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Cleaning locomotive wheels when the model has traction tires

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Cleaning locomotive wheels when the model has traction tires
Posted by gdelmoro on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 6:52 AM

Usually I use the paper towel and alcohol method to clean my locomotive wheels. However, some of my locos have traction tires and the alcohol would likely destroy them.

How do you clean locomotives that have traction tires?

Gary

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Posted by SouthPenn on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 9:12 AM

Spray clean with a plastic safe electronic cleaner??

A q-tip with WD-40 or CRC 2-26??

You might look into a tire cleaner for slot cars or radio controlled vehicles.

South Penn
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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 9:25 AM

I'd think WD-40 in particular would be a long-lived and rather effective lubricant on traction tires, not a cleaner.  What I need to know, and find I don't, is what the current elastomers used for traction tires are, and what 'cleaning materials' would swell or degrade them if used.

I was not of the impression that alcohol applied via a Q-tip for the time it takes to clean crud from a wheel tread would damage poly-vinyl chloride, which is what I remember traction tires as being the last time I considered using them. 

Problem with some of the RC/slotcar tire cleaners is that they're foam and water based, and not formulated to be used close to electrically-conductive components.  They would probably be quite effective, but you'd have to take at least nominal care to avoid the 'cleaning solution' wicking its way between the traction tire and its wheel.  Or a great many other places close to the 'zone of application'...

I am continuing to watch this thread for the experts' opinions.

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Posted by dknelson on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 10:13 AM

Traction tires are such a bear to replace that I am reluctant to suggest any liquid of a chemical nature be it alcohol, clipper oil, goo-gone, vinegar, ammonia, or any of the usual wheel/track cleaning fluids including the citrus based ones.

What I suggest, and have used on some old AHM engines with increasingly fragile traction tires, is distilled water on a Tortillion -- an art supply item sometimes called a blending stump which can be described as a tightly wound paper with a pointy tip that looks like a pencil.  The VERY mildly abrasive paper (paper is a bit abrasive which is why people who sew do not allow their best scissors to be dulled by cutting paper) and the distilled water should pull up a fair amount of grime.

Unlike a Qtip the tortillion has no loose fibers to get into gears or bearings.

And if you wonder why a model railroader should have tortillions in the house I can say they have many uses in weathering if you use powders and pan pastels.

Dave Nelson

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Posted by selector on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 12:07 PM

You appear to be asking how to clean such an equipped steamer by doing it all at one time...like the paper-towel-across-the-track method.  How 'bout inverting the beast in a cradle, powering the tender via clips, and using a Q-Tip on the drivers that need the treatment? 

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Posted by gdelmoro on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 2:06 PM

selector

You appear to be asking how to clean such an equipped steamer by doing it all at one time...like the paper-towel-across-the-track method.  How 'bout inverting the beast in a cradle, powering the tender via clips, and using a Q-Tip on the drivers that need the treatment? 

 

You’re correct. That is what I was asking.

These are BLI Paragon 2 & 3 and run on DC and DCC.  I ned to check to see if i disabled DC in CV29, then I can do it that way. Sounds like a good way to do it.

Gary

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 7:59 PM

I was actually thinking that the way you clean tires is to turn the engine at about a 45-degree angle from upside down with power applied to the drive -- this keeping any of the solution from falling down into the mechanism or being thrown where it might get in your eye.  There are a variety of ways to get power; a 'cheat' I used was a short length of power-feeder track on the tender pickup wheels attached with a Velcro strap around the tender body.

Yes, tortillions are superior to both Q-tips (less lint and better scurf pickup) and foam electronics-cleaning swabs (more 'tooth').  I used them with solvents and solutions, though, following up with a couple of passes with the demineralized water on a separate one.

(As an aside, some tortillions are made so they can be sharpened in a pencil sharpener...)

 

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Posted by snjroy on Wednesday, February 07, 2018 1:45 PM

I'm not an expert. I have been using 70% alcohol for years on my locos with rubber tires without any problems (Mantuas, Roundhouses and Rivarossis). I certainly don't clean them often and yes, I also turn my locos around and focus on the metal wheels. Alcohol evaporates pretty quickly. Some tires on my locos have dried out after a long storage, but that had nothing to do with cleaning. In all cases, be aware that WD40 is dangerous for your health if you don't wear a mask. Also, I would suspect that the petroleum content of WD40 is harmful on some of the components of your locos, including the paint and rubber tires.

Simon

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Posted by mbinsewi on Wednesday, February 07, 2018 2:13 PM

Aww geeez! Even good old WD-40 can't catch a break from all the dangerous chemical safety rants.

Just the fact that it does not contain chemicals regulated under the CSDWTEA, aka California Proposition 65, means I can put this on my toast in the morning.

https://www.wd40company.com/files/pdf/sds/mup/wd-40-multi-use-product-aerosol-sds-us-ghs-7-20-14.pdf

Mike.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, February 07, 2018 3:02 PM

Ya gotta love a company headquartered in California that can't/won't sell its most popular product there.

