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Is There A Quicker Way To Clean Freight Car Wheels?

Mervyn asks:

“I’ve airbrushed and weathered most of my 136 freight cars and have got them looking good. A lot of work but worth it. I now want to remove any grime and gunk build-up on the car wheels. From experience, I know it will take at least 15 minutes to clean all 8 wheels on just one car by swabbing an Isopropyl Alchohol soaked Q-tip against the wheel tread and rotating the other axle wheel. I calculate about 34 hours of repetitive work. Is there an easier/quicker way?”

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6 Responses to Is There A Quicker Way To Clean Freight Car Wheels?

  • Frank Bsays:

    1) Not that I know of.
    2) Get creative and invent something.
    3) Patent it.
    4) Sell it to rail modellers and become rich.

    Oh ! I just thought of something ! A rotary nylon brush in a 12V drill ! Held at a slight angle, this will rotate the wheels and brush the dirt off at the same time.

    Still waiting for someone to invent something.

    • Frank Bsays:

      For metal wheels, use a brass rotary brush. This works brilliantly for loco wheels where you need good electrical contact.

  • Jim Vsays:

    Try White vinegar and a a-tip.

  • Herveysays:

    Mervyn you don’t say what type of wheels. If they are plastic you have a long term problem. Metal wheels are much less likely to accumulate any large quantity of the black gunk.
    If the gunk is not too thick try wetting a paper towel with Isopropyl Alcohol and lay it across the track. Move the car back and forth on the wet towel until no dirt is left behind.
    If you are running plastic wheels look into converting to metal wheels. Once everything is clean keep your track clean and I recommend you use odorless mineral spirits. Its chemical makeup will help minimize the accumulation of the black gunk on your rails.

  • David Stokessays:

    I haven’t tried this, but Hey?
    Take all your wheel off the wagon, and take them to your local jewel and ask him to put them in his sonic cleaner. ALDI had these little electronic cleaners recently for about $50 AU, so 23 quid in the UK.
    Might work, and I know they’ll keep her in doors rings nice and shiny..

  • Russ B.says:

    Such a good question. One method I have used with great success is using a Dremel tool with a cloth buffing wheel. Add a bit of alcohol or track cleaner to the buffing wheel. Using a very slow speed (so you won’t be wearing the cleaner) apply it to the train wheel. Using your thumb on the opposite wheel, slowly rotate it. This has proven to be a pretty effective and speedy way to clean wheels.
    Good luck

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