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Layout cleaning - help required please


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Difficult to know into which forum this should have been posted - hope it's OK here......

 

After more than 12 months of closure, Swansea Railway Modellers' Group is beginning to explore options for reopening. Regardless of when this actually happens, when it does, a huge amount of cleaning will be required. Within that huge amount are 6 layouts, 5 of which are dusty and spread with dead flies, the odd cobweb and the usual detritus which falls from the air over a long period of disuse. Can anyone recommend a suitable hand-held vacuum cleaner for helping to clean these layouts? Most of the cleaning will probably be undertaken by a very soft 2 inch paint brush, but piles of dust will need removing as will dirt from inaccessible corners.

 

many thanks.

 

Tony

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Posted (edited)

Hi,

The problem with hand held vacs is that they are designed to have a high rate of suction. So there is a great chance of doing damage to you layouts. So may I suggest that you look for something that blows air which can then be sucked up from the dust bloom with a hand held. That way you will not have to worry about the power of the suction as it will not be directed at the layout. I suggest a good hair drier which has a hot and cold option. Run it on cold. As for the vacuum I suggest an old hand held car vac. You can run it off an old car battery if it does not connect to the mains. Which makes it eminently portable for shows. Hope this is of some help.

Edited by cypherman
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Thanks for your reply: it was the level of suction that worries me. I think a hair dryer might be an option worth considering.

 

Tony

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One or more layers of ladies' stocking/tight material held firmly over the nozzle (use a substantial rubber band to keep it in place) will both reduce the effective suction and ensure that anything valuable that gets detached from the layout doesn't get sucked into the inner-parts of the vacuum cleaner. You will find that, at least to start with, you will have to clean your improvised filter every minute or two, although with the vacuum switched off cleaning isn't a difficult task.

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If the vacuum has a canister rather than a sealed dust bag, you can always recover any bits of scenery accidentally removed!  I bought a hand-held vaccuum for my extensive loft layout which has 4' deep boards and found the vacuum too heavy to hold steady at arms length.  In the end I bought this Draper https://www.drapertools.com/product/06489/10L-Wet-and-Dry-Vacuum-Cleaner-(1000W) - it was £46 in 2014!  It has a kit of small tools that are excellent for a 00 gauge layout.  i hang the unit on my shoulder by the included strap and use the small tools attached to the hose without the extension tubes.  I don't know whether any of Drapers hand-held vacuums are supplied with the mini-tools but they might be a better option if they are.

 

Harold.

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I put a bit of window screen between 2 joints on my vacuum. This makes a small compartment to contain the loose bits (grass, people, bits off locos) and I use a small hand held/mains powered unit (Dustbuster over here). 

I also found that, since I gave up shaving, a shaving brush can take dust off sensitive areas like locos.

 

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 A 12 volt car vacuum cleaner powered by a model railway controller, on a wander lead might be a good controllable low suction, low destruction solution.    You could also add some resistors to a cordless hand held to reduce the suction.  I would use 4 amp diodes in series, each one knocks back the voltage about 0.7 volts.  I have a 12 way switch with diodes between each position as a speed control for my test track which works really well, a lot better than resistance controllers of the "Duette" type.

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