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Graphite on track - clarification please


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I've read all that I can find about this "rub a pencil on the track" lark, but I'm still confused. 

 

1.  How does it work?  What exactly is the theory behind it?  

2.  If I get perfectly good running by regularly using my Zeller/Ten Commandments track-cleaning wagon, what might I gain by applying graphite instead? 

3.  And OK ... I get my pencil/graphite stick, and run it along the top of the rails.  Then what?  Obviously I stop using the track-cleaning wagon, but equally obviously the graphite treatment won't last forever, so what happens next?

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I suspect part of the rationale will be that conventional track cleaning methods often leave tiny scratches on the rail head, trapping dirt. The graphite provides electrical bridging over those crevices.

 

I think best practice would be to still clean the rails regularly but use the pencil afterwards - bit like waxing a car when it’s been washed.

Edited by Irish Padre
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24 minutes ago, spikey said:

1.  How does it work?  What exactly is the theory behind it? 

Now there's the can of worms, because some people are adamant to the point of argument that in theory it doesn't work at all, yet those of us who have tried it know it works in practise. ;)

How & why are really irrelevant!!

It isn't a 'one stop shop' though, it's best use is as a lightly-applied aid to good running, you may still need to clean your track with your usual methods, just not as often, by some margin.

FWIW I find a 2B Graphite stick is good.

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27 minutes ago, F-UnitMad said:

...  in theory it doesn't work at all, yet those of us who have tried it know it works in practise. ;)

How & why are really irrelevant!!

 

AFAIC the theory and the practice may well be poles apart, but I do still like to understand the principle :rolleyes:

 

Whatever, I can see how the application of a thin layer of graphite might aid transfer of current from track to wheel.  Presumably that should lead to less arcing, which I understand to be a factor in the formation of the black gunge which builds up on rolling stock wheels.   I'm therefore inclined to run a graphite stick along my thoroughly clean track then give it a week or two for any difference to manifest itself.

 

The bit I'm now wondering about though is wouldn't running the track-cleaning wagon round every now and then remove the graphite ... ?

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10 minutes ago, spikey said:

 

AFAIC the theory and the practice may well be poles apart, but I do still like to understand the principle :rolleyes:

 

Whatever, I can see how the application of a thin layer of graphite might aid transfer of current from track to wheel.  Presumably that should lead to less arcing, which I understand to be a factor in the formation of the black gunge which builds up on rolling stock wheels.   I'm therefore inclined to run a graphite stick along my thoroughly clean track then give it a week or two for any difference to manifest itself.

 

The bit I'm now wondering about though is wouldn't running the track-cleaning wagon round every now and then remove the graphite ... ?

Black gunge comes from dust and moisture in the air and sticks like glue. 

Best to replace any plastic wheels. 

Edited by kevinlms
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9 minutes ago, Free At Last said:

I've not cleaned my track since using a Lyra 9B Graphite stick on it last July. There hasn't been any need to.

 

Another vote for Lyra Graphite sticks. I've not cleaned my tracks since I started using one last year too, not that I use the stick very often, if at all for several weeks.

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Oh dear, here we go again. So we all clean our tracks by what ever method to an inch of there lives, then we rub the graphite stick and clean them again. The point is it is counter productive, I looked at this method sometime time ago and concluded not to apply graphite. The reason was I felt that if you have any significant gradients applying a lubricant as such would reduce tractive effort, additionally no mater how much we clean the track dust will always build up, so would the graphite attract dust more. Then anyone who runs track cleaning wagons would be working against graphite application. So no I won’t be applying it and will have a good cleaning regime.

Edited by Andymsa
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5 minutes ago, Andymsa said:

Oh dear, here we go again. So we all clean our tracks by what ever method to an inch of there lives, then we rub the graphite stick and dirty them again. The point is it counter productive, I looked at this method sometime time ago and concluded not to apply graphite. The reason was I felt that if you have any significant gradients applying a lubricant as such would reduce tractive effort, additionally no mater how much we clean the track dust will always build up, so would the graphite attract dust more. Then anyone who runs track cleaning wagons would be working against graphite application. So no I won’t be applying it and will have a good cleaning regime.

 

Yet there are many who swear by the method. All the Australians I visited a few years ago did this and it works for them. If you don't like it, fine, but please allow others to have a different opinion. 

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A question to those that do this - do you apply graphite to all the rails, or just some and let it get spread around by train movement ?

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5 minutes ago, Andymsa said:

Oh dear, here we go again. So we all clean our tracks by what ever method to an inch of there lives, then we rub the graphite stick and dirty them again. The point is it counter productive, I looked at this method sometime time ago and concluded not to apply graphite. The reason was I felt that if you have any significant gradients applying a lubricant as such would reduce tractive effort, additionally no mater how much we clean the track dust will always build up, so would the graphite attract dust more. Then anyone who runs track cleaning wagons would be working against graphite application. So no I won’t be applying it and will have a good cleaning regime.

