Lately it seems I'm getting a lot of black residue on my loco drive wheels and my brass track. I clean both and the residue comes back quickly. BTW, I don't have plastic wheels on my rolling stock. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, John
Nope, we went through this before, and it is not carbon, look up the extensive thread where the black stuff was submitted for spectrographic analysis.
It's actually oxidized metal, mostly it was from the rail, as it had the proper proportion of copper and zinc.
You cannot really do anything about the generation of it. Some people can minimize it by puttting a large resistor in the track inputs, thus smoothing out some of the peak current... helps reduce pitting on high current locos too.
Actually, there is something that can be done about it, other than going to onboard batteries.
To minimize, you want to have as many wheels and sliders in contact with the track as is possible so that each contact point realizes minimal current.
Also, you want to keep the wheels and track as clean and smooth as is possible, for the same reason.
If you are running plated wheels, eventually you will not be able to easily clean them as the plating flakes. When they get to that point, I turn the engine over, power it up, and use an X-acto blade across the treads like a "lathe" to remove the flaking plating and the black residue. This works a lot better and faster than alcohol on a cotton swab. Afterwards, I use the alcohol/swab.