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Offline Danlake  
#1 Posted : 19 May 2019 09:26:10(UTC)
Danlake

New Zealand   
Joined: 03/08/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,504
Hi all,

An interesting editorial in the latest MRH magazine regarding solvents to use in track cleaning:

https://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/

** FULL LINK ADDED FOR CONVENIENCE - https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/mrhpub.com/2019-05-may/online/index.html?page=9

To recap. They have previously done studies to find out what the grey/black gunk is that accumulate on the rails and eventually will disrupt power. It’s not grease, oil, dust or leftover rubber from traction tires, but the deposits left are mainly metal oxides deposits from micro arcing as one point of the wheel makes contact with one point of the rail.

Anyway the editorial then discuss what solvents to use and why and this part I found really interesting as it appears that the majority of us might have been using the wrong solvents when cleaning the rails...

They talk about non polar or polar solvents.

From the editorial:
Apparently, polar solvent molecules get trapped in micropits of the metal surface, leaving an “electron charged” micro-scopic residue. This electron-charged polar residue encourages micro-arcing in the presence of an electrical current, quickly forming new metal oxides on the metal surfaces in electrical contact. But non-polar solvents do the reverse. They actually “protect” the metal surfaces from forming new oxides because they inhibit microarcing.

A high polar solvent is water and a medium is isopropyl alcohol. A non-polar solvents is mineral spirits, diesel, whal clipper oil and e.g. WD-40 contact cleaner.

And regarding graphite layers they found a very light, invisible, layer can improve conductive while too much will increase micro arcing as graphite itself is slightly polar.

This is the first time I hear about this and would be interested in hear users opinion who may have knowledge in this field?

If you want to read more download the free issue yourself. By the way it’s a great magazine and for a low annual subscription you can get the premium edition with extra monthly articles.

Best Regards
Lasse

Edited by moderator 02 August 2020 11:44:10(UTC)  | Reason: Added full URL

Digital 11m2 layout / C (M&K) tracks / Era IV / CS3 60226 / Train Controller Gold 9 with 4D sound. Mainly Danish and German Locomotives.
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Offline JohnjeanB  
#2 Posted : 19 May 2019 10:52:20(UTC)
JohnjeanB

France   
Joined: 04/02/2011(UTC)
Posts: 993
Location: Paris, France
Hi Lasse
Many thanks for this information. I will try.
In the past I was using contact cleaner fluid w. not-too-bad results except on the Märklin 7286 turntable where the "3rd rail" is replaced with a Zamak planking w. metal coating.
Other sources tell it is capital to keep the rail surface absolutely scratch-free.

Cheers

Jean
My lay-out videos
latest vid
humping yard
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Offline dickinsonj  
#3 Posted : 19 May 2019 15:02:01(UTC)
dickinsonj

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2008(UTC)
Posts: 1,345
Location: United States
Very informative - thanks for posting that Lasse.

I have often wondered if anyone knew what these deposits were or where they actually came from, with my personal suspects being oil or degrading traction tires. I have always used 60% isopropyl alcohol which does clean well but now it appears that it might also be setting me up for more problems down the road - or track in this case. BigGrin

I would also be interested in hearing other people's thoughts on this and what they might be using to clean their tracks in light of this information. Diesel fuel or mineral spirits seem like they would just gunk things up even worse, but perhaps that is not really the case. If those were my two best choices I would go with the mineral spirits, since I really hate the smell of diesel.
Regards,
Jim

I have almost all Märklin and mostly HO, although I do have a small number of Z gauge trains!
I have models from Era I to Era VI, but I try to focus on Eras I & III. Whoops, that one got away from me. Let's just say I focus on cool trains, regardless of the particulars :-)
So many trains and so little time.
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Offline PMPeter  
#4 Posted : 19 May 2019 16:12:51(UTC)
PMPeter

Canada   
Joined: 04/04/2013(UTC)
Posts: 1,065
Location: Port Moody, BC
Originally Posted by: JohnjeanB Go to Quoted Post
Hi Lasse
Many thanks for this information. I will try.
In the past I was using contact cleaner fluid w. not-too-bad results except on the Märklin 7286 turntable where the "3rd rail" is replaced with a Zamak planking w. metal coating.
Other sources tell it is capital to keep the rail surface absolutely scratch-free.

