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Discussion Starter #1
There's a new track cleaner on the market -- soon to be advertised in Garden Railways. I saw a pre-production announcement in GR and made inquiry as to its success with our outdoor layouts. I was asked if I was interested in testing it on my own garden layout. The company is in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the designer/owner is a mechanical engineer and train enthusiast Bob Leonowicz. I took Bob up on his offer and made clear any my intent was to share with readers of both Large Scale Central and My Large Scale sites any conclusions I reached. He agreed and I have made the following tests on our Southern California layout over a six week period:

PRODUCT:
A four pound, all aluminum "flat car" with Aristo-Craft trucks, supporting two under-carriage foam rollers mounted at an angle to generate friction on the rails and maximize rail contact. The "rollers" are easily available at any home supply as minature paint rollers. These rollers rotate on two adjustable axles -- simply push then on as they are held by friction -- mounted at parallel angles on the bottom of the one piece aluminum flatbed.

OPERATION:
Each of the rollers receives either applied liquid "Goo Gone" or denatured alcohol and the car is then pushed or drawn around the layout. The angle of rollers and the depth in which they ride over the rails is adjustable.

TEST:
The track was first made shiny by an LGB block attached to a dry-wall sanding pad. Three weeks then passed without any cleaning and no train operation. Then, an LGB 0-6-0 diesel switcher pulling four cars, was run over a section of two hundred feet of track. The loco hesitated in seven places. The track scrubber rollers were given three applications of "Goo Gone" on each roller. The loco then pulled the track scrubber car, hestitating in the same places -- since the loco was again hitting the same dirty track spots. After one pass over this loop, the immediate repeated travel showed one hesitating section. After two passes, there were no sections of hesitation. The rollers clearly showed the dirt accumulated.

A week followed by purposefully not running trains leading to a series of two train runs a week apart -- single runs with the same loco and the scrubber car to see if any hesitations. By the second week of no applications, one was required. Only one scrubber run was needed to remedy the two hesitations.

EVALUATON:
The intent of the track scrubber is clearly not to make the rails shiny just clean them. It appears, with my Southern California layout to do just that. Granted, there were two instances during this six week period, of a need to again to use a pad to clean the track to a shiny state because of oxidation -- which I presumed from the collection of sprinkler water.

I have found the product helpful as no longer do I automatically pole-sander walk the track before running or after seeing where each of the hesitations are -- which seem to accumulate as the run time increases. Instead, once the hestiations, then the scrubber car is placed on the track with the other rolling stock and the entire layout is cleaned.

CAUTIONS:
1 - The car does not always pass through turnouts easily if pushed. The LGB motor on one 1600 turnout was enough to hold the curve-out position twice - at other times the car wanted to push on through straight ahead with the back truck making the curve. Visually bizzare. Without the switch motor as friction, the turnout may yield to this phenomena.
REMEDY: Draw the car through your layout, by the pulling loco. The loco will indicate the hesitations and after use of the scrubber car you can easily assess whether a dry-wall sander or LGB block is needed. If you choose to wait beyond the hesitation stage you will likely be dry-wall treating the track anyway. I simply see the hesitations and then place the scrubber car on the track for a couple of runs.

2 - Don't use isoprophyl alcohol a I am told it can soften the ties. If alcohol is your choice, use denatured type.

OK, that's the report.
The company is R&L Lines, Greenbay, Wisconsin
(920) 465-7913

Wendell
 

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RE: REVIEW: R&L Lines Track Scrubber

What is the difference between this device and the large scale track cleaner by Centerline, other than the two rollers (vice Centerline's single one) and the Centerline's frame being made of brass? (oh, and it sounds as if this one mounts the rollers on an axle below the flatbed, as opposed to an axle mounted in a curved slot in the deck ... but I'm not sure if that's a significant difference beyond appearance.

Not being critical, understand ... just interested if there's a functional difference.

Matthew (OV)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
RE: REVIEW: R&L Lines Track Scrubber

Matthew-

Good question.
I have only seen pictures of the Centerline product.
So the difference, I think, is inherent in the position of the rollers - 4" long and they look like small corn dogs -- are attached on separate axles positioned not at right angles to the car platform, but at, say, 45 degrees. This means those rollers show cleaning on more than just a1/4" strip on each side of each roller. In fact, the accumulated dirt covered at least 1 inch on each side of each roller. The rollers simply roll 'n skid along the track as the car moves. Because of the angles, the rollers contact points are approximately an inch on each side. The entire car is made of aluminum stock - appears well made.

