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Graphite Treatment to Rails.

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Does anyone know how graphite improves running? (This is basically the question rab asked above but I don’t think it’s been answered.)

 

In the condition where the electrical circuit would have been broken is the graphite moving into a gap? Or is it remaining in place but effectively changing the profile of the rail? Is it perhaps cleaning the contact surfaces as they move against each other rather than being a conductor itself? Or is there some other mechanism?

 

 

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A 2B pencil has been recommended in the past,  however, downunder the "trick" years ago was Wahl hair clipper oil.  I cannot say that I ever used it but it seems that a little was placed on the railhead and then a train would deposit the oil over the entire layout.  The coating was apparently miraculous in improving conductivity.

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24 minutes ago, Harlequin said:

Does anyone know how graphite improves running? (This is basically the question rab asked above but I don’t think it’s been answered.)...........................

 

 

 

 

 

Is it possible that the graphite deposits itself in the rail connections and improves conductivity at the fishplates.

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27 minutes ago, GWR-fan said:

A 2B pencil has been recommended in the past,  however, downunder the "trick" years ago was Wahl hair clipper oil.  I cannot say that I ever used it but it seems that a little was placed on the railhead and then a train would deposit the oil over the entire layout.  The coating was apparently miraculous in improving conductivity.

Hi,

 

I've not used it myself but antenna grease (which has conductive particles suspended in it) has been mentioned as another way of improving the rail to wheel contact of model trains.

 

Presumably it acts as an insulator if it gets in the gaps between rail ends such as at live frogs or between power districts.

When put under pressure the conductive particles form a conductive path between two metal parts.

I've used RAIL ZIP which I think is Naptha based but only on a dusty test track where it tended to form a dark layer on the rail head.

 

Regards

 

Nick

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downunder the "trick" years ago was Wahl hair clipper oil

 

Wahl clipper oil works great in the short term. Longer term it does a really good job of collecting dust and dirt. The result is not good for current collection and no fun to clean up. Graphite works much better.

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2 hours ago, NIK said:

Hi,

 

I've not used it myself but antenna grease (which has conductive particles suspended in it) has been mentioned as another way of improving the rail to wheel contact of model trains.

 

Presumably it acts as an insulator if it gets in the gaps between rail ends such as at live frogs or between power districts.

When put under pressure the conductive particles form a conductive path between two metal parts.

I've used RAIL ZIP which I think is Naptha based but only on a dusty test track where it tended to form a dark layer on the rail head.

 

Regards

 

Nick

It can't be an insulator, if there are conductive particles suspended in it.

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3 hours ago, GWR-fan said:

 

Is it possible that the graphite deposits itself in the rail connections and improves conductivity at the fishplates.

Not just fishplates, but everywhere as graphite is a very fine powder that is virtually a liquid.

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Nothing to do with fishplates, I never use them for conductivity, all joints are wire bonded. I don't care why or how it works or what it does/doesn't do in theory - it works and that's enough for me.

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1 hour ago, kevinlms said:

It can't be an insulator, if there are conductive particles suspended in it.

Hi,

 

The conductive particles are presumably not the majority of the bulk and each may be surrounded by the grease unless compacted by say a model wheel pressing on a rail.

 

Would need to do experiments to make sure it doesn't electrically bridge across deliberate rail gaps such as for live frogs, power districts, track circuits etc.

 

The model train manufacturers don't always make things easy.

 

I found my Hornby T9 was only picking up on two driving wheels and then only occasionally.

 

None of the pickups on the bogie were touching the wheels and appeared to have oxidised.

 

 

Regards

 

Nick

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5 hours ago, Michael Edge said:

Nothing to do with fishplates, I never use them for conductivity, all joints are wire bonded. I don't care why or how it works or what it does/doesn't do in theory - it works and that's enough for me.

Which is the ‘recieved wisdom’, and who am I to blow against the wind.  All the same, my layout adheres to the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) concept, and do not use soldered joints as my experience of 50 years’ doing my best with them has shown that better reliability is achieved, in my case, by using rail joiners, which can be cosmetically disguised as fishplates. 
 

It is absolutely vital to ensure that your track is meticulously laid, level, smooth to the next piece, and firm to the baseboard (no foam or similarly flexible underlay), which must itself be  level, firm, and rigid.  The rail joiners must be a tight force fit over the rail ends, and I give ‘em an affectionate little squeeze from my big pliers to make the point.  I’ve had no trouble in 3 years’ running.  
 

I intend to experiment with graphite as a result of reading this topic, though!  

  

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1 hour ago, The Johnster said:

It is absolutely vital to ensure that your track is meticulously laid, level, smooth to the next piece, and firm to the baseboard

:rofl: :lol: :declare: :sarcastichand: :tease:

 

000048504576.Jpeg.a2215cbd9458a2eef2a0ed30e8a70b70.Jpeg

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Metal rail, plastic sleepers, maybe cork or similar underlay, plywood or foam or whatever  baseboard top and any of a number of subframe materials. Add Mother Nature and it doesn't matter how carefully it's assembled it won't stay that way. No matter what the rail has been treated with and graphite may well help, 12 volts isn't going to pass through thin air. 4 coupled chassis are notoriously difficult to get reliable without some form of springing or compensation to allow the wheels to follow what are inevitable slight undulations in the rail head. DCC has a get out of jail free card as most locos will accommodate some form of 'stay alive' chip but with DC there will always be the chance that while one wheel in in mid air the other one may not pick power up. 

 

 

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45 minutes ago, F-UnitMad said:

:rofl: :lol: :declare: :sarcastichand: :tease:

 

000048504576.Jpeg.a2215cbd9458a2eef2a0ed30e8a70b70.Jpeg

 

But that "track" looks flat, in gauge, etc.  So you ARE likely meeting the Johnsters test.

