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Discussion Starter #1
A long time ago, I used ink pen erasers to clean track. Very mild abrasive content. So, went on a search for a few recently. Holy cow, these things are now rare! Finally found a version at 'Michael's' craft store here in Pgh PA. Ink erasers have a very mild abrasive. Much less than the usual model railroad erasers available these days.
 

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I use white cardboard lately. Cheap and disposable and works good for my particular grime. Most of my track is easy access.
 

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I have a bunch of actual track cleaner erasers I bought from somewhere, I think modeltrainstuff, several years ago. They were very well.
 

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That bar in the OP looks pretty much like what is attached to the bottom of my Roco track cleaning car.

The thin film of Rail Zip that remains on my rails seems to be enough to keep trains running reliably on my layout. I haven't physically cleaned track in months.

Every third session or so I place a microdot of Rail Zip on each of the main line rails on the downhill side and let the locomotives do the rest.
 

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It seems there's a general consensus in recent years across the various hobby fora that one should avoid abrasive materials that might leave micro-grooves in the bearing surface of our hobby rails. These increase the likelihood of arcing, which is the prime concern when you want to remove unsightly black streaks. Those are caramelized organic matter.

On the other major forum, they've mentioned dryer sheets as a possibility. Apparently they do not shred, as I had feared.

I use painters' drop cloth remnants dipped in alcohol to clear the first dark stuff, and if contact is still poor, I gently swipe with 600 grit paper and re-wipe with alcohol.

The very best non-polar fluid for maintaining clean bearing surfaces on NS rails is kerosene. WD-40 Contact Cleaner was the next best. Rail zip was well down the list into the 'if there's nothing better' middle section.
 

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I have not empirically tested all the chemicals in the MRH list of things to clean your track with, which is where the list mesenteria is referring to comes from (May 2019, to be exact). I used to use denatured alcohol, which it turns out was in the "bad" category. It turned out that I had a can of CRC Contact Cleaner and Preservative (just below WD-40 Contact cleaner on the list) that I used to use on my stereo equipment. So I tried that. Wow! If you think Railzilp works, try one of the true non-polar solvents and I think you'll be amazed.

I also use an ink eraser that has been in my layout box for about 30 years. Never had a problem with micro scratches.
 

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any eraser with an abrasive base is usually not recommended for brass or nickel silver track [ it my be usable on steel, i don't know] because of very fine scratches that may be left in the metal after use .. and of course this depends on how hard you rub, and how abrasive the eraser is ..
while it looks clean, the micro scratches may attract more arcing in the metal. and of course, your mileage may vary ..
 

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I have some generic bright boys that I purchased years ago at a train show. Also have used rubbing alcohol on a towel to get the really bad dirt off. For regular maintenance found this product called dirt monkeys that attach to the axle of a train car. They seem to work well for keeping the regular dust off of the rails. The more you run the train the cleaner it seams.
 

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I have been using alcohol on an old T-shirt. I was in my LHS a while ago and they were using tennis balls to clean track. I had never heard of that before. The guys that work there say that tennis balls are perfect because they have just the right amount of grab to take dirt off the rails while not being abrasive. They also pointed out that a tennis ball does not leave a film like alcohol does on the rails.
 

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Actually, a film on the rails is not a bad thing, provided it is the right kind of film. Please see the discussion of non-polar track cleaning solvents further up in this thread.

I do like the tennis ball idea, although I would probably cut one up into smaller pieces to avoid damaging trackside details.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The ink erasers I presented in the OP are considerably less abrasive than the bright boy and its generic knockoffs. I did do a comparison test with them on brass, NS, and steel track. A magnifying glass was used. The ink eraser won by far. Hence why I posted about it...
As far as using CRC contact/tuner cleaner. May I suggest looking into Caig brand cleaners and lubes. It has been the standard for potentiometers and faders in the live and, recorded music industry for decades.
 

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Certainly, you can recommend any product you like... I'm not a chemist, so I'm going off of one article. The key property, though is the substance's dielectric constant, and all contact cleaners are not created equal. CRC Contact Cleaner (as opposed to contact cleaner AND PROTECTANT) is a semi-polar fluid and therefore less than ideal as a track cleaner. WD40 Contact cleaner topped the list, several others were down in the mid-range. So without knowing the dielectric constant of the substance, I wouldn't use it on my rails.

For the stereo, I'll certainly check it out, though!

As far as the eraser goes, you're spot on. My kids even have a USB 200x power "microscope". Even with that, I can't detect any significant scratching of the rails from an ink eraser.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
C
Certainly, you can recommend any product you like... I'm not a chemist, so I'm going off of one article. The key property, though is the substance's dielectric constant, and all contact cleaners are not created equal. CRC Contact Cleaner (as opposed to contact cleaner AND PROTECTANT) is a semi-polar fluid and therefore less than ideal as a track cleaner. WD40 Contact cleaner topped the list, several others were down in the mid-range. So without knowing the dielectric constant of the substance, I wouldn't use it on my rails.

For the stereo, I'll certainly check it out, though!

As far as the eraser goes, you're spot on. My kids even have a USB 200x power "microscope". Even with that, I can't detect any significant scratching of the rails from an ink eraser.

CTV,
All points well taken here and agreed apon. I have no desire to post facts concerning the dialectic properties of the product here at the moment. (Lasy) folks can find the website and research for themselves of course.
No kids with microscopes here. Empty nest per se. A 10-x mag glass worked for my needs. Lol.
 
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