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Thread: Track Cleaning: Pulling all stops

  1. #1

    Default Track Cleaning: Pulling all stops

    Ok, my layout is huge and unfortunately in the basement. I've tried about everything to manually clean the track and that's just not possible anymore with all of my scenery in place (trees, telephone poles etc). I've also tried cheap track cleaning cars that run bright boys underneath with little results. I'm now thinking about buying something like this: https://tonystrains.com/product/cmx-clean-machine-ho/
    Expensive as all get out but I'm so frustrated I'd do about anything to enjoy the running of trains without headache. Thoughts on this product or something similar? Maybe cheaper?

    Thanks!

  2. #2

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    I have one and really like it..seems to do the job very well.

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    I don't mean to challenge you so much as to establish for myself the necessity of such an expense. What about your operating experience these months has led you to this costly decision? How have you reached the conclusion that your problem is dirty track as opposed to something about the powering of the rails, or maybe the condition of wipers, metal tires, or the wiring inside the locomotives? Do your locomotives run much better on a friend's layout or on the local club's layout?
    Crandell

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    I have a CMX car, I run it with lacquer thinner - gives me excellent results every time!
    - ken in Maryland

    Never let a Rainy Day go to waste!

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    Allen - I cannot speak specifically about the CMX car as I don't have one. I do use a Centerline car in conjunction with a homemade "John Allen" masonite car. Gene and Ken seem to like it. Just playing "devil's advocate" here, along the line that Crandell alluded to. Dirty track can certainly be the culprit, but just cleaning the track regardless of how you do it, will not resolve the overall issue if the wheels on your rolling stock are also dirty; they probably are to some extent. Many modelers clean track and loco wheels, but neglect the rest of the rolling stock and just repeat, repeat, repeat. Metal wheels are less of a problem than plastic, but if the track is so dirty as to impede operations, chances are that even the metal ones could use some cleaning. The "crud" just goes back and forth between the track and wheels. Staying ahead of the problem is also required, especially in some basement environments; that's not to say that you haven't been doing that already. Frequent operation also helps, if you don't run for two months, it's wise to run a "cleaning train" before continuing. OK, all of that being said, for those hard to reach places a product from Woodland Scenics called "Tidy Track" is a long handled wand with detachable cleaning blocks on the end. Less expensive than the CMX car, but requires some labor. Just don't apply too much pressure or the wand might break...don't ask how I know this!
    It does sound like you might have a significant task ahead of you and I wish you all of the luck that you will need.

    Willie

  6. Default

    I avoid track cleaning. After an initial cleaning I apply no-ox and forget about it.
    If you want to spend your money than there isn't a cheap way to make one of those cars. You also have to be careful handling the solvent.

    Modeling the roaring 20's
    President of the Lancaster Central Railroad
    President of the Western Maryland Railway

  7. #7

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    I have just about every serious track cleaning car there is.

    I have the CMX which I use with lacquer thinner when the track is really bad, alcohol otherwise. The lacquer thinner can damage track, foam, etc so you need to be cautious in it's use.

    I have the Aztec Annihilator with the DCC option which provide good control of dispensing of the cleaning fluid - I use alcohol.

    I have the MNP with the motorized cleaning pads which is nice for a quick polish.

    I have the "Atlas" which can be used to do a light vacuuming.

    Frederick

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by santafewillie View Post
    Allen - I cannot speak specifically about the CMX car as I don't have one. I do use a Centerline car in conjunction with a homemade "John Allen" masonite car. Gene and Ken seem to like it. Just playing "devil's advocate" here, along the line that Crandell alluded to. Dirty track can certainly be the culprit, but just cleaning the track regardless of how you do it, will not resolve the overall issue if the wheels on your rolling stock are also dirty; they probably are to some extent. Many modelers clean track and loco wheels, but neglect the rest of the rolling stock and just repeat, repeat, repeat. Metal wheels are less of a problem than plastic, but if the track is so dirty as to impede operations, chances are that even the metal ones could use some cleaning. The "crud" just goes back and forth between the track and wheels. Staying ahead of the problem is also required, especially in some basement environments; that's not to say that you haven't been doing that already. Frequent operation also helps, if you don't run for two months, it's wise to run a "cleaning train" before continuing. OK, all of that being said, for those hard to reach places a product from Woodland Scenics called "Tidy Track" is a long handled wand with detachable cleaning blocks on the end. Less expensive than the CMX car, but requires some labor. Just don't apply too much pressure or the wand might break...don't ask how I know this!
    It does sound like you might have a significant task ahead of you and I wish you all of the luck that you will need.

    Willie
    Thanks all. ive been working on the layout for years and have only ran trains on it from time to time. I usually have a few cars running just to make sure everything is true. All my wheels are metal and I've tried to keep my locos clean. I'm sure it's the track and the fact I spend most of my time on scenery and not running trains. Every time I do run them, I have to spend an hour cleaning the track and then cleaning the locos.

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    I made this track cleaning car for under $10.00. It works well with out problems.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    George
    Last edited by NYC_George; 07-23-2017 at 06:56 PM.

  10. #10

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    I will probably have to agree with Willie. At the model railroad club in Livingston, MT, they have a couple of track cleaning cars with pads mounted under the cars that are used during operating sessions. It is in the basement of the old Northern Pacific depot and I'm sure that it can get dusty down there, but they don't seem to have any problems with dirty track with these cars circulating around the layout.

    I very seldom need to clean the tracks on my home layout. It is in a finished basement, but I do try to run trains as often as possible. Everything has metal wheels which I agree most likely help keep the tracks clean. If I run across a problem spot, which is usually on sidings, I'll use either a bright boy of alcohol. This also doesn't happen very often.

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