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Thread: Cleaning Track ...

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    Default Cleaning Track ...

    While I run a CMX car I have read a little about people using "Bright Boys" for intermittent cleaning of their track. Before I run any trains on my layout I want to give the track a good initial cleaning and was considering using a bright boy initially.

    My questions then are these, is it advisable to use a bright boy and will they scratch, scuff or damage the rails in any way?
    Cheers Tony

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    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    I've read that Bright Boys put micro scratches in the metal and that said scratches make the rails more prone to corrosion and accumulating dirt (thus requiring ever more frequent cleaning, thus resulting in more scratching, and on and on). So, kind of a slippery slope.

    That said, I continue to use mine. It's a lot quicker and easier to deploy than cloth swatches (or whatever) and liquid cleaning agents.

    -Mark

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    I use a Bright Boy to remove paint from the tops and inside the ball of the rail. Then a few swipes with a 2B graphite stick.

    If things get jerky due to dust, I run a boxcar equipped with a "John Allen device" -- a pad of hardboard onto which two brads are glued. Brads fit holes in the boxcar underframe. A few passes usually does the trick, then follow with a couple swipes of the graphite stick.

    The graphite minimizes the microarching between the locomotive wheels and the rails, which creates "black gunk."

    And metal wheelsets only on rolling stock helps too.

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    I use alcohol and a cloth diaper, then draw on the rails every few inches with a high graphite artist pencils..Best combination that I have found
    Modeling the Pacific Electric Playa Desnuda Branch in N Scale

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    I don't use a Brite Boy for what Mark has said about it's negative potentail. I have use Woodland Scenics' system before and it works really well. To save some $$$ I actually just buy the pads and push them around with chopsticks from the take out place.

    https://woodlandscenics.woodlandscen.../TT4550/page/1

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    I use a bright boy on my tracks and have never had an issue. Liquid cleaners, on the other hand, can cause problems, especially with plastic wheels. Model Railroad Hobbyist did a study a while back and found that abrasive cleaners had no detrimental effect on track performance. See https://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/...ng-experiments

    The one exception I've heard about is with Kato track. Apparently the rail is nickle plated rather than being solid nickle silver and can be damaged by abrasive cleaning. I have no personal experience with this, since I've never used Kato track.

    Alcohol should be a problem since it evaporates and doesn't leave any residue. The article above looks at several liquid cleaners. It also covers the use of graphite treatment of the rail, and I've heard good things about this in other places.
    Tim Rumph
    Modeling the Southern Railway in N-Scale

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    I too use a bright boy -- have been for over 30 years -- no issues.

    I've tried many of the latest and greatest --- I keep going back to my trusty bright boy.

    Wolf

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    Thanks everyone so now the Graphite Pencil ... you literally draw on the rail head and leave it there?
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Everyone has their own way of doing things, none right none wrong.
    I got turned on to graphite and so far it's been working.
    Another guy told me he uses a very minute amount clipper oil and it's worked for him.

    Here's the graphite video I was shown.


    The Little Rock Line blog


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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    I use a Bright Boy to remove paint from the tops and inside the ball of the rail. Then a few swipes with a 2B graphite stick.

    If things get jerky due to dust, I run a boxcar equipped with a "John Allen device" -- a pad of hardboard onto which two brads are glued. Brads fit holes in the boxcar underframe. A few passes usually does the trick, then follow with a couple swipes of the graphite stick.

    The graphite minimizes the microarching between the locomotive wheels and the rails, which creates "black gunk."

    And metal wheelsets only on rolling stock helps too.

    Very similar process for me - I use the Cratex Abrasive Block Extra Fine instead of the Bright Boy - I feel that it's much less abrasive. Once the rails are clean I apply No-Ox (as documented in many other threads on this site), and then NEVER USE THE ABRASIVE pad again. If I must use it, then another spot-application of No-Ox is in order.

    The John Allen device works for cleaning the dust off rails. Or, I'll use a white eraser from the dollar store. Or, just my finger.

    I've had my layout sit for 6-8 months with zero oxidizing problems. A quick dust is all it takes to get the trains rolling again.
    Peter

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    2 cents. I've always used fine cloth (scraps of an old dress shirt) and isopropyl, one swipe in each direction pressing down pretty hard. I like it because you can see the grunge on the cloth after wiping, sorta gives you a feeling of accomplishment. Someone recommended coffee filters instead of cloths but it left lots of fibers on the track.

    Last time around - last week - I used a bright boy for the first time. Had to clean the grunge off the bright boy every few minutes by erasing a piece of plywood. Under any kind of magnification you can definitely see scratches but it would take forever to wear code 55 down to code 54.

    Never heard of using graphite. It makes sense since it conducts electricity, but does anyone know whether or not it reduces traction?

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    It will reduce traction if applied to heavily.
    As shown in the video, a little bit will do as the trains roll, it will get picked up and dispersed.
    Graphite also reduces friction, so i would image too much is not good, but the nice thing if you get too much, just wipe it off.
    The Little Rock Line blog


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    I use 99% alcohol and the brite boy. I then follow with NO-OX-ID and don't clean my tracks for months.

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    I just the WS rail pal . Way less aggressive than a bright boy . Has a coarser side and a fine side

    Steve

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    First off, change your wheelsets to metal if you still have any plastic ones; the gunk from the rails sticks to the plastic wheels and is spread around the rails. I "gleaned" my layout about 5 years ago and haven't had any issues at all. The process is as follows:

    1) sand the rails with 800 grit then 1600 grit sandpaper.

    2) Then rub a stainless washer across the rails to fill in the voids where gunk can settle.

    3) wipe the rails down with an old T-shirt

    The only thing I do anymore before I run trains is wipe the dust off the rails....
    Last edited by Djsroknrol; 15th Oct 2018 at 08:49 AM.
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    OK, so how do metal wheels keep your rails any cleaner?
    The Little Rock Line blog


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    I think it has something to do with plastic wheels create a static charge or something attracting the dirt/gunk

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    My experience in HO with plastic wheels led me to believe that as plastic wheels wear they gradually leave a film of non-conducting plastic on the rails. After I switched all cars to metal wheels track cleaning dropped to next to nothing.
    Cheers!
    Gordon
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    I use a paint stir stick from Home Depot, with a coffee filter on the end and dipped in rubbing alcohol. Works fairly well, but the tough spots get the bright boy without any issue

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    Quote Originally Posted by el Gato Gordo View Post
    My experience in HO with plastic wheels led me to believe that as plastic wheels wear they gradually leave a film of non-conducting plastic on the rails. After I switched all cars to metal wheels track cleaning dropped to next to nothing.
    @el Gato Gordo
    Gordon,
    After you switched to metal wheels, are you still referring to the HO layout?
    The HO plastic wheels, were they made of the same plastic that MTL wheels are, Derlin?
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