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Conductive Lubricant?

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Conductive Lubricant?
Posted by NP01 on Saturday, November 11, 2017 10:15 PM

Hello,

I have a number of switches (Atlas #4 and #6) giving me electrical trouble. Basically the blade (point rail) isn’t getting enough juice from the the contact with the stock rail or the hinge. Likely because of paint. 

Tried soldering a 22 gauge wire across the hinge, and that cures the problem completely. But this is very hard to do ... and risky. Not feasible with 40+ switches.  

Will conductive lube at the hinge point help?

I know I have the wrong switches (not live frog) and I should have soldered more feeders to each switch. But we are past that point now. 

Any suggestions? 

 

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Posted by RR_Mel on Saturday, November 11, 2017 11:18 PM

What I’ve had good experience with Permatex White Lithium Grease flooded with Hillman Powered Graphite Lubricant (lock lube).  It doesn’t take much and seems to work very good for me.  I’ve used it for years on my older Athearn BB chassis to truck power pickup and in turnout hinges without any problems.
 
Home Depot stocks the Hillman Graphite in white 3 gram tubes and auto part houses stock the Permatex Lithium Grease in 1.5 ounce tubes, a little goes a long way.  It’s a bunch cheaper than Carbon Conductive Grease.
 
I bought some cheapo 10ML syringes off eBay for applicators.  I mix the grease and graphite power until the white grease turns a dark grey and keep about 2ML in a syringe.  2ML lasts me a couple of years.
 
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 SouthPenn on Saturday, November 11, 2017 11:26 PM

CRC 2-26 is a conductive lubricant. Comes in aerosol cans. Plastic safe. 

South Penn
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Posted by Track fiddler on Saturday, November 11, 2017 11:53 PM

Sanchem  No-Ox-Id A Special

PS  It goes without sayin you will have to scrape clean where the points connect.

PS again  Apply it very sparingly with a toothpick. The stuff is potent a little bit goes a long way,  less is more.

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Posted by richg1998 on Sunday, November 12, 2017 12:01 AM

N

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Posted by 7j43k on Sunday, November 12, 2017 12:01 AM

NP01

Hello,

I have a number of switches (Atlas #4 and #6) giving me electrical trouble. Basically the blade (point rail) isn’t getting enough juice from the the contact with the stock rail or the hinge. Likely because of paint. 

 

"Likely because of paint."

If paint is causing the problem, I don't see why conductive lubricant would solve it.  Is it going to allow electricity to go "around" the paint?  Or is it going to infuse the paint with conductive properties?  Or perhaps it will sorta disolve the paint, while adding conductivity.  

It's a puzzle.

Still, I suppose it's a cheap experiment.

Seems to me if you have paint on the stock rail (as mentioned in the quote), scraping it off might help--maybe with an X-acto blade.  As opposed to applying a magic potion.

If it's in the hinge, seems kinda tricky.  Maybe some solvent, and a paper towel as a wick.  And a lot of wiggling.

 

Ed

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Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, November 12, 2017 4:39 AM

I'm in agreement with Ed. 

Occasionally I go around my turnouts with a folded piece of 800 or 1200 emery paper and slide it between the stock rail and back side of the points. Lots of gunk can accumulate there.

And in a "belt & suspenders" philosophy, I do add a very tiny bit of CRC 2-26. I found it at Grainger in a 16 oz. bottle.

Lately I have been using the DeOxIt D-100L. A friend gave me a sample tube and it worked wonders on battery contacts, truck needle point contacts, bolster contacts and such. Pretty pricey but, IMHO, worth it. You only need a tiny dab.

Good Luck, Ed

 

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Posted by gregc on Sunday, November 12, 2017 6:15 AM

Excel Lubricants: conductive and plastic safe

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Sunday, November 12, 2017 7:05 AM

Neolube (colloidal graphite in isopropyl alcohol)

The alcohol is a carrier agent that evaporates away, leaving the graphite behind.  which as others have stated, is conductive.  Its pricy though.  Micromark wants $20 a bottle.  A bottle will last a long time.  Clean up is easy on non-porous surfaces..wipe it off with a paper towel that is damp with isopropyl alcohol.  

Clean up from porous surfaces is not.

Rule 108: In case of doubt or uncertainty, the safe course must be taken.
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Posted by BigDaddy on Sunday, November 12, 2017 8:34 AM

NP01
Tried soldering a 22 gauge wire across the hinge, and that cures the problem completely. But this is very hard to do ... and risky. Not feasible with 40+ switches.

I've seen posts about using much smaller wire to create jumpers to point rails. I would think decoder wire would be big enough. It's still 80 soldering points.

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by SouthPenn on Sunday, November 12, 2017 9:23 AM

I have a small tooth brush sized wire brush that I clean the points and stock rail with.

You can get these in steel or brass, probably in any well stocked hardware store.

( I have had mine so long, I forgot where I got it-sorry )

South Penn
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Posted by NP01 on Sunday, November 12, 2017 10:35 AM

Thanks so much all for your comments. Sounds like CRC 2-26 is readily available, cheap and has a couple of votes so I will try that first. I also do have some fine sandpaper stock, if I fold it so both sides are sandy and insert between the point and stock rail, that ought to help a bit.

7j43k

Or is it going to infuse the paint with conductive properties?  Or perhaps it will sorta disolve the paint, while adding conductivity.

