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What the Best Way to Clean Track?

Roy posted this question:

“What is the best way to clean track – a track cleaning wagon, a rubber, or white spirit please?”

15 Responses to What the Best Way to Clean Track?

  • Graemesays:

    Hi Roy there are lots of ways to clean track, but the way I like best is how an old railroader showed me how. First you need power steering fluid the type used in cars a cotton bud and a loco with a rake of wagons or carriages . The way this works is dip the cotton bud in the fluid then dab it on the track both rails every 2or 3 feet. Then run you loco with rake around for a while using the wheels to spread the fluid around the layout job done . I have used this method for 7 years now and have absolutely no trouble with dirty track or wheels also it does not make the drive wheels of locos slip. Repeat every three or four weeks to maintain a clean track. Hope this helps Graeme

    • steven neelysays:

      recently heard of using automatic transmission fluid , haven’t tried it yet and think it will help keep steel track from rusting / corroding .

    • roy Westonsays:

      thanks graeme i will try this roy

  • steven neelysays:

    with track cleaning fluid I’ve used coffee filters because there’s no lint from them , and a piece of cork roadbed glued onto a piece of wood , both of these methods have worked well for me

  • Robertsays:

    Does anyone know where to get a graphite stick ?
    I hear these work well in cleaning track.

    • Dale Ambossays:

      You can find graphite sticks at art supply stores.

    • Robert Mooresays:

      I found them at an art supply (HD type)
      These work great.

    • Robert Mooresays:

      I should have said THANKS to Dale
      TNX. Dale

  • Robert Mooresays:

    Will a graphite stick work ?

    • Dennis Arstallsays:

      I use a graphite stick after cleaning the track with isopropoalcohol as it is a good conductor and seems to prevent build up of any further dirt on the rails. You-tube has useful videos showing how to use the graphite stick

  • David Stokessays:

    I don’t know about graphite sticks (available from artist suppliers), but a little puff of powdered graphite on all bearing surfaces of a loco’s transmission and electric motors does do wonders for loco performance. I would not recommend using it on rails or wheel treads though as it is a lubricant and you need all the friction you can get between rails and wheels. Powdered graphite is used for freeing Yale type locks, comes in a small puffer bottle and is available from hardware or DIY stores.

  • Billsays:

    Graphite is an excellent conductor. It can be found in art supply shops and is readily available on Amazon. A real easy source is pencil lead. I have never used graphite but have heard it is very effective.


  • Duncansays:

    I use a foam sanding block (from poundland, uk) to get rid of any old paint, dirt etc, then go over it with a hover to get any bit off track them wipe it down with pure acetone to clean off anything else. I also use the acetone on the wheel to clean them. Seems to work for me.

  • Frank Bsays:

    To clean the rail tops: paper towel is finet. If there’s grease or oil on the track, wet it with meths or lighter fluid (warning: no smoking !)

    I totally disagree with track rubbers, because they leave particles of grit and rubber on the track, causing more problems.
    Modern nickel-silver track does not suffer corrosion problems indoors, so abrasive cleaning is not needed.

    To maintain good electrical contact, also:

    Clean wheel rims: paper towel/tissue/cotton buds wetted as above. For hard dirt, a very small wire brush, or a rotary wire brush on a dremel type tool is brilliant. Croc clip leads from controller to the motor to turn the wheels makes this process very easy.

    Clean the inner faces of wheels (or the axles) where the pickup contacts touch them.

    Old motors can benefit from cleaning of the brushes and commutator.

    Cheap controllers can be feeble in their output, and often cut-out if running an old loco taking a high current. Check this by fitting a small 12V bulb across your controller output to see if it is still supplying power when the loco unexpectedly stops.

    Rail joiners are not that brilliant at electrically connecting rails. So on larger circuits of track, it helps to connect the controller wires to the track at more than one place. Observe consistent polarity !

  • Phillip Collinssays:

    I use Spanjaard contact cleaner and lubricant: spray onto a cloth, and then rub onto the rails. If the track is very dirty, I first use a Peco rubbing block, which is better than the US made one I have. The stuff is rather expensive, but does seem to last a long time.

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