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Old 06-26-2010, 10:52 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2010
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Cleaning Track and Engines

I have been useing Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol to clean my track an engines, but I have to clean them almost every day. Am I useing the wrong product? The number of hours I run my trains is not high, at the most 30 minutes a night. My track is Nickel Silver and my engines range from Tyco, Lifelike, Backman, and IHC. Please help.
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Old 06-26-2010, 10:54 PM   #2
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alcohol will work IMO. i wouldn't think the track is your problem, it's more probably the older engines
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Old 06-26-2010, 10:57 PM   #3
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Have you tried cleaning the wheels on the locos too?

Most track cleaning fluids are mostly alcohol with a small amount of detergents in them.

What kind of track anyways? Brass? Steel? Nickel Silver?

Last edited by jbsmith966; 06-26-2010 at 10:59 PM..
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Old 06-26-2010, 11:07 PM   #4
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Yes I clean the wheels, but they look tarnifed (sp) the next day
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Old 06-27-2010, 10:56 AM   #5
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Goo Gone....then Alcohol.

If your wheels are built up with old dirt and tar looking resin then take a que tip dipped in Goo Gone....then use alcohol and let it air dry. This is effective as the Goo Gone has some oil in it which will in fact pick up dirt & grime off your track. The alchol eliminates the oil base and dry's quickly. Make sure you really wipe down your track before and after cleaning....preventive maintenance. Hope this helps!
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Old 11-05-2010, 12:10 AM   #6
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After seeing the youtube on using an alcohol-soaked paper towel to clean locomotives, I cleaned over half of my 14 loco roster as well as wiping down my track. I did so mainly because on the exit radius on one of my 24 inch curves causes my locomotives to slow down with the wheels slipping. I tried my bright boy but it did nothing; the railhead are still very slippery. After the alcohol treatment, the slipping decreased but not completely, for example, if I stop a locomotive with a heavy drag (16 cars) on that spot, the locomotive's wheels spin, and not budge a millimeter.
While researching for similar cases, I learned about gleaming where the track after being cleaned is burnished (rubbed) with a stainless steel washer (or similar substitute), then metal polished chemically.
Has anyone here used gleaming as an alternative to the rail car cleaners and the bright boy?
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Old 11-05-2010, 02:59 PM   #7
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I have to clean track and loco wheels very often! My layout is in an uninsulated shop, where heat and cold and humidity have their way with it. I cannot believe the "gunk" that comes off when cleaning.

I use Goo Gone on the loco wheels. I soak a paper towel with it and lay it across half of my turntable. Then I hold the loco from moving while one set of wheels turn the motor and the other set is getting cleaned on the paper towel. It works pretty well. For the track, I use a homemade piece of masonite floating under a gondola car with weight in it. I just pull it around the track a few times, and it takes off the grime fairly well.

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Old 11-05-2010, 04:39 PM   #8
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I've never heard of gleaming, but I can see how it would work to smooth the track surface---nice idea. Essentially, it's using a hard, smooth piece of metal to burnish the surface of a softer metal. It only works, though, if the burnishing washer is scratch free and polished.

Here's my take on the problems in this thread, and there's no guarantee I'm right. I like Googone, but I don't leave it on the rails or wheels. I think it's an oil-solvent and lifts the oil off the rails and wheels. That said, if you don't remove it all, the solvent evaporates and your oil is right back on the rails. I do Googone, but follow it with a paper towel soaked heavily with isopropyl alcohol. The idea is to physically wipe the oil-laden Googone off the rails and wheels, leaving them as clean, bare metal.
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:15 PM   #9
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I had a simulare issue. Cleaned the track and the locos' trucks and in not to long they were dirty again. The issue was not the track or the locos, it was the cars. The cars had picked up dirt and were redepositing it as they went around. After cleaning the cars the issue went away. I suspect that the main cause came from a lot of used rolling stock I purchased and did not inspect prior to using.
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:58 PM   #10
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Get rid of any plastic wheels too. They leave residue on the track.

I picked up one of those power Atlas track cleaners - it works awesome. It comes with a sanding head, cleaner heads, and even a vacuum head to clean up loose particles that are along the track. Hook it up to the front of an engine and push it around for awhile. Couldn't be easier.
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