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I have inherited quite a lot of old Hornby and Peco track, points and various flextrack lengths that have been sitting in a relative's loft unlaid for a number of years. It will all need to be cleaned and probably lots more before it can be relayed and used. The questions ae:

How do I salvage the track?

Is there a chemical I can use to help remove corrosive deposits?

What else do I deploy (000 emery, wire wool, ???)

Thank you in advance for any contributions,
Malcolm
 

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It depends upon how old it is, older track systems used steel rails and they are pretty well indestructible but they crud over and electrical contact is less sure, after a while the Peco (1970's) system went nickel silver and Hornby went to whatever they now use, the old steel track to work may need some severe effort but in any case if you ruin it well who cares and some sort of polishing wheel on an electric drill. This is not for later track, you can polish but you do not want to damage the top of the rail so I would use a solvent, now again the plastic sleepers might not like this but if used modestly its worth a try, one way of moving dirt is to use something like lighter fuel just wet a cloth and run it along the top of the track, also the inside of the rail at the top, this is brutal but should yield results. Some track can lose conductivity (my Hartel tram track) for instance and I have had bad Peco track before (very unusual) anyway you want to avoid scratching the top of the rail.
If then using the track to build a railway use new Peco rail joiners as rail joiners are often a problem if they have been around too long, they go black, so throw them all away - mandatory! at least these are cheap.

I would avoid emery, wet and dry, wire wool at least until softer systems have been tried, if all else fails.....

Now wait for the creshendo!
 

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Coming a little late to this, Peco's Streamline is worth the effort of salvage. Brasso on a soft cotton cloth will remove any green/blue surface corrosion very easily. Hornby track, the nickel silver flexi is likewise worth working on.

Set track, bin it; goes double for the original tinplated steel version. Hornby's 'System 6' was well behind the curve when introduced circa 1970 (by 1960 my continental cousin's layouts all made with the various businesses set track systems had HO track pieces such as fully motorised double slips, that's a measure of how crappy Hornby's track design is) and now is both a total eyesore and very limiting.
 
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