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

New Zealand   
Joined: 03/08/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,419
Hi all,

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

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

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
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: 501
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
General operation
Loco change
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Offline dickinsonj  
#3 Posted : 19 May 2019 15:02:01(UTC)
dickinsonj

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2008(UTC)
Posts: 1,142
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: 967
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: 73
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: 76
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: 2,000
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

Canada   
Joined: 06/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 973
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: 552
Location: Brussels
When I first joined the MUN 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: 1,142
Location: United States
Originally Posted by: Jabez Go to Quoted Post
When I first joined the MUN 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: 1,142
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: 5,829
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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Online TEEWolf  
#13 Posted : 21 May 2019 03:10:04(UTC)
TEEWolf

Germany   
Joined: 01/06/2016(UTC)
Posts: 1,771
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
CS 3 is a controller system from Märklin - not a central station.
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Offline river6109  
#14 Posted : 21 May 2019 05:59:43(UTC)
river6109

Australia   
Joined: 22/01/2009(UTC)
Posts: 12,498
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: 2,000
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: 271
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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