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How to clean black residue on tracks and train wheels?


Dinosbacsi

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cteno4

Hugh, I thought we had a no-ox topic, but can’t find it I guess it may have been on the Ttrak lists. lots of discussion of using dielectric greases in joints as theoretically even though it’s an insulator it’s squeezed out of the actual metal to metal contact points and thus ok. But no-ox was designed specifically to protect from surface oxidation and help conductivity, so I just have gone to that.
 

I have it and have been using it in unitrack joints on any track fastened down (Ie Ttrak modules and club layout 3.0) in order to keep the contacts clean and exclude water and glue from scenery as well as just keep the long slow oxidation at the joints from happening. Also on any of the pickup contacts in engines or cars. Here it’s no matter if more blobbed on as you want it to be like a grease for smooth movement. If anyone wants to try a little bit I can put a dollop in a little micro tube and pop it an envelope. It’s not horridly expensive.
 

no-ox coating is similar to the idea of power transmission fluid or clipper oil masking a better conductive but protected coating on the rails and wheels. Downside of those is a little too much and you get traction problem. a local club a couple of decades ago did a big clipper oil cleaning right before a weekend open house and was a bit over zealous and engines could not get up the grades with usual loads. Took them a lot of cleaning to get it to where it was not slick then! I do remember debates about the effects of these materials on traction tires.
 

somewhere I did see the debate of the effect of no-ox on rubber traction tires, but I can’t remember, probably was on researching it and on some model train forums and some of it may have been from the lore of older things like clipper oil and such. 
 

im not to the point to using no-ox on the track until I see what just using non polar cleaners gets you in handling black gunk first.

 

my suspicion is the no-ox won’t effect traction tires much at all. I would be a bit more hesitant on using mineral spirits as it’s usually a decent solvent on paint and not great on rubber. As long as you let things dry after cleaning track no issues and you clean wheels individually I wouldn’t think it an issue. I like the contact cleaners as they are designed to clean metals for contact cleaning and usually have to be rubber safe as rubber and rubber like synthetics are used a lot around electrical contacts and many times can’t be removed from the neighborhood of the metal contact to be cleaned.

 

all this being said I now want to choose a loco that I can get spare traction tires for and experiment to see if the no-ox causes issues with some torture and time.

 

jef

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gavino200
Posted (edited)

What exactly is no-ox? And how does it differ from non-polar cleaner? Does non-polar cleaner also tend to stick around as a residue? Or does it depend on the volatility of the particular compound?

 

Also, another question. If you use a polar cleaner such as IPA, doesn't it just evaporate? If it evaporates how would it contribute to arcing? I get that it doesn't form a protective coating, preventing arcing like a non-polar cleaner (does it? I'm not sure. See question above). Am I wrong in thinking that the IPA evaporates leaving nothing behind?

Edited by gavino200
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Bob_NZ
Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, cteno4 said:

 

somewhere I did see the debate of the effect of no-ox on rubber traction tires, but I can’t remember, probably was on researching it and on some model train forums and some of it may have been from the lore of older things like clipper oil and such. 

There have been a number of youtube track-cleaning videos recently saying how wonderful Inox MX3 is, but only a couple have mentioned its use with traction tyres and they seemed to warn against using it if you have such locos on your layouts.  The manufacture should have published a technical data sheet on the product - I will let you know if I can source it.  Some of my locos are 30 years old and the tyres are still good - I would be relucted to try this product without some reassurance.  I have emailed the manufacturer for clarification.

Edited by Bob_NZ
emailed the manufacturer
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cteno4

Gavin,

 

there are two things going on here, one is some sort of cleaning solvent to remove gunk from the track and the second is application of some sort of protectant to the rail and wheels. the cleaners are all the talk of non polar solvents and the metal protector which is the no-ox talk.

 

no-ox is a contact grease similar to dielectric greases that are used to protect metal contact surfaces from oxidation. dielectric greases are used both outside and inside contacts. they are pretty insulating but the way they can work on a contact sufrace is most of it is excluded on the metal contact points when the contact is thrown. no-ox is the same thing basically in that it coats the metal and protects it from oxidation but it also is conductive as well so good to have a thin layer there to protect the track from oxidation (from the moisture in the air as well as micro arcing) as much as possible.

