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Following on from the Rail Zip topic a few months ago...

Now that I have a complete circuit once again, I need to clean a few steam loco wheels. It's a task I have neither enjoyed nor been successful at, so I have three questions

1) Has anybody tried those Centerline track cleaners that Bromsgrove model are selling for ~£47 each? Are they any good and does the good work eventually lead to clean loco wheels.

2) How do you clean your loco wheels? I have one of those Peco wire brush things but a) I have never found them particularly successful and
Today's models are so delicate, holding one upside down while brushing its wheels does not seem to be a good idea.

3) Is there a magic fluid that really works? I have used Peco track rubbers in the past but I don't like the residue as it tends to find its way into motors and that ain't a good thing.

Final point, I'm going DCC, so Relco et al is not an option for me.

David
That sunglass's thing is supposed to be point b. You can never get smilies where you want them :)
 

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I have considered buying one of those ultrasonic jewellery cleaners. We have a larger version at work for cleaning deposits off car parts and it seems to work quite well. Hmm theres a thought the gaffers on holiday this week......
 

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I bought an appliance from a model shop which does this job. It has two crocodile clips which you attach to the track. Then there is brush attachment which is separated in the middle and has brass wires which cleans the dirt off the wheels. I don't tend to use it too often as it tends to give out electric shocks.
It does have a thing which it supposed to earth through but it obviously doesn't work very well.
I wouldn't recomend this at all. I generally tend to use a foam block with a light sand paper and carefully remove it with that. I don't knowe if I should recomend this though.
 

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Regarding holding finely detailed locos upside-down for wheel cleaning, there is someone I've seen advertising foam "U" blocks for both this purpose and for protection in transit. I regret I cannot find his advert at present.

I tend to use cotton-buds and IPA (Iso-propyl Alcohol) - apply the IPA with one end of the cotton-bud, leave for a few seconds to soak into the dirt and use the clean end to remove said dirt. IPA is better than Methylated Spirits - it does not contain the impurities deliberately added to the latter to stop people drinking it, and evaporates more slowly.

Regards,
John Webb
 

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I have a multi facetted approach.
I clean my stock wheels with a Trix wheel brush. I have two Roco track cleaning cars, these have been modified and the springs removed (I know of no British loco that will move them) the springs were replaced with leaf springs that I made from electrical contacts. On maintainance days I just leave them to do a few circuits and really clean the track.
I also have a centre line and I use this with either meths or surgical fluid both work quite well. I have rail zip but find you have to use care with application or you can get a lot of wheel spin. I also have soft track cleaning rubbers from the 00 assocciation they then to not scratch the track. Similar rubbers can be obtained from First Class trains, and only cost a few quid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the replies. Here's a follow up question:-

Where do you get IPA? - a chemist or an electronics outlet like Maplin. I know the repairs department in one place I used to work used IPA a lot.

David
 

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DWB,

For cleaning track I used to use a Peco Rail Cleaner, but these keep wearing out, so I have invested in a Garryflex abrasive block, medium 120 grit, which appears to be the same thing on a much larger scale. It is very effective and should last me as long as I am ever likely to need it. These are supplied by Squires Model and Craft Tools. www.squirestools.com.

For cleaning wheels, I use a device similar to that described by Neil. The low voltage sparks will do no harm.
It is very effective. I have made a cradle to rest my locos in upside down. It consists of three strips of ply, pinned and glued into a trough and lined with some velvet I happened to find in a lady's workbox. The loco is a snug fit in the velvet trough.

I don't fancy using solvents on my loco's wheels at all, they may attack plastic components. You must also be sure not to inhale any toxic vapours. They may also be flammable.

By the way did you know that you risk phosgene poisoning if you smoke whilst using mekpak? Phosgene was a WW1 poison gas.

Colombo
 

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Maybe where I went wrong with the cleaning device was by holding the loco in my hand. I may revisit this form of wheel cleaning with a cradle like you suggested. I guess by holding the loco in my hand it was probably earthing through me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
>if you smoke
Model trains and smoke? I'm not that rich

Cheers Colombo
David
 

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I get my IPA from RS Components. It should be kept away from bodies; although it will not affect the plastic it may affect paint, printed decals etc. Hence the use of cotton buds to provide controlled application.

The phosgene Colombo mentions: that comes from the partial breakdown on heating of 'clorinated hydrocarbons' such as Carbon Tetra-chloride, which used to be popular as a degreaser. This and similar solvents are generally withdrawn these days because of their effect on the 'Ozone Layer' if they are released into the atmosphere. IPA is made from carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and there is relatively little danger from it if basic precautions are taken. It should be used in a well-ventilated space - that's no problem in my loft!

