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Gleaming the Rails

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  • Member since
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  • From: Northeast PA
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Gleaming the Rails
Posted by samgolden on Thursday, July 7, 2011 4:18 PM

Hi:  I was starting to clean my track, sanded it with 220 grit, then 500 grit , 1000 grit and finally 1200 grit.  When you use the SS washer to burnish the rails, do you lay it down flat on the rails or do you use the edge of the washer?

I tried the search engine and used different terms, and I came up with nothing even close to cleaning your track with anything.

Sam

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Posted by jwmurrayjr on Thursday, July 7, 2011 4:55 PM

Google "SS washer model railroad track" and you should find a bunch.

 

 

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Posted by floridaflyer on Thursday, July 7, 2011 8:53 PM

use the flat side, not the edge. search "gleaming ' and off you go

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Posted by samgolden on Thursday, July 7, 2011 9:13 PM

Hi:  Again!!!    Tried both searches mentioned---Got replies that had no connection to gleaming model track, not even my own post.

I will try it the flat way.  Thanks

Sam

Didn't use Google, just the search this site at the top of this page

 

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Posted by BobH13 on Thursday, July 7, 2011 10:44 PM
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Posted by tomikawaTT on Friday, July 8, 2011 9:00 AM

Use the CONVEX flat side of the washer.  Washers are punched out, so one side is bulged out and the other is dished.  the bulged side burnishes.  the dished side has sharp edges that can scratch the railhead, putting you back to square one.

The good thing is that you only have to gleem ONCE.  I have lifted and re-laid flex that was gleemed, and did not have to repeat the process.

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964 - with gleemed flex and hand laid specialwork)

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  • From: Sebring FL
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Posted by floridaflyer on Friday, July 8, 2011 9:25 AM

Don't understand why you can't get the posts on gleaming. I uses each of the following searches and got the info each time, gleaming, polishing track,  cleaning track, and track.  but if you use the washer correctly you really don't need any more info.

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Posted by Diamond Jim on Friday, July 8, 2011 3:22 PM

I skip the steel washer.  I glued the emery cloth to a small block of wood (1" x 3").  After that is worn down I use a polishing stick (one that is normally used on a  polishing wheel).  I rub some of the polish on the worn out sanding block and Gleam (Polish) the track with that.  I get a mirror finish.  You can get polishing sticks at most any hardware store.

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Posted by Hamltnblue on Friday, July 8, 2011 3:41 PM

Also I recommend you skip the 220 grit. That's a little too abrasive.

Springfield PA

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Posted by eaglescout on Friday, July 8, 2011 5:18 PM

I epoxy glued the ss washer to a short piece of 1 x 2 with the end cut at about a 60 degree angle.  This makes it much easier to use than trying to hold and push the washer alone.  I also have no problem finding all kinds of info. on gleaming on the forum search.  Are you sure you are choosing "railroad forums" which gives the most returns?

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Posted by Jamis on Friday, July 8, 2011 5:45 PM

I confess I've never been able to search on this site and get any references to forum threads.  All I ever get is references to articles in MR.  I am obviously doing something wrong.  Can someone show us doofuses how to do a forum thread search?  Thanks.

Jim -  Preserving the history of the NKP Cloverleaf first subdivision.

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Posted by Hamltnblue on Friday, July 8, 2011 6:15 PM

You need to use the search window 3/4ths down and not the one on top. Also select search the entire community.  Here's a link to a search for Gleam

http://cs.trains.com/TRCCS/search/SearchResults.aspx?q=Gleam&o=Relevance

Springfield PA

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Posted by Jamis on Friday, July 8, 2011 7:29 PM

Gee, thanks!   OK, now can someone tell me how I've missed that one for so many months.  I've got a 19" wide screen monitor and the web page displays the entire width with no lower scroll bar.   I'm going to go sit in the corner, until my brain returns.

Jim -  Preserving the history of the NKP Cloverleaf first subdivision.