Cheers

Jean


What do you use on your 7286 "3rd rail"? I have a real issue with the turntable's centre contact no matter how I try to clean it.
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Offline Elsleuth1  
#5 Posted : 19 May 2019 16:28:24(UTC)
Elsleuth1

United States   
Joined: 23/04/2014(UTC)
Posts: 96
The article ends with this statement:


Screen Shot 2019-05-19 at 8.27.00 AM.png
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Offline costing  
#6 Posted : 19 May 2019 16:39:29(UTC)
costing

Switzerland   
Joined: 20/08/2018(UTC)
Posts: 117
Location: Geneve, Geneva
I'm passing the same graphite bar on the center studs as well as on the rails themselves, helps a lot!
JMRI on RPi & DCC++ / C-track / Marklin (SBB Re 4/4 II, Ee 3/3, DB BR 24, BR 233), Roco (DB BR 103, BR 215, CFR 040-EC-001), ESU engineering (DB 265 MRCE) / Christmas car collector
Offline Minok  
#7 Posted : 20 May 2019 22:08:17(UTC)
Minok

United States   
Joined: 15/10/2006(UTC)
Posts: 2,157
Location: Washington, Pacific Northwest
A key resource from the article is this table:
Capture.PNG
Source: Joe Fugate, "Keeping your track and wheels clean longer - a look at polar vs non-polar solvents", https://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/ , pg. 14, May 2019

From this list, the first one that seems good to use in a cleaning car (ie you need to have gravity dispense it, not coming in an aerosol can), is Wahl Clipper Oil and mineral spirits (not sure what Neverstall is and if it comes in a non-aerosol. You would want something that is not highly flammable.

Quote:
The best solvents for track cleaning are the non-polar ones. The worst ones for track cleaning are the polar solvents! How many of us have used IPA, lacquer thinner, or acetone for track cleaning? Bad, bad!
Also notice the “wonder cures” for dirty track are all non-polar! Ah-hah!

The other thing I notice is not all electrical contact cleaners are created the same. CRC Contact Cleaner and Protectorant (do their chemists know something here? – sure sounds like it) is CRC’s lowest dielectric constant non-polar product!

While CRC 2-26 is often recommended on modeling forums for cleaning, it’s actually semi-polar. It’s far better than IPA or the like, but the CRC Contact Cleaner and Protectorant is better still. Notice, CRC QD Contact Cleaner is actually worse than IPA.

From this list you can see kerosene, WD-40 Contact Cleaner, CRC Contact Cleaner and Protectorant, Deoxit D5, Neverstall, and mineral spirits are all excellent solvents to use for cleaning track and wheels.

Solvents to avoid include: isopropyl alcohol, MEK, acetone, and lacquer thinner.

....

When applying graphite to your track to help keep the rails from microarcing, more graphite is not better! In fact, what I tell people is one quick swipe on the inside railhead is all you need [3]. You don’t want to see it. If you can see the graphite, then you have applied way too much! Just one quick swipe with moderate pressure is plenty.