 

On the polar vs non polar its all about the tiny bit of residue left behind on the surface. a well polished metal surface really isnt flat, tis full of little pores and cracks. molecules of your cleaning solvent can get trapped in these and not evaporate and these then stimulate the micro arcing. yes 99.999% evaporates off the surface its the little bit of residue thats left behind. its basically any residue you have left behind from your cleaning solvent thats in these tiny fissures you want to be non polar to help prevent micro arcing as much as possible. this is thinking down at the molecular level where not everything will evaporate. polar solvents will also want to stick more to the polar metal than a non polar solvent.

 

clear as mud?

 

jeff

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nah00
16 hours ago, Bob_NZ said:

I have 2 cars and both gave the same problem - I found it to be the bogie springs making poor contact and also for one the black spinning vac was binding against the edge of the car - a light filing opened the gap.

 

I'll have to take it apart again and see if that is the issue. I didn't think of the bogie springs and I'm fairly sure the spinning vac is clear but another look can't hurt. I did like the car for cleaning inside tunnels and on harder to reach sidings.

 

13 hours ago, Kamome said:

The substance used towards the end of this video looks interesting. Presumably reduces arcing and crud build up.

 

 

I stopped reading at 'Stop Cleaning Your Track on Your Model Railroad'. Done and done hahaha! But I wonder how this method works in a non-temperature controlled room (basement, garage, etc). Also I've seen a lot of these 'you only have to do this once and your trains run perfect forever!' claims and tend to be skeptical of them. 

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cteno4

yeah i take all that with a grain of salt too. the hopeis to cut down the need to clean and also try to not get into potentiall doing something that actually increases the black gunk while cleaning. the non polar cleaner bit does make a whole lot of sense with our club experience with isopropanol with at time we get into black gunk jut appearing and then in a cleaning cycle all day, other times none (we may have neglected to clean the track right before starting a day). the no-ox does make sense as using electrical greases on contact points is done a lot in environments with a lot of potential oxidation. I like you am a little skeptical i want it all over the tracks, even if a small film, but in theory if black gunk is oxidized metal then it could greatly reduce it and it explains why clipper oil and power transmission fluid seem to work when used in a similar way. the rougher environment the layout is in the more a oxidation protector could get you potentially.

 

anyway, why im slowly trying things one at a time to see if it follows the hypotheses.

 

cheers,

 

jeff

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Bob_NZ

I asked the manufacturer of Inox MX3 if it is compatable with rubber or synthetic tyres - their reply:

 

"Not if they are synthetic , over long term use inox as any oil base lubricant can affect natural rubber as it is porous and will soften over time"

 

I guess one can get away with using such products in the short term but the tyres are likely to fail prematurely.  I never imagined at the time that I would still have my trains 30 years later.  It would be a pain sourcing and replacing tyres.

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gavino200

No not compatible if synthetic? Or not compatible unless synthetic? I'm guessing the n scale ones are synthetic and not pure natural rubber.

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Bob_NZ
2 hours ago, gavino200 said:

No not compatible if synthetic? Or not compatible unless synthetic? I'm guessing the n scale ones are synthetic and not pure natural rubber.

I explained about the tyres but as I did not know what each is made from, I asked about compatability in the long term with both synthetic and rubber.

 

To me, their response was that it is just not compatable with synthetics ie in the short term; and over time, the rubber ones will also break down.

 

As use / application can vary so much it all remains a bit of an unknown.

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Martijn Meerts

This stuff might get rid of / prevent black gunk buildup, but if it's oil based or some sort of grease, it'll attract dust a lot faster, and dust will stick to track and wheels a lot better as well. In the end, you'll be cleaning at least as often as before using this stuff.

 

Of course, if you have some sort of air cleaner in the layout room that removes most dust particles, using these products might be more interesting, but with a lot of dust I just can't see how this would help.

 

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inobu
Posted (edited)

Wow, this is something............Guys don't get caught up in the hype. Micro Arcing is a term that someone brought into the N-Scale arena. Any of us that are familiar

with O Scale know that the current used there facilitates sparks and arcs more readily. This is based on the current draw. The issue starts off with sparks and eventually arcing as the drop in conductivity causes the increase in current which then produces the arc.

