G Scale Model Train Forum banner
1 - 20 of 23 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What should I use to clean my USA brass track? I thought I saw something about using scouring pads or something like that but I can't find any that said for brass? The track was outside for a few months but I read that it loses electrical conductivity if you don't clean it? Fairly new to outside running!
Thanks!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,952 Posts
Dan;

There are several "dry" methods for cleaning the rail heads (that is where your locomotives get their power). One of the simplest is a medium grit drywall sander. It allows you to buff the rail heads while standing upright (much more comfortable than stooping or kneeling). Other people prefer Scotch Brite pads. The shorty caboose shown in the first photo was made by Aristo Craft, and carried a fine grit buffing block beneath its frame. While this product is long out of production, there are other similar products still offered. Recently Piko has produced a track cleaning battery locomotive. The locomotive uses a Scotch Brite like material that mounts on the pads that would ordinarily be used for current pick up. This is a more expensive solution. The street price is around $200.00. The ultimate track cleaner may be the LGB track cleaning locomotive. I'm not sure if they are currently in production, and the cost will most likely make the Piko machine look like a bargain.




Lastly, there was a powered track cleaner made by Brawa that works like the LGB machine. With a bit of fiddling, it could be set to rotate counter the direction of travel. The last two photos show a vehicle I built using that track cleaner. It was designed to buff and sweep, but the sweeping function was only marginally successful.





Happy hunting,
David Meashey
 

Attachments

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,221 Posts
Dave gave some very good methods of cleaning the track, If I may add, NEVER use an abrasive that will leave scratches on the rail head. That will only lead to more corrosion a place for dirt to accumulate and insulation to the wheels. LiG
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,265 Posts
LGB track cleaner is in production and is the most expensive, however it can go around layouts in hard to reach places on its own. I added wiring to mine to connect to a trailing car with power pickups and found it runs a whole lot better. I obtained a second unit not working for $100 and added a digital control to this unit and now can clean in both directions.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,952 Posts
Dan;

Forgot to mention that the Piko battery track cleaning locomotive uses 6 AAA batteries. It runs for almost two hours on that battery pack. The locomotive will also get into those hard to reach locations, but the cleaning pads are "passive," i.e. no powered scrubbing. I bought my locomotive mainly to have something to keep moving at steam-ups during those times when nobody has raised steam yet..

Regards,
David Meashey
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,437 Posts
Dave gave some very good methods of cleaning the track, If I may add, NEVER use an abrasive that will leave scratches on the rail head. That will only lead to more corrosion a place for dirt to accumulate and insulation to the wheels. LiG
Technically, any abrasive will leave scratches from very fine, you need a magnifying glass, to gouges. It's the nature of abrasives and why they're called abrasive. Nick's right, you want to pick the least abrasive abrasive. I'm not sure about corrosion since a stainless steel wheel tires, loco drivers wheels, will wear down brass brass being considerably softer than stainless steel.

Kinda ironic that quite a few years ago at NGS in Santa Clara, CA. Two LGB reps giving a clinic brought up this wear issue. LGB sell only brass track and their loco driver wheels tires are stainless steel. I attended that clinic, being in my LGB period, and I left scratching my head over that one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,576 Posts
While the LGB track cleaning engine may work well (mine never did and the internal switch continually failed), it becomes very expoensive to run. Back in the day, before Massoth, the wheels were $35 and I would go though a set for an open house (~600 feet of track).

I took an AristoCraft U-35 and made and mounted an articulated drywall sanding head between the trucks that follows the track through the curves. This has a sheet of lead on it for weight and I run it with 120 grit drywall sand paper (not the 220 screens that I use on my hand pole and hand sander). This works well and these pads seem to last forever and don't wear like the screens do.

I also made a similar articulated car that has a pipeload. Some of the pipes are filled with sand (and sealed off) for weight.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
277 Posts
Don't use medium grit sand paper! If you're going to use any type of abrasive, then use 400 to 2,000 grit body work type sand paper on a sanding block. I buy it at Walmart.It's near the Bondo body filler ,in the automotive department It does a fine job of cleaning and polishing the rail head.It's even better than a Scotch Brite pad. Medium grit sand paper will scar your track ,and leave deep scratches on it . Trust me, you'll regret it if you do that!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,221 Posts
RkyGriz, I must agree about the 2000 or 2500 grit body paper. When using it even on the car painted surface, can't see scratches. it's like a polishing paper. Used it on the Salvage Tug to remove scratches. LiG
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,970 Posts
While I agree with the conventional wisdom about not using medium grit sandpaper, I'm not convinced it is all that it's cracked up to be in the real world. The Denver GRS has a garden railroad at the Colorado RR Museum. We primarily use drywall sanders with 200-grit (plus or minus) drywall sanding pads on them to clean our track. Been using them for the 20+ years the railroad's been there. Maybe because we're a club we clean more regularly than an individual's railroad, but we don't seem to have any issues with premature rail wear or dirty track.

Later,

K
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,265 Posts
LGB locos and metal wheels have nickel plated brass as far as I know.

Trainli does make stainless Passenger/freight car wheel sets.


I see a lot of wheels advertised as steel and only the axles are steel on all the wheel sets I have seen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,576 Posts
LGB locos and metal wheels have nickel plated brass as far as I know.

Trainli does make stainless Passenger/freight car wheel sets.


I see a lot of wheels advertised as steel and only the axles are steel on all the wheel sets I have seen.
Wheel plating, and its removal, are a whole 'nother can of worms to be dealt with.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
I’ve seen someone locally using a track cleaning block that you can get. From Ana.kramer on eBay. Looks like one uses a pair of scotch bright pad strips, and mounts the floating unit to the bottom of a bachmann bobber caboose. Seems to work well enough.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,576 Posts
Actually, a lot of it will depend on how often you clean it, how it is treated, and how old it is.

My track gets watered every day (sometimes twice) with really hard water leaving mineral deposits and oxidizing the brass. Trains may be run (and track cleaned) as late as September and it doesn't get cleaned again until June the following year (8+ months). That's 8+ months of mineral (and other crap) buildup and oxidation.

Do you really think some scrubbie or polishing pad is going to cut through that?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
I see less running, and less watering with softened water. Some lengths of track are approaching 15 years of constant exposure. And yes, it does get buried in 3 feet of snow for 8+ months. Smaller layout, but scrubbing it with Scotch Brite brand did the trick for me. Yes, I did try a few other off brand names. Didn’t hold up.

Just speaking from my personal experience

Then again, the guy I saw using it had said arrangement on every caboose he had.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
468 Posts
Scotch Brite pads in a drywall sander are very good, especially since they won't abrade the track (pads are softer than brass). A drop or two of Dexron III automatic transmission fluid on the rail will help clean the track, sliders, and wheels.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
288 Posts
Never have tried it and I don't know if there is a reason not to, but wondered about using Brasso? It sure works good cleaning brass thing, but don't know, maybe it would leave some sort of bad residue? Also wondered about Bar Keeper's Friend?

A side comment, I always watch the monthly Model Railroad Academy podcast and sometimes I send questions just to see what bad answers I will get from their "expert", who claims to do commercial G installations. I asked about the brass track oxidation prevention issue and his (non) answer was to go R/.C. I have also heard him several times say brass track is obsolete and not to use it, so I asked about who currently manufactures stainless track in G and he said he didn't know and to contact some train store he frequently speaks of. I think they need to include a G expert for G questions or just admit ignorance on our part of the hobby.

Doug
 
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Top