Track cleaning cars

Discussion of N gauge model railway specific products and related model railway topics (problems and solutions). (Graham Farish, Dapol, Peco)
Bramshot
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Track cleaning cars

Postby Bramshot » Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:56 am

Does anybody have experience of the Lux Modellbau 9470 cleaning car? Also, who supplies it in the UK? It looks like the best of the systems on offer, though very expensive and I haven't been able to find a UK stockist. This makes me wonder if it is compatible with UK N in terms of the gauge / clearances ( it is 1/160 scale, which should make it smaller, though I don't think it is meant to be an accurate representation of any real vehicle), but the quoted dimensions look ok.
I have a Tomix / Dapol cleaning car which I have converted for DCC at great expense and it is frankly very disappointing. Very noisy, motor gets very hot even when operated at moderate speed and you would get through hundreds of those tiny cleaning pads. I would not recommend it to anyone. This one is not compatible with the UK N gauges and I have had to remove the unused bit's and bobs to get the size down so it will clear internal structure in my tunnel!
Are any of the simpler rubbing pad varieties any good?
I know a good clean with a cloth and alcohol or cleaning solution is probably best for cleaning, but this is a problem for scenery and is not practical over my entire layout.

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TimberSurf
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Re: Track cleaning cars

Postby TimberSurf » Tue Aug 29, 2017 4:54 pm

Have you seen these?
http://tencommandmentsmodels.co.uk/prod ... n-n-gauge/
http://www.aztectrains.com/nscaletrackclean.html
https://www.micro-trains.com/northern-p ... ption=true
The other avenue is to use https://woodlandscenics.woodlandscenics ... 550/page/1, it gets in places your hand cant and is probably much better than the rolling stock types in terms of effectivness. I have the Dapol type in OO and don't really rate it. Also not convinced rolling types are worthwhile unless you have 10's of meters of continuous loop, as backing into lots of sidings and cross overs is more time consuming than just doing it by hand!
The hornby rubber is too abrasive, I bought Dedeco 1 x Fine & 1 x Coarse Abrasive Track Cleaning Rubber Cleaner. X1290, as recommended by those in the know, coarse for deburring/paint spill and fine for shining up.
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Bramshot
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Re: Track cleaning cars

Postby Bramshot » Tue Aug 29, 2017 7:26 pm

Thanks Timbersurf. I had seen those in my searches and was hoping to get some comments from those who have tried them. Of the ones you linked to, I think the Ten Commandments might be one to try as relatively cheap and easy to replace cleaning pads, though I guess one problem all these static pad types will have is that the same piece of cloth is always doing the cleaning ( except on curves ). I do have 10s of metres of dual track mainline in a continuous loop and it is mainly that which needs the cleaning, the sidings etc don't get anywhere near as dirty.

Bramshot
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Re: Track cleaning cars

Postby Bramshot » Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:00 pm

Update.
Well, I took the plunge and have bought the one sold by Ten Commandments and when that was not a great success also the Lux Modellbau 9470. After some teething problems with the Lux it is working well except that it is larger than the UK N gauge in its dimensions and consequently wouldn't fit in my tunnel! However, it works fine and does fit with the two roof sections removed and I can live with that as it is never run as part of a 'realistic' train.
The teething problems related to one of the cleaning rollers not actually contacting the track, a fatal flaw for a track cleaning device. A bit of judicious filing of plastic solved that, who knows why it didn't work properly in the fist place!
It remains to be seen how long a cleaning roller set will last before needing to be replaced, but it is certainly picking up dirt and the track is noticeably cleaner when tested with a finger and rag after the car has done a couple of circuits. I will see if the rollers can be revived by washing in IPA (not the beer!) when they are very dirty and due for replacement.
One other niggle is that the rollers, being wider than they need to be and consequently covering a wider path than the track gauge, do hit the point actuating pins that poke through and the plastic lug alongside them. This makes the car wobble, but it has not derailed (yet!). I will have to see if I can cut down the actuating pins some more, maybe using my thin disc cutter that I use for cutting rail and other things.

Bramshot
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Re: Track cleaning cars

Postby Bramshot » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:52 pm

My verdict, for what it’s worth.

While both the Tomix (Dapol) and Lux Modellbau undeniably remove grime, I am not certain that the amount removed is significant. The Tomix cleaning pads get dirty very quickly and the Lux rollers similar, though they take longer. This may be because they are not making such positive contact with the rails. The question is - how long are the cleaning surfaces effective before they need replacing? The Lux rollers are a significant expense if they need replacing regularly, at 5 to 6 Euro per pair. I have managed to clean them by soaking in Isopropanol and then repeatedly squeezing them out. You can eat your way through a box of the Tomix pads quite quickly too.

Now you may be thinking that my rails may be particularly filthy, but while there certainly is dirt on them, I am not experiencing any electrical contact difficulties with my locos. I do get carriage light flicker after a while, but this is due to dirt collection on the wheels, easily cleaned off.

Perhaps I am being too sensitive about dirt and if there was a really serious amount on them, these devices would indeed make a significant difference.

I have had some tyreless locos suffer traction issues which I put down to dirty rails, but in a trial cleaning them did not help. I came to the conclusion eventually that over time the loco wheels, slipping a bit, do polish the rail surface, reducing the friction, so a loco gets progressively worse and eventually will not climb the gradient. The instant solution was to give the rails a rub with a gritty track rubber. Rubbing across the rails rather than along them was particularly effective for getting these locos going again. You can in fact see the slight scoring that the rubber puts into the rail. Abrasive rubbing was something that I always avoided as it does not seem like a good idea, but this has changed my opinion. I can now see the point of the abrasive discs that are supplied for the Tomix unit, and the rollers that are available for the Lux (though I haven’t got any of those).

