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do track cleaning cars work?

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do track cleaning cars work?
Posted by captwilb on Monday, October 12, 2015 9:35 PM

I have a section of track that is tough to get to to clean.  I thought about getting a track cleaning car but don't know anyone with experience with them.  any feedback on how well they work?  thanks in advance

captwilb

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Posted by SouthPenn on Monday, October 12, 2015 10:08 PM

My CMX cleaning car works great. But expensive.

http://tonystrains.com/product/cmx-clean-machine-ho/

South Penn

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Posted by "JaBear" on Monday, October 12, 2015 11:57 PM
“Do track cleaning cars work?
Yes, but which one???!! ConfusedSurprise
Here’s some links to previous discussions.......
 
....as you will have seen I'm a fan of the John Allen type.
Cheers, the Bear.Smile

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 2:14 AM

I have lots of hidden track. I sparingly use CRC 2-26 to treat it and only need to clean infrequently. I use a couple of Centerline cars. Not the cheapest, but not the most expensive, either.  They're a good compromise in terms of value and work well, especially if you pair up a wet one in the lead, followed by a dry roller pad.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by rrebell on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 6:57 AM

Yes and no. I have some sliders, a centerline and a CMX (accualy a CMT, an early version of the CMX) and have used others. If you use them all the time they work great but on other than the main lines, they are a pain.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 10:19 AM

I have subways which are mostly covered, so my CMX car is a great tool for cleaning my track.  I use lacquer thinner as the solvent, which does work better than alcohol.  I clean my track about 3 or 4 times a year.

I need two engines consisted together to pull the CMX car.  It's heavy and there's considerable friction between the cleaning pad and the rails.

For my yards, I push the CMX back and forth over the sidings by hand.  It's faster than using engines.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 10:33 AM

SouthPenn

My CMX cleaning car works great. But expensive.

http://tonystrains.com/product/cmx-clean-machine-ho/

South Penn

I recall seeing a track cleaning car at the Timonium show in a similar price range - it had two rotating pads driven by a powerful motor mounted in the rail car adapted for that purpose and IIRC, a good warrantee or guarantee.  It looked like the kind of rail cleaner that would work well in hidden area's due to the physical cleaning action - other than the price, I was pretty convinced when I saw it demonstrated, but I didn't have the cash at the time.  However, it could be well worth it if clean track in hard to get areas was a must.  

IIRC also, it was reportedHoward Zane had four of them on his layout so that seemed like a good endorsement.

 

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by zstripe on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 10:58 AM

riogrande5761

 

 
SouthPenn

My CMX cleaning car works great. But expensive.

http://tonystrains.com/product/cmx-clean-machine-ho/

South Penn

 

I recall seeing a track cleaning car at the Timonium show in a similar price range - it had two rotating pads driven by a powerful motor mounted in the rail car adapted for that purpose and IIRC, a good warrantee or guarantee.  It looked like the kind of rail cleaner that would work well in hidden area's due to the physical cleaning action - other than the price, I was pretty convinced when I saw it demonstrated, but I didn't have the cash at the time.  However, it could be well worth it if clean track in hard to get areas was a must.  

IIRC also, it was reportedHoward Zane had four of them on his layout so that seemed like a good endorsement.

 

 

I believe the one I have, is what You are referring to. It has two pads one for each rail...but the one I have has two vertical motors in it. The pad's will get messed up real quick and forget about going through switches. No matter how I tried, the car's first pad would take the stock rail and the next pad would take the divergent rail, resulting in a derailment. I was going to try to have one motor spinning clockwise and the other counter clockwise and see if that would help, but never got around to doing it, instead I got two CMX machine's and push them around the layout, instead of pulling it. Seem's to do a way better job that way. The car cleans the rails before any engines/rolling stock tramp through any dirt/dust build-up on the rails, instead of spreading it around with the wheels. I use nothing but lacquer thinner in the tank, as they suggest.

That two motor version, which is in a high cube box car...is a shelf queen.

Take Care! Big Smile

Frank

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Posted by LOCO_GUY on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 11:17 AM

I converted some old life-like track cleaners into something that actually works. I took 3 old life like track cleaning cars and added some self adhesive weights (used for balancing tires - I put them between the cab and the tank which is about the mid-point of the car) 3 rubber bands and some pads meant for cleaning off make-up.

I put rubbing alcohol on the first pad (and the second one if really dirty track) and leave the last one dry. You can also use the tank and fill it with track cleaner as the liquid will eventually get to the cleaning pad. I apply it directly to get a good supply of cleaning fluid right where I want it. Then I run them around the layout with a decent engine - I use my proto 1000 PA unit as its heavy and lots of pulling power.