Regards,
John Webb
 

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Re my post #5 - it is Peco who make a foam "Locomotive Servicing Cradle" part PL-70, at £4.45 inc VAT. They reckon it is suitable for OO/HO, N and 00-9 locos. It is on page 93 of the current Catalogue.

Regards,
John Webb
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks John. I pick up the Peco catalogue when I am in a model shop and then I put it down again. I think I'd actually buy a Wills / Ratio one though.

David
 

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QUOTE (John Webb @ 14 Apr 2006, 21:20) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Re my post #5 - it is Peco who make a foam "Locomotive Servicing Cradle" part PL-70, at £4.45 inc VAT. They reckon it is suitable for OO/HO, N and 00-9 locos. It is on page 93 of the current Catalogue.

Regards,
John Webb

Locolines do foam cradles, www.locolines.co.uk. I bought a box a few months ago, as I had excess stock I needed to store safely. The foam guards are good for holding a logo whilst being serviced.

Ian
 

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Hi all
For track cleaning I recommend firstly using a track rubber e.g. the Peco one or similar. This will remove virtually all the surface crud without damaging the surface of the rails. Then once the railheads are cleaned I find all that's necessary is a weekly application of Surgical Spirit applied via a lint free cloth (An old cotton handkerchief is ideal) to remove the dirt and oil left behind. by running sessions. Reuse of the track cleaning rubber is only necessary when railhead conditions get bad or after prolonged non use of the railway when the rails start to tarnish. I'm looking into the possible use of a specially made tanker wagon which is then filled with Surgical Spirit and is then towed or pushed around the track, cleaning as it goes. There is a commercially available tanker in "N", "HO" or "0" scale but its price is rather high Track Cleaning Tanker
Wheels I clean by using the Peco loco cradle and with the loco inverted I apply track power via two fly leads and use a fibre glass pencil type cleaner to de crud and then polish the wheels while they are rotating - Don't forget to clean the insides of the flanges where any wiping contacts will make contact. Also manually clean trailing and bogie wheels too. Be careful to remove all particles left from the brushing before running the loco.
 

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Hi all,

I use the Roco track cleaning wagons perminantly marshalled with the springs removed to help keep clean track clean. IMHO the only track cleaning wagon that actually cleans dirty track is the LUX powered unit used with the optional vacuum cleaner wagon - not cheap though @ around £200. I know of a guy that uses one for his OO outdoor (with catenry) layout.
The Peco rubber leaves an awful residue after its use - an alternative is the Roco of Fleischmann one - less agressive & no residue.
I often use surgical spirit to clean wheels - not the domestic variety, the commercial one obtainable from the chemists (try an independant rather than the "nationals".
One thing I would like to try though is "Railzip" - a few people have suggested it but where do I get it from ?
Interesting topic - it seems that everyone has their own favourite methods.

best regards
Brian
 

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Dear Brian,

Rail Zip got a large chunk of discussion late last year - see page 5 of this part of the Forum. It's possible that topic may answer your question(s) on Rail Zip.
It was first posted by double00 on the 2nd November 2005. Or try the 'Search Topic' facility.
Regards,
John Webb
 

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I have a Mini-Trix wheel cleaner for my N Gauge locos

Here's the HO version

Image courtesy Reynaulds

Handy though it is, I'd nearly as soon use a precision screwdriver to carefully peel off thick crud by hand, though this unit is extremely convenient for light routine loco wheel cleaning. Pop it on the track and hold your loco as lightly or as heavily as you like on the brass wire 'bristles'. (not terribly obvious in the photo). Speed is obviously controllable and you have full control over the pressure and angle too. Loco stays the right way up at all times.

As I am not a cruel person, I am not going to quote the American price, but remember this thing is TRIX!
Masochists can look it up for themselves!
 

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Amazingly, today's Gaugemaster price is about £1 LOWER than the American price I saw.
That makes a pleasant change!
However, it is still shockingly expensive for what it is or does, certainly more than I would call 'a few quid'.

At a QUARTER the price, they would probably quite easily sell enough to make a decent profit but I can't see too many people going for it at the present figure. Or maybe it's thought of as a status symbol,
"Hey come and look at my Rolls-Royce wheel brush!"

I'm still not quoting a number - I don't want to be sued for causing palpitations and undue stress!
 
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