track cleaning

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flager

New Member
I run my trains maybe a half hour a day and need to clean my track and loco wheels about every two weeks, is this normal?
 

NH Mike

CEO & Wheel Cleaner
Mine need a wipe down with track cleaner about as often. I think it depends on airborne dust and humidity in the layout space as much as anything the trains can deposit on their own. I also clean them after doing any bench work or scenery work sessions or if I haven't run anything in a week or so. Collecting dust is just one of the little perks in the hobby. LOL.
 

Larry

Long Winded Old Fart
I run my trains almost everyday for at least an hour & every other day I have to clean my tracks & everytime clean the wheels on all of the engines I run & I have over 600 ft. of track.
My trainroom is open on both ends when the weather is good w/12ft wide by 12ft high doors. I have a 4ft exhaust fan on one end of the building & a 4ft pusher fan on the other end. My track gets dirty. I have 2 boxcars w/masonite blocks that run w/every train. Every other week I run a motor driven Atlas track cleaning car.
 

hamltnblue

Active Member
I run my trains maybe a half hour a day and need to clean my track and loco wheels about every two weeks, is this normal?
When you say you need to clean the track, are the engines not running or are you just getting black film when wiping the track. When nickle silver oxidizes the oxidation is conductive even though it may appear black when you wipe it. I've only had to clean once in 6 months.
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
Like Blue, I don't have to clean my track very often. I usually do it every month or so, just for preventative maintenance. I only clean the loco's wheels when they start acting up, which isn't very often. Sometimes the pickups get crud/lint/dust in them and I have to do a bit of cleaning.

I think Mike is correct, saying everyone's different environment has a lot to do with it. I'm also a firm believer that the more you run, the better.
 
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jeffrey-wimberly

Dr Frankendiesel
I used the GLEAM process back in May of 2006 and have suggested it to many modelers over the years. Some would turn their nose up at it without even trying it while others would jump in with both feet. There were a lot of surprised folks out there when some longtime modelers tried it and praised it highly. As for my track? I haven't had to do a serious cleaning on it since May of 2006. Just a quick wipe down with a clean dry cloth if I hadn't run any trains for a while. I left the inner loop untreated as a control. I had to clean it almost every week while the treated track required zero maintenance. I was sold. The inner loop has since been GLEAMed as well.

If you haven't heard of the process here's the original text as I found it:

(Originally posted by Semafore)

I'm talking GLEAM!: ULTRA_SHINY and Smooth rails can now be had with my 'WHAT box?" approach to this conductivity problem. An HO modeller since 1970, I know the problem WELL!
THIS IS A ONE-TIME PROCESS. DO ALL TRACK!!
1] On an appropiate-sized block, use 400 wet/dry paper to remove the extrusion milling left on the railheads. The block must span both rails.
2] Now use 600 or finer, repeat process.
3] Using an appropiate-sized STAINLESS-STEEL piece, apply moderate pressure and BURNISH the rails! The more you slide back and forth, the smoother and shinier the rails become! [ the GLEAM part ]. This is because you have removed the ridges, bumps, and pits. Burnishing helps seal pores with metal, eliminating traps for dirt and tarnish; almost like a MIRROR!
4] [For Bob H.] Use BLUE MAGIC or equivalent metal polish to deep-clean the remaining contaminates.
5] Last, buff the rails to your eye's content!
The shine is 5x more lusterous than just polish alone. The wax left behind is minimal, is not insulating, and virtually eliminates rail cleaning.
This is a process HOT OFF THE PRESSES! [Of my brain] I've only been at it 6 weeks with amazing results! {I just added the wax step today.} prior to that, though, the NS HO rails I'm guinea-pigging (300') sans wax STILL gleams today, with slight tarnishing, so I'm gonna wax 'em next!
I will also try some classic brass rail to see how that stands up.

AND REMEMBER; NO MORE ABRASIVES...EVER!!!!!!
Or you'll just ruin your mirror finish, and will have to gleam and wax AGAIN!
Dry-wipe with paper towel or cotton. You can always polish anytime; wipe away excess.

I've had DCC and DC locos/lash-ups creep at a scale 3-5MPH around the staging level loop 100' with NO STALL or FAULTER. gotta love it
This process works but is a bit time consuming to do initially. I did over 130 feet of track in a couple of hours.
 

cncproadwarrior

North of the 49th
What could one use as a piece of stainless steel?

I have a few brass weights. Would that do?
 
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jeffrey-wimberly

Dr Frankendiesel
Brass won't work. A stainless steel washer big enough to span both rails would work. I use the handle of an old stainless steel spoon.
 

NH Mike

CEO & Wheel Cleaner
What could one use as a piece of stainless steel?

