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I recently purchased about 150' of used Aristocraft 332 brass track. It's in good condition, but the rails are oxidized and the ties have a bit of leftover glue on them from where the previous owner had mixed glue with his ballast. I want to clean them before laying them. I cleaned one with a bit of mineral spirits and a gray Scotchbrite and it came out great, but I wanted to be sure I wasn't harming the brass or the plastic doing it this way. I also plan to use some brass wire wheels on my Dremel to clean the ends, and put on new rail connectors with screws. (I'm using track power)

I'm new at this, so comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
 

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I recently purchased about 150' of used Aristocraft 332 brass track. It's in good condition, but the rails are oxidized and the ties have a bit of leftover glue on them from where the previous owner had mixed glue with his ballast. I want to clean them before laying them. I cleaned one with a bit of mineral spirits and a gray Scotchbrite and it came out great, but I wanted to be sure I wasn't harming the brass or the plastic doing it this way. I also plan to use some brass wire wheels on my Dremel to clean the ends, and put on new rail connectors with screws. (I'm using track power)

I'm new at this, so comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
paul2887,
Welcome to the forum, I am also a new member here, and have received lots of helpful input in a short period of time.

I don't know about the mineral spirits on the plastic ties, but others I am sure will jump in.
As for the rail heads, I think the Scotchbrite is the best solution. I have used it on my S gauge track for years with no problems.
I use it with a small sanding block on my used LGB brass G gauge track. The block seems to make the cleaning go faster.
George
 

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Grinding track for outdoor use is a bad term as grinding leaves grooves which allows faster corrosion. Think more on the lines of polishing like fine silver!! LGB track cleaner does this as well as some very fine scotch pads.
 

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Hi Paul, I’m a rookie here too. I have found out what works for me. I use a scotch bright pad on a pole sander dipped in dish soap and water
 

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Hi. I use 400 grit wet/dry sand paper for heavy tarnish on the rails,and 1,000 for light tarnish.

I only run indoors, but have bought a lot of track that has been used in an outdoor setting.
Experiment to what works best for you, and your needs.

I use Isopropyl Alcohol on strips of paper towel for general cleaning of grease and residue on the track after that.

Soap (Dawn),hot water,and a Scotch Brite pad works great for the ties.
Sorry, but I've never dealt with glue on any of my tracks.

No matter what you decide on, do not use a power tool of any sort on your rails as you'll only damage them as Dan already mentioned.
 

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I have always wondered about using Brasso or Bar Keepers Friend. Know Brasso really does a good job on brass, but nobody seems to have tried it and have no idea if there is any reason not to use it.

Doug
 

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I have always wondered about using Brasso or Bar Keepers Friend. Know Brasso really does a good job on brass, but nobody seems to have tried it and have no idea if there is any reason not to use it.

Doug
Doug,
Looking forward to the responses you get. I was also wondering if some sort of metal polish would help the rails stay cleaner longer.
George
 

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Just a note about brass cleaners. Test to be sure they do not leave an insulating residue after polishing. My guess is that is why they are not recommended for cleaning track.

David Meashey
 

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Just a note about brass cleaners. Test to be sure they do not leave an insulating residue after polishing. My guess is that is why they are not recommended for cleaning track.

David Meashey
David,
I have that question too, that is why I am interested in hearing if anyone has actual experiences.
George
 

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Brasso was too slick afterwards.
 

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When I was working on some oxidized track, that still had good conductivity in the joiners, a rag with some CLR or other other acid-based cleaner worked great.


I found much stronger stuff at Home Despot under the Zip brand.



Just enough to remove oxidation. When I had loose sectional track, I dipped the joiners in a cup of the stuff.


I rinsed off with a hose thoroughly. The allowed the weathering on the side of the rails to stay, and the tops nice and shiny.


Clearly this will not work well for organic buildup, heavy corrosion, etc.


Greg


p.s. degreasing and overall cleaning in a dishwasher works well, time when wife out shopping... ask me how I know.
 

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I have used it by the drop for balky HO locomotives. Helps oxidized wheels start conducting again. Probably will work in any scale, but could be an expensive proposition for cleaning a lot of track. It comes in a relatively small bottle, and is fairly expensive.

Have fun, david Meashey
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So here's my update on the cleaning project so far. (And just to be clear, none of this track has been laid yet - it's all sitting on a workbench in my shop). I've been using a small amount of mineral spirits with gray Scotchbrite as mentioned in the original post, and it's been working great. It's taking off much of the original glue and bits of ballast left behind by the previous owner, and not damaging the ties or the rail. It's cleaning up the rails just fine. For the rest of the gunk on the ties, and to clean the ends of the rails for the connectors, I bought a pack of brass (not steel) wire wheels on eBay - super cheap, 45 piece set for 11 bucks - to use in my rotary tool. I have a Foredom - like a Dremel on steroids. Came with three different configurations of wheels, so they've been great for getting into all the nooks and crannies without damaging the track. Not a terrible amount of effort, and the track is coming out great.

Thanks to everyone who responded with suggestions!
 
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