Brass Track Cleaning

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Brass Track Cleaning
Posted by pennsyj1fan on Sunday, October 3, 2010 10:58 AM

I have 300" plus of Aristo Brass track that has been unused and really tarnished.  I have finished one loop of roadbed and laid the gravel and am digging the trench for the next loop of track. I have laid some new Aristo I have in boxes to get a start on the first loop.  I want to clean the old track to use it and have been using scrubber pads from GFS that are recycled plastic and non-scratching but it is a slow process.  I want to know if anyone has used Brasso or another brass cleaner for trach.  Once I get it cleaned with whatever process works best I will run my Aristo track cleaning caboose regularly and or use the tool from Micro-Mark to make sure I don't have this problem again.  Has anyone used anything else to successfully clean track while it is off the roadbed.  Thank you for any tips you have.  I ned to get this done soon as possible as it's getting cold already in Ohio and don't want to have to wait until next Spring to finish.

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Posted by IRB Souther Engineer on Sunday, October 3, 2010 11:28 AM

I like to use a small electric sander such as "the Mouse".

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Posted by two tone on Sunday, October 3, 2010 11:59 AM

Hi I use an LGB pad to clean track with spare pads  what I like about them is you can use an old towel to wipe pad this helps to get better finish when cleaning track     Massoth do spare pads that can be fixed to the LGB cleaner.       I attached the cleaner to an old yard brush this saves the old back          Hope this helpsYes

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Posted by ttrigg on Sunday, October 3, 2010 12:17 PM

I would suggest leaving all the chemicals in their respective bottles. Who knows what dammage a small bit left behind can do. Tarnished brass rails looks very prototypical, so I would leave the tarnishe alnoe. I have brass track and waited for it to "age" itself. Now for the cleaning of the rail heads, I use a pole sander found over in the sheetrock supplies at you local building sypply store. Use some 1000 grit (thousand grit) as it will clean the surface of the railheads without gouging deep grooves in the railhead.  


Tom Trigg

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Posted by hudrail on Sunday, October 3, 2010 1:48 PM


I use the LGB track cleaning loco whick is superb and Massoth do cheaper cleaning discs . Load the discs with smoke fluid and the shine on the rails will remain for some considerable time giving great conductivity . The sides should remain tarnished brown like the full size railroads are !  Don`t know how they do theirs perhaps they have a guy with a brush and a tin of paint  Brent

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Posted by g. gage on Tuesday, October 5, 2010 12:42 AM

I use track power with Aristo and USAT brass sectional track. For track cleaning I tow an Aristo track cleaning car equipped with a 3” square 3M green pad to the first train of the day. Sometimes I spray a bit of WD40 on right and left side of the pad if I haven’t run for a time. As Tom says I patiently wait for the patina “tarnish” to build up on the rails; I don’t remove it.


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Posted by Great Western on Tuesday, October 5, 2010 7:58 AM


I guess the pad you are using is similar to the 3M one mentioned by Rob.  It is what I have used for a few years now.  Mine is fixed to a pole which I made (similar to a wall sanding pole) and I must say it polishes - not abrades - the brass track beautifully.  I have nearly as much track as you and find now that once the railhead has been regularly polished it isn't always necessary to clean each time other than to remove slug/snail trails of other deposits that nature puts there.  I always clean after previous rainfall.

Tom advises - and it is good advice  - to avoid anything in a bottle.   The only occasion I use anything from a bottle is denatured alcohol to remove resin that has fallen from a small pine tree.  I would also caution against using anything that abrades or leaves scratches - no matter how fine - on the railhead.   You are making more work in my opinion.  Also avoid the mechanical grinder type locomotives; over a period of time they will remove some of the brass as fine particles  and will alter the profile of the railhead.