I have a few brass weights. Would that do?
In a pinch you could use the NMRA standards gauge as it is stainless steel. Not what it was intended for and certainly not the best use of the gauge but for a quick test shot on a short piece of track to decide if you want to go with the process. There is the risk of bending or otherwise damaging the gauge. Jeffrey's use of an old spoon handle or even a butter knife blade is a good one.
 

dgwinup

Member
Gleaming will probably help brass track since the final step, polishing, helps to seal the rails. But brass is brass and it will eventually corrode. If you've got brass track give it a try. Can't hurt.

No-Ox seems to be some pretty good stuff. I have a year-long experiment going now. I built a loop layout for under the Christmas tree. I gleamed the rails, then No-ox-ed them. I know the gleaming will do it's job but I wanted to find out if No-Ox makes the process even better. Won't know until I pull the layout out next Christmas. After a year's worth of storage, if it works without further cleaning, I'll consider the experiment to be a success.

I don't see why No-Ox wouldn't work of brass track but it probably won't work as well as on nickel-silver. Different metals, different results maybe? Give it a try and let us know.

Darrell, quiet...for now
 

shawn63

tunnel rat
I used rail zip on the entire layout applying with a Q-tip then about 4-weeks later sarted dropping a single small drop of walls clipper oil about every six feet and then run the trains around for about an hour. ( ido run my trains everyday for at least a couple of laps approx.150 feet of track.) but since then I have not had to clean the tracks for several months. I don't think you well ever remove all the black streaks from the rails that's the result of conductivity.
 

cruznlobo

New Member
I have not tried this gleaming method, but I don't think I like the idea of filling holes in the track and putting a layer of stainless on top of nickle silver or brass. Remember two unlike metals will corrode more, not necessarily faster, especially if there is an electric current involved.
Can someone out there tell me if I'm wrong?
Mike
 

shawn63

tunnel rat
has enyone ever tried lps-1 it's supposed to be a super conductive electrical greese that keeps the track clean or at least keep electricity flowing even when the track get dirty
 

jdetray

Well-Known Member
I have not tried this gleaming method, but I don't think I like the idea of filling holes in the track and putting a layer of stainless on top of nickle silver or brass.
My understanding of the GLEAM method is that you are not adding a layer of stainless steel on top of the existing track material. Burnishing has nothing to do with adding anything to the surface breing burnished.

To quote from the Engineer's Handbook:

"Burnishing is a cold forming process, without actual removal of metal, where a tool is rubbed on the metal surface of the part with sufficient force to cause plastic flowing of the metal. This allows the high spots to be flattened out and the valleys filled in."

In other words, the stainless steel actually causes the metal rail to "flow" on a microscopic level, closing up pores and smoothing the rail. No additional material is applied to the rail.

At least, that is how I understand burnishing.

- Jeff
 

cruznlobo

New Member
My understanding of the GLEAM method is that you are not adding a layer of stainless steel on top of the existing track material. Burnishing has nothing to do with adding anything to the surface breing burnished.

To quote from the Engineer's Handbook:

"Burnishing is a cold forming process, without actual removal of metal, where a tool is rubbed on the metal surface of the part with sufficient force to cause plastic flowing of the metal. This allows the high spots to be flattened out and the valleys filled in."

In other words, the stainless steel actually causes the metal rail to "flow" on a microscopic level, closing up pores and smoothing the rail. No additional material is applied to the rail.

At least, that is how I understand burnishing.

- Jeff

That makes sense.....BUT.....how much force do you have to apply?
 

hamltnblue

Active Member
You put the washer under 2 fingers and apply a moderate pressure. You'll see the track shine as you do it. When you burnish the rails you are taking the small microscopic ridges left from sanding and folding them over to fill the gaps. The smooth side of a stainless washer is much harder and performs the task with ease. After that you polish the track which prevents oxidation. I'm sure no ox or any other type of polish or anti oxidant such as crc 2-36 will do the same thing. The burnishing simply removes the grooves and pits that dirt collects in, thus leaving it nowhere to collect.
 

NH Mike

CEO & Wheel Cleaner
I have not tried this gleaming method, but I don't think I like the idea of filling holes in the track and putting a layer of stainless on top of nickle silver or brass. Remember two unlike metals will corrode more, not necessarily faster, especially if there is an electric current involved.
Can someone out there tell me if I'm wrong?
Mike
You're not wrong about dissimilar metals. In metalurgy there is something known as the galvanic scale which lists all base metals and alloys of them starting at the bottom with the weakest ones and ending up top with what are referred to as the most noble. Maganesium and zinc are down at the bottom and as you move up to the top you find gold. Galvanic corrosion is more active the further apart any 2 metals are on that scale. Nickel silver and stainless steels are relatively close together on the scale as they share some common base metals in their alloying. Yes moisture and current flow will produce a decay of the weaker alloy but the length of time needed to cause any harmful damage in this case would be extremely long, dozens of years perhaps. Moisture would be the biggest culprit so a dry clean environment for the track would make corrosion almost a non problem.
 
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