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Thread: Track cleaning, Linn Westcott, and No-Ox

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    Default Track cleaning, Linn Westcott, and No-Ox

    I know of no other more controversial subject than track cleaning. I am not posting this to convince anyone to give up a tried and true method that works for them. I am simply pointing out an easier way. This comes from my being inherently lazy, so any avid “track cleaners” can skip this post. If you hate cleaning track, read on.

    One of the things that Linn Westcott wrote back in 1965 was that (quote) “many model railroads are operated successfully without ever having to clean the track”. That was an eye opener for me. I bought the book that I quoted from (764 helpful hints for model railroaders) in the late ‘70’s but filed it away and forgot about it until I built my current layout over 5 years ago.

    All of the track was atlas code 80 nickel/silver with half of it new, and half 29 years old. I’ve known about No-Ox for some time, but like many of us I was brainwashed by track cleaning dogma, and didn’t try it. I had to clean my track weekly, or locos simply wouldn’t run right. An Aztec cleaning car helped somewhat, but I still had to clean track.

    I finally got fed up with the weekly ritual, remembered the book, and decided to give No-Ox a try. When Linn wrote his article No-Ox was in liquid form, and has since evolved into a paste form that resembles axle grease.

    I know what you’re thinking. WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD PUT GREASE ON THEIR TRACK? I went through the same thought process, but also believed that Mr. Westcott knew what he was talking about. I bought a quart can of it and went through an application method that I developed, and will share with you.

    An explanation of what No-Ox is, and what it does, is needed at this point. No-Ox (plastic safe) is a rust preventive with a corrosion inhibitor system that prevents the formation of oxides. It penetrates and chemically treats metals to convert the insulative, naturally occurring, oxide coatings to a surface that is a conductor.

    Nickel Silver rail has been said to have an oxide coating that is conductive, but since it is mostly copper, it will still form a non-conductive oxide. No-Ox prevents this. It works especially well when 2 metals come in contact with each other. Prime examples are loco wheels and track, internal loco contacts, turnout pivot points, or any other type of contacts. No-Ox doesn't wear off, because it becomes part of the rail or contacts by penetrating them.

    Although unnecessary, any future cleaning of the rail, loco wheels, or other contact surfaces will not affect the chemical transformation, and this transformation is very long lasting. The increase in conductivity is so noticeable that you will think your loco engineer put sand on the track. It does not increase traction, but the increase in conductivity makes it seem like traction is improved. No-Ox will not repel dirt. Nothing can do that, but it SEEMS to do just that, and for years. It will reduce your cleaning to occasional light vacuuming. Period.

    Sanchem (the maker of No-Ox) makes several variants; the one you want is NO-OX-ID “A SPECIAL”. To properly treat metals with No-Ox, a very small amount is used on the surface or surfaces. A waiting period of 24 to 48 hours allows the chemical process to take place, after which ALL TRACES OF THE PRODUCT ARE WIPED OFF, or otherwise removed.

    In my case, scenery was completed and all track was ballasted before applying. I felt that getting the track dirty after application would affect its performance, but it didn’t matter.

    All contaminants such as plaster, glue, or oil, should be removed prior to No-Ox application. The steps below are all VERY important and none should be skipped.
    1. Use a mild abrasive such as fine sandpaper or a brite boy on all rails to remove any oxidation.
    2. Wipe all rails with a rag and alcohol to remove any dirt and fine particles.
    3. Vacuum all rails to ensure cleanliness.
    4. Put very thin smears on your finger and rub it on your rails. The total amount of NO-OX-ID “A SPECIAL” that should be applied to 500’ of N scale track is about teaspoon. If you can SEE No-Ox on rails, you are putting TOO MUCH on! DO NOT APPLY MORE!
    5. Run all your locomotives, EXCEPT ONES WITH TRACTION TIRES, (no rolling stock yet) over all of your track for at least 2 hours. You may notice some wheel slippage and skipping, (DO NOT PANIC) this ensures that all wheels get treated with No-Ox.
    6. Remove all locomotives from track and wipe all rails with a clean rag to remove any excess product. Don’t scrub, just rub.
    7. Wait 24 hours.
    8. Wipe rails again. Rag will be black.
    9. For locos with traction tires, turn them upside down, connect track power so that wheels turn. Put a small dab of No-Ox on a Q-tip and apply to all wheels that DON’T have traction tires. While wheels are still turning, use a clean Q-tip to remove any excess No-Ox.
    10. Run trains and forget about cleaning your track except for occasional light vacuuming.

    THE ABOVE 10 STEPS WERE REVISED 6-10 TO ADDRESS TRACTION TIRE ISSUES AND ARE NOT INCLUDED IN BAR MILLS DIRECTIONS.

    If you still have a slippage problem, you may have too much on loco wheels. Clean off excess with a clean rag or Q-tip. You don’t want the rails slippery. What you are looking for is an almost MICROSCOPIC layer that will replace the insulating oxide coating with a long lasting conductive rail.

