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Offline Jabez  
#1 Posted : 20 November 2016 01:14:43(UTC)
Jabez

Belgium   
Joined: 30/08/2016(UTC)
Posts: 636
Location: Brussels
I've got a bunch of M track in really bad shape. Visible rust on the running rails etc.
What's the best way to clean it. Rubbing with Emery or some other abrasive paper?
I heard that lonesome whistle blow. Hank Williams
Offline xxup  
#2 Posted : 20 November 2016 02:20:32(UTC)
xxup

Australia   
Joined: 15/03/2003(UTC)
Posts: 9,003
Location: Australia
There are a few threads with good ideas on this one.. Have a try using search.

I use a PECO rubber when it is not too deep, but sandpaper is okay for very bad tracks - once only - after that you need to coat the track in something like Track Magic.

These days m-track is so cheap that it is often easier just to buy some better stuff on eBay..
Adrian
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thanks 2 users liked this useful post by xxup
Offline sjbartels  
#3 Posted : 20 November 2016 02:55:46(UTC)
sjbartels

United States   
Joined: 11/08/2015(UTC)
Posts: 1,059
When I bought my grandfathers M track back from Australia a few years back, it had some rust on the rails from being stored in the garage. I ended up using wet/dry paper and that cleaned it up pretty nicely. Of course, as xxup indicated, you do need to coat the rails with something because you do take that original coating off.
American by Geography, Australian by Birth. I am an original Ameristraylian
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by sjbartels
Offline Dr. Manhattan  
#4 Posted : 05 June 2018 20:02:21(UTC)
Dr. Manhattan

United States   
Joined: 29/03/2014(UTC)
Posts: 8
Location: CONNECTICUT, STAMFORD
Background: Had about 200 sections of M-track from when I was young, modern versions of M-track from the early 90’s, mostly 5106’s and 5100’s, many still said made in Western Germany lol. These were used in my basement and then stored for two decades, humidity got to them and were badly rusted. Then past few years had been acquiring off ebay good condition 5106’s still had the black “metal blueing” protective coat very much in tack to eventually build my childhood dream layout. And this past month...May 2018 finally got around to working on the dream layout and was motivated to clean these bad boys.

Here are my solutions for lightly rusted tracks and the near impossible rust:

For the lightly rusted or just discolored with blueing still intact I used a product called Rail Zip 2 by ZAP, which once applied works over 24-48 hours.

For the heavily rusted I had feared all was lost but was willing to take extreme measures in an effort to salvage all those 5106’s. They were pretty bad, luckily only 2-3 sections were so rusted you could tell the rail was basically disintegrated, for these pieces there is no chance.

The following process worked very well for me, and I salvaged all but 3 sections. It should only be used for extreme rust, as it will remove any remnants of the protective “blueing” coating even on the 3rd rail studs. It is also a messy process so don’t do it where you might mess up your floors.

I bought plastic storage bins from home depot with flat bottom, initially placed all the tracks upside down and poured in white distilled vinegar until there was a thin film so just the rails were submerged (tracks laying upside down), eventually I just bathed all the tracks fully submerged in the distilled white vinegar, no impact to the 3rd rail stud insulators no impact to the track bed brown paint. I let the tracks soak either over night or for 6 hours. I then throughout the 6 hours after say two hours used a toothbrush and scrubbed and lots of rust fell right off, then resubmerged, and repeated the scrubbing a track at a time. Sometimes the rust came right off on first scrub, sometimes i had to do 2-3 scrubs and submerging. Once all the rust was off even in the hard to reach side areas of the rail where it joins the track bed i scrubbed the bottom 3rd rail underneath. This removes all “blueing”. For the rail joiners i used dental between the teeth scrubbers from CVS, and also woman’s makeup remover sponges to rub the rails clean. After the 6 hour soak and scrubbing, I then submerged all the vinegar covered tracks in a separate Baking Soda and water bath to deactivate the vinegar for 10-20 minutes. If you don’t deactivate the vinegar the steel rails will flash rust in an hour or two back to prior condition or worse. Then after the Baking Soda bath I submerged the tracks for 10-20 minutes in a 90% isopropanol rubbing alcohol bath. This removed any baking soda or dirt residue and then rubbed clean with those woman make up remover sponges and the rail joiners with the dental scrubbers again and let air dry. I salvaged them. As the bare metal on all 3 rails is now showing i will apply Rail Zip by ZAP to protect them.

I tried the WD40 method a few years ago and it didn’t really work, and the tracks were so greasy. That caused me to abandon the dream layout at that time until just recently.

Last step is once all tracks are assembled I used 2,000 grit sandpaper from home depot and lightly rubbed the tops of the rails to ensure good conductivity just flat across the too of the rail and tested with a feeder track and locomotive to ensure I had good electrical contact.

It took a lot of time and scrubbing, a full day and a half to two day several hours long weekend project.

Once they were all cleaned, the following weekend, just last weekend, went to home depot and bought lumber and built my benchwork, 4’ wide x 22’ long. I used 4 x 8 sheets of 1/2” MDF fiberboard as the table top, in hopes to sound deaden that old plywood vibration sound I remembered from those years ago.

Hope this helps!!!! I’m motivated now and well need to find a cost effective digital solution for my locomotives. Seen some open sourced Banana Pi efforts will be looking into. If only Youtube was around years ago, lots of great things on there!!!
thanks 4 users liked this useful post by Dr. Manhattan
Offline jrbburg  
#5 Posted : 01 March 2020 16:45:03(UTC)
jrbburg

United Kingdom   
Joined: 23/10/2013(UTC)
Posts: 24
Originally Posted by: Dr. Manhattan Go to Quoted Post
Background: Had about 200 sections of M-track from when I was young, modern versions of M-track from the early 90’s, mostly 5106’s and 5100’s, many still said made in Western Germany lol. These were used in my basement and then stored for two decades, humidity got to them and were badly rusted. Then past few years had been acquiring off ebay good condition 5106’s still had the black “metal blueing” protective coat very much in tack to eventually build my childhood dream layout. And this past month...May 2018 finally got around to working on the dream layout and was motivated to clean these bad boys.

