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Discussion Starter #1
Track cleaning cars are expensive for O Gauge. I've seen some for well over $100 and I just don't want to pay that much. I had a beat up Lionel 6-17407 Flatcar that I have been using for a while with a wadded up scotch bright pad screwed into the bottom.

IMG_20170222_115958963.jpg

It worked but it is really ugly and a royal pain to swap out the pads. I decided it was time to make this more professional looking and make it easier to work with.

Parts needed:

It wouldn't be too hard to build 2 blocks out of wood and drill some holes in it. One block is 12mm thick and the other 24mm. They are 38mm x 59mm in the other dimensions.

I decided to 3d print them to make my life easier and added some beveling and screw holes so I don't have to drill. I have made the model available on thingiverse here. All told it cost about a buck and about five hours to print two of these for the lionel flat car.

To install:

  1. Print the parts as oriented in the file
    IMG_20170223_152107513.jpg
  2. Push the 8-32 screw through the bottom part with the large indention so it sits flush. You may need to drill it out some so the screw slides right through. I had to drill one part but not the other.
  3. Push the top down onto the screw. There are indention's for button head m2.5 screws so they sit flush.
    IMG_20170223_152113764.jpg
  4. Cut a scotch bright pad to fit. I get 2 cleaners out of 1 pad. It's designed to only require one cut of the pad.
    IMG_20170223_152128839.jpg
  5. Place the pad inside the opening like you would sand paper in a block and then tighten down the two m2.5 screws till they hold the pad.
    IMG_20170223_152244078.jpg
  6. Drill an 8-32 hole into the bottom of the car you will be using as your cleaning car and slide the whole thing in and tighten down the nut
    IMG_20170223_152254808.jpg
    IMG_20170223_152344892.jpg
    IMG_20170223_152400363.jpg
  7. Depending on the car height you can add a spacer so that the scrubber is always touching the track. Load up the car with something heavy so that the wheels stay on the track. Ideally the scrubber is compressed some.
I only finger tighten the nuts as I have not had any issues with it coming loose. It makes it really easy to swap out the pads. Just undo the nut, pull the block out, loosen the 2 screws, and replace the pad. Takes just a few minutes.

For this car I printed 2 of the little guys and stuck them right behind the wheels so I don't take out scenery material as it goes around the track. I might move them a little closer to the wheels still. With the way I had it before with the wad in the middle I was constantly dislodging things so that was one of the goals to fix as well.

Now to design a nice load for the car to hide the weight...
 

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Looks like it'll do the job just fine. That's really all any of these cars are. Here's my Trackman 2000, it just has the pad on a heavy block to scrub the track. The only enhancement are the articulated arms that keep the pad on the tracks for curves.

 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks guys. I'm glad you all like it. I've updated my thing on thingiverse with a new feature. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2132406

I've been working on a load for this car to not only hide the screws but also allow me to fill the area with weight. I need to still be able to get to the screws so I can change the pads but I want them hidden. I found a 20 foot shipping container on thingiverse that I was able to modify for me needs.

It is based off of this thing but heavily modified. It's been resized and scaled up to O Scale size to best fit 2 of these in the flatcar. I have also modified it with a removable top that has a lip so that it locks into the top without glue. This also makes it easier to print with less support needed. I can then glue these open shipping box bottoms to the flat car and still get to the screws so I can change the pads by removing the top. Whole goal is to hide the components so the flatcar looks like any other car on the track or as close as I can :).

I plan to have 2 of these in the car. One on each side and I think it will look really good. The second one is printing now and will be ready in the morning. I love this 3D printer :D

I did move the pads closer to the wheels as well. I'm finding that works much better for cleaning and doesn't take as much scenery material up.

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IMG_20170224_194701630.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #8
That's really cool. I had not seen that. I bet you have no trouble with those weights staying on the tracks :) Where do you get those generic shamwow pads?
 

