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Free: Track Cleaning Techniques

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    There are several schools of thought on the best way to clean tracks and rails.

    NEVER:
  1. use Acetone based cleaner, it will distort the plastic.
  2. use Citrus based cleaner, it will discolor the plastic.
  3. use Steel wool, it will stick to the cars magnets and burn if electrified.
    ALWAY:

    Make sure you remove power from the track before cleaning with liquids or metals.

    CLEANING RAILS: Infrequently
  1. One of the most popular rail cleaning methods is 1000 grit sand paper wrapped around a block to keep it from scuffing the track surface.
  2. Another popular method of rail cleaning is using a ink pen eraser the gritty white type. Avoid making ruts that will allow the eraser to scuff the track surface
  3. You can also use a Model Railroading Brite Boy to clean the rails. Same as above avoid making ruts.
  4. Last resort is rubbing the rail with a softer than the rail metal (like a copper/zinc) penny across the tops of the rails.
    CLEANING TRACKS: Frequently
  1. Most popular track cleaning method is wiping with WD-40.
  2. You can also wipe tracks with Windex, 409, cleaners.
  3. Hydrogen Peroxide is another good option for cleaning tracks.
    AFTER:

    Any of the above wipe down with a clean lint free cloth, then vacuum.
    If you use a water soluble cleaner always follow with either an extremely light oil on the rails or a desiccant like WD-40 to reduce the chances of corrosion.

    To help reduce future build up consider draping the layout with a tarp or plastic drop sheets for painting.

    Personally for track coming out of long storage, I lightly drag a razor blade (opposite of a snow plow), then sand with an oiled 1000 grit Hone(abrasive stone), followed by a wipe down with WD-40.
    To start a good race day you should wipe down the entire track with a lint free cloth (moistened with one of the above listed cleaners or not) and then vacuum.
    Another thing I like to do (once a year) is to take a car with new shoes and a variable resistor and see how slow I can make a lap. When it stops, I inspect where it stopped for corrosion or debris build-up. if you can get the car to crawl all the way around the layout, the rails are very clean.
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