Track Cleaning Wagons

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Track Cleaning Wagons

Postby 4472 » Tue Aug 17, 2021 12:14 am

Has anyone experience of the track cleaning wagons sold by Gaugemaster but are made by PIKO
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Re: Track Cleaning Wagons

Postby muggins » Tue Aug 17, 2021 8:10 am

I borrowed one briefly and was not impressed. Ended up buying the Zeller/Ten Commandments one and am happy enough with it.

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Bufferstop
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Re: Track Cleaning Wagons

Postby Bufferstop » Tue Aug 17, 2021 10:42 am

It's a bit of an ask expecting a 1/87th scale scrubber to deal with 1:1 scale muck. You shouldn't complain if it takes 87 times as long to clean up the equivalent length of track.
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Re: Track Cleaning Wagons

Postby Bigmet » Tue Aug 17, 2021 12:41 pm

Bufferstop wrote:... 1:1 scale muck...

I am so going to steal that expression, and retain it for future use!

Before ever looking at cleaning (remediation) it is better to consider and tackle PREVENTION. Where does the muck come from, how can it be minimised? When I had the resources of a well equipped commercial analytical lab at my disposal, I analysed 'the muck' and related it to the materials used in railway modelling.
The significant 'gunk' sources:
Plastic wheels, UK traction tyres, plastic 'rails' as in point crossings: these are a disaster and should be consigned to recycling immediately.
Lubricant components: minimal applications of lubricants on models to keep it well away from tyres and rails.
Track rubbers: these are track filthers.
Electrical solder and resin flux: never on or near the running surfaces of rails or tyres.
Paint on wheels or track: fully remove from tyres and the top and inside corners of rails. (This may mean that the desired 'weathered appearance' of the track is not fully achieved: live with it, electrical contact for good running is far more important than appearance.)
Manufacturing residues on rail and tyres of new purchases: if possible run on a dedicated circuit to clean up, before release into general use on a layout.

Other.
Metal oxides, typically dominated by Copper oxide if the layout has nickel silver (cupronickel alloy) rail, this is 'the black stuff'. Rails and tyres ideally nickel silver or harder (steel is very good). Nickel silver rail surface depletes in copper content, gets better as use increases.

Eliminate the sources of gunk and there is much less to clean off, and it is far less adherent.

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Re: Track Cleaning Wagons

Postby pete12345 » Wed Aug 18, 2021 8:37 am

Bigmet wrote:Metal oxides, typically dominated by Copper oxide if the layout has nickel silver (cupronickel alloy) rail, this is 'the black stuff'. Rails and tyres ideally nickel silver or harder (steel is very good). Nickel silver rail surface depletes in copper content, gets better as use increases.


I wonder about the true difference in running quality between steel and nickel-silver rail. There was a mass rush to NS 'which never rusts' as the solution to all track-cleaning woes, but then the black gunk makes itself apparent and you needed to clean it just as frequently as steel. I reckon all-metal wheels on a steel-railed layout, kept in frequent use, would be just as good as nickel-silver, with the advantage that steel rail obviously looks more like steel rail than nickel-silver.

What about brass? I have some Fleischman brass points which will go in my fiddle yard. Disaster waiting to happen?
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Re: Track Cleaning Wagons

Postby Bigmet » Wed Aug 18, 2021 11:20 am

pete12345 wrote:...I reckon all-metal wheels on a steel-railed layout, kept in frequent use, would be just as good as nickel-silver, with the advantage that steel rail obviously looks more like steel rail than nickel-silver...

'Frequent use' is the key aspect with steel rail. You need all metal wheel trains running over all of it, several times a week. Few people operate that much. Now I do operate like that, at least on the main running lines, but still won't take the chance. Once corrosion gets going on steel it is homocatalytic, and will spread, and since the wheels are only polishing a fraction of the surface it doesn't make a good prospect for someone that builds layouts infrequently, planning to use them for many years of operation.


pete12345 wrote:...I wonder about the true difference in running quality between steel and nickel-silver rail. There was a mass rush to NS 'which never rusts' as the solution to all track-cleaning woes, but then the black gunk makes itself apparent and you needed to clean it just as frequently as steel...

