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How often do you clean your layout/locos/rolling stock/etc?


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Not often enough! My layout is normally covered with covers (!), so doesn't get too dusty. I maybe hoover the scenic section once a year or if any scenics have come loose. It gets operated in bursts every couple of months or so, depending on the weather. (The layout is in the garage!) It hasn't been touched for a month or so since the last cold snap and because I've been building a sector plate to replace the current cassette fiddle yard. The next time I operate it, I'll clean the track with IPA and a cloth and that should last for several weeks before it needs doing again.

 

Locos get serviced rarely (involving cleaning wheels and pick ups, removal of any dust, hairs etc and possible oiling). I tend to wait until their performance deteriorates. Rolling stock is rarely if ever cleaned!

 

Hope this is of interest!

 

David C

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I clean all the wheels on the locos and stock in the fortnight leading up to an exhibition. It also gives me a chance to make any minor repairs.

 

When the baseboards are set up at the exhibition venue, I clean all the track. If I'm on the ball, I'll clean the track before putting up the catenary! If it is a two-day show then a further track clean on the Sunday morning to remove the Saturday dust.

 

Cheers,

Dave

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I clean the track as and when it needs to be cleaned, about twice a year, the loco wheels get cleaned once a year, or when the loco starts running eratically, the stock I have only had to clean once in the last 10 years and can only remember cleaning it once about 17/18 years ago when the club layout became a roundyround and the stock of some members had plastic wheels that spead the 'gunge' on the track, we all soon changed to metal wheels.

 

I think that I now clean the track, DCC operation, less than I did with DC, then I had to clean before each use. DCC seems to keep the track cleaner.

 

regards

 

mike g

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Club layout gets vacuum whenever it needs it. Rolling stock gets a wheel clean once a year. Loco's etc get their wheels cleaned before use in the morning and the track gets cleaned every operating day. Its obvious if it hasn't been cleaned as wheels get ditched very quickly which we assume it down to the dirty atmosphere when trains are running outside.

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Poorly laid track, dirty track and dirty wheels.

 

A combination of the above or in some cases, all of them, lead to poor performance and a very frustrating experience for both operator and if at exhibitoins, the watching public.

 

Laying track and maintaining it is an issue all of its own and the OP was about cleanliness.

 

Having been part of a large exhibition layout for the last 20 years, it was imperative that cleanliness of track and wheels was massively important. ALL stock ( Locos, wagons and coaches ) were all cleaned with a mini-drill, brass brush and IPA before every show, therefore a clean wheel policy was maintained the whole time.

All wheels of Locos were cleaned again on the Sunday morning of a show, to maintain the performance and high running standards - not something overly popular with the operating team, but everyone realised that it was a necessay evil if you wanted trouble free running.

 

It would pay dividends the majority of the time, as failures on the front of the layout were almost Nil and was appreciated by the watching public.

 

The ammount of crud on the wheels of stock would always depend on hall conditions and It's just the same with home based layouts.

 

cheers

 

Andy

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Had my track set up for just over a year and I have cleaned it maybe 1/2 dozen times. Don;'t use it all that much though. All my locos are brand new and as of yet I haven't cleaned the wheels. No problems so far everything runs very nicely, including my sound locos. :) 

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Having been part of a large exhibition layout for the last 20 years, it was imperative that cleanliness of track and wheels was massively important. ALL stock ( Locos, wagons and coaches ) were all cleaned with a mini-drill, brass brush and IPA before every show, therefore a clean wheel policy was maintained the whole time.

 

Opens can of worms...... I think this has been discussed on here more than once in the past.

 

Everyone will have their favourite methods. Using abrasive cleaners on wheels (and track) usually means you have to clean them more often, as the abrasions create spaces for the dirt to collect. In recent years, I've avoided abrasive cleaners on stock wheels and have therefore cleaned them less. If abrasive cleaning works for you, then fine, but you're making more work IMO.

 

And I'll concur with mikeg that DCC needs less cleaning than DC, due to a couple of things IMO. The DCC acts like an electronic cleaner - using high frequency AC, such as a Relco. The other is that the voltage is always there to "drive" the signal (and current) through. Unlike DC systems that start from zero volts and work up - which is why a loco will often set off with a jerk as the increasing DC "burns through" the dirt and the loco jumps to life.

 

As to frequency - usually the stock is cleaned before every exhibition, so could be 3-8 times per year depending on exhibition commitments.

 

And it's not just clean track and clean wheels on the locos - clean rolling stock wheels will prevent crud being transported around the layout and as important as the loco wheels, are the loco pickups.

 

 

 

Cheers,

Mick

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Like most others I clean just before a show.

 

Loco wheels are the easiest, I lay a piece of kitchen towel soaked in meths over the track. I have one bogie on the track directly and one resting on the towel, then run the loco lifting it up slightly to reduce force on the wheels from the towel and moving back and forth along the track with my hand and wheels slipping. Flip and do the reverse. Result of nice shiny wheels, some dirty skid marks on a white towel and I've not had to re clean them halfway through a show, well apart from the old Heljan wheels before I converted them to the Bachmann coach wheels...

