Cleaning 100 pounds of Pre/Post Lioned O/o27 track

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Cleaning 100 pounds of Pre/Post Lioned O/o27 track
Posted by uscgjack on Monday, March 27, 2017 5:37 PM

Good afternoon to all.

Most of my life was spent at sea and now I would like to do some railroading.

I have about 100 pounds of old Lionel track (nothing newer than 1954) and I would like to clean the good sections up.  I was thinking of purchasing a buffing wheel to polish all the rust off the tracks.

Is this a good idea or is there a faster way.  At 75 time is catching up with me and I would like to get started.

Thank you all and thank you for the forum.

captjack

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Posted by LL675 on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 4:00 PM

Hey Jack....just how clean are you wanting the track to be? nice and completly shiney like new, or just where the wheel hit the track? Unless the track has more than surface rust, I usually just clean the top myself. Some fine emery/sandpaper works fine. Or there are special pads that do the job. never use steel wool, small particales will get into the trains. Get some of your favorite beverage, something good on the TV, and do a bit at a time. It'll go pretty quick.

Dave

It's a TOY, A child's PLAYTHING!!! (Woody  from Toy Story)

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Posted by Sturgeon-Phish on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 5:11 PM

I have a fine brass bristle wire wheel 4 1/2" I think, mounted to an old furnace blower motor, operated with a foot operated switch to clean track.  The good thing with American Flyer track it only takes 2/3 the time to clean.

Jim

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Posted by Penny Trains on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 6:19 PM

If you have a Dremel motor tool, you can use the carbon steel wire brush wheels to do a very good job with the worst parts.  Then a Scotchbrite scouring pad rubbed across the rail surface should render a fair amount of the track useable.  The Dremel and Scotchbrite are also useful for cleaning the track pins.  Only you put the pins in the Dremel chuck and spin them at a low rpm against the pads.  They shine up beautifully!

And Welcome aboard!  This is a very laid back and informative place!

A waking Lithium Flower just about to bloom

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Posted by Michael6268 on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 7:26 PM

With Dremel, make sure safety glasses and dont use a lot of pressure. The bristles fall out and stick into your skin and clothes!

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Posted by bridgeengineer on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:19 AM

If the track is physically dirty, put it in the sink with water and dish detergent and clean with a mild brush.  Don't damage the insulators between the center rail and the metal crossties.  Dry the track quickly and completely to avoid rust, using heat if necessary.  Rub it on top with a rag dampened with paint thinner or mineral spirits.  Finally, rub on top with a Scotch Brite pad.  Check the pins for tightness and remove rust if necessary, and use needlenose pliers to tighten and shape the track ends.

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Posted by teledoc on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 4:27 AM

You didn't indicate what condition it is in, so it isn't easy to give one simple answer.  First off, NEVER use sandpaper as suggested in one response, and the same goes for Steel Wool.  Steel wool leaves tiny pieces of me al, which causes short circuits.  The sandpaper removes the tinning from the rails, if you get too aggressive, which will increase further rust later on. 

If the track is primarily in decent condition, a "Scotchbrite" pad can clean off the top of the rails, which is the critical area to get attention.  If the track is fairly rusty, the quickest route would be "Evaporust".  Get a small tub, fill with evaporust, and place the track in the solution.  Evaporust is 'biodegradable' so that isn't a problem.  Soak the track for at least 24 hours.  Remove the track, rinse them off, and make sure they dry out completely.  The insulators on the center rails, has to be 100% dry.  The wire wheels on a Dremel, spread little tiny pieces the fly everywhere and stick in clothin.  A larger wire wheel in a standard drill will do as good a job, and the major area to clean is the tops of the rails, where the wheels touch.   The sides of the rails don't touch the wheels for the AC is needed for the train to run.

Choose the best option, for what condition the track is, and have a party!!

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Posted by cwburfle on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 7:11 AM

If the track is rusty, I think the plating is already gone.

I have built layouts using old track that was rusty and cleaned, and brand new track. In my experience, the old track will be rough and pitted, causing lots of sparking on the center rail, and lots of drag / wear on items with sliding shoe collectors.
I will not use old track that was rusty and cleaned.
Dirt is one thing, rust is another.

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Posted by uscgjack on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 10:51 AM

Ahoy and thank you so much.  I just want to have the top clean so that I will have good power flowing.  The sides being rusty is about what I see on the short lines here in Texas.