That would certainly be true if the stock still included plastic wheels and traction tyres, and the track still had plastic crossings.

Go to 'all metal' with care over other contaminants and there is far less dirt, mostly copper oxide; and with the plastics, lubricants etc eliminated or well controlled it isn't 'glued on' by the various organic gunks, so comes away easily on a track drag. (I use a piece of hardboard rough side down with a lead weight on top.)

What's more as the layout is used the top surface of the rail is depleted of copper, and the amount of copper oxide produced reduces.

pete12345 wrote:...What about brass? I have some Fleischman brass points which will go in my fiddle yard. Disaster waiting to happen?

Brass is tricky, many formulations which vary from the good bright and hard Copper and Zinc alloy to horrible greasy stuff with lead, tin and whatever other crappy putty metal was available for the foundryman to throw in. (copper is costly, dilute it to whatever extent you can get away with...).

I would hope that the German insistence on doing the job right would mean the Fleischmann items will be good.

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Re: Track Cleaning Wagons

Postby pete12345 » Thu Aug 19, 2021 1:45 pm

So, back more on topic of cleaning wagons, is a weighted piece of hardboard hung on a wagon chassis as good as anything else? I was thinking of a steel plate with bolts which pass loosely through the chassis, with a square of hardboard stuck to it and replaced when too worn. Something similar on the end of a handle for siding ends and any other bits. I guess the locomotive pushing the wagon round needs to be well weighted to get the traction.
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Re: Track Cleaning Wagons

Postby Bigmet » Thu Aug 19, 2021 2:10 pm

I use a pair of what were Bachmann Peak mechanisms, stripped down as BoBo chassis with extra weight added, coupled on each side of the lead block, with the hardboard glued to the underside; so just a simple heavy skid which the 'mules' keep on the rails. (I initially fiddled about with putting the skid within a wagon, and quickly found there was no need with a heavy traction unit either end taking care of guidance.)

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Re: Track Cleaning Wagons

Postby muggins » Thu Aug 19, 2021 2:17 pm

FWIW I've used the weighted hardboard thing on and off for quite some time and it works well for me*. However, if I run that once round my continuous circuit then run the Zeller/10 Commandments wagon round, the latter still picks up some grot, but I can't see the amount making any difference whatsoever to the way my trains run. So, one or the other AFAIC, with a slight bias towards the Zeller on account of it seems to keep the (electrofrog) points cleaner.

(* I stress the "for me" because track cleaning's one of "those" things ...)

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Re: Track Cleaning Wagons

Postby Bufferstop » Thu Aug 19, 2021 2:35 pm

pete12345 wrote:'Frequent use' is the key aspect with steel rail. You need all metal wheel trains running over all of it,

Not only metal wheels, but ones carrying a bit of weight. Perhaps following the prototype would be an advantage, cast iron wheels in steel chassis. Even then they have conductivity problems, small four wheel and six wheel shunters having to be accompanied by a bigger loco on their way to a remote depot, because they don't show up on the track circuit.
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Re: Track Cleaning Wagons

Postby GeraldH » Fri Aug 20, 2021 8:39 am

I use a hardboard sled along with a couple of wagons with felt pads soaked in meths. I rarely have to clean my track by hand and everything runs smoothly. I did have some problems with dust caused by foam backed carpet where the foam was disintegrating, but the layout has since been moved and the carpet is going. There's some pictures of two of my adapted wagons on page 15 of my layout thread.
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Re: Track Cleaning Wagons

Postby Someone » Mon Dec 20, 2021 4:23 pm

I don't know much about track cleaning wagons but it is good to remember your track doesn't need to be clean, it just needs to be conductive.

So as long as the trains run fine there's no need for ultra shiny rails.
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