 

 

Arc and spark is same thing but spark is remain for very small time but when this spark is remain continuously for long time then it is known as arc. It can also be differentiate by, spark is produced by low power but the arc is produced by huge power. In this spark is not very dangerous as arc.

 

Micro Arcing is a high tech phenomenon in a entirely different field and don't really apply to our application.  

 

Look at the wheel flange. The so called micro pits are being ground away continuously by the wheel flange. You can tell the age and usage of an engine or car by the wear in the wheels. That proves its and on going process of wear.   R1 is the beginning  your contact area.

 

rp25.gif

Here is the actual contact area of a Kato wheelset. It can move laterally

 

 

 

Someone made the comment of "Clean room" which is the key element. Like I said before you will be amazed what you can see in the dark. Once again cut off the light and make you room pitch dark. Turn on a flash light and shine it upward at eye level and watch the dust. These particles are falling on to your track. This is the culprit.

 

The dust you see in the air falls on the track. This along with the oxidation build an insulating layer that starts the process.

 

Look at the cause and effects.

 

Carpets are dust bins. What do we do? Vacuum

Vacuum sucks up the large particles and blows out the fine particles the filter can get. Along with that it blows up the dust from the exhaust port

and makes it air borne again.

 

The other issue is poor track laying. The gaps in the rails it ideal for surges the promotes sparks and arcs. As the edge of the rails can clip the

wheels.

 

This is why the cleanliness of the room and its humidity level is the first step to address the dirty track problem. 

 

You can use all the track products you want if the room is dusty that dust will always be the top layer on the rails over time.

 

Inobu

 

 

 

 

Edited by inobu
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Dinosbacsi
40 minutes ago, inobu said:

This is why the cleanliness of the room and its humidity level is the first step to address the dirty track problem. 

 

You can use all the track products you want if the room is dusty that dust will always be the top layer on the rails over time.

Yeah, my room is also constantly dusty. It really shows on my model cars and other hobby stuff I have on my desk. I just learnt to live with it and dust off my models from time to time. I wonder if one of those air cleaner thingies would help though.

 

But anyway, as I can't do much about the cause - I mean my room will always be dusty - I will just try to keep the rails and the wheel clean. For the wheels I will order a Soft-Kun wheel cleaner, and as for the rails, I will probably keep cleaning them manually - after all, my layout is not that big for now.

 

I'm still hoping I will be able to get a Mop Kun or something similar track cleaning car that fits a B Train Shorty layout at some point. I would like one, but those Tomix track cleaning cars are way too big for my liking.

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inobu

Do the flashlight test an look for the area that has the most activity. You will most likely find the ingress of dust.

 

Inobu

 

 

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cteno4

Yes hepa air cleaners do cut down a lot on the dust. Good thing is a lot of the big dust particles are trapped by the foam prefilter which are inexpensive to replace as soon as you see them get coated well (some you can rinse out others not). hepa filter gets the tiny stuff and are expensive to replace but they last a year if you change out the prefilter when they get crap accumulated on them.
 

For my wife’s health we’ve had to have them in some of the more used rooms and there is a very noticeable decrease in surface dust about 10-12’ radius of the air filter in a room. The rooms without the air filters have noticeably more surface dust. Also helps in the basement as we always get a tiny bit of the musty odor in the summer down there (all sealed well, just no airflow down there in summer, winter the furnace causes injections of heat that cause air turnover) and a small filter on low is great to clear the air if any odor and also helps tantalize the temperature better.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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cteno4

I forgot to mention one issue that inobu mentioned with vacuum cleaning is that you can get lots of dust blow around with vacuuming depending where the exhaust is pointed out your vacuum. Our old vac shot is straight at the floor which tended to blow any stuff on the floor everywhere! Use to have to chase dog hair dust bunnies around the room in some places as they vac was sending out such a current of air over the floor. Replaced it with a hepa canister model that shoots the exhaust more up into the air where it doesn’t blast a lot of surfaces hard like the old one blasting the floor. Ultimate is a vac located in like a utility room or exhausting outside and a long hose, but that then has its own issues of a vacuum piping or a very long hose which can cut down on suction.

 

Jeff

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