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Lostsoul, very cool! Great build! I have the trackman that grj has, I think besides what he said it also has springs to create tension. Easily added to your design if needed:)

Tim, I like the vid, ty for posting it!
 

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This is the one that I built years ago for my flyers. It's based on a boxcar that was surplus.. It has a green scotch-brite pad glued to a light-weight piece of aluminum. It's spring-loaded, and it's also adjustable to add more or less tension to the surface of the track. 001.JPG

002.JPG

003.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter #11
That looks good. I thought about adding the springs as well but I don't have any on hand. I've sized the blocks so that the pads have a good amount of pressure on the track but don't cause the wheels to go off the track. I do have to have a lot of weight in the car that is for sure. With the spring based ones I assume you need to weight them down as well correct?
 

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Great track cleaning car you made. It's similar to the track cleaning car I bought from Pat's Trains (below), which uses one big pad with adjustable height/pressure, too. I run it as built except I insert a folded paper towel above the cleaning pad to hold alcohol for wet cleaning, and that rquired the white 1/8 inch thick plastic sheet spacer I have on the gondola. One thing I like about the car's weight - 1 lb 14 ounces. Heavy, for lots of pressure.
Slide1.JPG

This one I made myself. It has a track cleaning eraser on a lever inside it with 10 ounces of weight pushing it down. Does a great job of cleaning and polishing the track.
Slide2.JPG

I recommend making your own version of this car - very simple. A Neodymium magnet on a plastic flatcar. This thing never seases to amaze me. I run it once a month and it always returns with an odd screw, nut or two. I never have found out where they come from (worrisiome, but nothing has fallen apart so far!:) ).
Slide3.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter #13
That magnet car is a great idea. I'm afraid at what it would find on my layout :) That might have to be my next project. I know for a fact I've had screws come loose on my ceiling layout and those are really hard to see
 

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I have always been leery of a track cleaning car for two reasons.
1. I was told that a track cleaner just pushes the gunk from one part of the layout to another. I don't necessarily believe this.
2. (This is more realistic) I have always worried about the pads getting torn apart in the turnout points and frogs.
Does this happen? And what about crossovers, it looks like the same thing may occur.
 

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That looks good. I thought about adding the springs as well but I don't have any on hand. I've sized the blocks so that the pads have a good amount of pressure on the track but don't cause the wheels to go off the track. I do have to have a lot of weight in the car that is for sure. With the spring based ones I assume you need to weight them down as well correct?
You're absolutely correct about adding weight. The more spring tension/pressure, the more the car is likely to have the wheels lift off the tracks.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I have always been leery of a track cleaning car for two reasons.
1. I was told that a track cleaner just pushes the gunk from one part of the layout to another. I don't necessarily believe this.
2. (This is more realistic) I have always worried about the pads getting torn apart in the turnout points and frogs.
Does this happen? And what about crossovers, it looks like the same thing may occur.
I can't speak about other peoples experience but I have not had any issues with the scotch brite pads tearing on turnouts or cross overs.
 

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Like I said if it works without the springs :) but if you add them , I was thinking 2 cup washers and a light spring in between to make sure pressure is applied while running, nothing so strong as to lift the car or trucks off the track but more of a tension thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I tested out the finished track cleaning car tonight and it works beautifully. I had not cleaned my track in quite some time and it had visible black gunk on it and it's shiny and new now after about an hour of running the engine over all of it. Maybe a half hour on the inner loop and another half hour on the outer one. Tomorrow I'll run it on my ceiling layout. That one is really dirty as it gets the most run time. It's on almost every day for hours and hours.

The car looks great to me on the track too. I filled the containers with a bunch of screws. My son really liked the containers with the lids swapped so I kept it. I'll probably paint the green one black. My black filament is clogging the extruder on my printer for some reason. Might just be some bad filament.

IMG_20170225_221512460.jpg

IMG_20170225_223502350.jpg
 
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