Ed, I take your comment in the spirit of helping me although it hurt my intelligence just a little it. Embarrassed

I masked all hinges and points before spraying, but still the hinge it's not shiny (small specks of paint) and likely there is gunk between the stock and point rail. Bet it's not just the paint though, and in that you are right. Ballasting (whiteglue/water mix) likely also got into the hinge.

I will report back soon!

NP

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Posted by mlehman on Sunday, November 12, 2017 10:37 AM

7j43k
Seems to me if you have paint on the stock rail (as mentioned in the quote), scraping it off might help--maybe with an X-acto blade. As opposed to applying a magic potion.

Start with the paint, as Ed notes, if that is the root of the issue.

A comment since I've used both Neolube and CRC 2-26. Both can solve contact problems, but they act somewhat differently. CRC 2-26 enhances metal-to-metal contact, but doesn't itself conduct in my experience. Neolube enhances contact, but can itself form a conductive path.

I'd be cautious using Neolube on track, because of that. Once it's there, it can spread and potentially cause problems. It's very persistent and absorbs into stuff like wooden ties and subroadbed, as has also been noted. Use it very sparingly. I'd give the CRC a chance first before using Neolube on track, and I've never needed anything beyond the CRC for this purpose so far, but just my opinion.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by Track fiddler on Sunday, November 12, 2017 11:04 AM

NP01

 

 
7j43k

Or is it going to infuse the paint with conductive properties?  Or perhaps it will sorta disolve the paint, while adding conductivity.

 

 

Ed, I take your comment in the spirit of helping me although it hurt my intelligence just a little it. Embarrassed

 

Neeraj

 

 I would also have to agree with Ed that scraping the paint off might just do the trick without any conductive lubricant.  I would try that first as well.

I can see where you're coming from but don't take the way Ed says things sometimes personally.  I've seen his posts enough times to know he means well.  The guys a character, ya gotta like him.

The reason I believe in No-Ox.  I know a low voltage Tech that has been in the business for 37 years.  He has been using this product faithfully for most of that time.  He told me he often works in the same buildings many times over the years.  He has never had to redo any one of his past connections.

               Track fiddler

 

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Posted by NP01 on Monday, November 13, 2017 11:39 PM

mlehman
 A comment since I've used both Neolube and CRC 2-26. Both can solve contact problems, but they act somewhat differently. CRC 2-26 enhances metal-to-metal contact, but doesn't itself conduct in my experience. Neolube enhances contact, but can itself form a conductive path. 

Insightful, thanks! So, the past two days I have done a lot of work cleaning.

  • Track cleaned with alcohol/paper towel, some leftover paint on top removed some light sanding where needed.
  • Point/stock rail interface sanded and lubed with CRC 2-26
  • Hinges lubed with CRC 2-26
  • Checked voltages at all points. I am often seeing 12.8V in places ... although most of the time I see 13.9V ... new problem to be diagnosed.
  • All engines and rolling stock taken out of service. Will be allowed back only after cleaning. 

Happy to report that two of my best engines (both Athern Genesis with 8-wheel pick up and drive), which had recently started being very stuttery have become reliable again today. 

The question now is does this stick. Only time will tell. More to come!

NP.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 5:05 AM

As an aside for those who know: is the coating formed by some of the chemical blackening agents conductive, or at least ‘conductive enough’? Copper selenide for example has only about 2ohms per inch resistance in thin films.

That would get rid of any errant ‘shininess’ where paint on the sides of rails or points had to be sanded and would likely not be a pain to apply.

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Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 6:45 AM

NP01,

The CRC is persistent, as is the Neolube.You really have to work to get rid of either. Wiping will take off the excess, but leave enough of a film to aid conductance.

Overmod
As an aside for those who know: is the coating formed by some of the chemical blackening agents conductive, or at least ‘conductive enough’? Copper selenide for example has only about 2ohms per inch resistance in thin films. That would get rid of any errant ‘shininess’ where paint on the sides of rails or points had to be sanded and would likely not be a pain to apply.

Overmod,

I love blackened wheels, but what they shed is now the primary source of grunge on my layout. Its manageable, though, and usually only show up where you have one wheel running a little high in a truck so that it builds up there.

One nice thing about the CRC treatment is that it dulls the shine, but leaves thkngs looking like steel, at least on nckel silver rail. For best results, apply to a cork, wipe lightly, and let sit overnight, then run it.

One other tip on the CRC. Be sure to clean your track before application, as it will otherwise mobilize any existing gunk when applied and create messy conditions.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by NP01 on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 10:50 AM

mlehman
 One other tip on the CRC. Be sure to clean your track before application, as it will otherwise mobilize any existing gunk when applied and create messy conditions. 

Yes, just intuitively I thought a vacuum followed by alcohol/ paper-towel clean should be the starting point. Just hoping for longevity of this clean ... 

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Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 12:24 PM

I use a wine cork with its end dampened in decanted CRC (a baby food or similar jar works well to hold a little puddle and keeps the cork off the layout) to apply to my HOn3 track. Something larger for wider track could be handier.

After the first layout wide application, it was good for a year in general and takes very little to do that. One can of CRC should be close to a lifetime supply if used solely for this purpose. Some spots may need a little dab to freshen them, but that was the only time I needed the full treatment, as operation tends to spread any subsequent applications enough to keep things working well. I treat new track after it's all ballasted, painted, weathered.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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