-Joe Fugate, "Keeping your track and wheels clean longer - a look at polar vs non-polar solvents", https://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/ , May 2019



The article on the nature of the black gunk can be found here: https://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/node/3229

The executive summary by Joe provided is: "It appears you want to clean your track (and wheels) with a non-polar solvent and then treat the inside railhead with graphite to further reduce your frequency of cleanings. That’s about as good as it gets!"
Toys of tin and wood rule!
---
My Layout Thread on marklin-users.net: InterCity 1-3-4
My YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Minok1217/
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Offline michelvr  
#8 Posted : 20 May 2019 23:36:29(UTC)
michelvr


Joined: 06/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1,115
Hello Minok,

I use GOO GONE to clean my track. (non polar)

Not sure where GOO GONE would be on the list but it's what I use when the tracks really need a cleaning! Crying

The procedure that I follow is to first vacuum the layout track with a dusting brush attached to the hose of the vacuum. Then I squirt small amount of GOO GONE onto a tightly compressed piece of paper towel and then wipe over the rails while holding the paper towel firmly on the top of the rails. Once the layout has been cleaned then I wipe it clean with a new fresh piece of paper towel again tightly compressed together. The goal of the compressed paper towel is so that it does not break apart when running it over the rails. Once all is done then I do the last step, I run my LUX vacuum car over the whole layout. Works quite well and leaves a nice orangey fragrance.
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Offline Jabez  
#9 Posted : 21 May 2019 00:30:26(UTC)
Jabez

Belgium   
Joined: 30/08/2016(UTC)
Posts: 636
Location: Brussels
When I first joined the marklin-users.net site some 3 years ago I recall seeing many references to (Deluxe) Track Magic rail and wheel cleaner. I think it was an Australian product. I haven't seen much reference to it since. But here is a link to another site's thread on track cleaning which mentions it.
https://www.rmweb.co.uk/...ing-fluid-which-is-best/
Jabez
I heard that lonesome whistle blow. Hank Williams
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Offline dickinsonj  
#10 Posted : 21 May 2019 00:38:52(UTC)
dickinsonj

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2008(UTC)
Posts: 1,345
Location: United States
Originally Posted by: Jabez Go to Quoted Post
When I first joined the marklin-users.net site some 3 years ago I recall seeing many references to (Deluxe) Track Magic rail and wheel cleaner. I think it was an Australian product. I haven't seen much reference to it since. But here is a link to another site's thread on track cleaning which mentions it.
https://www.rmweb.co.uk/...ing-fluid-which-is-best/
Jabez


Here it is: https://deluxematerials.co.uk/products/track-magic

And here is a world wide distributor's list: https://deluxematerials....collections/distributors

It is available in the US from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/D...ic-Cleaner/dp/B0076LAV0K

I am definitely going to give this a go. We all need the best conductivity on our rails and I am so glad to learn about this product. ThumpUp
Regards,
Jim

I have almost all Märklin and mostly HO, although I do have a small number of Z gauge trains!
I have models from Era I to Era VI, but I try to focus on Eras I & III. Whoops, that one got away from me. Let's just say I focus on cool trains, regardless of the particulars :-)
So many trains and so little time.
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Offline dickinsonj  
#11 Posted : 21 May 2019 01:04:42(UTC)
dickinsonj

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2008(UTC)
Posts: 1,345
Location: United States
Thinking back on this, I once had a dealer tell me not to use isopropyl alcohol because it left a residue which made the problem worse in the future. I discounted this advice and now I finally see what he meant. Searching around on Amazon I found other products which make similar claims and which are recommended by buyers. I am going to try several of these and if one comes out a clear winner I will report back to the thread.

Here are some alternatives that I may also try:

https://www.amazon.com/B...ner-fl-oz/dp/B01LYUL9A0/

https://www.amazon.com/P...nhibitors/dp/B0006O8EKS/

I have cleaned wheels that looked like they were starting their own homemade traction tires! ThumbDown Now it appears that I might have been setting myself up by insisting that isopropyl alcohol was the safest, best way to go.

Regards,
Jim

I have almost all Märklin and mostly HO, although I do have a small number of Z gauge trains!
I have models from Era I to Era VI, but I try to focus on Eras I & III. Whoops, that one got away from me. Let's just say I focus on cool trains, regardless of the particulars :-)
So many trains and so little time.
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Offline kimballthurlow  
#12 Posted : 21 May 2019 01:29:06(UTC)
kimballthurlow

Australia   
Joined: 18/03/2007(UTC)
Posts: 5,854
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Thanks for all the interesting information and ideas.