    If you are worried about scratches on your rail from the brite boy, once you’ve applied No-Ox, you can throw it away because you won’t need it any more.

    I applied No-Ox to my layout 5 years ago, and have experienced skip free running ever since. This is even after periods of no running for as long as a month. I HAVE NOT CLEANED MY TRACK IN 5 YEARS! An added bonus is that the No-Ox has changed my loco wheels into better conductors, as I have not had to clean them either. The results it produces are truly amazing and will make you wonder why you ever cleaned your track. No-Ox resembles grease, and therefore creates a natural resistance in the minds of some modelers. The fears are totally unwarranted, and the product has been successfully used on model railroads for over 45 years.

    About 6 months ago I had a loco that started skipping badly. It was a Concor SW1200, and never did run that well. I decided to disassemble and discovered that the contacts were full of grease and dirt. I cleaned it all off and put a pinhead sized bit of No-Ox on the contacts. I reassembled and ran it on my track. The loco now runs better than it ever did, no skipping, and will run VERY slow. I have a video if anyone is interested.

    I’m not the only one that has used No-Ox. Perhaps the most notable is Art Fahey of Bar Mills. He told me that he has been using No-Ox since the 70’s and that quote: “My N scale layout runs like a watch because of it (after wasting about $200 on track cleaning cars)”. He mentioned that he couldn’t understand why more model railroaders weren’t using it.

    When I bought the quart can, I had so much left that I started giving samples to friends. Those sample giveaways resulted in many testimonials from amazed and happy users. A few years later I contacted Sanchem (the maker of No-Ox), and told them about my results, and the results of others. At the time, their site had no mention of its use in model railroading. They revised their site to include my testimonials and my application directions and can be seen here by scrolling down to paragraph 9:

    http://www.sanchem.com/aSpecialE.html

    Those same directions are included in every container sold by Bar Mills (also available through Walthers). You can also get No-Ox on Ebay. So far the records I’ve been keeping are perfect. Those that I’ve sent samples to (61), that have used it, and reported results, have all said that it works great. To my knowledge, EVERYONE who has properly used No-Ox has had nothing but GOOD things to say about their results. The only BAD comments come from those that HAVE NOT TRIED IT.
    Last edited by gary60s; 4th Aug 2010 at 07:10 PM.
    Charter member of CAMRRA.


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    I have used No-Ox many times on the layout. It is like you say. Its use isn't limited to track use. Any contact that you don't want oxidation to form on is a good place to use No-Ox on. From your battery terminals on your car to the contact wiring on the layout, it has many uses.
    "Type to you a little further down the track"..
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    Just this minute ordered a small tube from EBay. I will post my results.

    Thanks for the complete writeup.
    Sean McC

    "No man is a failure ...

    who has friends." -- Clarence

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    I have been using various types of NO-OX products for over 40 years in many applications.

    I first learned about it while I was still in military service. I was a newly commissioned 2nd Lieutenant and as tradition serves, the most junior Officer in a unit got to be known as the SLJO (Scrubby Little Jobs Officer). Among other things I was designated the Corrosion Control Officer. My efforts as CCO was rewarded with favorable comments on my Fitness Reports for the next two years. I attribute this to the use of NO-OX products.
    (The voices I hear in my head may not be real, but sometimes they come up with a good idea.)

    Have fun.

    Moose

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    Another No-Ox user here. Not for model RR though, but now I think I will. We use them in tube amps in the sockets. Always playing around with different tubes and got tired of spraying various "cleaners" before insertion. Used 1 application on each amp and have not used anything else nor cleaned them since.

    ~Sean

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    I have a major track cleaning job coming up when my scenery is completed!

    I made a huge mistake back whenever! Before I actually started my scenery I was scared stiff of it and hated the fact that it even needed to be done. Once started, however, I learned to love the process very much (to the point of not running trains) and it is now, probably, my favorite aspect of the hobby!

    As a result my track is very dirty and many of the wheels of my locos need a good cleaning. This sounds like an incredible process and one I will try out when the time comes. (Not much point in trying to do it now, though).

    Thank you Gary for posting that!

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    I just ordered a small jar of NO-OX of ebay myself. I figure that since I have yet to do a real scenery work that is permanent other than a mountain/tunnels, now is a good time to try this stuff out, Thanks.
    a couple questions I have are:
    #1: after running all the non traction tire locos for two hrs, ( I assume, to both apply NO-OX to the loco wheels and more evenly distribute it across the rails ) you mention wiping the rails, but not the loco wheels. is the wipe of loco wheels unnecessary due to no direct application or was this an oversight? no disrespect just making sure I do this right.