Alan, Oliver & North Fork Railroad

If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there. Lewis Carroll English author & recreational mathematician (1832 - 1898)

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Posted by pennsyj1fan on Tuesday, October 5, 2010 9:59 PM

Great Western, I am using the pad of recycled plastic, does an Ok job, not too bright but I can get the track clean by running the Aristo track cleaning caboose over it a couple times a week but need it clean enough to get a loco over it since it has been unused for a few years.  I was planning to use a liquid brass cleaner such as Brasso left over from my Army days to clean the sides of the rails at the ends of the track where the rail connectors were so the brass was brighter to get better conductivity when I put the Split Jaw Rail Connectors.  I have a small brass wire bruch from an M-16 cleaning kit I might use to see which method would be better and faster to get the effect I want.

Thank you for your info, Pennsy 

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Posted by hudrail on Thursday, October 7, 2010 8:59 AM

The discs for thr L G B track cleaner are a type of nylon I assume !  Please do not use W D 40 on any thing except to repell water that is what it was designed for !  There is NO lubricant or any component contained within that will aid conductivity . A product in the U.K. is called Duck Oil that specifically has lubrication properties and can be used to release stuck bolts lubricate surfaces and protect metals ferrous and nonferrous from the elements so keeping the rail top surfaces from oxydisation


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Posted by Greg Elmassian on Saturday, October 9, 2010 10:37 PM

LGB cleaning disks are a rubberized abrasive, probably Cratex.

WD-40 gets gooey.

Regards, Greg

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Posted by Dick B on Wednesday, November 17, 2010 9:14 AM

I live here in Michigan and have the same problem with corrosion.  The best thing I have found and is relatively simple is using a sanding pole with pad of sandpaper (fine grit).  It is just the width of the rails and it polishes them up in no time with very little effort.  Just go over lightly before running trains.  I have to do this anyway living in the woods I always have branches, leaves, what have you before I can run anything.


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Posted by Fred Boyer on Wednesday, November 17, 2010 8:23 PM

Quite a few years ago, we had a hint in Garden Railroad to put tarnished track in the dish washer, run the cycle and it was stated that it looked like new.  I haven't tried this trick, but you could try a single foot section and see if it works.

Fred Boyer
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Posted by Mt Beenak on Wednesday, November 17, 2010 10:33 PM


I see two problems with using the dishwasher to clean track.  The tablets or powder used is very caustic and may affect the plastic in most track, and how to I fit the five and six foot long flex track sections?

I just thought of a third problem...she who must be obeyed.


Chief Operating Officer

Northern Timber Company - Mt Beenak

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Posted by wernerjp on Sunday, November 21, 2010 10:33 AM

When you are done suggest you wipe the tops of the rail with gun cleaning wipes that you can purchase at a Walmart or gun retailer.  I read this tip in one of the forums a couple of years ago and it works like magic to maintain the conductivity of the rail with your pick up wheels on your locomotives, etc.  The wipes have a very "light" oil embedded in them.

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Posted by ShaneClara26104 on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 6:35 AM

I've used a LOT of old tarnished and mildly damaged track I got off eBay. All I use to clean it are some cheap sanding pads from Harbour freight tools (5 for $1). No need to clean the whole rail as the wheels only contact the tops anyway. I've been warned NOT to use Brasso or Tarn-x since they're some form of polish. I've never tested these though. In four years of using the sanding pads I've never had any damage to the rails or adverse effects. Of course I only use them about once a month of heavy running. The rest of the time my Switcher pulls an Aristo Track Cleaning Caboose. I also have over 300ft of track and six aluminum bridges.

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Posted by stingman888 on Tuesday, January 4, 2011 5:30 PM

I have 250' of Aristo-Craft track in the yard now and has been for 5 years. I use a drywall sanding pole with a  2" x 4" x 8" long  block of wood screwed to it  & 4 strips of velcro, I then attach a green 3M Scotch Brite cleaning pad to the velcro strips (easy to change the pad)  and in 20 min. it is nice clean & brite. 

The track is to expensive to use any kind of sanding paper no matter what grit you use.

the 3M Scotch Brite does not remove brass just the tarnish and quickly.

 By the way a box last about 2 years

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