I have no idea of the chemical make-up or properties of either Marklin lubricating oil, or Wahl clipper oil.
But I use both quite extensively in one way or another (in life generally), and I notice that they have the same consistency (flow ability).

I will use either on my track.

Kimball
HO Scale - Märklin (ep III and VI, C Track, digital) - 2 rail (USA and Australia) - 3 rail (English Hornby Dublo) - a few old O gauge.
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User is suspended until 21/08/2020 21:50:24(UTC) TEEWolf  
#13 Posted : 21 May 2019 03:10:04(UTC)
TEEWolf


Joined: 01/06/2016(UTC)
Posts: 2,441
Originally Posted by: kimballthurlow Go to Quoted Post
Thanks for all the interesting information and ideas.

I have no idea of the chemical make-up or properties of either Marklin lubricating oil, or Wahl clipper oil.
But I use both quite extensively in one way or another (in life generally), and I notice that they have the same consistency (flow ability).

I will use either on my track.

Kimball


Perhaps this gives you an idea for cleaning - including prices, which covers quite a variety.

https://www.allaboardexc...ep-your-track-clean.html
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Offline river6109  
#14 Posted : 21 May 2019 05:59:43(UTC)
river6109

Australia   
Joined: 22/01/2009(UTC)
Posts: 13,119
Location: On 1965 Märklin Boulevard just around from Roco Square
Originally Posted by: dickinsonj Go to Quoted Post
Thinking back on this, I once had a dealer tell me not to use isopropyl alcohol because it left a residue which made the problem worse in the future. I discounted this advice and now I finally see what he meant. Searching around on Amazon I found other products which make similar claims and which are recommended by buyers. I am going to try several of these and if one comes out a clear winner I will report back to the thread.

Here are some alternatives that I may also try:

https://www.amazon.com/B...ner-fl-oz/dp/B01LYUL9A0/

https://www.amazon.com/P...nhibitors/dp/B0006O8EKS/

I have cleaned wheels that looked like they were starting their own homemade traction tires! ThumbDown Now it appears that I might have been setting myself up by insisting that isopropyl alcohol was the safest, best way to go.



when you look at their website the items aren't cheap, for instance snow making £ 17.00, I made my snow scenery from very fine tile grout for 20kg I've paid A$ 23.00 and I use an Australian product called "Gumption" (1kg) to clean the wheels for under A$ 5.00,
cleaning tracks, I haven't done for years, the garage is now dust & the track is oil free but its interesting to know about the scientific findings with a non polar solvent

John

Edited by user 23 May 2019 05:26:56(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

https://www.youtube.com/river6109
https://www.youtube.com/6109river
5 years in Destruction mode
50 years in Repairing mode
Offline Minok  
#15 Posted : 23 May 2019 04:27:27(UTC)
Minok

United States   
Joined: 15/10/2006(UTC)
Posts: 2,157
Location: Washington, Pacific Northwest
Oddly enough I came across this video on the same subject on YouTube along with a lot of bad ideas told on jest but don’t let your kids see it lest they get bad ideas.

Toys of tin and wood rule!
---
My Layout Thread on marklin-users.net: InterCity 1-3-4
My YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Minok1217/
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Offline Tex  
#16 Posted : 23 May 2019 05:13:56(UTC)
Tex

United States   
Joined: 30/01/2004(UTC)
Posts: 276
Location: Houston, Texas
This is an old subject , I have been using Wahl clipper oil on my m - track for many years. It is used in small amounts along with mechanical cleaning and frequent operation. I remember seeing an article many years past in the Model Railroader magazine about tests on a visitor operated layout in Tacoma , Washington which showed that automobile transmission fluid gave the best results. Tex
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Offline Danlake  
#17 Posted : 28 July 2020 11:35:12(UTC)
Danlake

New Zealand   
Joined: 03/08/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,504
Previously been using some low odour kerosene product and it did keep tracks clean for much longer (less black gunk on the railhead) than my old method of isopropyl, however it still smell terrible when applying and my train room would have a slight kerosene smell for a couple of days afterwards.