    #2: I run a NOCH (like a scotch-brite pad) cleaning pad on one car of each train I pull, and have a brite boy like pad equipped track cleaning car. after apply the NO-OX should I discontinue using any of these, to avoid ruining the application, or can they be use to enhance things, or are they simple not needed.

    #3: lastly I have a centerline track cleaner car , the one with the bras drum covered with apiece of Hadi-wipe I soak in alcohol the mop the track with at times, should a not use this after the NO-OX or will it be fine?

    I hope i am not being a pain, this just sounds like a great thing and I want to give it every chance of performing like you claim for years to come.
    Thanks again,
    Doug

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    You are correct Doug, applying No-Ox to non traction tire equipped loco wheels is not necessary (simply running these locos over the treated track coats the wheels sufficiently), and wiping the wheels is also unnecessary unless you get too much on. We are talking about almost microscopic application here. A very small amount goes a long way.

    The use of track cleaning cars on No-Ox treated track after 48 hours has no effect on the No-Ox application. It won't rub off, as it penetrates the rail, and is no longer a "coating", but a chemical transformation. If you use track cleaning cars after applying No-Ox, that's fine, but you will find that they are not needed.

    An update to my application: I ran trains for the 1st time since Easter. I was going to vaccum 1st, but decided to try without cleaning. The locos ran right thru the small amount of spider webs in tunnels. Perfect running with No skipping.
    Charter member of CAMRRA.

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    My small tube of No-Ox arrived yesterday. I plan on trying a test section this weekend or sooner if work does not destroy me. (smile)
    Sean McC

    "No man is a failure ...

    who has friends." -- Clarence

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    Thanks GARY60, that clear everything up for me. I feel your pain Seanm, I have been on a sort of furlow from work myself, due to any injury, and have to go back tomorrow AM, BAH-HUMBUG!

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    Default No-Ox before or after coloring?

    So, I should apply the no-ox before painting/weathering the track right? FYI, I'll be using the floquil markers to paint and then weather the track. Or would it work after painting/weathering. I'm assuming it doesn't make a difference since the top of the rails will be wiped clean after painting anyways.
    Serdar

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    I wish I could make an intelligent sounding reply, but I didn't weather my track, so I can't really say. My GUESS is that it won't make a difference if track tops are wiped after painting.

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    Small tube arrived, but will be a while B4 I can try it out, Just had my back go out again, reaching across the board repairing a bad track connection.

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    Ok... I cleaned two tracks in my main yard. First I used 800 sand paper then 2000 sandpaper (this what was on hand) I burnished the track with a piece of stainless steel. I wiped the track with coffee filters and alcohol. I applied a thin layer of NoOx by puting some on a wooden block and rubbing down th rails.. adding small amounts of NoOx from time to time. I ran one of my engines all over the treated track. The next day I wiped the rails down with coffee filters until it was nolonger coming up dirty. The track seems clean and engines run with no flicker... but I expected that. The test is how will it be after a few weeks....
    Sean McC

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    who has friends." -- Clarence

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    I called my LHS looking for no ox and they do not carry it. Is this something you get at a hardware store or specialty shop? I plan on burnishing my rails and applying once I am to that stage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by REM37411 View Post
    I called my LHS looking for no ox and they do not carry it. Is this something you get at a hardware store or specialty shop? I plan on burnishing my rails and applying once I am to that stage.
    It would seem that most above obtained it from ebay. However, A Google search did reveal (without spending a lot of time on the list) that you can get it from the following two hobby suppliers and I suspect there a lot more out there!

    http://www.mainlinehobby.com/google....%20PERFORMANCE
    http://www.hobbylinc.com/htm/bmm/bmm...source=froogle

    Both these sites indicate it is a Bar Mills product which I was unable to find on their "normal" site but was able to find it on their news letter site: http://barmillsmodels.com/dailymoose_05_09.html (scroll to the bottom of the page). A new Google on Bar Mills No-Ox revealed a lot more online retailers who are also offering it.

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    Just to let everyone know here, Gary has done a update for traction tires and NO OX. The manufacturer is not putting it in the package. It is wrecking the traction tires.





    Sparky(Jeff)

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    I think it is only a problem if you run traction tires on the track while the NoOx is wet... not after it has been cleaned off right?? I sort of got that from instinct. Rubber is usually not good with petroleum type of things.
    Sean McC

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    Darn Bigsparky65, I was just about to score some NO OX. Does it wreck the tractions because folks run them to soon?
    Quote Originally Posted by Bigsparky65 View Post
    Just to let everyone know here, Gary has done a update for traction tires and NO OX. The manufacturer is not putting it in the package. It is wrecking the traction tires.





    Sparky(Jeff)
    Sean Barry

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    Thank you so much for the tutorial for extreme novices this is outstanding I printed out instructions and also emailed the article to my personal email account from work to keep for future reference. This website is so far saving me so much time and trouble and money along with educating me on a great hobby, so again thanks a lot Gary!
    Eighty 1 Fourever

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