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Thread: What’s your favorite track cleaner and method?

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    Default What’s your favorite track cleaner and method?

    Keeping our tracks clean keeps our trains running smooth. That said, cleaning the track can be a easy or difficult chore. What methods and materials do you use to keep the track clean and running smooth?
    1975-present Alaska, BNSF, UP Also 1880-1890 Era

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    Woodland Scenics Tidy Track only because I'm lazy with liquid cleaners. I use only their non-abrasive blocks (off white color). I definitely do not use anything abrasive as that will put micro scratches on the tracks which will trap dirt. Many have used alcohol though mineral spirits might be better due to someone's research on the chemical properties.

    I have some No-Ox that some day I will put on the tracks. Some day...
    Last edited by kingmeow; 4th Mar 2021 at 10:41 AM. Reason: stupid autocorrect typo!

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    First I vacuum the tracks, using a small Shop Vac fitted with a cheap keyboard cleaning nozzle from Harbor Freight.

    Then I run a CMX tank car filled with 99% isopropyl on a slow drip. Maintenance is by running a Trix track cleaning car around the layout.

    For the occasional trouble spot such as a film of Elmer's left when ballasting, a pencil eraser or thumbnail rubbed along the rail takes care of it.

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    I use one of those rubber blocks for manually cleaning my tracks, but of course I don't have any tunnels …
    The one I have now is from Piko, but they're available from several brands.
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    Moose vacuum with small shop vacuum cleaner, then use a Peco Rail Cleaner, #PL-41. Hope to "some day" clean the entire layout and apply No-Ox (aka 2 ounce Tub NO OX ID A-Special Conductive Grease).
    = > ÷

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    I use Walthers' bright boy, Woodland Scenics Tidy Track and a few of Minitrix track cleaning cars.

    Regards,
    Wolf

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    Track cleaning? I treated the rails and the wheels of my locomotives years ago with No-Ox. The only "cleaning" I do now is very occasionally after a couple weeks of no trains -- with an old MDC boxcar equipped with a Masonite pad. One, maybe two passes to get any dust off the rail head.

    If you're using a Bright Boy or other abrasive to clean track, you're only creating scratches that black gunk will get into.

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    Track cleaning? CMX Car with Alcohol or Acetone and NO using acetone doesn't effect the ties due.
    Cheers Tony

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    I used a couple of Centerline cars with Goo Gone until I went with No-Ox. They haven't been out of their boxes since.

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    Hi, Ken,

    I'm very new here, and I found this wonderful bunch and used the search engine to find out about track cleaning. Way before I even posted anything, I found this great thread, which interestingly enough, is just two down from yours in the Forum list today: (there are good additional links within this thread)

    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showth...cott-and-No-Ox

    Good luck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stu View Post
    Hi, Ken,

    I'm very new here, and I found this wonderful bunch and used the search engine to find out about track cleaning. Way before I even posted anything, I found this great thread, which interestingly enough, is just two down from yours in the Forum list today: (there are good additional links within this thread)

    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showth...cott-and-No-Ox

    Good luck.
    I appreciate the link, good info there. When I posted my question I posted it in the “wrong section” and it got moved to here. So at that time it wasn’t only 2 posts above the other. Yes, I could use search.. the search function being tied to google is horrible and I don’t like to use it as I don’t support google if I can help it. That’s an entirely different issue and verges on things that can’t be discussed. I hope most people don’t mind me not using the google search function for my own personal reasons. So once in a while I might ask a question that has been asked before.. But hey, it’s a discussion board right? If everyone just used search we would have nothing to talk about.
    Last edited by Ken B; 5th Mar 2021 at 07:08 AM.
    1975-present Alaska, BNSF, UP Also 1880-1890 Era

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken B View Post
    If everyone just used search we would have nothing to talk about.
    Oh no, we'll come up with plenty of things to talk about

    No worries if you asked about something that has been discussed before - happens all the time. And if it reminds somebody of something that has already been discussed, often times they'll post a link so you can read about it. Regardless of it being through google, sometimes the search feature isn't that effective. Just keep in mind that it's a 100% volunteer ran forum and the admins and moderators are pouring their own personal time into it - I'm not upset that they haven't built a better search feature. It all works out.

    On your original question though, mineral spirits on a piece of paper towel. I used to use isopropyl alcohol, but somebody did some experiments with different solvents looking at the polarity of them and how fast gunk built up - non-polar ones (like mineral spirits) lead to less gunk build up than polar ones (like isopropyl alcohol). I also use the mineral spirits to dilute oil paints for weathering, so I might as well use it for cleaning track too. Polarity gets into the chemistry of how the covalent bonds holding the molecules together work and whether one end of the molecule is just a tiny bit positive and the other a tiny bit negative... none of which is really necessary to understand if you just want to know that one works better than the other based on a fairly thorough experiment somebody did.

    I'll try the no-ox thing one of these decades...

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    Use CMX with mineral spirits. Used No-Ox on my finger to gently rub the rails. Haven't needed to use the CMX/No-Ox, full layout treatment, in almost a year. Occasionally I may have to do a small stretch of track but it's infrequent. The CMX car is expensive but I'm satisfied with the results. In the past I used the Centerline car and a homemade Masonite pad attached to the underside of a flat car. Prefer CMX.

    All rolling stock have metal wheelsets which think helps. I've also did a No-Ox treatment to the wheels of my steam tender wheels.

    Kaibab

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    I just picked up a gallon of 99% IPA from Ace Hardware. That should last me until Kathy has me committed to a home for (fill in the blank as you wish).

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    A question to those with much more experience than me. I have been reading all the posts about the virtues and benefits of No-Ox, very interesting reading and information, my question is, would it have a slowing down affect of the rolling of plastic wheels on carriages? I have read about how it is applied super thinly and then wiped off after running locos on it for a certain amount of time, but am curious about if it would still hinder the free rolling of plastic wheels. Thanks in anticipation and hope you all have a good weekend.

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    No, it won't have any effect on rolling stock.

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    Thanks for your reply.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VRB60 View Post
    but am curious about if it would still hinder the free rolling of plastic wheels.
    My experience with HO plastic wheels is that, as the wheels wear they leave a nice insulating residue on the rails. I was constantly cleaning track to keep trains running smoothly. When I switched to metal wheels I had to clean track far less often.

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    Quote Originally Posted by el Gato Gordo View Post
    I just picked up a gallon of 99% IPA
    All the IPA's I drink are no higher than 7.2% and no more than 16 ozs at at time! Sounds like Kathy might be committing you to rehab soon!


    I actually use the end grain of 1x4 piece of Maple soaked with alcohol. No idea where I came up with that one.

    Although I treated with No-Ox quite some time ago - I'm curious to see how things run after sitting idle for the better part of 2 years. I'll at least vacuum things first. One of these days....

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    I have been using IA for years. I am now going to switch to contact cleaner because poor performance is a real bug-a-boo for me and I'm getting tired of it. After the contact cleaner treatment I am going with the No-Ox. I will report back the results.

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