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Discussion Starter #1
I've been using an aristocraft track maintenance car on a small layout set up on our patio. (Approximately 50ft of track)

it worked great but after pulling it around for a couple hours I took a look at the wiping block and it had a build-up on it of not only crud from the rail but also a shiny brass coloring to it that would not allow the cleaning block to work as it should which in turn reverted back to poor engine/rail power contact.
The shiny brass coloring was hard and appeared to let the cleaning block just slide over the crud and not remove any of it.

Ended up using a clean rag to wipe the track down to maintain a decent rail/engine contact.

The cleaning block looks and feels like a hard porous stone.

Is there a pre-preparation to be done to the stone before using? ie: A solvent to be added to the stone before using? Or a different type of cleaning block that won't build up with the brass coloring?

I bought car this used with no instruction manual.

Large scale is a whole new adventure with me so am not sure what or if I am doing something wrong regarding track cleaning maintenance.

Thanks in advance for any advice,

Dick
 

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I have one. It feels hard to me too. Others have told me it is a hard rubber abrasive.

Whatever it is, it clogs easily, and I don't like it very much because it smears goop on my rails.

I have used Goo Gone to clean mine, following the recommendations of others. A mild solvent will not harm the block, don't use anything really strong.

So turpentine, goo gone, lift off, kerosene should be ok... I would avoid soaking the block in any solvent.

Regards, Greg
 

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I use Goof Off on a rag and then just rub over the block and all the black and crud come right off. Later RJD
 

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I use Simple Green. I also use a small wire brush every once in a while to get down in the poors and rough up the surface. As a reference, I've only had to use the wire brush about 2 times so far this year.

I just started using the Simple Green this year. The last 2-3 I have used other general purpose degrease types of cleaners. The Simple Green works better than the others for me. I'm happy with the results to date.

Mark
 

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My suggestion is to use a dry wall sander with a green scotchbright pad. With 50' of track you can have the rails clean in one or two passes, 2 minutes at the most.














I have been using this system for years. When the pad gets dirty reverse sides and when that side is use up throw it out and start over. The green pads have a very fine abrasive and I haven't noticed any scratching of the tracks.


If I read your post correctly, running a track cleaning car for two hours on a 50' layout is about 1 hour and 55minutes of over kill. If it takes that long, you need a different method.


Chuck N
 

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This is an interesting subject, one which I have done a lot of experimentation in.

Dick, the first thing in the road to getting a handle on this is to discriminate between removal of oxidation (tarnish) on rails, usually brass, and the clearing of debris, whether stuff lying on the track, or stuck to the track.

For oxidation, you will have to use some kind of abrasive. My opinion is to use the finest abrasive you can stand to use. Some people don't mind scrubbing the rails with a pole sander, some want it quicker with sandpaper, others are concerned with wear and scratches and use something milder, like Chuck and green ScotchBrite.

For oxidation, finding a car that you can run around is a bit tricky, again with the tradeoff between speed and removal and possible scratching/wear.

Then, there are things that the sandpaper or scotchbrite don't remove, like greasy film, dead and crushed ants, etc. You have already experienced that the rubber block on the Aristo car can just smear stuff around and load up quickly.

I have found things that will degrease rails, and you can use solvents, like alcohol or a spray home degreaser like simple green or fantastik.

Then there's also getting leaves, twigs, etc off the rails, which often is better with a different method.

I have stainless steel, so I don't need to remove any oxide. When I had brass track, I used the same method as Chuck, and a LGB track cleaning locomotive (spinning abrasive rubber cleaning wheels) and a few others. The rubber block type of car, like the Aristo, seemed to take way too long to remove oxide.

You might find this page on my site interesting and informative: http://www.elmassian.com...trong>


Regards, Greg
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hey All,
Great helpful info. Thanks.

I do get a lot of oily/crud build-up on the rail from not only weather elements but also from those pesty little sand ants as well as this being the prime season for the baby box elder bugs.

Was pretty sure that cleaners such as Simple Green, 409, etc. would work as I've used a lot of that over the years to clean the oil residue off of my rc planes.

The drywall sander method works quite well and my back (especially) thanks Chuck N. for that.

Lot of good helpful information on your website also Greg.

Somewhat of a mistake from the git-go, tho, was being overly anxious to get a train running and by putting some rolling stock on the rail that had plastic wheels.
The "chaffing" from plastic wheels on an old HO layout of a few years ago caused a lot of problems there and is really not much different in large scale.

(I know/knew better than to do that but Age, Old Timers, and CRS disease seem to have the upper hand anymore!!!)

Started using cars with steel wheels and cleaning methods you guys have given and have seen a great improvement in operation with less maintenance time.

Now if there was a way to keep those darned ants and box elder bugs off the rail (as they seem to stretch for miles when smushed) that would helped to eliminate some of the oily build-up on the rail and maintenance time. :)

Anyways, Have a good day all,


Dick L.
 

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Ants! Black ones are non-conductive!

I glued small squares of scotchbrite pads to my loco so that it would wipe the rails clean of ant bodies. Worked great until one day as the 0-4-0 was chugging around I decided to refreshen my dry washes by running water through them and rebuilding the sand bars and sand ripples. Unfortunately water was wicked into the motor and killed it.

Older and wiser I'd glue the scotchbrite to the track cleaning car and push it ahead ofthe loco. I'd add the scotchbrite to both ends and have a pre-wipe and post wipers. And the car would be bi-directional.

Since I've gone battery I don't care so much.

John
 

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Check with Al Kramer on the "Evil Bay" under Anna Kramer, he has an attachment that replaces the original bottom cleaner part of the Aristo cleaner caboose that works better than the original use mine all the time. Regal
 

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I spray the mainline roadbed areas and put out ant traps on a regular basis.That helps keeping them from using it for a highway!

I did not realize that they were the major gunk provider at first!

Greg
 

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Twelve years ago, I was unable to find a car that would both clean the rail heads and sweep leaves/twigs from the track, so I kitbashed my own car. I was able to purchase a Baumann motorized polishing wheel set from Watts Train Shop. These wheels are a soft rubber or plastic material with a fine abrasive imbedded in it. I mounted the polishing wheels under an LGB European gondola and added metal wheels and plunger pickups to route power to the polishing wheels. I used a DPDT switch to make the polishing wheels rotate opposite the direction of travel. I added a single axle outrigger truck to the front of the car to carry the leaf/twig brush. The leaf/twig brush was cut from an inexpensive draftman's brush. I don't use this car at present because I don't have a layout. It does work fairly well, and I was able to obtain enough spare polishing wheels to probably last my lifetime.

For those times that I set up my track on our carport, the AristoCraft car is adequate. The pad cleans up easily using an old Tshirt dipped in rubbing alcohol.

I have added photos of the car below. The first photo shows the incomplete car. The polishing wheel set is within the red circle. The second photo shows the mounting of the DPDT switch. The third photo shows the finished car, posed as though it's working.

Yours,
David Meashey





 
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