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Posted by CTValleyRR on Friday, July 8, 2011 7:54 PM

Hamltnblue

Also I recommend you skip the 220 grit. That's a little too abrasive.

Sanding with progressively finer grits of sandpaper will do the trick.  You could start with 30 grit, if you wanted.  No point in it, but you could.  Each successive grade polishes out the scratches left by the preceding one.

However, your point is well taken -- the objective is to polish the surface of the rails, and unless they're badly dinged up, there's no point in starting with sandpaper that course.  Even 400 may be an unnecessary step.

Connecticut Valley Railroad A Branch of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford

"If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." -- Henry Ford

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Posted by CTValleyRR on Friday, July 8, 2011 7:57 PM

Jamis

I confess I've never been able to search on this site and get any references to forum threads.  All I ever get is references to articles in MR.  I am obviously doing something wrong.  Can someone show us doofuses how to do a forum thread search?  Thanks.

It's tough to show.... but I can explain.  There are two search boxes on the panel on the right of your screen. The first (at the top of the ad stack) says "Search This Site".  This will return the MR articles, not forum pages.

The second, all the way at the bottom, says "Search Our Community".  This is the one for the forums.  Using the drop-down box, select where you want to search:  the current category (Layouts and Layout building), all Model Railroader forums, or all Kalmbach's magazines (Entire Community).

Connecticut Valley Railroad A Branch of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford

"If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." -- Henry Ford

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, August 3, 2011 9:35 AM

Hello SamGolden. I am Semafore, originator of the Gleam process.  Please let me clarify this for you. But first, you must unlearn what you have learned about cleaning track. No other method is even close to achieving these results. Cleaning is only one step.

You are CONDITIONING your track. The burnish step makes a hardened airtight shell on the track. That helps resist the oxidation. The electicity arcs less, making less carbon flux residue in the track and wheels. Adhesion is increased and smoother, and rolling drag is reduced. Rolling trains are quiter. I wanted to scale the actual wheel/track relationship. Prototypes need it tractively,  but we need it electrically.

When we modellers get track, notice it has a FLAT top, not domed. [   I  ]    Hmmmmmm... That means the bevelled wheels ride on the inner edges only. How can I increase contact area?  Sand the rail to get the DOME!  [   (   ]

Perhaps some of the posts on this thread have aged out, and now the technique is becoming bastardized. This is the way:

1) Sand down the railhead to achieve a slightly domed top to the railhead. I used 400 grit wet/dry,  on a small wood block,; wipe the spoil, then 600 grit, wipe the spoil. Also, sand the inner side rail faces. The flanges rub along here.

2) Using a 1/2-inch Stainless Steel Flat Cut Washer, on the domed side, apply moderate pressure and RUB until the shine comes out! THIS IS WORK,  about 10 minutes per 3-foot HO track. Work the railhead to make it rounded, including the inner rail faces.

Turnouts are equal to a three-foot section, be patient. Less pressure on point rails, just more passes. You can do the track before of after installation.

This works for ALL scales. I even did HO brass...wow! It will still tarnish, but much slower.

When doing the work, keep in mind that you are making a smooth, electrically seamless contact area for the wheels. You will now enjoy operating trains at proto-typical speeds, especially switching.

Some modellers use a polish afterwards. I find I don't need it. I feel any liquid will wick down the rail web, and then back up to the dome, so I avoid it.

My Avatar photo is of track that was gleamed, take a close look at the LUSTER on the rail.

The luster will diminish in time but not the performance. All that is needed to maintain is a DRY WIPE with cotton. After all, now the track is like a mirror, what sense to scratch it up with an abrasive?

After 5 YEARS, the SFRM.org  HO display track still holds the performance. I did this ONCE.

Once in 5 years beats once a week any day!  And since real railroads don't have track-cleaning cars, now I don't either!  Yes, it is an arduous task, but  It all means more time freed up to run and model. It's as if all track cleaning over time is condensed into a few minutes per section.

I hope I didn't scare you. It really works.

 

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