So been researching alternative solutions that is available down under and stumbled across a Australian modeller who had high praise for the Australian product called Inox (a bit similar to WD-40).

Upon further reading I find lots of references to the product in the slot car community. See e.g. these video (looks pretty amazing).

https://m.youtube.com/wa...b_logo&v=NnnSjyXyhrU

https://m.youtube.com/wa...154&feature=emb_logo

Anyway I am going to try this product. Anyone had experience with it?

Again, this is the idea about applying a film on the rail head that prevents arching. Inox itself is non-conductive.

Best Regards
Lasse
Digital 11m2 layout / C (M&K) tracks / Era IV / CS3 60226 / Train Controller Gold 9 with 4D sound. Mainly Danish and German Locomotives.
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Offline xxup  
#18 Posted : 28 July 2020 12:44:19(UTC)
xxup

Australia   
Joined: 15/03/2003(UTC)
Posts: 9,018
Location: Australia
I have used Track Magic on my M-track layout for many years and it works great.. But the key is to clean the wheels when you clean the track.. Otherwise the whole exercise is pointless..
Adrian
UserPostedImage
Australia flag by abFlags.com
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Offline PJMärklin  
#19 Posted : 28 July 2020 13:06:20(UTC)
PJMärklin

Australia   
Joined: 04/12/2013(UTC)
Posts: 1,566
Location: Hobart, Australia
Originally Posted by: Danlake Go to Quoted Post
Previously been using some low odour kerosene product and it did keep tracks clean for much longer (less black gunk on the railhead) than my old method of isopropyl, however it still smell terrible when applying and my train room would have a slight kerosene smell for a couple of days afterwards.

So been researching alternative solutions that is available down under and stumbled across a Australian modeller who had high praise for the Australian product called Inox (a bit similar to WD-40).

Upon further reading I find lots of references to the product in the slot car community. See e.g. these video (looks pretty amazing).

https://m.youtube.com/wa...b_logo&v=NnnSjyXyhrU

https://m.youtube.com/wa...154&feature=emb_logo

Anyway I am going to try this product. Anyone had experience with it?

Again, this is the idea about applying a film on the rail head that prevents arching. Inox itself is non-conductive.

Best Regards
Lasse



Originally Posted by: Danlake Go to Quoted Post
... the Australian product called Inox (a bit similar to WD-40) ... Anyone had experience with it?



Hello Lasse,

Whilst I tend to use my Märklin simple track cleaning unit dry :


UserPostedImage


, when cleaning other gunk from the track I either use a cotton cloth dipped in elbow grease or a cotton cloth sprayed with this electrical contact cleaner I get from Jaycar:


UserPostedImage


(but I think any such electrical contact cleaner will do; I suspect they are all on the "good" side of this dielectric constant scale (from a post previously by Minok on this fine forum, acknowledged with thanks):


UserPostedImage


(noting your Kerosene is "best")

And to answer your question, I have had a long previous experience with "Inox" - not on my layout but on my yacht for about 30 years.

See also my April post : https://www.marklin-user...arlin-C-track#post613440

The marine environment is very harsh on electrical contacts (correct Per ?) and long ago a marine electrician put me onto this product (which he called "a tool kit in a can") - it certainly gave longevity to electrical contacts that would otherwise deteriorate in the yachting environment. I have not used it on my layout.

Maybe I should spray electrical contact cleaner on the pads of my Märklin track-cleaning unit ?

But, as Adrian just said, the other side of the equation is to also clean the wheels, otherwise they just lay any gunk back down.

