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Discussion Starter #1
O.K. I have 2 ovals( about 40 ft) outside of SS Aristo Craft track, it is sturdy and works fine, I like the rail screws also. I need to clean the rails every time I run the trains to get off the Black stuff.I have used several cleaners including smoke fluid but found torch fuel with 25% mineral spirits takes off stuff nice. Trains will run nice and slow with my 10 amp MRC((Track Power).
Why does it build up Black everyday?
OGC5
 

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I wonder if it's a residue of the torch oil oxidizing?

I've been gradually converting to SS track and it definitely needs less cleaning where I am. If I run on my track without running the cleaning car first, the trains slow down on the brass and speed up on the stainless. I've read a couple similar claims to yours, though I can't remember where



I know many people find that plastic wheels leave a residue, and I'm not denying their experience, but I don't understand how this can be possible. There's not enough heat or friction to melt the plastic, I don't think. If I took a file to a plastic wheel, I suppose the file would clog, but the heat and pressure generated by the file would drastically exceed what's generated by running on smooth rails. But then again I l like metal wheels better anyway--they run better
 

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There are very few people who have had problems.

The two types of "black stuff" reported are very different.

One type is black "dust". It appears this is carbon from arcing between loco pickup wheels and the rail. This is easily wiped off with a finger, and is normally dry and powdery. Normally it is no trouble, does not need removal.

Another type of black stuff has been reported by only 2 people in the 9 years I have been reading LSC, MLS, trains.com and the Aristo forum. This stuff "sticks" to the rails. One person, Art Lamb, has had it, and I believe it's a chemical reaction to something. Another person, whose name I forgot, found out that he had sprayed anti-mildew stuff on his house and got the rails.

There are some chlorinated compounds that can blacken and react with SS.

Interestingly enough, I believe both people live in Florida, near the ocean.

Regards, Greg
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Interesting about the Florida people with similar problem although I am inland from salt water. I did speak with a guy at the Tampa Train show who said he experienced the problem also. I have replaced the Aristo Freight cars plastic wheels with metal wheels (Aristo should have used them from factory, but they do send you a order sheet for metal wheels with the cars). Hummm... good marketing.
The Black stuff sticks and I have used Denatured Alcohol,smoke fluid,mineral spirits and the goof off stuff with the same results. In addition I have cleaned the wheels on the engines and all rolling stock on a regular basis. I have Aristo, USA and Bachman rolling stock and Locos and have used both tracks with the same results.
Thanks everyone for all the suggestions but I guess I will just need to keep wiping down the track every day.
OGC5
 

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And, as far as I can tell, it's not plastic from plastic wheels.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Spring almost every day in Florida,except when it's summer. Hot and humid then. Here is what the track layout looks like.
http://www.youtube.com/user/OGC5
I do have a lot of Pea Gravel along with some Parrot gravel but don't think after several rains any chemicals are leaching out.
OGC5
 

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Try an electrical contact cleaner like CRC2-26 (just a few drops on the track cleaning pad). it cleans the track great and it will cut down on arcing. I'm sure your concoction isn't doing the ties any good.

-Bro
 

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So, you don't have to "Scrub" the rails to get it off, just a mild solvent, right?

Sounds like it could be moisture with carbon from arcing.

On curves, is there more on the outside rail than the inner?

Regards, Greg
 

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on my indoor track that needs cleaning every couple of years or so, I used to have a problem with a ridge of heavy black deposits on the rails. It could be scraped off. I took a sample of the material to a material science lab at work and asked a friend that worked in the lab if he could analyze it. It came back as a conglomeration of various plastics.

It was pretty clear that the material was abrading off the plastic wheels that almost every car had at that time. At some considerable expense, I switched to metal wheels and the black crud never came back.

Plastic will wear off the wheels at a higher rate if the rail is hot as the plastic in the wheels soften. It also will get pounded into the rail more effectively when it is hot.

- gws
 

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I have a friend of mine that lives in the Tampa area. Very little track cleaning needed on his SS rail unless he goes for several weeks with out operating then he will clean. it looks like you have a lot of trees in the area so what is dropping off the trees that could cause the problem ? I have one location on my layout that causes problem during the summer and that where I have two gum trees which deposit sap and probably other crap. I usually clean that spot daily when it looks and feels like there is a substance on the rail. I will usually use a hand cleaning pad to remove the sap. After its been cleaned i can run all day with out any further cleaning. Later RJD
 

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Discussion Starter #12
-Trees?, yep we have lots of trees on our 8 acres here. including a large oak over the layout. I will try some of the CRC contact cleaner. I have used the CRC contact cleaner for Automotive electrical stuff and on electronics. I think it has Alcohol and a type of wax that will leave a light coating and perhaps that will help.
OGC5
 

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Rubbing alcohol has glycerin in it. It's pretty hard to get pure alcohol. Contact cleaner will probably leave a film, but I do not think this is your problem.

I think there is something in the air that is "wetting down" carbon dust.

Another idea: one person had a similar problem with buildup. Changed wheels from plastic to metal, but during the changeover, got junk on the metal wheels, and took a while to wear it off, and it was deposited on the rails.


Regards, Greg
 

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Haven't cleaned my stainless in years. It's stacked in a storage locker






(Bet you were expecting a battery comment
)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Humm...I guess you can run your trains on the bare ground since it appears you have Battery power.

Just kidding, I did clean the track again with denatured Alcohol and wiped on a light coat of Dielectric grease which seems to have helped.
OGC5
 

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By any chance do any of the locos have traction tires. This may be a sorch of the black also. Later RJD
 

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Art Lamb lives in Massachusetts and has an indoor layout.
He is near the ocean.
We need to ask if the dirty track is his indoor layout and what kind of wheels he is using.
 

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Most learned and academic comments aside:
The simple fact is that plastic wheels do leave a deposit on the rails. LGB plastic is the best leaving the least residue. Bachmann and others are very bad. I believe Dean is correct.

When I had my first outdoor track powered layout I initially used the equipment as it came, at that time with all plastic wheels. A black scum would form on the edges of the rail tops within an hour or less. With conversion to all metal wheels the problem went away. I still had droppings from trees and occasional bird poop but rail cleaning became much easier. Remember that you don't need heat friction on the plastic wheels themselves as the rails can get very hot from the sun and exacerbate the problem greatly.

My advice: clean the track thoroughly and then try running with metal wheels only and see if the residue is still collecting.
 
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