Reading between the lines, the 'penetrating' part of it is still largely Stoddard solvent thinning Three-in-One.   Really carefully formulated and perhaps partly-synthetic Stoddard solvent, but I think functionally about the same.  The real 'secret sauce' is probably in the surfactant content which is part of what makes it so good at 'water displacing' and in some of the other trace constituents.

it's really a triumph of marketing, the way sodium lauryl sulfate was for Amway.  

And I still think leaving a thin film of Three-in-One on traction tires after 'treatment' and solvent vehicle evaporation is not the best thing for traction, even if the solvent and surfactant action did lift contaminants from the surface...

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Posted by gdelmoro on Friday, February 09, 2018 6:31 PM

Overmod

I was actually thinking that the way you clean tires is to turn the engine at about a 45-degree angle from upside down with power applied to the drive -- this keeping any of the solution from falling down into the mechanism or being thrown where it might get in your eye.  There are a variety of ways to get power; a 'cheat' I used was a short length of power-feeder track on the tender pickup wheels attached with a Velcro strap around the tender body.

Yes, tortillions are superior to both Q-tips (less lint and better scurf pickup) and foam electronics-cleaning swabs (more 'tooth').  I used them with solvents and solutions, though, following up with a couple of passes with the demineralized water on a separate one.

(As an aside, some tortillions are made so they can be sharpened in a pencil sharpener...)

 

 

Well I was originally asking about cleaning the wheels that DO NOT have the traction tire.  Now, you’e Got me thinking, do I need to clean them too? Indifferent

Gary

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, February 09, 2018 7:11 PM

gdelmoro
Now, you’ve got me thinking, do I need to clean them too?

Yes, scurf builds up on the rubber, and I think you would want to clean them.

It honestly never occurred to me that when you said 'clean drivers on a locomotive with traction tires' you meant cleaning the ordinary ones.  I should become a more careful reader in my old age ... but that is evidently not happening nearly fast enough!

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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, February 09, 2018 10:30 PM

gdelmoro
Usually I use the paper towel and alcohol method to clean my locomotive wheels. However, some of my locos have traction tires and the alcohol would likely destroy them. How do you clean locomotives that have traction tires?

Gary, your opening post said "that have traction tires".  That's what everyone has responded to.  Now it's changed?  Just what is it, with or without traction tires? Confused

Mike.

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Posted by Metro Red Line on Saturday, February 10, 2018 5:39 PM

Overmod

Ya gotta love a company headquartered in California that can't/won't sell its most popular product there.

 

I live in California and you can easily buy WD-40 anywhere. The Prop 65 law just means that you are required to include the warning in your product. It doesn't mean the product is banned. 

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, February 10, 2018 6:38 PM

Metro Red Line
The Prop 65 law just means that you are required to include the warning in your product. It doesn't mean the product is banned. 

Then why did it say on the cited MSDS "Not for sale in California"?

I certainly think you can buy cans labeled 'WD40' in California, but reading between the lines they would contain different formulation from 'standard', and I somewhat uncharitably would expect that the product in those cans might not perform as well in some respects.

Nor would I expect them to mention anything objective about this on the can, except insofar as it gives them some perceived 'green cred' or the ability to note it is 'less harmful' in some perhaps contorted se

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Posted by BigDaddy on Saturday, February 10, 2018 6:51 PM

WD-40 will take off adhesive from a paper label with adhesive backing.  Knowing that, I inherited a craftsman tool cabinet, where the plastic, or rubber mat on top "melted"  I thought it would take off the sticky rubber. instead, it took off the paint.

I would think alcohol would be a lot less reactive to traction tires than whatever is in WD-40

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, February 10, 2018 9:12 PM

As long as you remember WD40 is substantially light oil dissolved in a lot of chemically-engineered paint thinner you will understand many of the constraints on effective 1001 uses.  

It pays to learn enough organic chemistry to know what substances attack each other (and at least some of the 'why'), and to understand why good cleaners work (they don't just dissolve crud; it would plate right out as the solution evaporated or require more rubbing than Brasso) and why bad cleaners have side effects.

Alcohol is good for removing deposits of vaporized lube oil, and 'house dirt' which is largely soluble in the stuff.  It will benefit from a SMALL amount of surfactant that will surround the removed grease and present a surface that stays 'water-soluble' (the fancy word is 'hydrophilic') and hence easily absorbed up into a pad or Q-tip or tortillion instead of smearing along in surface effect on the metal or vinyl.  More than a little and you will need some extra rinse steps as you can't flush the solubilized crud off with an 'excess of water' in most cases...

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Posted by SouthPenn on Saturday, February 10, 2018 9:25 PM

Just use dishwashing liquid ( dawn? ) and a q-tip.

South Penn
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Posted by azrail on Monday, February 12, 2018 1:46 PM

What I understand the oil in WD40 is fish oil, a byproduct of the tuna canneries in San Diego.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, February 12, 2018 11:45 PM

azrail
What I understand the oil in WD40 is fish oil, a byproduct of the tuna canneries in San Diego.

That's not correct for WD40 (look at the government MSDS data sheets).  This is one of those wacky ideas like the idea WD40 will 'lubricate' arthritic joints just like it does rusty bolts.

The product famously using fish oil was Rustoleum.

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