G Scale Model Train Forum banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Super Modulator
Joined
·
21,053 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Over on another forum, there's a seemingly endless debate about what causes black deposits on track.

There seems to be a contingent that wants to blame ALL deposits on only ONE thing.

Of course nothing is ever simple, if it was, the problem would be solved.


I've studied this a lot, and having a background in science, it helps to believe in physics not voodoo.

From my experience, and everyone I have talked to and taking into consideration every post on every forum I have read, I have come to the following conclusions:

Plastic wheels OFTEN (but not always) will leave some black junk on the rails.

This is affected by the brand of the wheels, how hot it gets, what (if any) solvents are used to clean track, other contaminants, and most importantly (in my mind) the sharpness of the curves. Of course running more often is directly related.

Deposits from plastic wheels have two main characteristics:
  1. The deposits are often not only on the rail head, but on the inner "vertical" surface of the rail heads. This is from the flanges. (It's probably obvious why sharper curves will have an effect here).
  2. The deposits are usually "adhered" to the rails. This stuff does not wipe off, but needs solvents, or mechanical abrasion.
There are deposits caused by the conduction of power between the wheels and the rail.

These deposits are normally a dry black powder, but sometimes, with the addition of water or other contaminants, are oily or gooey.

These deposits usually wipe off with a finger or rag, and do not normally need any solvent, although getting other stuff on the rails might require a solvent.

As far as I can tell, you can get carbon deposits from electrical arcing. I have watched my railroad at night and can often see sparks between the drivers and the rails.

Poor plating or dirty wheels can also cause this.

There is a reasonable argument that a form of copper oxide is also black, which could reasonably be caused by electrical arcing on brass track.

I don't think anyone has proven what this black power is, but many people have experienced it, and with all metal wheels, and both brass and stainless steel track.

More discussion:

So, when people have deposits on the rails, it's been my experience that there can be a combination of causes, it's not always just one thing.

What's your experience?

Regards, Greg

p.s. I use Aristo SS track, no plastic wheels, DCC with 23 volts constant track power, high currents, and I have some dry powder that washes off with a hose.
'
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,034 Posts
Greg,

When I had plastic wheels, I had a lot of black gunk. I notice it a lot more with Aristo and USA plastic wheels. Had some with LGB but not as much.
I think it makes a difference in what the wheels are made of. The early Aristo engines were bad, I got tired of cleaning their wheels all the time so I sold all of them, and ran strictly LGB engines. I didn't have near the problem with LGB. I'm battery now with metal wheels on everything so dirt is not a problem any more.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,579 Posts
Black gunk?
Arcing wheels?
Oh, my.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
116 Posts
For what it's worth I have to agree with Greg about multiple causes of deposits on rails.
I'm using Aristo 332 brass track and have one section that takes a lot of cleaning to keep my loco running smooth. I had been suspecting mineral deposits from the water from lawn sprinklers. but now am pretty sure most of my problem is just very fine dust causing a lot of arcing on the wheels and pickup shoes. I'm finding going over the rails with fine wet/dry sandpaper followed by going over it with a scotch brite pad on a pole sander gets everything really clean. Going to try a drywall abrasive pad next time I get to Home Depot and see how that works. I hesitate to use solvents for fear of causing damage to the plastic tie strips. Wondering if something like Simple Green might work, will prbably try that on a section and see how it works.

Joe Mc
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,510 Posts
I can get carried away "oiling around" while I wait for steam pressure to come up, but then... I enjoy greasy track... I can "peel out" when I get the "highball" for the long straight-away and then spin the drivers backwards when I throw the Johnson bar into reverse trying to slow down for the curve!
YeeeeHaaaa!




I'm a baaaaaad engineer!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,334 Posts
Has anyone of these debaters expressed a plan that once they are elected president how they are going to elimanate "BLACK STUFF" on the tracks?

This is a major issue. This and getting medicare to pay for burt fingers of live steamers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,446 Posts
Determining the effects of plastic wheel deposits is easy.

Set up an oval of G-scale track. Then do another oval of H0 track running right down the center of the G-track oval. Use an H0 engine to pull some G-scale cars around the oval for some duration and examine the track for the plastic coating. This takes things like carbon arcing out of the equation because that would only happen on the H0 track.
 

·
Super Modulator
Joined
·
21,053 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sounds like a good scientific test! Volunteers anyone?

I did a lot of reading of forums before I ever posted, at least 5 years. I read every post I could get to on LSC, MLS and the Aristo forums. There were an overwhelming number of people who had hard black deposits on their rails, that went away after they switched to metal wheels.

That was good enough for me.

Of course there are always exceptions, people who never had the problem and have plastic wheels, just like the endless track cleaning debate, where there are people who use brass track and never have to clean it.

I went by the preponderance of evidence, and so far I am happy.

Since I have SS rail, and it's clearly harder than brass, and more people seem to have wheel wear, my plastic wheels, in their short lifetime on a test loop that I ran for a couple of years, did deposit hard black stuff on the rails.

Can't give the scientific evidence for how the plastic gets to the rails, but no problems here now.

Regards, Greg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
688 Posts
The last time i cleaned my track..... wait, i don't have to clean track, I run battery with all metal wheels. (i do have trouble with the black stuff on my HO stuff though)
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,716 Posts
I don't worry 'bout it either :D It does get all over your hands, face, clothes...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
245 Posts
I only run live-steam, and I have no plastic wheels. Still I get black deposits on my stainless steel track. But much less deposit on the portions of shiny nickel-plated (nickel-silver) portions of track that I have. (I did this plating while I was still planning for possible track power operation as well. However, my livesteamers have since killed all interest of mine in electrical models ;-)

The SS track has a much more "rough" surface, than mirror finish nickel-plating.

My personal favourite culprit is some grass + dust of multiple origins. In my case, aggrevated by adding steam-oil.

I have found gasoline an effective solvent to the remove the black stuff. I only use soft cloth to clean, as I fear any abrasive would aggrevate the problem, by roughing up the surface.
 

·
Super Modulator
Joined
·
21,053 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Pauli, are you running Aristo SS? The very early batches had a rough surface and are well known for accumulating grime. The current stuff is very smooth and shiny.

Regards, Greg
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top