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Old 12-10-2019, 11:32 AM   #1
AmFlyerFan
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Arrow AF track cleaning ideas?

It's getting close to the time that my S stuff comes out.
I've got a couple of tubs of track. Every year I clean only what I use for my setup, rotating as such.

I just saw a couple of YouTube videos, submerging the track in a bath of white vinegar for 24 hours. Then rinsing & drying in the oven at 200 degrees.
It looked like it worked pretty well. My running surfaces are rust free but the sides are a ***** to clean with a dremel (I'm lazy).
Anyone try this?
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Old 12-10-2019, 01:51 PM   #2
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I have not tried it. The track I use for the holiday layouts is all in rubber roadbed. Fortunately it does not rust when in storage. All I need to do is clean the top surfaces of the rail with a solvent, then make sure the track pins are clean and have a fresh, thin coating of conductive grease and are tight in the rails.
I find that I need to take off the bottom plates of some of the turnouts to clean the sliding contacts.
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Old 12-10-2019, 02:36 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by AmFlyer View Post
I have not tried it. The track I use for the holiday layouts is all in rubber roadbed. Fortunately it does not rust when in storage. All I need to do is clean the top surfaces of the rail with a solvent, then make sure the track pins are clean and have a fresh, thin coating of conductive grease and are tight in the rails.
I find that I need to take off the bottom plates of some of the turnouts to clean the sliding contacts.
I know you guys with layouts &/or roadbeds or non AF track probably wouldn't. I don't use d. grease but my running surfaces shine. My sideplates are hard to get to even with my Dremel.
I'm wondering what the Vinegar might do to the the non metal insulators. I think I'll give it a try on some really bad track; a few pieces.

It might be a couple of days, but I'll post back the results, maybe with pictures. Thanx. There are so many tips/tricks here. I'm like a sponge.
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Old 12-10-2019, 03:20 PM   #4
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My permanent layout uses Nickle Silver rail on weathered plastic ties. The sides of the rail are coated to resemble rust. Cleaning this track is simple but tedious since there is 700' of it. I was referring to Gilbert track in my previous post.
The Gilbert track picks up "dirt" much quicker than the NS track. To address this a few people have burnished their Gilbert track with good results. There are YouTube videos of this as well.
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Old 12-10-2019, 03:29 PM   #5
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The top of the rail is the part that needs to be clean. If the side of the rail being rusted or tarnished is bothersome, then a Dremel tool with a wire wheel is the what I've used but is a pain and takes too long I.M.O. My only concern with the vinegar is that it might remove the bluing on the ties. They would have to be painted because they will quickly rust.
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Old 12-10-2019, 07:02 PM   #6
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If the side of the rail being rusted or tarnished is bothersome, then a Dremel tool with a wire wheel is the what I've used but is a pain and takes too long I.M.O. My only concern with the vinegar is that it might remove the bluing on the ties. They would have to be painted because they will quickly rust.
I thought about the bluing issue too. The video didn't address that issue. It was hard to tell about the 'after', but it didn't look like it.
I think it's worth a test on a few pieces. I've got some really bad ones. I'll let you know how it turns out.

On another front I've gotten my 302AC running, it was a garage sale find last fall that I just left in the box until last week. It's a diecast, time stamped June 1950. Very good shape. I put it on my test track after putting some smoke fluid in it. It smokes like a bandit. I'm glad I did that; one less thing to tinker with. It's getting a full tune up!
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Old 12-12-2019, 07:15 AM   #7
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The vinegar WILL take bluing/paint off the ties. I saw the video also.
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Old 12-12-2019, 10:53 AM   #8
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The vinegar WILL take bluing/paint off the ties. I saw the video also.
It was hard for me to tell. I've got some really rusty (garage sale) track. Freebies in a sense. I'm giving it a try right now. I'll post some pics in a few days. It is hard to clean the non running parts of the AF track. Stay tuned.
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Old 12-13-2019, 02:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmFlyerFan View Post
It was hard for me to tell. I've got some really rusty (garage sale) track. Freebies in a sense. I'm giving it a try right now. I'll post some pics in a few days. It is hard to clean the non running parts of the AF track. Stay tuned.
Yep that soaking will for sure take off the AF tie bluing. Been there done that. The soaking didn't hurt the paper insulators though. Since I like my lay out to look as prototypical as possible, I "rust" my rail sides on purpose with rust paint sticks. They work like a Magic Marker. Easy to apply. I only worry about the rail tops and the pins. Never had an electrical problem.
As I have stated on here before, I have some naturally rusty track in my rail yard that works just fine and looks right at home in the yard. My main line track is all new "rusted" K-Line I bought when you could get it at hobby stores. I didn't really need to buy it since I have 3 tubs of AF track but I liked the shiny tops of that track and the wider radius of the curve pieces. The rest of my layout track is ballasted AF.

Kenny
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Old 12-13-2019, 11:30 AM   #10
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What I've got soaking in 5% vinegar now is sacrificial. Nothing out of my other tubs that I use. I too was concerned about the paper insulators.
As far as the bluing of the ties, again we'll see. I believe they are steel of some sort (magnetic). Do you think they might be anodized? They don't look "painted" to me.

They do look like they're whiter then b4 the bath.
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