Very small layout, really a wheel cleaner

Discussion in 'Tools' started by Dr Tony, Jun 9, 2018.

  1. Dr Tony

    Dr Tony Full Member

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    Jun 10, 2017
    With the prospect of having my own exhibition layout very soon, it is operational, just not sceniced at all, I have the potential issue of lots of wheel cleaning of locos just before or even during an exhibition. My first layout of this sort will predominantly run Hornby 0-4-0 and 0-6-0 locos and they regularly need either cleaning or polishing to be at their best and not requiring a little nudge every so often. This is even more important for a shunting layout such as mine.
    There are a number of commercial products out there but they can be unwieldy and/or expensive. Some even seem a bit harsh, this is more important for the plated wheels as I don't want to wear out the plating.
    I had read about the technique of some sort of cloth moistened with contact cleaner put across the rails and in contact with two wheels, leaving the others to contact the rail. This works very well for the small tank locos where all wheels are driven. It also works well for modern diesels. It will have some issues with some of the older diesels, like Lima and anything else really with traction tyres. That will need a different technique.
    I had tried this technique on the layout and it worked very well, but it has the potential to grind away the track where the other driving wheels are in contact with it. It can also make a mess. Hence the need to make a dedicated track. For this I fabricated a box using standard baseboard techniques with pine framing, ply top and my nail gun. As this is a low cost project I used an old piece of track from the junk box.
    Wanted to keep all the wiring neat, so all the wiring is underneath. It will eventually be tidied further with some well placed cable ties. Here we have standard track power joints, a centre off 2 way switch and a DC socket to take the power from a 12V power pack from an external HDD (these seem to breed at work). The centre off switch allows a change in direction and a quick shut down. This is not really necessary, but does make the job easier, it can save turning the loco around.
    The length of it was chosen on the piece of ply I had around, it still fits this guy quite well, not sure about a Garratt, but I don't have one of them.
    Then to demonstrate I chose an old steel wheeled Tri-ang loco, the wheels on it look like this
    After just a few seconds cleaning I ended up moving the cloth a lot as it became soiled very quickly.
    Couldn't really capture an after photo of the wheels that worked, but suffice to say that they looked much better and worked very well.
    My cleaner of choice is CRC CO contact cleaner, a cleaner that leaves no residue.
    Total cost about $5, mainly for the switch and socket, everything else was on hand.
    Toto likes this.
  2. Toto

    Toto Staff Member Founder Administrator

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    Dec 5, 2017
    A very effective solution. I can see one of these being built. :thumbs:

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