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THE CMX TRACK CLEANER

Light Rectangle Automotive lighting Musical instrument Font


COST (as at
September 2010).


Purchased from DCC Supplies, Worcestershire, UK.

£94:40 including 250ml Isopropanol track cleaning
fluid.

£9:40 Carriage

including £14:40 VAT

Making the total purchase and delivery cost including
fluid £103:80

WHAT COMES IN THE BOX:

Somehow the Postman managed to squeeze the pack
through my letterbox
but I needn't have worried as it was extremely well
packed with plenty
of bubble wrap and the quality of the product
certainly helped.

So what do you get?

Obviously the Track Cleaner, plus a spare set of
tension lock couplings
to replace the 'Kadees' which are fitted as standard,
and although it
wasn't in the purchase price, a bottle of isopropanol.
A little packet
of bits containing the spare couplings and some spare
washers for the
filler cap, the bag also contained a syringe, a length
of clear tubing
for the filling process, and a roll of corduroy cloth
to put on the
cleaning pads.

Comprehensive 10 page instruction sheet with separate
sheet for
alternative coupler fitting is included.

The unit complies with NMRA HO gauge dimensions.

Liquid Bottle Fluid Plastic bottle Personal care


Contents
of the box


FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

Are of a real quality piece of kit - solid brass,
heavy and appeared to
be well engineered. Weighing in at 300 grams (the G
scale version must
weigh half a ton) I found the cleaner itself was not
as big physically
as I'd imagined - don't know why but I thought it
would be much larger
although, having said that, it was heavier than
expected so no doubt
one outweighs the other.

The main barrel of the cleaner appears to have been
manufactured or
turned from a solid piece of brass and is obviously
where the weight
comes from. End caps are similarly made and on top are
two solid brass
knurled screw caps - one with a thick rubber washer
for the filler cap
with a vent for the unit to breathe, the other being
for the 'drip'
adjustment of the cleaning fluid. Both are well made
and screw in/out
easily with good chunky threads.

Underneath with have the business end of the unit and
the first thing I
noticed was the cleaning pad or pressure 'drag' plate
which seemed a
little sloppy, being mounted on two spring loaded
retainers to keep the
unit level and with two retaining clips or bars (bit
like an orbital
sander) for cleaning pad retention. However, once you
load it with the
cloth (supplied) and you set it to work, there is no
problem with the
'sloppiness' which is seemingly designed in, in order
it can do its job.

Both bogies and wheel sets are solid and of good
quality - I think
they're Athearn. The instructions state the bogies can
be changed to
those of your choice if you so wish.

At each end is fitted a Kadee style coupler and a set
of alternative
tension locks are supplied (nice touch) for you to fit
should the need
arise.

BECOMING OPERATIONAL - what you need to do:

Couplings: As I've already mentioned, the cleaner
comes with a set of
Kadee style couplers fitted to each end of the
chassis. The
instructions give clear and detailed instructions on a
separate sheet
of how to change these for a supplied set of tension
locks, which
surprisingly, have NEM prongs but no NEM socket for
them to be pushed
into. Instead you have to detach the bogie at its
pivot point (simple
screw) remove another screw securing the KaDee to the
chassis and
replace with the tension lock.

Simple enough, but in order to secure the tension lock
you have to
partially replace the coupling retaining screw making
sure it just
grips in its hole, prize apart the NEM prongs on the
coupler without
breaking them and fit these either side of the screw,
somehow holding
it all in place with one hand whilst tightening the
screw with the
other - not quite so easy if you haven't got nimble
fingers as the
prongs try to force the coupler off the screw and is
something the
provision of a NEM socket would have made far simpler.
God knows how
it's done on the N gauge version.

Light Font Metal Fashion accessory Wood


One
of the bogies showing the central
mounting screw to remove the bogie, the coupling
mounting screw with a
tension lock coupling fitted.


For some reason the Kadee's have a hole through which
you mount the
coupler screw onto the chassis, whereas the
replacement tensions locks
only have the usual 'V' typical for a NEM mounted
coupling. The fact
that a screw has to be inserted into the V in an
effort to secure it to
the chassis, is a bit 'Heath Robinson' really and I
found they do pull
off quite readily, bit of a no win /no win situation
as the makers warn
you not to over tighten the securing screws, which in
itself would
probably nullify the guarantee if you did. I'm unsure
whether the
couplings would be less prone to pulling off if the
couplers were
mounted on the bogies rather than the chassis, where
they have no give
or lateral movement.