The pads come 80 to a box - so you can use both sides which gives you 160 cleaning pads. They are cheap and covered in a silk layer which prevents lint and also apply a gentle rubbing action to the track. As the pads are cheap and plentiful you can run this around the track for a long as you need to get it clean.

Also, you can pick up the track cleaning cars on Ebay for a low as $4 and they dont need to be in good cosmetic shape - so you can buy the ones with defects. YOU MUST make sure the weight and pad is on the car as they press down on the pad to make it clean effectively. The weight must move vertically so it adjusts for the extra width of the pad below it.

See the cars below. 

 

Chris.

Loco Guy - is a state of mind - not an affinity to locomotives.

Sit back and enjoy your track...

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Posted by RR_Mel on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 12:05 PM

I’m pretty conventional and use a E7B cast metal Cary body on an Athearn SD40-2 frame pushing a CMX and towing a home brew dragger for mop up.  I haven’t used them in over two months and it wouldn’t hurt to use them today.  I’m not having problems but it is time to clean.
 
The CMX does a pretty good job everywhere even in my yard where there are five dead end storage tracks.  It even works inside my roundhouse and diesel maintenance building.  It takes a weighty locomotive to clean my 3½% grades, the combination of the CMX in front and the dragger behind is a lot of resistance on wet rails.  The E7B weighs 2¼ pounds and easily handels my grades with both cleaning cars.
 
I had problems over the years trying every type cleaning fluid I could find and finally ended up using ATC-6002 from Aero Car Hobby Lubricants and I’ve never looked back.  One pass and the track is clean for months and I live in the lower San Joaquin Valley.  Bakersfield California has the dirtiest air in America.  Anything that cleans that nasty crud off my rails has to be great stuff.   
 
 
Mel
 
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Posted by peahrens on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 12:11 PM

I"gleam"-ed my track and run a masonite pad car in my freight train but about every 3 months may get a few sound interruptions.  At that point I clean the loco wheels and run a CMX car around using denatured alcohol (most recommend lacquer thinner as best).  At that point all runs great (no sound hiccups).  I run the CMX with two locos, turn off momentum and can thus readily (quickly reversing) run it in / out of the yard tracks as well as the easy mainline. 

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

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Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 12:54 PM

RR_Mel
The CMX does a pretty good job everywhere even in my yard where there are five dead end storage tracks.

Mel's post reminded me of one limit with the Centerline cleaners. Since they roll a weight covered in a wrap of toweling, if you back them up, it unrolls things and the weight shorts out the track. They say you can wrap it with a rubber band to prevent this, but that doesn't work well, either. So unlike the CMX, the Centerline is not good for stubs and spurs, etc. Through routes they do fine on.

On the

RR_Mel
ATC-6002 from Aero Car Hobby Lubricants
, I have used their ACT-6006 Track Cleaner with good results. Have wanted to try more, but their online store and my computer don't get along for some undetermined reason, but their products are good.

91% isopropyl alcohol works well, also, IME. It's particualrly good after ballasting as it cuts through any matte medium that might get on the rails.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 1:14 PM

Frank.  Nice to see some feedback from someone who actually bought and used the motorized track cleaning cars that I saw at Timonium.  You may be right, I don't recall if they had one or two motors inside.  They did seem to have a lot of power - the guy demonstrating them let me try to stop the spinning with my fingers and it was very hard to.

 

They did look like they would really clean the rails, and with Howard using them, they seemed look a good bet.  Did they work well if you moved them through the switch without them spinning and then started them back up?

In the end if the CMX cost about the same but did as good a job, then thats the bottom line.  Yeah, seems like a good idea to push them, that way the engine pushing has the benefit of clean track.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by RR_Mel on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 1:52 PM

Towing the CMX works good too, the reason I push mine is to get into my roundhouse, diesel building and to clean my dead end tracks.  That way it gets all but last 3 inches of the rails.
 
Mike Aero Hobby doesn’t sell direct, here’s a link to their dealer list.
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
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I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
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Posted by SouthPenn on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 3:35 PM

riogrande5761

Frank.  Nice to see some feedback from someone who actually bought and used the motorized track cleaning cars that I saw at Timonium.  You may be right, I don't recall if they had one or two motors inside.  They did seem to have a lot of power - the guy demonstrating them let me try to stop the spinning with my fingers and it was very hard to.

