed in warm water to remove the soap film. Just be careful around the little tension spring that holds the Pecos to the sides when thrown. After they dried I ran a Brite Boy over the tops of the rails. Came out almost as good as new.
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Fleeing from Al
I'd certainly try the soap and water thing first, as Mike suggested. Most regular dirt will scrub off leaving the switched no worse for the effort. I fthat doesn't work, there ar emore aggressive cleaners, like alcohol and Goo-Gone, but you stand a much better chance of damaging the switch with those.


I don't like to use those Brite Boy abrasive cleaners anymore. They are too abrasive and can leave visible scratches on the rails.

I agree that a warm soap & water wash will remove mose grime from the turnouts. It will not clean any corrosion from the rails. To do that, you'll need to polish the rails. I recommend a very fine wet/dry sandpaper, at least 600 grit but 1200 grit is better. This will remove the corrosion, leaving the tracks bright as new.

I also recommend "gleaming" all your tracks, either as you lay them or after they are installed. Gleaming cleans the rails and helps prevent further corrosion.

For a lengthy discussion on track cleaning and the gleaming process, see this thread on the Atlas forum:

Darrell, quiet...for now

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