Regards,

PJ
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Online Purellum  
#20 Posted : 28 July 2020 13:53:44(UTC)
Purellum

Denmark   
Joined: 08/11/2005(UTC)
Posts: 3,226
Location: Mullerup, 4200 Slagelse
Cool

Originally Posted by: PJMärklin Go to Quoted Post
The marine environment is very harsh on electrical contacts (correct Per ?)


Yes Laugh

Per.

Cool

If you can dream it, you can do it!

I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. This applies worldwide.

In case this is not legally possible:
I grant anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.

UserPostedImage
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Offline hxmiesa  
#21 Posted : 28 July 2020 14:54:12(UTC)
hxmiesa

Spain   
Joined: 15/12/2005(UTC)
Posts: 2,924
Location: Spain
Lately, I never clean my tracks. They dont seem to get dirty at all. -Even if the layout hasnt been used for months.

However, I do have "SOME" amount of black gunk build up on the wheels.
Some vehicles seems more prone to it, than others. Both locos and waggons.

I use a little WD-40 to disolve it, as it otherwise takes a long time to scrape off. (with a wooden or plastic stick!)

I always supposed the gunk to consit of; oil, dust and traction-tires. (Actually the gunk is so black and thick that it LOOKS like the traction-tires themselves...)
The gunk seems to be conductive, as the automatic block-system continues to work, even with locos who´s wheels are completly covered in gunk, so I wonder what it actually consist of¿?
Best regards
Henrik Hoexbroe ("The Dane In Spain")
http://hoexbroe.tripod.com
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Offline Harryv40  
#22 Posted : 28 July 2020 20:23:12(UTC)
Harryv40

United Kingdom   
Joined: 07/08/2015(UTC)
Posts: 215
Location: Wilshire
Hi Everyone,
I wondered how long this subject would be raised again.

Personally I use various methods, Marklin track cleaning cars, dry or with isopropyl on them, power off!

Or WD-40 contact cleaner on a piece of felt and a dose of elbow grease.

What I have found by covering the layout with the ground cover material used in the garden supported by a dowel and wooden supports I don’t get much dust on the layout and that reduces the muck on the track.

I hope that helps.
Harry
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Offline applor  
#23 Posted : 29 July 2020 01:25:07(UTC)
applor

Australia   
Joined: 21/05/2004(UTC)
Posts: 1,508
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
Yes I find the rails being stainless steel never corrode or anything and only need rare cleaning due to tire marks/deposits which I use isopropyl to clean.

The studs are always the problem for bad running, however since controlling humidity to ~45% I hardly ever need to clean those either. If they need it I use the Roco track cleaner 'rubber'.
modelling 1954 Germany (era IIIa)
Offline kimballthurlow  
#24 Posted : 29 July 2020 09:50:00(UTC)
kimballthurlow

Australia   
Joined: 18/03/2007(UTC)
Posts: 5,854
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Originally Posted by: PJMärklin Go to Quoted Post
.....


UserPostedImage


(noting your Kerosene is "best") .......


But, as Adrian just said, the other side of the equation is to also clean the wheels, otherwise they just lay any gunk back down.

Regards,

PJ


And note too that Graphite has an "unsure" rating as good as kerosene.
I have been using a carpenters pencil (because the graphite is thicker) on my centre studs and it seems to be solving any problems I have.

Kimball
HO Scale - Märklin (ep III and VI, C Track, digital) - 2 rail (USA and Australia) - 3 rail (English Hornby Dublo) - a few old O gauge.
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Offline danmarklinman  
#25 Posted : 29 July 2020 10:53:02(UTC)
danmarklinman

United Kingdom   
Joined: 18/10/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1,141
Just run your trains as regularly as possible. Once a day will stop the need for any reel track cleaning👍
Marklin and Piko era 4 SNCB , Marklin wagons
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Faller fan including car system
Instagram: marklin1978
Wiking fan
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