Here are my solutions for lightly rusted tracks and the near impossible rust:

For the lightly rusted or just discolored with blueing still intact I used a product called Rail Zip 2 by ZAP, which once applied works over 24-48 hours.

For the heavily rusted I had feared all was lost but was willing to take extreme measures in an effort to salvage all those 5106’s. They were pretty bad, luckily only 2-3 sections were so rusted you could tell the rail was basically disintegrated, for these pieces there is no chance.

The following process worked very well for me, and I salvaged all but 3 sections. It should only be used for extreme rust, as it will remove any remnants of the protective “blueing” coating even on the 3rd rail studs. It is also a messy process so don’t do it where you might mess up your floors.

I bought plastic storage bins from home depot with flat bottom, initially placed all the tracks upside down and poured in white distilled vinegar until there was a thin film so just the rails were submerged (tracks laying upside down), eventually I just bathed all the tracks fully submerged in the distilled white vinegar, no impact to the 3rd rail stud insulators no impact to the track bed brown paint. I let the tracks soak either over night or for 6 hours. I then throughout the 6 hours after say two hours used a toothbrush and scrubbed and lots of rust fell right off, then resubmerged, and repeated the scrubbing a track at a time. Sometimes the rust came right off on first scrub, sometimes i had to do 2-3 scrubs and submerging. Once all the rust was off even in the hard to reach side areas of the rail where it joins the track bed i scrubbed the bottom 3rd rail underneath. This removes all “blueing”. For the rail joiners i used dental between the teeth scrubbers from CVS, and also woman’s makeup remover sponges to rub the rails clean. After the 6 hour soak and scrubbing, I then submerged all the vinegar covered tracks in a separate Baking Soda and water bath to deactivate the vinegar for 10-20 minutes. If you don’t deactivate the vinegar the steel rails will flash rust in an hour or two back to prior condition or worse. Then after the Baking Soda bath I submerged the tracks for 10-20 minutes in a 90% isopropanol rubbing alcohol bath. This removed any baking soda or dirt residue and then rubbed clean with those woman make up remover sponges and the rail joiners with the dental scrubbers again and let air dry. I salvaged them. As the bare metal on all 3 rails is now showing i will apply Rail Zip by ZAP to protect them.

I tried the WD40 method a few years ago and it didn’t really work, and the tracks were so greasy. That caused me to abandon the dream layout at that time until just recently.

Last step is once all tracks are assembled I used 2,000 grit sandpaper from home depot and lightly rubbed the tops of the rails to ensure good conductivity just flat across the too of the rail and tested with a feeder track and locomotive to ensure I had good electrical contact.

It took a lot of time and scrubbing, a full day and a half to two day several hours long weekend project.

Once they were all cleaned, the following weekend, just last weekend, went to home depot and bought lumber and built my benchwork, 4’ wide x 22’ long. I used 4 x 8 sheets of 1/2” MDF fiberboard as the table top, in hopes to sound deaden that old plywood vibration sound I remembered from those years ago.

Hope this helps!!!! I’m motivated now and well need to find a cost effective digital solution for my locomotives. Seen some open sourced Banana Pi efforts will be looking into. If only Youtube was around years ago, lots of great things on there!!!


That’s really helpful thank you. I’ve just opened my grandfather’s M Track and some of it is looking ropey (rusted) but others looking OK.

Do you have any good ideas for removing scenery paint from the M Track? I appreciate that it depends on the paint but I have no idea as it’s been in there for 40-50 years!

Offline Dr. Manhattan  
#6 Posted : 21 March 2020 01:19:37(UTC)
Dr. Manhattan

United States   
Joined: 29/03/2014(UTC)
Posts: 8
Location: CONNECTICUT, STAMFORD
Haven’t been on here in a while. My layout project is still ongoing from back when I posted then and only the past week or so finally got the time to work more on it. Glad to see my post has been helpful.

To remove scenery paint, try using rubbing alcohol. Thats my best guess. I use 90% isopropyl and it takes grime off anything. Great for cleaning the locos. I usually can get 90% isopropyl easily in large bottles at CVS it has a red label on it. Although with the corona virus basically everywhere maybe hard to find alcohol at the moment. But its really cheap and affordable and worth giving it a try before trying out some random marketed hobby product.

Get a small container of some kind that you cant fit a few tracks in and fully submerge them in the rubbing alcohol and let them soak, then after 10-15 minutes pull them out and give them a scrub and see what happens. Since its m track i presume you are referring to dont be afraid to scrub with the ruff scrubbing side of a kitchen sponge or may try steel wool for the first pass. Toothbrush try also. It takes work and elbow grease. Test it out on a few tracks and report back to the post. It its plastic C track, be careful, i’ve tried alcohol on my plastic locomotive and it made the black loco turn hazy white.
Offline JohnjeanB  
#7 Posted : 21 March 2020 23:25:27(UTC)
JohnjeanB

France   
Joined: 04/02/2011(UTC)
Posts: 940
Location: Paris, France
Hi

If the M track is rusted, I recommend using 1000 grade (or higher) abrasive. The type of abrasive used for finishing bodywork on cars.
The idea is to have a flat surface w/o scratches where dust will accumulate.

Drawback: the top of the track will loose its black color (and become silver instead). But after all frequently used tracks are silver at the top
Cheers
Jean
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