CMX Track Cleaning Car is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


Well-Known Member
I see where this subject of track cleaning has come again, but got sort of h-jacked. So I decided to bring up this particular one method as its seems to pretty well recommended by a number of members over on this other forum,...with its own subject thread,..

In general after many discussions, it has come down to use of mineral spirits to clean the track, then wipe up that loosened material, then apply graphite for great conductivity. So a number of folks suggest the 'track cleaning train', a CMX cars for dispensing the MS in a rubbing manner, then follow that car with a Centerline car for wiping/drying duties, and perhaps a second centerline car.

Overall it seems to do a great job, but it can get rather expensive, considering the cost of both (or all 3) of those cleaning cars.

I'd like to hear of personal experiences on this forum with the CMX cars. We already have some interesting ones with the centerline cars HERE
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Here are some very helpful hints on how to use those CMX cars,...from drip rates to several difference rubbing pad materials

Take note that these cars are a combination of functions, they both dispense the cleaning fluid, & rub the track with their pads.

It seems most folks like to run 1 or even 2 solvent pick-up/drying cars to the rear of their fluid car.

Both of those type cars are quite expensive. I think I have an inexpensive alternate to both of them.


Well-Known Member
from another forum..
At Boothbay Railway Village model railroad exhibit, we have been using two Centerline cleaners, one wet with 90% rubbing alchol and the other dry. Using a dry pickup is important with liquid cleaners because if you do not pick up the solvent, the residue will remove the gunk from the cars wheels, deposit it back on the tracks and spread it everywhere.

When the museum is open, we are running trains 6 or 7 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Well-Known Member
I have a pretty big 'outdoor helix' with double tracks, ...and a fairly long tunnel up under my coal mine and over the under some stacked containers in the west coast container yard up there. So a track cleaning train is in order, fluid leader and 1 or 2 wipers following it.

My plastic tube test seems to be going good, deterioration. But I've pretty much decided on going with a metal fluid container,...either steel tube or steel pipe. I've found some alum tube that might work as well, but it lacks the weight of the steel.


Well-Known Member
Looking to buy 1 or 2 old style Roco pad type cleaning cars. Don't even need the shells, ....just the frames and pads for some experimentation.

The bottoms would look like this,..
Roco pad car bottom.jpg


Well-Known Member
Over the years my club has used all of them, the CMX, The MNP car with the motor driven rotating pads, the old style cars with Masonite cleaning pads, the Aztec cleaning cars with all roller variants, cloth, Handi Wipes, cratex rollers, etc, and of course the centerline cars. We run a track cleaning train composed of several types working in series. We've found that all do some things well, and none do all things well. :) There are several spots on the layout where what works the best is good old fashioned elbow grease and cleaning pads. The one thing we've noticed is banning plastic wheels and running trains often goes a long way to keeping the track clean.


Well-Known Member
So here are a few of my initial thoughts on an alternative CMX car.

The choice could be for a number of 'pipes' (not tubes) with 1" inside diameter. Here I show plain steel pipe that can be bought in short lengths, and cut by your local Lowes store.
There is also a plastic pipe that I have experimented with, and appears to be fine in containing mineral spirits


I choose 1" diameter because it can be capped off at the end by a flush 'internal plug' of some 1" dia solid rod material of metal. plastic, or even clear acrylic (you would be able to see your fluid level).

The steel pipe obviously has the greatest weight, and certainly MS is not going to attack it.

That 1" dia pipe also fits very nicely into this frame of this Roco car.

DSCF8282.jpg DSCF8286.jpg

Since I am interested in making the cars overall length just a bit bigger than the Roco car, its frame could be be cut into 3 sections and spread down the length of the pipe, while retaining its proper truck alignment. I'm thinking a 7" length of pipe (1" less than the athearn tank car), with a truck spacing of 6 1/4".
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
When I first started thinking of this alternative fluid dispensing car, I naturally gravitated to the longer car idea,..more fluid storage capacity. But the it was suggested that I look at the footprint of the pad on the rails while the cleaning car was in the curves.

Many of those existing cars had pads that work fine on straight tracks, but some questions arise with the contact (rubbing capability) on the outer rail of those curves.

I chose to also consider 18" & 22" curves since many modelers still need to to utilize these,...

DSCF8262.jpg DSCF8263.jpg DSCF8270.jpg DSCF8271.jpg DSCF8272.jpg

DSCF8268.jpg DSCF8269.jpg

Those skid pads could be made a little wider, and/or located toward a favored end rather than just in the center of the car,..
DSCF8273.jpg DSCF8276.jpg



Well-Known Member
Steel Pipe Version first

First I had to clean of all those very sticky info tags and price tags, and check for smoothness,..

