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Cleaning track?!

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201bhoy
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Hi lads, what's the best way of cleaning track? I've been running 220 and 177, and they aren't running that well, especially 177. I think it's probably because of dirty track, as I haven't used the layout in a while. I was thinking of getting one of those track cleaning wagons, but I've heard they're only really good for maintain clean track rather than actually cleaning dirty track. Any basic suggestions that don't involve me having to buy anything would be especially welcome!

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Methylated spirits, on a clean lint free cloth is probably your best option. You can get methylated spirit in a chemist for a few euro.....

 

Meths is a great solvent - kind, yet effective.

 

It's widely available - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Barrettine-Methylated-Spirit-500ml/dp/B002ATI4VG - the reviews in the Amazon offer, at the bottom of the page are some of the best on the internet.

 

Obviously, I do not recommend that you drink it.....

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A good simple and cheap way to clean track is to use one or more of the old fashioned Triang Hornby track cleaning box cars. These have a felt pad mounted underneath which can be soaked with Methylated Spirit or Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA), and run round the layout a few times. Methylated Spirit is readily available from various outlets such as chemists and DIY stores, IPA is a little more controlled, but if you know your local chemist you should be alright. It is also available online, and over the counter from stores like Maplin Electronics.

My track cleaning train consists of two of the old track cleaning cars with a little extra weight in each, with two locos, one pulling and one pushing. This ensures that should the loco which is pulling, stall on uncleaned track, the pusher is there, on cleaned track, to give a little nudge to get going again. A useful tactic for cleaning hard to get at trackwork such as in tunnels etc..

The Triang Hornby track cleaning box cars are readily available on eBay, often at reasonable prices, or can be picked up secondhand at exhibitions.

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I second that. That's the only way to condition dirty track , the meths/IPA is only good once the track is basically bright clean

 

I would agree. If your track is really mucky, then a track rubber is the answer. The only problem is the fine 'dust' shed by the rubber during the cleaning process, as it can get into all sorts of nooks and crannies, especially the working parts of points thus causing poor contact of the point blades. Once you have got the track clean, then the liquid method is best for keeping it clean. Roughly 50% of my track is very difficult to access with a track rubber, so the track cleaning wagons are a must for me.

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Many of the "old boys" wouldn't use these modern track rubbers, because of the debris, and would only ever clean their track with a simple block of wood.

 

Get it properly clean once, and then keep it clean with a gentle solvent pad, little and often - that seems to be good advice.

 

Just running trains regularly helps, too - and gives you an excuse to play with it.......

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Thanks for all that advice and suggestions guys. I hand cleaned the track last week with a coarse cloth bound around and old hardwood model aircraft sanding block, damped with spirits. It has done the job and only a few spots needed more than one rub. I only plan to use a CMX cleaning wagon once every few months for maintenance. In the old days I used to run the loco wheels upside down in a cradle with a mildly abrasive wheel scraper or ice cream stick with spirit damped cloth. I found if I didn't keep the wheels of locos and rolling stock clean, the track wasn't long collecting the dirt off the wheels. I run a vacuum cleaner with a small circular soft brush fitting over the track after cleaning in case any debris was generated from the cloth snagging on track pins, rail joints or points. Its a far cry from when I used to lay Hornby-Dublo tracks on my bedroom carpet as a child (a dust, dirt and hair magnet).

Edited by Noel
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