Again, thank you so much.

captjack

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Posted by uscgjack on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 10:56 AM

Ahoy and thank you so much.

The blower motor was a great soloution.  Of course here in my part of Texas there are no furnace's.

I do have another box full of the old S gauge American Flyer track and want to use that also.

Again, thank you so much.

captjack

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Posted by uscgjack on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 10:59 AM

Ahoy and thank you so much.

I have three dremels and they stopped working within a year so I have chunked them.  Guess it is time to purchase another one.

I still have all the attachments and cleaning them the way you suggested will probably be my best bet.

Again, thank you so much.

captjack

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Posted by uscgjack on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 11:00 AM

Ahoy and thank you.

Of course I am extra safety minded and have a lot of face shields and safety glasses.  I will go with the face shields.

Thank you again

captjack

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Posted by uscgjack on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 11:03 AM

Ahoy and thank you very much.

Washing the track sound like an excellent idea to get the years of dirt removed.

Again, thank you so much

captjack

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Posted by uscgjack on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 11:09 AM

Ahoy and thank you.

The track is in good condition, it is just the dirt and surface rust that are my concern.

I will go out and get some Evaporust and experiment with it.

Again, thank you

captjack

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Posted by uscgjack on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 11:12 AM

Ahoy and thank you.

The track is in good condition considering it's age.  It has some surface rust, yet is not pitted.  I am going to clean it as suggest on the forum and see.

As my train room is 40' x 80', new track would cost well over $1,000.00 which I am not in a position to fork up right now.

Again, thank you.

captjack

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Posted by BigAl 956 on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 3:54 PM

Hi Jack,

LL has some good ideas but here is the simple dope,

Keep in mind that dirty rusty track looks more realistic than shinny new track. You really do not have to go overboard (pun intended). If I must clean I use an SOS pad to clean just the tops of the track, (admittedly a bad idea and a scotch bright pad is smarter).

If the track is totally shot just toss it. At 75 life is too short to waste time detailing the track. Plenty of used but clean track out there to work with. 

 

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 9:43 PM

I found the Evaporust to do a great job. What I do to make sure it doesn't take the black finish off the ties though, is I take the sections apart, and clean the rails. If the ties are too rusty to simply be scotch-brighted, throw those in too. But you'll have to paint them afterwords. I also have a ton of rusty track, in my case, mostly a bunch of Flyer I got dirt cheap, and I'm taking it bit by bit. If I'm lucky, they'll all be clean sometime in the next 3 years, the way I pile up my projects!

"If it don't work, then gosh darn it, get a' fixin!"

Can I fix trains? Mostly. How long have I been doing it? Took me years to get much success beyond the "taking it apart" step. Where am I at now? Well, does she run?

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Posted by uscgjack on Thursday, March 30, 2017 7:59 AM

Ahoy and thank you.

I agree that I want to keep the sides of the rails a rust color.

I wondered if I could just purchase one of the large buffing wheels that mount to one of my work benches and then, using different compounds, buff the entire section of track with a very few passes and almost no effort.  You thoughts, please.

Again, than you

captjack

 

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Posted by uscgjack on Thursday, March 30, 2017 8:05 AM

Ahoy and than you.

I will purchase the Evaprorust during my next trip to town and give it a try.

I had thought about purchasing one of those large, dual wheel, bench mounted buffers and, using different compounds, clean a section of track with just a few passes and very little effort on my part.  You thoughts?

Thanks again

captjack

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Posted by GPJ68 on Friday, April 14, 2017 8:54 PM

I know I'm late to the party on this one, but my personal thoughts, with 800+ sections myself:

- if the track is so rusted that some quick passes with maroon scotchbrite (for metal work) won't clean it up - FUHGETABOUTIT.   Used O/027 track is way too cheap and plentiful to spend much time cleaning it up, unless there's some particular sentimental reason for it.  Evaporust does work for rusty stuff, but you gotta be careful and not lose track (pun intended) of time - soaked some old wrenches and sockets for too long (got sidetracked and forgot 'em) and now they look and feel like absolute crap and don't want to clean up.