Then I wanted to clean up those ends that were left a little rough/uneven by the pipe cutter at Loews. So my trusty repaired belt sander to the rescue,.. (idea arose,...perhaps I could just glue flat ends on the pipe rather than finding a well fitting solid tube piece to insert in the end?) ... (and perhaps those ends might be glued on in such a manner as to be chiseled off if ever found necessary)


Test fitting,..
DSCF8324.jpg DSCF8327.jpg

Now I decided I was going to prime paint them so I could more readily see markings I might be making on them,...light coloring of white,..

test fitting,..

that pencil line along there tells me where to line up the 3 pieces I will be cutting the original frame into,..
DSCF8335.jpg DSCF8336.jpg

DSCF8337.jpg DSCF8338.jpg

Some notable items:
1) I have cut the original coupler pockets off of the trucks as I intend to mount body mounted coupler pockets.
2) I have retained the original metal wheels with their larger flanges (might be an asset with a track scrubbing car)
3) The spring pressures could be increased as the overall cars weight would handle it.
4) The original track scrubbing pad had a small recess in it that could act as a secondary fluid recess that feeds thru a small hole at its center to keep the pad wet,..

Pretty reasonable investment so far. Just need to add a needle valve and fluid fill valve.


Well-Known Member
Today I cut off a small piece of 0.08" thick clear acrylic sheet plastic,....and immersed in mineral spirits. I want to see if the plastic is affected by the spirits. If not, I can readily see gluing ends on my metal tank of my CMX car.

It also occurred to me that I could cut a piece of that plastic bottle the the mineral spirits is sold in, and glue that to the tank ends ??, has an opacity but still lets one know the amount of liquid within.


Well-Known Member
That piece of clear acrylic plastic seems to be unaffected by the mineral spirits, I guess the next step is to determine a simple way to glue it onto the metal tube,...what adhesive to use??

Two things I like about this idea:
a) transparency allows you to see how much MS you have loaded,
b) ultimately you could pry/split one of the ends off if you needed to in the future?


Active Member
I'm with wvg_ca. I have a CMX car that I used to use with Isopropyl Alcohol - cleaned well and then the track oxidised again with 24 hours
Now I only use No-OX and have been using it for the last two years. Results are amazing. It has reduced the number of times I need to clean track and wheels - now it usually every three months and that is on a layout built in a garage. No expensive track cleaning cars required. Still on the first can I purchased and I calculate that should last at least another 3 years minimum. Cannot recommend it highly enough.


Well-Known Member
my Current Fleet of Track Cleaning Cars

This is my current fleet of track cleaning cars.


My alternative CMX car project is temporarily on hold while I work on installing my DCC power system on the layout. I've chosen to build the first version with a plastic fluid container body rather then the metal one,..just a little easier to work with the plastic. I made my own needle valve at this time, now just need to add a fill opening, and the end caps,....and the trucks and couplers.


Well-Known Member
I use mineral spirits in the CMX type car, then dry it up with those roller cars, then a light touch of graphite (pencil lead) along the way. One of those cars is equipped with with a VERY FINE (1200) grit sand paper pad for really tough spots.


New Member
still need track to clean. but the easiest cleaner car involves a short piece of masonite board and two ten/twelve penny nails.
assemble the board tapper each end to ride up not catch on anything. and recess the nail heads deeper than the heads are thick. glue the nails in just so they do not drop down and hang up on something. the nails go up into two holes drilled into the boxcar so the scrapper can move freely up and down under it's own weight. but not wiggle around (might cause a jam, or become a derail prone car).
a very simple and cheep way to build a track cleaner car, best of all it will get deep into sidings. pending your card system. build up X number of them pending your layout size and just leave them on the track.

how did you build a "drip valve" ? or is it a store bought item?
Last edited:


I'm the one
To be honest I haven't read too much of this thread so I am not sure what has already been said; however, I have an N Scale CMX Car and that is all I use or have used since getting serious about the hobby. I run Mineral Spirits in my CMX and after only two or three average speed laps of the layout the track is in good shape. I run my car about every 3rd or 4th operation of the layout.

The CMX Cars can be a little costly; however, they come with a life time warranty so you only ever have to buy one of them. I use Mineral Spirits as I mentioned and a litre of that goes a long long way so the only real cost is in the initial purchase of the CMX Car.

I also got suckered into this No-Ox stuff - followed the instructions to the letter and had nothing but problems, especially around the points/turnouts. It took me a week to get the stuff off of my track and a number of laps of my CMX with Acetone in it to get rid of the residue. No-Ox is a grease ... it clogs turnouts, builds up on engine wheels, is the best dirt magnet I can think of and is a bona fide pain in the - you know what.

Anyway - if you are considering a CMX Car, then get one, you wont be sorry.


Granite Gorge and Northern Again
I bought the N scale CMX unit from Tony's Trains. I researched the various methods, and had made Masonite sliders for my HO layout. I got the CMX about 3 weeks ago, used 91% isopropyl and WOW did it pick up a lot of grunge, even though I wiped tracks routinely. So, I would recommend it (a bit pricey). I may buy a vacuum car (TOMIX?) and use a spare DCC decoder to power the vacuum unit.

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.