Haddock51

Rail Cleaning Train - Latest Version

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Posted (edited)

After last summer, I noticed deteriorations of current transfer from rails to 9V engines. This is due to coatings of rail plates, something that occurs over time.

Normally, I clean rails/railplates manually. However, in the case of the 9V Extreme Track, this is hardly possible since many sections are difficult to access alt. out of reach. The only remaining expedient for cleaning is a highly efficient rail cleaning train!

The latest version of my rail cleaning train consists of three different types of cleaning units:

 

Cleaning unit type I:

 

a1.jpg

 

Total weight:  760 g

Cleaning surface:  wooden blocks covered with three layers of fabric

 

Cleaning unit type II (4 units):

a3.jpg

 

Total weight:  250 g

Cleaning surface:  Masonite board

 

Cleaning unit type III:

a5.jpg

 

Total weight:  380 g

Cleaning surface:  Cotton wool rolls (normally used by dentists ...)

 

Because of the heavy weight in combination with considerable friction, I have to operate the rail cleaning train in two versions. (It feels like driving a car with applied handbrakes ...) Both versions include six locomotives 7939 with two 9V engines each:

Rail Cleaning Train version Alfa:

b2.jpg

 

Rail Cleaning Train version Beta.

b1.jpg

 

Does it work? This is how the undersides look like after the first cleaning rounds:

 

a2.jpg

 

a4.jpg

 

a6.jpg

 

After several rounds through the entire layout, the current transfer between rail plates and 9V engines is back to normal again.

 

 

Edited by Haddock51

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Wow! I don't know whether to admire your ingenuity or just envy your cache of 9v motors! :thumbup:

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Posted (edited)
39 minutes ago, bricks n bolts said:

Excellent work, not sure but it looks to me like you are extending your layout with some more tables at the front?

Yes, I am building an additional layout with the workname "My Vintage Lego World", 16 square meters!  All the 9V tracks are in place, including all the wiring. So now remains the fun part, building the Lego World! I will revert back in a separate topic some months from now.

Edited by Haddock51

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Looks good.  Do you run the cleaning pads dry, or do you use any cleaner with them?  I use alcohol wipes for cleaning track and motor wheels.  In addition to cleaning the track, cleaning the motor wheels themselves will help a lot as well.

sal

WFB, WI

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, legoboy3998 said:

Looks good.  Do you run the cleaning pads dry, or do you use any cleaner with them?  I use alcohol wipes for cleaning track and motor wheels.  In addition to cleaning the track, cleaning the motor wheels themselves will help a lot as well.

sal

WFB, WI

Interesting. So far, I have been running the cleaning pads dry, primarily in order not to chemically damage the rail plastic. I still remember discussions some years ago re lubricants and the potential risks to damage Legos plastic.

Haven't thought about using alcohol. What kind of alcohol do you use for cleaning purpose? Would white spirit work?

Cleaning in general has become a major theme w.r.t. the entire layout - and the trains. Using compressed air is an excellent way to get rid of dust, particularly on trains!

Edited by Haddock51

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For years I've used alcohol to clean my track, both12v and 9v. TLG themselves recommended it back in the 12v era, and I've seen no adverse affects, either on the tracks or motors. I simply splash it onto cotton wool and rub. 

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Andy Glascott said:

For years I've used alcohol to clean my track, both12v and 9v. TLG themselves recommended it back in the 12v era, and I've seen no adverse affects, either on the tracks or motors. I simply splash it onto cotton wool and rub. 

Thanks for your comments, Andy and legoboy. Just received a similar comment from a guy in Sweden who suggested using white spirit on cotton wool. What kind of alcohol are you using (for cleaning purposes of course ...)

Edited by Haddock51

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10 minutes ago, Haddock51 said:

Thanks for your comments, Andy and legoboy. Just received a similar comment from a guy in Sweden who suggested using white spirit on cotton wool. What kind of alcohol are you using (for cleaning purposes of course ...)

When I lived in Ireland, then England,  I used methylated spirits, now in the US I use 91% isopropyl alcohol. 

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Posted (edited)
45 minutes ago, Andy Glascott said:

When I lived in Ireland, then England,  I used methylated spirits, now in the US I use 91% isopropyl alcohol. 

A guy in Sweden mentionned that methylated spirit includes small quantities of aceton, something he advised against (but never had used for such purposes).

Based on your experience, Andy, I will start using methylated spirit from now on, both on cleaning unit type I and III.

