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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
While taking down my Christmas train, I noticed fine metal shavings on the track, accompanied by a black sludge-like dust in spots. What do you think is going on? I ran 3-4 different engines and am now checking those out.
 

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The black sludge is probably from arcing between rails and wheels/pickups.
At least that's what I have in my dry but dusty location.
Wiping down the rails or if they are corroded getting them shiny helps
Metal shavings is a lot more concerning. A bit more inspecting necessary.
What locomotives are they?
 

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metal shavings, are wear, ask anyone who has a display layout in a store and how the railhead sides get worn off.

the black greasy stuff is actually oxidized metal, from the arcing caused by track power... big controversy, and some years ago Chuck and I studied this, and he submitted the stuff to a lab, and the spectral analysis confirmed tin and copper in the same proportions as his brass rail. Almost all metal when oxidized (the arcing) turns black.

Greg
 

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I have found some wheels too far apart on the axles, esp some USA Trains axle sets. I place them in my vise and 'squeeze' then together slightly. I do not even have to remove them from the trucks using the vice. How to tell? Place an axle on a piece of track and try to move sideways. Some wheel sets do not move at all, LGB axles move a lot. Of course a wheel guage would be helpful here as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The black sludge is probably from arcing between rails and wheels/pickups.
At least that's what I have in my dry but dusty location.
Wiping down the rails or if they are corroded getting them shiny helps
Metal shavings is a lot more concerning. A bit more inspecting necessary.
What locomotives are they?
LGB New Orleans Streetcar, LGB Stainz, Aristo-Craft Lil' Critter Switcher, LGB Santa Handcar.
 

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Please advised people to buy a cheap set of vernier calipers and adjust the wheels to specifications. You can get them for $10-15...

Track is not always in gauge either, and no one makes a gauge that meets NMRA standards in G, unless you use the Toy Train standard, then EVERYTHING meets the standard (and still runs like crap).

Greg
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have found some wheels too far apart on the axles, esp some USA Trains axle sets. I place them in my vise and 'squeeze' then together slightly. I do not even have to remove them from the trucks using the vice. How to tell? Place an axle on a piece of track and try to move sideways. Some wheel sets do not move at all, LGB axles move a lot. Of course a wheel guage would be helpful here as well.
Today's theory is that my Christmas track circle is too small for the wheelbase of the LBG Streetcar. Although it seems to run OK, I bet the wheels are shaving off brass.
 
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