So don’t expect miraculous cleaning from either of these devices, though they may help with really dirty rails and are an obvious help in tunnels or other hard to reach places.

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sishades
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Re: Track cleaning cars

Postby sishades » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:18 pm

CMX cleaning wagon is superb but it is like hens teeth. The best method is a chamois leather and IPA by hand.
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Bramshot
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Re: Track cleaning cars

Postby Bramshot » Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:38 pm

Sishades, after your glowing recommendation, I had to give it a go, and found one at Digitrains.

It works like a charm, and what’s more the cleaning pads are cheap, cheerful, cleanable and substitutable. It fits within the UK rail gauge as well.

All I need to do now is find a way to replace the Kaydee couplings as all I can do is push it around at the moment. The bogies supplied set the couplings way too high for my locos, so I may have to look at alternative bogies with NEM pockets, though the worry there is they may set a different height above the rails, which would throw the pad settings out. Any ideas out there?

I may have to take the plunge and see if I can cut away the Kaydees and glue on a NEM socket at the correct height.

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TimberSurf
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Re: Track cleaning cars

Postby TimberSurf » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:16 pm

You could make a converter wagon with Hornby one end a Kaydee the other, like the ones sold long ago for running original Triang with Hornby lol

http://www.hornbyguide.com/item_details.asp?itemid=874
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sishades
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Re: Track cleaning cars

Postby sishades » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:08 pm

I also had the Dapol cleaning car which as a track cleaner is a waste of space. However it came with a piece of equipment that when fitted turns it into a mini hoover, which it does very well. I resprayed it black, weathered it and applied some br logos...

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Bramshot
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Re: Track cleaning cars

Postby Bramshot » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:04 pm

TimberSurf wrote:You could make a converter wagon with Hornby one end a Kaydee the other, like the ones sold long ago for running original Triang with Hornby lol

http://www.hornbyguide.com/item_details.asp?itemid=874


Hi, this is N gauge?

What I have done is remove one of the Kaydees, glue on a Dapol NEM socket, by being a bit unorthodox, and installed a NEM Rapido type coupler. As I use Dapol magnetic couplings on the locos, I have then made up a converter truck as suggested with Dapol magnetic on one end and Rapido on the other.

I am not sure if I will be able to remove the Rapido from the CMX without pulling off the socket, but I might try it and fit a Dapol magnetic coupler directly to it. For now the converter truck works fine.

I haul the CMX using a ‘spare’ Dapol Class 56 which does not at the moment have a role to play in the eras I am modelling (one day, maybe!). Unfortunately, it does not have the guts to pull any additional cars, so I will have to double head to use the Tomix as a vacuum cleaner, or run it with a second loco. I’m not sure I will have a use for the Lux, maybe as a final polisher?

stmartins
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Re: Track cleaning cars

Postby stmartins » Sun Mar 11, 2018 9:19 am

Hi just seen your post on the Modelbau track cleaner, I bought one last year ( struggled to find one) and its a great unit. Works brilliantly on DCC. It has rechargeable batteries and as soon as the wheels turn it activates the cleaning discs so as long as its moving it spins the discs and when stopped it runs on for around 5 seconds. Only slight disadvantage is its slightly wider than the locomotives and rolling stocks so if you have a tight railway platform a signal close to the track or even a tight bend with a "fence" round it it will foul it. All in all it does a good job and with track magic it really does clean those awkward to get at parts.

Bramshot
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Re: Track cleaning cars

Postby Bramshot » Sun Mar 11, 2018 11:18 am

I agree it’s control system is very clever (those little magnets for motion sensing on an axle even managed to find a lost spring from my magnetic couplings!), but I am not convinced that it does a brilliant job of cleaning, especially as the rollers on mine are barely making contact with the rails. The CMX is definately better in my opinion, though very heavy to pull, especially if the pad is dry such as when removing it from its storage siding.

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End2end
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Re: Track cleaning cars

Postby End2end » Sun Mar 11, 2018 12:29 pm

I don't have the cash for a CMX yet and I doubt I would run it full time anyway but what about lighter "always on track" cleaner that I could say always have attached in a rake?
I had the Hornby one but was little impressed but found this Lima one. It says HO but would that run on 00 track?
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/282870723628 ... 1555.l2649
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Bramshot
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Re: Track cleaning cars

Postby Bramshot » Sun Mar 11, 2018 9:41 pm

End2end, I find I only need to run the CMX occasionally, no way would you want to run it continuously in a rake. You have to keep the pad wet with IPA when running and you would get through gallons, as it has a drip feed and it is far too heavy to have permanently in a rake, unless you double head.

IMO, it is the combination of weight and the pad material that makes it successful. The pad support is also quite heavy being solid brass and is additionally spring loaded against the track and a reasonable pressure can be maintained because of the weight of the rest of the waggon. I imagine that a lighter weight waggon would manage little more than a light wipe, and be less effective as a result, so I guess that is why you might run that continuously.

I think OO gauge track is the same as HO so it would run on the track, but not sure if the waggon dimensions would fit within or exceed the OO waggon gauging standard. Sadly, you have to try these things to find out how well they work, or see if you can find a comparative review somewhere.

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End2end
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Re: Track cleaning cars

Postby End2end » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:05 am

Bramshot wrote:see if you can find a comparative review somewhere.

Funny you should say that Bramshot. I can't find this cleaning coach online and it's one I haven't seen before.

I was thinking of it as an accompaniment to a less used but more effective CMX. This way I could have one cheaper constant cleaner running in a rake and use the CMX every so often as it were.
Thanks
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