 

They did look like they would really clean the rails, and with Howard using them, they seemed look a good bet.  Did they work well if you moved them through the switch without them spinning and then started them back up?

In the end if the CMX cost about the same but did as good a job, then thats the bottom line.  Yeah, seems like a good idea to push them, that way the engine pushing has the benefit of clean track.

 

I also have a cleaning car with the two spinning disc. ( I bought it at Timonium about a year ago ). It runs behind my CMX in mop up duty. Off hand, I can only think of one switch that gives it trouble. When I put it on the track I set the pad rotation so that it helps move the car in the proper direction.

If only I could remember the name of it. Found it! MNP at https://www.mnpinc.com/ho_scale.htm

South Penn

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Posted by hobo9941 on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 8:53 PM

For my yards, I push the CMX back and forth over the sidings by hand.  It's faster than using engines.

That's cheating!Whistling

After much agonizing, I finally bit the bullet and bought a CMX track cleaner. It's the best money I ever spent! I also have a lot of hidden track that I cant reach. I use pure acetone which is available at Walmart in the cosmetic dept for nail polish removal. A quart was only a couple dollars. I push it with two units. Works great!

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Posted by RR_Mel on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 6:03 AM

Mike I eroded, when I went into the garage and filled up my CMX the cleaner is ATC-6006 not 6002.  Every thing was running OK but I pushed the CMX around my layout anyway.  Thinking back the last time I ran it was around February.
 
Matter of interest, the CMX is still using the original cleaning pad and it still looks good.  I can’t remember when I bought it but it’s easily been 10 years.  My Athearn kitbashed caboose mop-up dragger has been changed about 5 times in 20 plus years.  I made the cleaning pad holder from a chunk of lead to insure good wiping.  It takes a pretty hefty engine to pull the caboose on dry rails.  
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
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Posted by captwilb on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 6:35 AM

I had no idea about the CMX and some of the other options mentioned here.  Thank you very much for the responses, extremely helpful.  I think I will go with the CMX.

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Posted by zstripe on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 7:19 AM

SouthPenn

 

 
riogrande5761

Frank.  Nice to see some feedback from someone who actually bought and used the motorized track cleaning cars that I saw at Timonium.  You may be right, I don't recall if they had one or two motors inside.  They did seem to have a lot of power - the guy demonstrating them let me try to stop the spinning with my fingers and it was very hard to.

 

They did look like they would really clean the rails, and with Howard using them, they seemed look a good bet.  Did they work well if you moved them through the switch without them spinning and then started them back up?

In the end if the CMX cost about the same but did as good a job, then thats the bottom line.  Yeah, seems like a good idea to push them, that way the engine pushing has the benefit of clean track.

 

 

 

I also have a cleaning car with the two spinning disc. ( I bought it at Timonium about a year ago ). It runs behind my CMX in mop up duty. Off hand, I can only think of one switch that gives it trouble. When I put it on the track I set the pad rotation so that it helps move the car in the proper direction.

If only I could remember the name of it. Found it! MNP at https://www.mnpinc.com/ho_scale.htm

South Penn

 

South Penn/Riogrande,

That's the one!!!. I can't believe all the roadnames they have now...back when I bought mine, they only had three. I got mine way back in the early 90's. It didn't do a bad job, on straights and curves.....but, I have a double track mainline with eight crossovers and it just did not like those, no matter what I tried.

I was wondering how they would work on DCC...they would I guess, need a motor function decoder or two, to control the motor speed...I don't believe they would work too well, running at full speed all the time. I didn't look at the whole site, that's why I mentioned it. I run DC, so was just curious. I do have a centerline and masonite gondola kit bash drag car....but without a doubt...the CMX gets My vote.

Take Care! Big Smile

Frank

BTW: Mike...I use the good Ole' five point hook and turn the wheel around on the centerline.....but it still was a pain. LOL I hardly use it at all. Another shelf queen.

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Posted by SouthPenn on Friday, October 16, 2015 3:14 PM

The MNP runs very well on DCC. It just needs one decoder as the motors draw very little current.

South Penn

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Friday, October 16, 2015 3:45 PM

Everyone has their faves for cleaning. I use a CMX with a centerline followed by a dragger car - works very well but is time consuming to run over the entire layout - 500 ft. of track.

Centerline cars work better with the rubber band on the roller.  The rubber band drags against the frame and causes the roller to rotate slightly slower than it would if it were free rolling, creating slight friction to clean the rails more thoroughly. The rubber band is the small variety (smaller than the classic newspaper version) I have no problems with mine catching on anything.

