Friday, January 8, 2016

Misadventures in Track Cleaning

Ah the joy of nice, clean, shiny new track and trains running flawlessly. Unfortunately there comes a time when the forces of dirt and grime conspire against you making your trains stall out and jerk. I don't know about you, but nothing kills my enthusiasm for model railroading faster than balky trains. Yes you have a few allys in the fight against track crud.

First and foremost theres always the tried and true Bright Boy eraser and rubbing alcohol, or even better, denatured alcohol on a rag.

Now these work just dandy on small table top roundy rounders like my last layout. On big layouts like this, they're pretty much useless for anything other than spot cleaning. For cleaning the entire layout, especially the hard to reach areas, you need a less time consuming option.

That's where this Aztec Trains (Link) "Predator" track cleaning car comes in. And that's also where the trouble started. You get a hard rubber "Cratex" roller, which is made out a material similar to Bright Boy erasers. Then there's a cloth Handi Wipes roller, which is used with your choice of cleaning fluid and a canvas covered roller that can be used wet or dry.

Well, Ive always used the canvas roller with alcohol but found it dried out too quickly. In search of something better, I remembered reading somewhere that track could be cleaned with Goo Gone. Big mistake! While it worked wonders on the inside loop, the outside was another story. The goo Gone caused the roller to smear even more dirt on the rails. The only way to get the rails clean was to put the Cratex roller in the car and higball the train around for a few minutes. So lesson learned, Goo Gone is a no no.