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Track and wheel cleaning

6813 Views 29 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  double00
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.

That sunglass's thing is supposed to be point b. You can never get smilies where you want them :)
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QUOTE (Lancashire Fusilier @ 25 May 2006, 04:43) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>So what is the best way then?

In a nutshell - there is'nt !

Everyone has their own methods, or a combination of theirs & other peoples.

What works for me, may not work for you. The best way is to try different methods & see which is the best for you & the way you operate your layout.

Although I am well happy with the methods I use, I always "keep my ears open" for other methods - you are always on a leaning curve with this hobby !

best regards
dbclass50 is right to say there is no single best way.

The Trix loco wheel cleaner is about as convenient and easy to use as one will ever find for 'little and often' cleaning, but it's nowhere near as effective as careful use of a suitable small blade for heavy encrustations and is, of course, completely useless for non-powered wheels, on a loco or any other vehicle!

For track, I have always used a vacuum cleaner first, followed by hand-rubbing with rough lint free cloth with or without almost any light solvent, followed by another vacuuming. But I have never tried track rubbers - I will one day, as they get a good press here and elsewhere. In N-Gauge, I have the cutest little Fleischmann Edelweiss track cleaning 0-6-0 loco that uses powered emery pads over each rail in place of the the centre wheels. It's almost completely useless! The little pads clog in no time at all and it's noisy as bedamned - a gimmick best forgotten imo.

I have three non-technical tips that cost nothing at all.

1. Always clean all the wheels of all vehicles and clean all track at the same time when the urge or need to clean strikes. Not doing so just results in gunge being transferred to the clean parts by the still dirty parts - altogether pointless.

2. As in most tedious but not highly skilled tasks (torture!), try to enlist helping hands. If you can pursuade 4 people into rubbing rails on a large layout, it can make an enormous difference to the time it takes. No single individual has too much work to do and affectionate complaining and cursing between a bunch of friends always helps to pass the time quicker anyway! VERY highly recommended!

3. Do it little and often - try not to let the muck and gunge bring your operations to a standstill before cleaning up.
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Good advice in previous posts.

I use a Peco track block for stubborn problems. Then meths on a stiff cloth. (Bits off a towel roll are good). I also have a Gaugemaster track cleaning device wired in, but cant say it's been a roaring success. Giving the layout a good run with a reliable Bachmann loco helps also.

I clean wheels with a meths soaked cloth, but must get some alcohol. Stubborn wheels can be effectively cleaned with a fibrepen. Take care not to get the shards stuck in your finger though, it hurts like heck!
QUOTE Amazingly, today's Gaugemaster price is about £1 LOWER than the American price I saw.
That makes a pleasant change!.

Don't let on, they don't need much of an excuse to bump the prices up
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I found this advance announcement on the Bachus website tonight. Apparently they are going to show a wheel cleaner for non-powered wheels at a show in Toronto next month. I am intrigued. Given that they make rolling roads, I guess it's a variation on a theme.

This link rocked up on the Digitrax user group for wheel cleaning:

Speed wheel cleaner

it doesnt look very different for the offering from Peco.
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Track Cleaning
I use Condiment, basically the same as clear vinegar. You'll get a bottle from the local supermarket for less than a quid. Put some on a cloth then clean the track, then wipe it off with another cloth. A couple of spots on a cloth will do a yard of track. Also acts as a degreaser.

Loco. Wheels
Electrical Contact Cleaner spray. Comes in a spray tin. Costs a couple of quid per tin. Cleans off mosts of the dirt in an instant.

Motorised bogies can be a bit tricky (because you have to get the wheels to turn to get them all cleaned). I connect 2 wires from a Controller to 2 of the wheels. Put on about 1/2 power, and as the wheels turn, use a Peco Track cleaner against the wheels. Cleans each wheel in seconds.
After many years of enjoyment in model railway pursuit and trying out many suggestions on keeping track rail clean - I find best for me anyway, is a clean lint free cloth and plenty of "elbow grease" (e.g. is very economic, though can cause some discomfort to finger joints.)
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