 

Agreed, here we go again, someone else who doesn't believe something can work, because

he doesn't want listen to all the people who have tried it, and found it works!

 

Not everything can be explained by exact scientific research and published results.

For years, scientists proved that Bumble bees couldn't fly, taking into account their weight,

wing size, etc. It was only recently that high speed photography explained it, something to

do with the way they moved their wings, and at a higher speed than originally thought.

 

Luckily, one had thought to tell the bees that they weren't capable of flying, so they had

carried on regardless!

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8 minutes ago, Andymsa said:

Oh dear, here we go again. So we all clean our tracks by what ever method to an inch of there lives, then we rub the graphite stick and dirty them again. The point is it counter productive, I looked at this method sometime time ago and concluded not to apply graphite. The reason was I felt that if you have any significant gradients applying a lubricant as such would reduce tractive effort, additionally no mater how much we clean the track dust will always build up, so would the graphite attract dust more. Then anyone who runs track cleaning wagons would be working against graphite application. So no I won’t be applying it and will have a good cleaning regime.

Hi,

 

Most people clean their tracks to improve pickup. If graphite improves pickup further then applying it is not applying dirt.

Good point about gradients, maybe some experiments are needed. How would improved pickup be quantified?. Could have a loco hauled test vehicle that wirelessly transmits power interruptions and changes in speed back to a PC. Then the effects of applying graphite might be seen in real time.

 

Regards

 

Nick

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It might be pertinent to ask what track cleaning practice existed pre graphite. And quality of track laying, frequency of cleaning loco wheels, might have a bearing on the results, and a few other things besides. This might affects ones view as to whether something is an improvment. If you think it works, good luck

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3 hours ago, spikey said:

1.  How does it work?  What exactly is the theory behind it?  

2.  If I get perfectly good running by regularly using my Zeller/Ten Commandments track-cleaning wagon, what might I gain by applying graphite instead? 

3.  And OK ... I get my pencil/graphite stick, and run it along the top of the rails.  Then what?  Obviously I stop using the track-cleaning wagon, but equally obviously the graphite treatment won't last forever, so what happens next?

 

OK then, so the answers to my original questions seem to be ...

 

1.  That's a matter of opinion.

2.  Less need to use the track-cleaning wagon.

3.  Use the graphite every now and then but still run the track-cleaning wagon occasionally?

 

BTW, just for the record I don't tolerate plastic wheels (or for that matter traction tyres), I clean wheels whenever they need it, and there are no significant gradients on my railway.  And ref what causes build-up of black gunge on wheels, I well remember reading a learned article (which I feel certain was linked to off RMWeb) not all that long ago which convincingly argued that arcing was  a significant factor in the formation thereof.

 

Personally I'm happy with the theory of graphite on rails being uncertain.  All I'm trying to do here is get clear in my head the practical aspects, by which I mean what exactly am I supposed to do in order to see for my self how well it works when it comes to extending the interval between wheel-cleaning sessions.

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1 hour ago, Phil Parker said:

 

Yet there are many who swear by the method. All the Australians I visited a few years ago did this and it works for them. If you don't like it, fine, but please allow others to have a different opinion. 


if you can point out anywhere I said for anyone not to do it then I will eat my words, I don’t think I made any comment for others not to do it. All I gave was my opinion in why I don’t use that method, and not poo pood  the idea on others thoughts.

 

1 hour ago, [email protected] said:

 

Agreed, here we go again, someone else who doesn't believe something can work, because

he doesn't want listen to all the people who have tried it, and found it works!

 

Not everything can be explained by exact scientific research and published results.

For years, scientists proved that Bumble bees couldn't fly, taking into account their weight,

wing size, etc. It was only recently that high speed photography explained it, something to

do with the way they moved their wings, and at a higher speed than originally thought.

 

Luckily, one had thought to tell the bees that they weren't capable of flying, so they had

carried on regardless!


if I can’t express my opinion then I shall withdraw. At no point in my post did I say I don’t believe it works, I only pointed out it’s not for me

Edited by Andymsa
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1 hour ago, Andymsa said:


if you can point out anywhere I said for anyone not to do it then I will eat my words, I don’t think I made any comment for others not to do it. All I gave was my opinion in why I don’t use that method, and not poo pood  the idea on others thoughts.

 


if I can’t express my opinion then I shall withdraw. At no point in my post did I say I don’t believe it works, I only pointed out it’s not for me

 

Expressing an opinion is one thing, stating that 'it's counter productive', like it's an unquestionable fact is another thing altogether.

Also saying that applying graphite is adding dirt, when it's obviously not 'dirt', it is known to be a

lubricant, agreed, but is also known to improve electrical conductivity, so definitely not 'dirt'!

Edited by [email protected]
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28 minutes ago, [email protected] said:

 

Expressing an opinion is one thing, stating that 'it's counter productive', like it's an unquestionable fact is another thing altogether.