While you can use any type of solvent you like, CMX recommends Acetone (my CMX came with a page in the directions on some study on the efficacy of solvents that claims acetone is the best). Personally I find acetone to be much less obnoxious than paint/lacquer thinner.

I removed the springs on the pad on my CMX to solve the problem that I had with the pad getting caught on switches - still cleans well and didn’t hang up on switch points or tear the cleaning pad anymore...Also a little easier to move on the layout due to slightly decreased friction on the rails (no more double heading).

I use Wahl clipper oil to keep arcing at a minimum.  The use of oils/lubricants is very controversial among modelers but it works well for me.

 

Your Mileage may vary,

Guy

 

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Sunday, October 18, 2015 8:25 AM

Yes, of course they work. They suck the money right out of your wallet. What value ratio you expect for the price is a model of lazy vs money. Ewe get what ewe pay for he said sheepishly.

The LION would spend the labor not the money.

ROAR

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Posted by Jim Cubie on Saturday, October 24, 2015 7:57 PM

As far as I can tell from looking at a zillion posts no one really knows which cleaning systems work best. There have been no  controlled  tests to measure the effectiveness of various options. This is frankly - amazing. dirty track definitely degrades performance. Why doesn't NMRA appoint a group of electronic experts to develop a reliable testing system? I'm all for LCC, which may improve the performance of high end systems by some percentage - But why not come up with a proven test system that shows what works best to clean dirty track - a problem that everykne deals with. isn't that what NMRA is for? Making our hobby more enjoyable?

PTM
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Posted by PTM on Thursday, January 11, 2018 12:55 PM

Jim Cubie

As far as I can tell from looking at a zillion posts no one really knows which cleaning systems work best. There have been no  controlled  tests to measure the effectiveness of various options. This is frankly - amazing. dirty track definitely degrades performance. Why doesn't NMRA appoint a group of electronic experts to develop a reliable testing system? I'm all for LCC, which may improve the performance of high end systems by some percentage - But why not come up with a proven test system that shows what works best to clean dirty track - a problem that everykne deals with. isn't that what NMRA is for? Making our hobby more enjoyable?

 

Jim, This is my sentiment exactly. There are so many contradictory opinions on whether various track cleaning methods are effective or harmful. They can't all be correct. Either abrasive track pads create scratches that attract dirt and make the problem signficantly worse, or they don't. Either various chemicals leave a residue that attracts more dirt and reduces electrical conductance, or they don't. Either metal polish signficantly removes the nickel silver coating of the track, or it doesn't. I agree that this is an issue that should be resolvable through controlled experiments by qualified chemists and engineers, much like those conducted by Consumer Reports. And NMRA would be the ideal organization to contract out these tests since it is not beholden to advertisers of these products. Dirty track is a problem for many of us and is worthy of a serious investigation by NMRA that would finally provide answers instead of subjective contradictory opinions.

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Posted by captwilb on Thursday, January 11, 2018 4:07 PM

Since posting this question in Oct I bought a CMX track cleaning car and I think it is absolutely awesome....works unbelievably well, especially for the hard to reach areas.  I have run it at least 40 times and it had never gotten caught on the track.  I used mineral spirits and the track cleans up very well.  it's a bit pricey but well worth the money.  I rarely use my eraser anymore and I don't miss it.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, January 11, 2018 5:04 PM

Jim Cubie
As far as I can tell from looking at a zillion posts no one really knows which cleaning systems work best. There have been no controlled tests to measure the effectiveness of various options.

Probably most systems work to some degree.  Since this is no standard for dirty track, yours may have cigarette smoke, mine might have concrete floor dust and high humidity, any head to head comparison may not work for both of us.

Humans are subject to confirmation bias.  This means you don't shell out $150 for a track cleaning car as an experiment to see if it works. You EXPECT it to work and you think it works.  If it works some, maybe that is good enough so you don't have to admit to yourself and to us that an old tee shirt and some alcohol is just as good.

Disclaimer:

I am not impuning anyone's honesty, and I had a bid on a CMX on ebay this week, and threads like this caused me to be outbid.

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by Troys Trains on Friday, January 19, 2018 6:43 AM

In my opinion, they don't work; I tried a Centerline-Products, track-cleaning car for a G-scale layout. I found that replacing my PIKO USA locomotive with a LGB locomotive was much-more effective, and I tried an eSPee-track cleaner for my N-scale layout. I found that switching from Bachmann-EZ track to Tomix-Fine track solved that problem; I recommend better locomotives, and track over cleanersSmile

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