If it suits your layout you could of course have a
Kadee one end and a
tension lock on the other

Cleaning Pads: A roll of 'cut to width' upholstery
quality corduroy
material (about 24” in length) is supplied for you to
cut into pieces
and attach to the operating pad but the instructions
don't give any
idea how long each piece should be. The material is
held in place on
the pad by two adjustable retaining clips, one at each
end and the
whole process is identical to loading pre cut sanding
sheets onto an
orbital sander. I clipped one end of the cloth under
one of the clips
and then fed the other under the opposing clip and
trimmed it there - I
will use this piece as a template for replacements.
Once loaded, the
cloth is held securely in place, even when dampened by
the cleaning
fluid with the maker's claiming it will not catch on
point blades, ill
matched rail joints, frogs or other pieces of track
work (we'll see
later).

Automotive tire Automotive lighting Bicycle part Rim Automotive exterior


The
'drag pad' showing
retaining clips and the spring loaded mounts
carrying the unit.


Fluid. The cleaner as supplied does not include any
cleaning fluid - I
obtained some isopropanol with my initial order. The
instructions do
list a number of choices of cleaning fluid which can
be used.
Aggressive types include;- nail polish remover, laquer
thinner, acetone
etc, and less aggressive such as alcohols, paint
thinner and water
based solvents with further suggestions on pad
cleaning material - even
600+ emery paper.

FILLING THE TANK:

With the supplied syringe and clear poly tube it is a
simple matter of
drawing fluid into the syringe and pumping this
straight into the
reservoir via the nicely fitting filler cap supplied
with a substantial
rubber washer (and a spare) designed to prevent leaks.
Be careful not
to over fill as the liquid in the tank is difficult to
see with the
poly tube in the filler hole. Also under the filler
cap is a very small
diameter breathing vent which must be kept clear.

Cylinder Material property Gas Font Auto part


Filling
the tank is simplicity itself


ADJUSTING THE FLOW:

Instructions indicate you should adjust the flow using
the second (or
centrally mounted) screw cap to allow the fluid to
drip onto the
cleaning pad at the rate of 10 drops per minute, or in
my book 1 drop
every six seconds. Initially, I found this drip rate
to be quite
difficult to achieve - I was getting 1 per 10 seconds
or 1 every three
seconds, but found once the threads on the screw cap
had eased a
little, control of the rate became a simple matter.

IN USE:

So we've changed the couplers, put a new cleaning pad
on the drag pad,
filled her up and adjusted the drip rate, and we're
ready to rumble and
I decided to use my class 24 diesel for the job as she
could pull a
wall down - or so I thought. The instructions tell me
if I have
particularly dirty track I should push rather than
pull, so this is
what I did, which worked well at a recommended speed
of 1-2 feet per
second until I hit the gradient - most of my track
work is 1:62
gradients, and the diesel started to struggle a little
so I used a
class 5MT banker to help push, no problem and away we
went cleaning all
the track in no time at all really - I just left them
to it whilst I
had a second read of the instructions and some
promotional blurb from a
chemist telling me what rail dirt consists of - it's
just muck!!

Train Wheel Rolling stock Track Vehicle


D5211
on a cleaning run


Eventually the tank ran out of juice after completing
eight passes of
my entire layout which is a convoluted dog bone
measuring 85 yards of
track from start of one circuit to the next.

Did it pass the white glove test? Well yes in fact it
did, although I
used a white handkerchief as I didn't have any white
gloves, there
wasn't a mark on the hankie and all track was as clean
as a whistle.

I have one section of track under a hillside which is
particularly
difficult, but not impossible, for me to clean
manually (this was the
reason for my investment in a CMX) where I noticed one
or two of my
locos stuttering a bit. Trying them out after
cleaning, they just
sailed through.

Three weeks on from my initial cleaning run and things
are working like
I cleaned the track this morning - wonderful, and only
time will tell
how soon they become soiled again, but the makers
claim I should need
to do it about twice a year, dependant on use
obviously.

DOES IT WORK:

In a few words - YES, YES and YES, and it's a site
easier than
scrubbing with a track rubber.

Light Rectangle Font Gas Bag


The
first cleaning cloth after eight circuits
of my 85 yard trackwork.


OVERALL OPINION:

Other than future models being fitted with appropriate
NEM pockets for
easier changing of couplings, there is little I could
suggest that
would improve the efficiency of this wonderful bit of
kit. It's very
well engineered, easy to use and most importantly, it
works - as they
say, it does everything it says on the tin.

Very expensive but well worth the investment if you
simply want clean
track - if you don't, then don't buy one. Anyone want
some well worn
track rubbers?

PS. And no it didn't catch on any frogs or point
blades, not even on
those sticky up wires which protrude through tie bars
when using point
motors......

Review by Mike (16A)


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