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Track Cleaning Solved with Automatic Transmission Fluid

Phillip sent in this piece of advice to share –

I read sometime back that someone used automatic transmission fluid to clean their tracks. Well, after problems with power connectivity after cleaning with the rail cleaning rubber and/or metho, I tried the automatic transmission fluid (ATF) that I had in the shed. I rigged up a track cleaning wagon with cut to size pieces of sponge touching the track with the ATF on it and cleaned my whole dual track layout and my diesels/locos run perfectly now. My 4.5 x 1.7m OO layout is in the garage with no ceiling and any dust does not affect the track as yet.


11 Responses to Track Cleaning Solved with Automatic Transmission Fluid

  • John Lightfootsays:

    I find that every now and again if I put a light coat onto the tracks they stay clean. The amount I put on is about an inch or so long and that’s all it needs to keep the trains running, this line is just a very thin coat. I also use the transmission fluid as wheel lubricant and have had no trouble at all with my carriages.

    • Donsays:

      Doesn’t the ATF make the wheels slip up hills?

      • Graemesays:


      • Phillipsays:

        My diesels/locos do not slip going up the grades on my layout. I soak the foam pads on the track cleaning wagon that I made seems to just put a smear of ATF on the track and also cleans the track and leaves the foam pads black after doing two circuits of my layout. Still experimenting.

      • phil johnsonsays:

        yes it does. you lose about 20% TE

    • Bobsays:

      Does the oily consistency of the ATF cause lint and fuzz to build up on the rails and wheels?

      • Phillipsays:

        So far, dust from the environment has not build up on the track with the ATF on it. Still keeping an eye on it to see how it turns out. My layout is in the garage with no ceiling.

  • LEWISsays:

    CRC on a cloth or in a cleaner car will clean your track and all train wheels. Once a month will do it. It also solves most currant lose problems

    • Sheldon Clarksays:


  • Phillipsays:

    I have heard of people using CRC but I have not been able to find it where I live, but will keep on looking, and if I can purchase CRC, I’ll give it a try.

  • Henrysays:

    I read an article once where the modeler said that it worked for him and he only had to clean the track every 3 to 4 months. I tried the transmission oil and it worked for me also. The procedure is not to put on too much.. I put about an inch on with a Q-tip every 3 feet. I then run my trains around and it spreads the small amount of oil. Lasts about 3 months between cleaning. Hope this helps.

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