 

Simon

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I have a 'quality' paint brush, about 25nn size, which I use to dust rolling stock.  I also have a mini battery powered vacuum cleaner which I think was intended for use with photographic equipment.  It was bought for me as a gift but it really is too small for model rail use.   As to the track - that is just an ongoing task -  I don't have any plastic wheels which I think is a help.

 

Ray

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On the layout the track is cleaned on the morning of the show.

We use masks to protect the painted tops of check rails, board crossings etc. (can't stand shiny check rails)

Also blow dust out of the switch blades.

After that the signals get planted.

 

Wheels are cleaned before going to the show and may be cleaned again on the morning of day 2.

At the same time we also check the back to backs of the wheels and the settings of the Alex Jackson couplings.

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USA outline stock is cleaned probably once a year if that - just doesn't seem to pick up the dirt like UK outline.

 

Uk outline stock probably every tow shows but some locos every day especially station pilots/ shunters.

 

Track gets cleaned every morning of a show on any layout we take out.

 

We now use the Woodland Scenics loco cleaner for USA N scale but it just doesn't work with UK N scale so the paper kitchen towel method gets used.

 

On HO / OO we tend to use a kitchen towel.

 

Ian

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Opens can of worms...... I think this has been discussed on here more than once in the past.

 

Everyone will have their favourite methods. Using abrasive cleaners on wheels (and track) usually means you have to clean them more often, as the abrasions create spaces for the dirt to collect. In recent years, I've avoided abrasive cleaners on stock wheels and have therefore cleaned them less. If abrasive cleaning works for you, then fine, but you're making more work IMO.

 

And I'll concur with mikeg that DCC needs less cleaning than DC, due to a couple of things IMO. The DCC acts like an electronic cleaner - using high frequency AC, such as a Relco. The other is that the voltage is always there to "drive" the signal (and current) through. Unlike DC systems that start from zero volts and work up - which is why a loco will often set off with a jerk as the increasing DC "burns through" the dirt and the loco jumps to life.

 

As to frequency - usually the stock is cleaned before every exhibition, so could be 3-8 times per year depending on exhibition commitments.

 

And it's not just clean track and clean wheels on the locos - clean rolling stock wheels will prevent crud being transported around the layout and as important as the loco wheels, are the loco pickups.

 

 

 

Cheers,

Mick

 

 

Wasn't intending on opening any cans Mr B, just passing on how we went about it, for the benefit of the OP.

 

As long as we used brass brushes and only enough pressure was used to lift the dirt, then this method was perfectly acceptable ( brass is a lot softer than the metal used in maufacturers wheels and therfore polished the wheels and didn't scour them in any way, even old Lima Wheels )

I can imagine that if you really went to town with the pressure, then you would graze the tyre enough over time, for it to attract more dirt than you would be removing the crud.

 

The IPA was simply used to clean the brass brushes in.

 

If other methods are your bag, then happy days, but IMO, IPA alone smears the dirt and doesn't clean it completely without the use of another agent as well.

 

cheers

 

Andy

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If other methods are your bag, then happy days, but IMO, IPA alone smears the dirt and doesn't clean it completely without the use of another agent as well.

 

cheers

 

Andy

Post #15 is the method I usually use - the towel removes any traces of cleaner and crud. Although my favoured cleaner/solvent is petroleum based lighter fuel @ 99p/125ml from a local tobacconists shop. I bought 3 cans two years ago and still have half of it left!

 

Agreed though that Lima wheels are the worst! The Hornby chrome plated wheels would go over 10 shows without cleaning.

 

Cheers, Mick

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Like most others I clean just before a show.

 

Loco wheels are the easiest, I lay a piece of kitchen towel soaked in meths over the track. I have one bogie on the track directly and one resting on the towel, then run the loco lifting it up slightly to reduce force on the wheels from the towel and moving back and forth along the track with my hand and wheels slipping. Flip and do the reverse. Result of nice shiny wheels, some dirty skid marks on a white towel and I've not had to re clean them halfway through a show, well apart from the old Heljan wheels before I converted them to the Bachmann coach wheels...

 

Simon

 

Pretty much what I do, but using a box of cotton Buds and some meths.... might try the paper towel!! 

 

I try to hover off the dust on my home layout but last time I did that I lost three of my home made signal arms and being in N gauge, they are a pain to make....

 

What I find works for scenery and buildings is a soft makeup brush. 

 

I did used to use abrasive track cleaning pads to clean the track and this does work fine But I prefer using a cloth and some meths and giving it a good rub clean, works wonders. 

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Think I will try the paper towel trick, since moving to dcc my track as mentioned previously seems to require less cleaning. Have to admit a bit guilty regarding rolling stock! memo to self to address this! As for buildings I use an old puffer brush that I had for my camera which tends to do the trick.

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Had my track set up for just over a year and I have cleaned it maybe 1/2 dozen times. Don;'t use it all that much though. All my locos are brand new and as of yet I haven't cleaned the wheels. No problems so far everything runs very nicely, including my sound locos. :)

Forgot to mention I use paper towel and cotton buds with Goo Gone for cleaning the track. 

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