Track-cleaning concept.

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RSR Engineer
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#11

Post by RSR Engineer »

Many thanks for your feedback, gentlemen. Firstly, the reason for using wheelslip to clean the railtops is (a) that I cannot bring a track rubber to bear on low-level tracks without taking all the upper storeys off and (b) the side effect of polished rails. Because the dock shunter is quite light (MG's point - fanx), she doesn't exactly grind the rails - unlike the Dapol with its emery discs, for example. It's still just plain metal-to-metal. I must admit also that I exaggerated when I referred to "crud" and "gunge" - it's more dust and tarnish than anything. All this effort is to ensure reliable starting when backing a train out of the northern sidings, so the locomotive wheels must be clean as well. I have no qualms about burnt-out motors, since the wheelslip affords the necessary "give".

A soft pad with IPA, mounted under a wagon, only dissolves soluble dirt and wipes; it doesn't scrub or polish. A track rubber is the ideal, of course, but mounted on a wagon would only work until it there were two lines on it caked with muck. OK, it would be nice to have a track-cleaning wagon that can reproduce the pressure of a hand-held track rubber and wiggle it about, a bit like Bulleid's sleeve valves, but I fear it would have to be so heavy that the engine propelling it would need an enormous factor of adhesion (or multiple-header).

The hidden sidings are admittedly hard to get to, and the question of accessibility was discussed before, and members' misgivings were noted, but there was nowhere in the open for them to go, so I decided to chance it.

Cheers,
Artur
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#12

Post by Steve M »

Artur, how long are the hidden sections?

I think Woodland Scenics produce a track rubber on a longish handle specifically for reaching inside tunnels. It may help or even be capable of modification for your purposes.
The cleaning pads have grooves in them to keep them on the rails - could they be weighted and dragged behind a loco?

Just speculating but it may spark a thought or two.
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#13

Post by Stese »

Have you considered the use of a high-frequency track cleaner?

this basically uses pulses of electricity to burn off dirt. They work between the rail and the wheels of a loco. If a loco stalls on dirty track, the hftc kicks in with a few pulses to restore conductivity and get the loco moving again.

I beleive that you can't use them with DCC controllers, but you could have a simple DC controller tied into a changeover switch and a DC loco (dock shunter for example) and run that around and down each siding etc.

I really don't think you are going to get much approval for your concept as imho the risk of damage to wheels, loco and rail is just too high.
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#14

Post by Walkingthedog »

My experience with high frequency track cleaners are they are best left in the shop. Others may like them.
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#15

Post by Brian »

Walkingthedog wrote: Wed Mar 17, 2021 1:18 pm My experience with high frequency track cleaners are they are best left in the shop. Others may like them.
Pitted wheel rims and rail tops are possible from the arcing. Also as stated, not recommended to be used on a DCC layout either!
I still feel elbow grease and a CMX/Sharge Tanker will do the best job. Even on inaccessible sections the Tanker will clean rails very well. I have never had a problem in the many years I've owned a CMX and filed it with 99.9% IPA. ;) ;)
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#16

Post by Stese »

These are concerns, indeed... only suggested as an alternative to wheel-slip grinding...

my personal option in this case would be track rubber on a stick, followed by IPA on rag on stick...
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#17

Post by RSR Engineer »

Thank you once again for your feedback, gentlemen.

The longest northern sidings are over 5 metres in length. The area where these are installed is however reachable from the side. The Woodland Scenics tool looks interesting. Their product reference is TT4450. However there remains the problem of pressing down firmly and accurately enough. Their website refers to cleaning the track twice a year. Using a loco instead of the handle is also an idea but the loco must be able to bring enough tractive effort to bear to pull the pads along with enough weight on them to do any good. Traction tyres, anyone?

For a while I used a 2-axle van with a motor inside that drove a pair of grinding wheels backwards. This thing could just about pull itself along while grinding the railtops or be pushed along by a loco. But even here, the grinding wheels developed "ruts" and a highly polished surface in places. And then the motor went phutt.

I had a Gaugemaster high-frequency track cleaner on the old layout. I found that while it may have helped to burn off dirt (although this was never observed in detail), it also caused much arcing and aggravated the oxidation of the wheel treads, such that locos often had to come in for a wheel-clean. One or two locos, which pick up through the tender, even needed to have additional pickup shoes installed. (Oxidation of the wheel treads is a much more serious problem than just plain dirt, coz it causes a lot of extra work, with fibreglass brush etc, and is often a sign of a badly-designed model.) So I followed the advice of members of the Forum (fanx, WtD!) and left the gadget out of the circuitry on the new layout without any disadvantage whatsoever. The HF was fully compatible with my feedback controllers.

Sorry, I don't see any risk of damage to the track (and certainly not to the loco) from slipping wheels.This happens all the time without traction tyres. In fact, it happens on every curve - that squealing, whispering noise we hear on real-life trains going round sharp curves is caused by it, coz they have no differentials like road vehicles.

Cheers,
Artur

The thread has been extended while I've been writing this. I will certainly look at the Sharge track cleaner more closely. Fanx for the tip, Brian.
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#18

Post by Walkingthedog »

If you keep wheels clean and get rid of any plastic ones and if possible avoid traction tyres the track shouldn’t need cleaning very much.
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#19

Post by RSR Engineer »

Yes, Wtd, that's how I see it as well. The matter of traction tyres seems to be somewhat fraught in the UK and USA. On the Continent they are almost de rigueur. I think I'll start a thread on the subject, see what people think.

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Artur
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Re: Track-cleaning concept.

#20

Post by Walkingthedog »

I sold or gave away all the locos I owned with traction tyres as soon as a non traction tyre version was available.
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