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  • Member since
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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, May 02, 2017 10:26 PM


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    May, 2010
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Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, May 02, 2017 10:59 PM

Well I'm sure track cleaning is not much different that HO scale track cleaning methods, just to spread the word, so to speak,  you might want to also post this on the Classic Toy Trains forum.  Check it out!


  • Member since
    March, 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
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Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, May 03, 2017 9:46 AM

I'd avoid steel wool given the Lionel motor and possible magna-traction (depends on the engine), since steel wool gives off little bits of the stuff when used.  A very light household oil on a cloth should clean up the old Lionel tubular track just fine.  Lionel wheels can be cleaned the same way we clean smaller scale: Wahl clipper oil on a strong paper towel, run the engine (or cars) onto the soaked towel and the dirt if any should come right off.

Dave Nelson

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Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, May 03, 2017 12:36 PM

I dug out my old Lionel stuff a few years ago after 35 years.  And ran, among other things, MY old Trainmaster.  A REAL Trainmaster, by the way, does have Magnetraction.  Mine wanted to pick up the track when I picked up the loco.

I did absolutely no cleaning (everything was packed, so there wasn't a dust problem).  I didn't even lube at first.  There WAS a bit of "soft" rust on the rails.

Everything ran fine.

I wouldn't bother cleaning the track.  Well, maybe vacuuming.  I expect the first couple of circuits, there'll be a little extra arcing is all.

I would recommend doing the appropriate lubing of the loco.  You can lube other stuff, like car axles and stuff.  And make sure the track pins are a good fit.  When they're not, it's irritating.



  • Member since
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  • 74 posts
Posted by NNJRailfan on Thursday, May 04, 2017 10:19 AM
Steel wool is a BIG NO-NO for cleaning vintage 3-rail track – as Dave noted it leaves behind little bits that gum up the works of everything from wheels, loco motors and switch machines, but it also wears off the galvanized coating subjecting the track to further oxidation and corrosion.  For endless discussions on how to clean old track, locos and freight cars, search the Classic Toy Trains forum.
In my experience, cleaning metal surfaces with isopropyl rubbing alcohol on a paper towel or Q-tip does a good job on track, wheels, motor commutators, and electrical pickups.  For stubborn dirt, low-odor mineral spirits and one of those green scrubbing pads does the trick.  If you just want to shine up your track, try a track polishing tool such as the Bright Boy.  For plastic rolling stock shells and parts, remove all metal and soak the plastic in warm water with dish detergent, then scrub lightly with a washcloth or toothbrush.  Once everything is thoroughly dry, be sure to lubricate metal-to-metal pivot points (e.g. wheel axles-to-trucks, arbors in the motors) with a quality oil and plastic-to-metal or plastic-to-plastic contact points with a light grease.  Both should be available at your local hobby shop.
  • Member since
    April, 2017
  • 48 posts
Posted by Mantua Man on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 12:36 PM


 I am a frequent modeler in HO scale, but I do have some very old O scale units as well. I find that the same methods for cleaning HO scale track (I personally use 99% isopropyl alcohol though it may not be the best)appear to work just fine. I have also cleaned one of my old O scale locomotives before. I dissasembled my locomotive (Just took the shell off as that was the only part) and did a thorough dusting of the inside using an industrial grade air duster. Any dust that was left behind I just dusted myself. The loco runs much better now, but could use some cleaning of the gears. Just food for thought.

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