Edited by Haddock51

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2 hours ago, Andy Glascott said:

I use 91% isopropyl alcohol

I believe this is your best bet, as isopropanol can do two things in parallel: It dissolves stuff that likes to dissolve in an aqueous environment (salts etc.), as well as stuff that likes to dissolve in a non-polar environment (grease etc.).  And it will not affect ABS at all.

Plus: Working with it is not harmful to your hands ... not at all.

All the best,
Thorsten

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2 hours ago, Haddock51 said:

Interesting. So far, I have been running the cleaning pads dry, primarily in order not to chemically damage the rail plastic. I still remember discussions some years ago re lubricants and the potential risks to damage Legos plastic.

Haven't thought about using alcohol. What kind of alcohol do you use for cleaning purpose? Would white spirit work?

Cleaning in general has become a major theme w.r.t. the entire layout - and the trains. Using compressed air is an excellent way to get rid of dust, particularly on trains!

As @Andy Glascott said, isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol.  In the States, it is commonly used to sterilize cuts, and can be found in the pharmacy area of most stores.  I got the idea from more traditional model railroading, they recommend 70% isopropyl alcohol.

Here is a very quick video about cleaning track with the 70% isoppropyl alcohol.   http://mrr.trains.com/videos/expert-tips/2017/11/model-railroader-quick-tips-isopropyl-alcohol-for-cleaning-model-train-track

Here is a video showing cleaning wheels (skip to about 10:10).  http://mrr.trains.com/videos/codys-office/2016/12/modelers-spotlight-video-inside-codys-office-for-december-2016

Sal

WFB, WI

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4 hours ago, Haddock51 said:

Cleaning in general has become a major theme w.r.t. the entire layout - and the trains. Using compressed air is an excellent way to get rid of dust, particularly on trains!

Somewhat related thought: What about building some sort of automated compressed-air dusting tunnel? Something similar to the giant blowers that clear the water off your car after going through an automated car wash. While not Lego trains specifically, it would give you an excuse to add another siding to your layout and play with compressed air. 

I think you're one of the very few people for who this would make sense, since you have multiple long trains. For most people, the effort wouldn't be worth it since their layouts and trains are much smaller.

(As an even more tangential thought, what about some sort of custom track dusting car? High-speed fan with 3D printed nozzle that fits over the track, drawing its power from a broken and gutted 9V motor?)

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14 hours ago, Haddock51 said:

Because of the heavy weight in combination with considerable friction, I have to operate the rail cleaning train in two versions. (It feels like driving a car with applied handbrakes ...) Both versions include six locomotives 7939 with two 9V engines each:

And when they are not busy cleaning the track of gunk, we put them behind the rotary snow plow to clear the snow from the track (grin). That is some serious horsepower you've assembled. Neat stuff, thanks for sharing.

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I just love this forum!!

Thank you so much guys for all your comments and suggestions - some of them quite "tangential" indeed ...  All this knowledge and experience - ombined with thinking outside the box! Simply fantastic!

As for rail cleaning I will go for 70% isopropyl alcohol.

When it comes to track cleaning, att some point in time I have to consider vacuum-cleaning rather than spreading dust by using compressed air...

W.r.t. train cleaning and compressed air, I will revert back with a separate topic just on this matter! 

Great to hear your suggestion @zephyr1934 re the rotary snow plow. I mentionned this idea some years ago to my wife as part of introducing "climate" to my track, e.g. artificial snow. This idea is definitely dead...

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Well, she didn't say anything about REAL snow (grin). But it does sound like you have your next project already... a vacuum train. (grin some more) Though in all seriousness, perhaps making a train of idler cars to guide the vacuum to where you need it in the hard to reach corners might be helpful. I've seen vacuum attachments with many tiny straws so that you don't suck up larger bits, like a 1x1 tile.

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19 hours ago, zephyr1934 said:

Well, she didn't say anything about REAL snow (grin). But it does sound like you have your next project already... a vacuum train. (grin some more) Though in all seriousness, perhaps making a train of idler cars to guide the vacuum to where you need it in the hard to reach corners might be helpful. I've seen vacuum attachments with many tiny straws so that you don't suck up larger bits, like a 1x1 tile.

A pair of pantyhose or stockings around the vacuum tube, secured with a rubber band, would suffice.  (another tip from model railroading.)   https://www.micromark.com/search?keywords=vacum has a few vacuum options as well for the modeler. 

Sal
WFB, WI 

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