I am asking the owner to send in a photo. I hope this is not an infringement on the spirit of this site.

Wendell
 

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Discussion Starter #4
RE: REVIEW: R&L Lines Track Scrubber

Matthew (above post) asked if the Bob Leonowicz product "track scrubber" was the same as the Centerline track cleaning product -- which I think has been out for two years.

Anyone used the Centerline?

The track scrubber's unique feature appears to be the angle of the two suspended foam rollers (the smallest of the paint rollers sold by Home Depot, etc.) under the car. The angle creates the friction to clean combined with the cleaning "GOO" product.

Wendell
 

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Wendell,
This track cleaning car Ur describing sounds exactly like one I built 10-12
years ago, 2 weighted miniature paint rollers running at an angle to clean
the track, never put any cleaning solution on them though, have about a
dozen rollers, and they R drop-ins, when they get dirty, I get the wife
to run them thru the washing machine and their like new again... I consider
it more of a track "maintainer" than a track "cleaner"... Once the track is
clean it will keep it that way if U keep it in the train and change the
rollers once in awhile... Never tried putting a cleaning agent on the rollers,
probably clean it pretty well, then put the dry ones in to maintain the clean...
Paul R...
 

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RE: REVIEW: R&L Lines Track Scrubber

Sorry, had lost track of this thread...

The Centerline car I saw was Pre-2002 at the Big E train show in Springfield, Mass.... so it's at least that old. The roller on that one was a single roller, and 90 degrees to the track; it gained its friction from the fact that the roller was not actually attached, but sat in a channel that was rounded on both sides such that it was dragged along by the car as it moved.

The primary selling points were non abrasive cleaning, (it could be run dry, or soaked in "Goo Gone") and that the roller generally would not hang up on frogs, switch points, or other usual track obstructions. As I recall, it sold for about $90.00.

Sounds like this is a rebirth, or re-engineering... and if Centerline as a company was sold that'd make sense.

Matthew (OV)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
RE: REVIEW: R&L Lines Track Scrubber

To those still curious about the structure of the "track scrubber"--
The foam pieces are really the smaller of the "weenie rollers" sold at Home Depot and used by painters. The two are mounted at a 45 degree angle (a guess) under the car with each on its own supporting rod. The angle creates the friction, yet, they still revolve around this rod or axle. The rollers slip onto the axle and are held by a friction "burr" so they "snap" in slightly which holds them. After testing it several times, the rollers just wash out -- as stated above posting -- and are reusable.
That's all I have to offer. I thought it worked fine as a cleaning mechanism - it did not accomplish the purpose of shinning the rails (brass) to the bright finish I do like. OK, it still cleaned so the train ran. See my initial testing report at the onset of this thread.

Wendell
 

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RE: REVIEW: R&L Lines Track Scrubber

Wendell, can you comment on the clearance on the car? It appears that part of the roller assembly sticks out quite a bit to the sides. I assume it is to compensate for curves.

Regards, Greg
 

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Discussion Starter #10
RE: REVIEW: R&L Lines Track Scrubber

Greg and all:

As to the rollers sticking out on the sides, yes, Greg's estimate is accurate. The rollers' length do enable the curves to be covered. I have 8' diameter+ curves plus some 5' diameter track -- the cleaner appeared to cover all equally well.
Wendell
 

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RE: REVIEW: R&L Lines Track Scrubber

Thanks Jerry. As with the whole site, it's a work in progress.

Comments and real world experiences always welcome (and criticism too!).

Regards, Greg
 

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RE: REVIEW: R&L Lines Track Scrubber

Greg-

Width of the Track Scrubber car -- with the foam rollers set at the angle received from the manufacturer -- is 4".
Here's a guess: If the rollers were set "straight out" at a 45 degree angle, the car width would be 4 1/2 inches. However, the
rollers would roll easily without the friction feature which occurs at the lessor angle. My guess is I don't think it would clean as
throughly. I didn't reset the roller angle to experiment - just stayed with what was sent to me. Both height of the rollers and their
angle is adjustable.

Wendell
 

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RE: REVIEW: R&L Lines Track Scrubber

Thanks Wendell, I have updated my site to reflect this information. I may just have to pick one up to try it out.

Regards, Greg
 
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