My preferred method:

- quick visual inspection to separate the usable from the twisted/trashed/rusted

- get a jug of Greased Lightning, mix w/ water at prescribed ratio in a large tub

- dump in a pile of track to soak for a short time

- quick scrub w/ brush of your prefered comfort/style to remove grease/grime

- thoroughly rinse off, and thoroughly dry (I used a separate room with a wall heater cranked up, or the oven up just enough to warm should work)

- a quick continuity check to ensure the center rail is still isolated

- get a box or few of 3M Scotchbrite maroon pads 07447 from Amazon (cheapest) or your local parts store (pay throught the nose).  They call this the "general purpose" pad but I remember it as the metal/brightwork pad.  If less than a minute of quick passes with this pad (wearing gloves) doesn't give you a dressed up rail top/upper side, then your tolerance for rust at the beginning visual inspection step is far greater than mine...

That's my nickle's worth, your mileage may vary...

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Posted by alank on Saturday, April 15, 2017 1:43 PM

One of my favorite ways of washing old track is something I had read on this forum over 5 years  ago, and that is to put it in the dishwasher.   I have done this a couple of times and the track really cleans up nicely.    I have done this with postwar Lionel track.   When it comes out the track is nice and warm, so you get good evaporation.  The dirt will be gone and any minor rust.   Sometimes I preclean with a soft brass brush or steel wire brush.   I have also used the like of a spray rust remover, but you don't really want to stick that into your good dishwasher.

Electrically you are really only interest in the top surfaces.   Pitting isn't good, but slight rust with say a fine croacass cloth will clean the top surfaces.   Good pins for connection when put together is important, and one thing I have noted over the years is that once you start running your trains I feel the putting the AC  to the rails and oils from the turning wheels help condition the track.  I like my track with a patina as that is what you see on the real railroads.   And then as someone else mentioned...there is a ton of used O-27 tack out there.   

I like 1121 manual and 1122 E with the black base  material/housings.   I also like the previous generation manual and electrics.   Marx has 0-34 radius track that has the same profile as the O-27 with black ties.   If you are using more modern O-27 track there are a lot of choices for radius and switch radius.

 

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Posted by uscgjack on Monday, April 17, 2017 10:42 AM

Good morning and thank you for your reply

Not having a dishwasher, I am going to soak some of the track in a pan and then brush it off.

Again, thank you

captjack

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Posted by uscgjack on Monday, April 17, 2017 10:50 AM

Thank you.

I  found that my daughter can get Evaporust at a huge discount.  I bought some and placed the track in the soloution over night.  Wow!  A great job. Then cleaned to tops of the rail as you suggest.  It looks great.

Thank you again

captjack

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Posted by Barry G. Milstead on Tuesday, May 02, 2017 11:04 AM

I've had good luck using Dollar Store "Scotchbrite" cut to fit the base of my Black & Decker "Mouse" sander. The base holds it in place like Velcro. I set up a few rows of track on a table outdoors and ran the sander over them, then wiped them down. I did enough Marx O-27 in one afternoon to make a small layout with two sidings.

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Posted by servoguy on Thursday, May 04, 2017 6:58 PM

Easiest way to clean the track is to make a layout and run the train over the track.  It will clean off the very top of the rails.  I think the track looks better when it is rusty/dirty as real track is dark brown to black and shiny on the top.  If the open end of the rails are rusty inside, the track is probably junk as cleaning out the open end of the rails is a fair amount of work.  When you assemble the track sections, splay the pin.  Bend the rail to the right where the right outer pin is installed and bend the center rail pin to the left.  Bend the rails so the end of the pins are offset about half a pin diameter.  This increases the contact pressure between the pin and the inside of the rail which reduces the contact resistance.  Lionel's recommended method of squeezing the open end of the rail to tighten up the conection doesn't work very well, and when you disassemble the track sections, you have to squeeze the rails again.  I have made large layouts with splayed pins, and used a single Lockon to connect the transformer.  When you run the train to clean the rails, set the E unit to forward only.  I like to run the trains.  I don't like to clean track.

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Posted by emdmike on Saturday, May 06, 2017 10:22 AM

LGB offers a nice track cleaning block, red plastic top with the cleaning pad underneith.  Works great on all tracks, from 3 rail tubular to the brass G scale track.  I have had mine for years, still works great.  You can also get a special pair of plyers to reshape and recrimp the ends of the rail where the pins insert if they are loose.  I also use nothing but 0-27 track, but with 0-42dia curves so my F3's are more happy going around.  There is also a company called 3 rail Tinman that can recondition track and sells those special plyers.   Mike

Silly NT's, I have Asperger's Syndrome

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