Everything on model trains, model railroads, model railways, locomotives, model train layouts, scenery, wiring, DCC and more. Enjoy the world's best hobby... model railroading!

Cleaning Glue and other Debris from Railway Tracks

Nigel W posted this question for readers:

“I was gluing my ’00’ Gauge-1:76 Scale railway tracks down on my ‘Woodland Scenics-underlay’ In the mean while, getting glue and other debris on the rails. I would like anyone to advise me on the best way of cleaning the rails!

I was told to use a sharp knife to scrape the glue off, and then use {Isopropy-Alcohol} / also was told to use a sandpaper by someone else. Please can you let me know, what is the best way?”

4 Responses to Cleaning Glue and other Debris from Railway Tracks

  • Frank Bsays:

    A knife will risk making chips and cuts in the rails. Sandpaper will cause grooves and scratches.

    Most glues will not stick firmly to smooth metal, so my method is to use the edge of an old credit card or similar plastic thing for such purposes. A piece of this can be cut or filed to the necessary shape of the rail profile if required.

    For very hardened glue, the appropriate solvents will work, but be careful, as some solvents (e.g. acetone or cellulose thinners) will dissolve some plastics.

    Of course, with a little imaginative painting, the bits of glue and other stuff can be camouflaged as fallen branches or natural debris on the track.

  • Sheldon Clarksays:

    A piece of wood rubbed along each rail should work. Any pieces of ballast, etc., sticking up too far can be removed with the point of a small screwdriver – the kind used on slot-headed screws, not Phillips or Pozzidrive, I would suggest.

  • W Rusty Lanesays:

    You can also use a Scotch Brite pad to clean the rails. It´s not as harsh as sandpaper. I would not use sandpaper or a knife as Frank says above for the reasons given. I´ve used Scotch Brite pads in the past and it has not harmed the rails. To get off the gunk I´d suggest that you use some 91% isopropyl alcohol after the Scotch Brite pad. Put some on a rag and go around the track to remove any loose debris.

  • Billsays:

    I wouldn’t use anything abrasive or that can scratch the rail surface. Nicks and grooves end up filling with insulating crud that creeps across the rail surface and gives you never ending problems with loco’s stalling on the track. I would start with isopropyl alcohol or Goo Gone. If these don’t cut it move onto Lacquer Thinner, Acetone or MEK. Be careful with the last ones. Wear gloves and a good quality aspirator mask and use sparingly so as not to melt any plastic in proximity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add a photo or image related to your comment (JPEG only)

Mining Town Plans

scale model mining town models

N Scale Track Plans

Watch Video

Everything DCC

Download Your Free Catalog

Use Tiny Railroad Micro Controllers

A micro controller is basically a small programmable computer device to help the model railroader “make things operate.” It is clever way to realistically replicate the movements, actions and functions you are likely to see on a full size railroad.


Submit Your Model Railroading Questions!

Before you submit your model railroading question please add some feedback, answers or comments to other postings on this model train blog. What goes around comes around... so if you can help others in the hobby, someone else may help you.

Important - Please add plenty of supporting details to any question you submit (eg. scale, solutions you have already tried etc.) , as the clearest and best questions usually get the best answers. Also, please check your spelling and punctuation as all questions need to be approved by the blog moderator prior to publication. Approved questions are normally published within a week (if not sooner).

Submit your model train questions here.

Watch These Club Videos

Club members access helpful new resources each month: diagrams, video tutorials, articles, track plans and more. Watch the tour videos here.

Scenery Techniques Explained



Model Train Help Ebook

Scenery & Layout Ideas

Share With Friends


Submit Your Article

Would you like to write an article and have it published?

Preference will be given to articles that help others progress in the hobby, maybe suggesting an idea for their layout, a quick tip or two... or perhaps a little bit of good advice based on your model railroading experiences.

We are all in this hobby together, so the more we can do to share ideas and help each other, the better.

Submit Your Article Here

It’s YOUR Railroad!

Your rolling stock and locomotives might actually be the center of attention on your layout, but the scenic features that surround and envelop your layout is what's likely to make your train setup stand proud of the rest. Your selection of scenery and structures will add an element of customization that will make your railroad truly unique.

Scenery, structures, and fine detailing is a fundamental aspect of any good model railroad, particularly if it is intended to replicate a true-to-life railroading scene. How realistic or authentic you make your railroad is entirely up to you... and you alone.

Some enthusiasts like to replicate every tiny detail so as to accurately depict, in every aspect, a miniaturized version of a real life scene.

Others in this hobby adopt a more "free-style" approach and choose to mix and match accessories and features they personally prefer. Even though the purist will possibly be unimpressed with unrealistic or out of context elements, it is YOUR railroad layout so you can make it anything you personally want!

Model Railroading Blog Archive

Reader Poll

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.