Also saying that applying graphite is adding dirt, when it's obviously not 'dirt', it is known to be a

lubricant, agreed, but is also known to improve electrical conductivity, so definitely not 'dirt'!


I would suggest read my first post again, I didn’t say it’s dirt. The exact quote is would it attract dust more. It was an opinion saying its counter productive If then you go on to track clean in the normal way because you would remove the graphite from the track or some of it reducing its effectiveness. The point seems to have been missed from what I was trying to say yes it improves electrical conductivity but needs to be balanced against  it’s lubrication properties, especially if you have steep gradients or long gradients which I do. Hence why I stated in my first post I decided against it.

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3 hours ago, Phil Parker said:

 

Yet there are many who swear by the method. All the Australians I visited a few years ago did this and it works for them. If you don't like it, fine, but please allow others to have a different opinion. 

 

Might I suggest climate makes a difference here.

 

In a environment where the air tends to be dry and not have significant amounts of moisture then the ability of airborne 'gunk' to attach itself to the track is reduced. However in a humid / damp environment tracks become dirty far more quickly.

 

In many parts of Australia the climate is somewhat warmer and the air dryer than in the UK - which may make the 'Graphite method' work better.

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3 hours ago, [email protected] said:

 

Agreed, here we go again, someone else who doesn't believe something can work, because

he doesn't want listen to all the people who have tried it, and found it works!

 

Not everything can be explained by exact scientific research and published results.

For years, scientists proved that Bumble bees couldn't fly, taking into account their weight,

wing size, etc. It was only recently that high speed photography explained it, something to

do with the way they moved their wings, and at a higher speed than originally thought.

 

Luckily, one had thought to tell the bees that they weren't capable of flying, so they had

carried on regardless!

 

However as with all science - when something appears to be 'impossible' under current known theories then science does not sit back and pronounce the matter settled though does it?

 

Instead scientists know only too well that if the results of the calculation / theory don't match the observations then the theory is wrong and a new theory is needed.

 

Its how we came to arrive at Quantum theory - the regular laws of science do not apply to the very small (and Quantum theory doesn't work for larger things)

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53 minutes ago, Andymsa said:


I would suggest read my first post again, I didn’t say it’s dirt. The exact quote is would it attract dust more. It was an opinion saying its counter productive If then you go on to track clean in the normal way because you would remove the graphite from the track or some of it reducing its effectiveness. The point seems to have been missed from what I was trying to say yes it improves electrical conductivity but needs to be balanced against  it’s lubrication properties, especially if you have steep gradients or long gradients which I do. Hence why I stated in my first post I decided against it.

 

4 hours ago, Andymsa said:

 So we all clean our tracks by what ever method to an inch of there lives, then we rub the graphite stick and dirty them again. The point is it counter productive, 

I have gone back and read your post again, it quite specifically says

'rub the graphite stick and dirty them again'

What else does that mean, if not suggesting that graphite is dirt?

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27 minutes ago, phil-b259 said:

 

However as with all science - when something appears to be 'impossible' under current known theories then science does not sit back and pronounce the matter settled though does it?

 

Instead scientists know only too well that if the results of the calculation / theory don't match the observations then the theory is wrong and a new theory is needed.

 

Its how we came to arrive at Quantum theory - the regular laws of science do not apply to the very small (and Quantum theory doesn't work for larger things)

 

And this post can equally apply to Andymsa, who is ignoring what people are saying,

from experience, in this country, and other countries too.

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I will be very interested to see how Ravensclyffe behaves the next time I have an opportunity to put it up, it was cleaned and graphited and run quite a lot in July but has been in storage since. 
 

Andi

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40 minutes ago, [email protected] said:

 

I have gone back and read your post again, it quite specifically says

'rub the graphite stick and dirty them again'

What else does that mean, if not suggesting that graphite is dirt?


ah now I get it, you have taken the statement completely out of context. The point was you clean your track by the traditional methods and then apply something to it again. There was a sentence that somehow got removed and that was that after applying graphite then you use traditional cleaning methods then you remove any effectiveness of graphite. The word dirty them again was not meant to say graphite is dirt but to imply re-contamination of the rails. Probably the wrong word but again matter of interpretation, but the tone of the post was not negative at all to graphite but to give a view of why I don’t use it.

 

37 minutes ago, [email protected] said:

 

And this post can equally apply to Andymsa, who is ignoring what people are saying,

from experience, in this country, and other countries too.

 

im certainly not ignoring what others are saying but this really comes across as your view on graphite is the only way, and if you find it works for you that’s great, but to say I’m not listening is unfair, if one cannot express there views then in future I will keep mum.

 

ps I have adjusted the original post

Edited by Andymsa
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I didn't take it out of context, I quoted it word for word, and left your post

complete, directly above what I wrote, but now that you've amended it, it

does changes the emphasis, and have a different meaning.

I do not think graphite is the only way, I'm also considering the Wahl oil

or transmission oil options as well.

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