Track-cleaning concept.

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RSR Engineer
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Track-cleaning concept.

#1

Post by RSR Engineer »

If I may impose on members' reserves of patience, I would like to describe a track-cleaning concept that I have developed for hidden sidings. The basis of the concept is that the driving wheels of a loco without traction tyres will, if overloaded, slip. This has the very useful side effect of polishing the rails.

I have two locos, both without traction tyres, which run at different speeds on a given controller setting, so they both slip. I ran the two of them round the main line and through the loops with a longish train and the rails ended up nice and shiny.

But the dead-end northern sidings are a different kettle of fish. Hence the Dapol track cleaning wagon I brought back from England some years ago. This gadget has a rotating disc underneath faced with fine emery (or similar), which is driven by an onboard motor, which in turn picks up its juice from the rails. We have here a hole-in-the-bucket situation like in the song, coz if the rails are really dirty ... you got it. The Dapol is not self-propelled, so I pushed it along with the two locos just mentioned, which are able to overcome the dirt even where the Dapol cannot - you just need to run them fast enough.

Then came the idea, inspired by Sam's review, of the Tri-Ang dock shunter, whose wheels are knurled like 10p pieces but will still slip if the load is heavy enough. I acquired one of these jobbies on ebay. First of all, she had to have a wheel-clean and lube. You could tell she wasn't picking up juice properIy coz the ammeter was whipping about like a metronome on high-speed techno. There was a fair amount of gunge in her "treads", which of course can't be cleaned off just by spinning the wheels under the fibreglass brush. You have to dig it out like the muck in a ratty old comb. (Sorry about the tasteless simile.) I used the fibreglass brush and a compass needle held in the pin chuck.

The other part of the "team" is a Trix fireless 0-8-0, which has no traction tyres but sits nice and firmly on the track. The Tri-Ang dock shunter is much faster on a given voltage, so when the two of them are coupled together, they both slip, and the knurled wheels of the dock shunter scrape the crud off the railtops. On the first visit to the northern sidings (no. 22 in fact - diagram attached), the ammeter jumped about a bit, showing that there was dirt on the rails. I sent them in and out about five times on each siding, till the ammeter held steady. The dock shunter needed a wheel-clean every five or six sidings. It took some two hours to get all 22 sidings done. I estimate that a quick once-in-once-out on each siding every month or so should keep everything nice and bright. Time will tell.

One last point: I wouldn't recommend this method for steel track. There's no knowing how well or how long the zinc plating (or whatever) will hold up.

I hope the above is of interest and use to other members.

Cheers,
Artur
Attachments
The track-cleaning "team". The difference between 00 and H0 scale is very noticeable.
The track-cleaning "team". The difference between 00 and H0 scale is very noticeable.
NL624x.jpg (162.73 KiB) Viewed 4032 times
North sidings
North sidings
option11-02d20-nthsdgs.jpg (98.59 KiB) Viewed 4032 times
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Walkingthedog
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#2

Post by Walkingthedog »

So basically you are using wheel spin to clean track.


I reckon eventually it will damage the track, but if it works for you go for it. :)


My track rarely needs cleaning, just the occasional odd patch and a yearly clean all over. Me as well :D
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#3

Post by RSR Engineer »

You understand me correctly, WTD. Where through running is possible plain wheels slipping a bit have been effective enough in keeping the rail tops clean. It was the dead end sidings that needed more drastic treatment.

Cheers,
Artur
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Brian
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#4

Post by Brian »

I use a CMX tanker wagon (Sharge is similar and cheaper) pushed in front of a heavy / large loco. The tanker is filled with IPA (Isopropanol Alcohol) and cleans both the rails in front of the loco and any residual fluid on the rails helps keep the loco wheels clean that is pushing the CMX.
Wheel slipping is not a feature I really want to explore or use, as I foresee a quickly burnt out motor or wheels with issues. But if it works for you then... :D
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#5

Post by Walkingthedog »

I had a Sharge very efficient. Wheel spin is always something I tried to avoid, as they did on the 12 inch to the foot versions.
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#6

Post by yelrow »

There is avideo on the Hornby site, which you should watch. You may then never use Your fluids again. Posted by RAF. Lighter fuel, is the new way to go ?.
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#7

Post by RFS »

But if you just spin the wheels, where does all the gunge go? If it's getting into the insides of the loco you could end up with pickups covered in the stuff. I use the CMX tanker wagon with a Hornby class 73 at each end to allow easy reversal, plus one 73 doesn't have enough oomph by itself.
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#8

Post by dtb »

Oh my Sams Trains is mentioned, all he can get excited about is how much an item weighs :D
I use a Peco rubber occasionally, something I have used since I was a kid, no issues on my layout.

Why create hidden sidings that are not accessible?
It became annoying! :D
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#9

Post by Brian »

yelrow wrote: Sun Mar 14, 2021 8:46 pm There is a video on the Hornby site, which you should watch. You may then never use Your fluids again. Posted by RAF. Lighter fuel, is the new way to go ?.
Lighter fluid is a refined petrol which contains oil. Place a tiny drop on a piece of glass and you'll see the oil! Rather not on my track thank you! Hence Isopropanol Alcohol but it must be the 99.9% type or Meths can also be used and is an alternative recommended, as neither have oil in them.

I watched the video for what its worth, its totally non scientific and just a couple of locos running on separate tracks. At no time did they swap locos or tracks to prove/disprove the problems alleged may have been due to poor quality of track / poor track laying in a particular section! Or loco wheel contact issues. In fact the WD spray contact cleaner used also contains IPA! I also watched an anti vax video that alleged Microsoft have placed microchips in all Covid injections! Don't believe all or at least question what's placed on the www!

IPA is probably the world leader in electrical contact cleaning and has been used by industry for decades. (Now used a lot in a weaker format for hand sanitiser too) Its use is everywhere that electronics and electrical arcing or connections occur or where a spotlessly clean grease free surface is required. Some examples and not limited to... Cleaning PCB before soldering work. Cleaning switch contacts and relay contacts. Cleaning commutators on motors, the list is endless. ;)
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#10

Post by Mountain Goat »

It is an interesting idea as if the "Cleaning loco" part is lightweight so can skim the surface and it is less likely to burn out any motors. I wonder if one can adapt an older higher speed Hornby 0-4-0 to be run just with 2 wheel drive and without any added weight to do the cleaning job on ones layout? Just a thought about the concept.
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