 

What IS a requirement for rigid chassis is that there is no rail height difference within the chassis region that is greater than half the flange depth of the wheels you are using.

 

And in O' scale that's a lot easier to comply with than in 4mm scale.  And it's far easier for bogie vehicles versus the usual UK Steam 0-6-0 and 4 wheel wagons.

 

Now if your vehicles have working longitudinal and transverse equalization, then they can run well over very "bumpy" track as well.

 

Andy

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Andy Reichert said:

 

But that "track" looks flat, in gauge, etc.  So you ARE likely meeting the Johnsters test.

 

What IS a requirement for rigid chassis is that there is no rail height difference within the chassis region that is greater than half the flange depth of the wheels you are using.

 

And in O' scale that's a lot easier to comply with than in 4mm scale.  And it's far easier for bogie vehicles versus the usual UK Steam 0-6-0 and 4 wheel wagons.

 

Now if your vehicles have working longitudinal and transverse equalization, then they can run well over very "bumpy" track as well.

 

Andy

 

 

 

 

 

It was meticulously laid, certainly, and the photo was posted slightly tongue-in-cheek as everything else you say is true, too. It works because it's in gauge, & the rails are more-or-less level with each other across ties (there are some 'twists' but they're only slight & gradual) & it was designed for American locos & stock; British 0-6-0 locos & 4-wheel stock won't even look at it.

But it is a bit of fun to post as a contrast to the accepted wisdom. :mosking:

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Beat me to the comment, Andy; if looks perfectly level and to gauge.  We can't see a join, but there is no reason to suggest it isn't smooth and electrically good.  Running with rigid chassis might be another thing, though, and I challenge anyone to get a 6-coupled loco along it with all wheels flanged, or, it you can do that, to get the same loco along normal straight track with that much sideplay...

 

That said, recalling some of the NCB track I was familiar with in the 60s and 70s, it's surprising what British 0-6-0s and 4 wheel wagons including long wheelbase hoppers will run on!

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17 hours ago, The Johnster said:

Which is the ‘recieved wisdom’, and who am I to blow against the wind.  All the same, my layout adheres to the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) concept, and do not use soldered joints as my experience of 50 years’ doing my best with them has shown that better reliability is achieved, in my case, by using rail joiners, which can be cosmetically disguised as fishplates. 
 

It is absolutely vital to ensure that your track is meticulously laid, level, smooth to the next piece, and firm to the baseboard (no foam or similarly flexible underlay), which must itself be  level, firm, and rigid.  The rail joiners must be a tight force fit over the rail ends, and I give ‘em an affectionate little squeeze from my big pliers to make the point.  I’ve had no trouble in 3 years’ running.  
 

I intend to experiment with graphite as a result of reading this topic, though!  

  

The fishplates (rail joiners) are there as well, they do the mechanical alignment of the rails. I tried doing without them for my first exhibition layout (a long time ago) and just used bonding wires but that proved to be a mistake. I use the new Peco rail joiners now, not only are they a sensible length but they look like fishplates and actually grip the rail - still bonded round though for long term reliability.

IMG_0602.JPG.abe127970eff37823598c27c3d6d8dbf.JPG

This shows how it's done on my latest layout "Wentworth Junction", the bonding wire is one the far side, it will be buried in the ballast. Another early mistake I made was to run the bonding wires straight across the gap - expansion/contraction of the copper wire soon started to randomly fracture the solder joint (and they were extremely difficult to find when they had failed), they are now always looped. This is a DC layout, for DCC all rails are separately bonded to two bus wires under the baseboard.

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I use graphite (locksmith's stuff in a small bottle) for coach axle bearings, where it can have miraculous effects.  Spent this evening overhauling a rake of tired Farish coaches from Ebay, which now run better than a new one I have.  Not on track, though.

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I'm guessing that graphite cannot oxidise and so remains conductive? A layer of graphite over the rail heads will protect the rail from oxidising too.

 

Andi

 

 

 

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1 minute ago, Dagworth said:

I'm guessing that graphite cannot oxidise and so remains conductive? A layer of graphite over the rail heads will protect the rail from oxidising too.

 

Andi

 

 

 

 

You should look at a running model loco commutator that has graphite and a little lubricating oil accidentally crept onto it. Rings of fire is the best description. 

 

Andy

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6 minutes ago, Andy Reichert said:

 

You should look at a running model loco commutator that has graphite and a little lubricating oil accidentally crept onto it. Rings of fire is the best description. 

 

Andy

Once the brushes get softened by the oil then yes the graphite will gather in the commutator gaps where it will have full motor voltage going through it so yes it will burn. You don't get that problem on the rails as you don't have a source of refreshed graphite every rotation and you rarely have full track voltage separated by such small gaps.

 

Andi

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41 minutes ago, Dagworth said:

Once the brushes get softened by the oil then yes the graphite will gather in the commutator gaps where it will have full motor voltage going through it so yes it will burn. You don't get that problem on the rails as you don't have a source of refreshed graphite every rotation and you rarely have full track voltage separated by such small gaps.

 

Andi

Hi,

 

Except there is full track voltage with DCC.

 

Regards

 

Nick

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1 hour ago, NIK said:

Hi,

 

Except there is full track voltage with DCC.

 

Regards

 

Nick

There's full track voltage with DC at full pelt too.

On a commutator the gaps get constantly refilled with carbon as they pass a brush twice every revolution of the motor. Such gaps on the track that have opposite polarities are relatively few and will only get carbon in them when the graphite is applied. That small amount will get burned away very rapidly if it does make contact across the gap (so quickly that you'd be hard pushed to notice it) 

 

Andi

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