Brass Track Maintenance

Henri

Henri

refuses to grow up
6 May 2016
1,226
0
51
Hoeksche Waard - Netherlands
Just read in another thread here, even with a Piko peeps vid, that it is battery powered. The cleaning mechanism is just the two pickups dragging over the tracks.

It's a wonderful little machine, but very bad at cleaning sidings...
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

Registered
8 Mar 2014
2,358
29
San Diego
www.elmassian.com
I have communicated with Jonathan Meador, the head of Piko America...

Loco is battery only
Runs on AAA cells, in a holder in the "radiator"
little scrubbing pads underneath

I would advise this is more of a maintenance unit than something that can take heavily oxidized rail and clean it quickly.

The other, non-cleaning locos are track power only.

I have an advance copy of the advertisement that will be in the October Garden Railways magazine... November is indeed the target date for availability.

The cleaning pads indeed look very similar to the LGB ones.

There is a circuit board in the roof that wires up the cab and fore and aft lights. There is also s provision to mount a speaker in the roof. The floor is raised a bit to allow space for a decoder. There is space for a standard Seuth-type smoke unit.

There you go, new information direct from Piko.

Regards, Greg
 
  • Like
Reactions: Henri
W

Weavervegas1

Registered
21 Aug 2018
4
0
69
Weaverville, NC
It's down to preparation. When first laying down your line make sure all the track joints/joiners/power connectors are clean and bright where the surfaces mate, then apply some sort of oxidization inhibitor to these joints before putting it all together - such as Massoth/LGB graphite paste. If you can use track clamps, either over joiner or direct to rail, use those as well. They don't just improve/ensure better long term electrical conductivity they also hold track formations together better. You can physically "bond" the rails, as Jon has suggested, but that can add complications if you have just started your layout and want to alter and grow.

Check the loco's pick ups and wheels for dirt and contamination - that can cause uneven running. Believe it or not "smoke oil" makes a good crud remover. Dip a cotton bud (Q-tip ?) in so of it and clean around the full circumference of all wheels that pick up current and any pick up skates - now look at the cotton bud. Do not use abrasives to clean these parts as you will be "keying" the surfaces to collect more crud. Is your line laid on a hard surface/ballast or grass and how much planting is around it ? Keep it clean within the "four foot". Amazing how little of the green stuff is required to turn a solid runner into a stuttering wreck.

Most locos, dependent on load conditions, will pull around 1.5 amps. More locos at one time, more amps. Get a reasonably powerful one from the outset. I have a Crest that can put out a thumping 20 amps if needed - bit of overkill but the model shop had a good salesman when I started 15 years ago.

Now go invest in an LGB 50050 (Google it) and fit it to a short wagon. Max


.
Thank you for the recommendation of the LGB 50050! I Googled it, and will order it ( $20 is a lot better to try than $200! ) Will also look into more powerful amperage transformers and the Massoth/LGB graphite paste.

This forum is the greatest!! Thanks to all!

Terry
 
PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
22,075
41
Tamworth, Staffs.
I have communicated with Jonathan Meador, the head of Piko America...
I wish Europe would communicate with me! :banghead::banghead:

Trying to find technical information (which I would expect to be on their website).. So have used the contact form. - They have not responded. :(
 
royale

royale

G scale and driving my Royale Sabre kit car
26 Oct 2009
1,546
0
Long Eaton
Terry, welcome to the forum. You say you are using a transformer for a Big Hauler set. The Bachmann Big Hauler locos seem to very easily develop dirty wheels which results in jerky and erratic running. Try thoroughly cleaning all the loco pick-up wheels including the pilot truck. Once the plating has worn off the Bachmann wheels. they need cleaning quite frequently. Try not to use anything abrasive - a few drops of LGB smoke oil on a tissue or cotton bud works very well.
 
trammayo

trammayo

Interested in vintage commercial vehicle, trams, t
24 Oct 2009
20,461
51
70
Co. Mayo
Hi Terry. I've recently (and in the past) had conductivity problems. The current one - no pun intended - has been on my trailer layout (in use for ten years). I find that drilling down through the track connector and rail, inserting stainless steel screws is quite effective.

103678_0a79bd058a35ceed52c4fabd43953028.jpg


Yes, it can be visually obtrusive but it works. 2mm HSS bit (use a centre punch otherwise the drill bit will wander) and 2mm x 6mm stainless steel self-tappers. Make sure the hole is clear of swarf (I just run the drill in and out) and don't overtighten because the screws are softer than ordinary steel.

And I generally use (for convenience) a Bachmann controller for the garden line (in excess of 450 ft) and can run two Bachmann 4-6-0 locos at once. It will also cope with my Aristocraft, USAT, LGB and scratchbuilt stuff. Like soldering, cleanliness is everything. I just use the fine grit sponge bocks to wipe over the track to remove oxidisation. During running operations, the kitchen wet wipes remove the build-up of dirt very effectively - but they don't remove oxide.

Loco wheels can look clean but I find cleaning them after, or during, a long running session helps. I just use a cardboard box (that formerly contained pet food trays), a bit of padding, plonk the loco upsidedown in the box and use the wet wipes (careful not to let the wipe get tangled in the loco's motion rods) and hey presto!

To get the the power to turn the wheels, I use a length of two-core flex with crocodile clips on either end - one pair to the track and the other to the loco. If it's just a two-axle loco without skates then just vey briefly touch the clips to the wheel surface so you can clean all round.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AndyAsteroid2018
Brian Slamo

Brian Slamo

Registered
22 Aug 2016
2
0
73
west midlands
Rain deposits dirt on track . I just squirt wd40 in a short length about 1" long then run the train over it . if the dirt is to bad just wipe white sprit on track ,
 
AndyAsteroid2018

AndyAsteroid2018

Registered
10 Aug 2018
2
0
65
Croydon
Well I'm a new boy but here we go.
I do a lot of electrics but not qualified above A Level Physics and messing about with electricity a lot. Electricity plus water = trouble is one rule. Dew or any other dampness just makes the bit between one rail and the other leak electricity rather than making it go through the loco engine. As your engine makes it's way around the track it vibrates and causes alternating shorts and clears them as the droplets shake together and separate. The electricity changes the surface tension of the water droplets too so they are more likely to cause a short. There will doubtless be some tiny amount of lubricant on the rail from handling and the moving parts of the loco. So it's a right mixture. Applying a more powerful transformer I think will stop the cut out activating until the short is more serious. It could even burn off the water. We wouldn't dream of running the locos in pouring rain but we are trespassing into watery world when the track is not completely dry.
 
Last edited:
dunnyrail

MOTM

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
14,040
47
70
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
Well I'm a new boy but here we go.
I do a lot of electrics but not qualified above A Level Physics and messing about with electricity a lot. Electricity plus water = trouble is one rule. Dew or any other dampness just makes the bit between one rail and the other leak electricity rather than making it go through the loco engine. As your engine makes it's way around the track it vibrates and causes alternating shorts and clears them as the droplets shake together and separate. The electricity changes the surface tension of the water droplets too so they are more likely to cause a short. There will doubtless be some tiny amount of lubricant on the rail from handling and the moving parts of the loco. So it's a right mixture. Applying a more powerful transformer I think will stop the cut out activating until the short is more serious. It could even burn off the water. We wouldn't dream of running the locos in pouring rain but we are trespassing into watery world when the track is not completely dry.
As you so eleoquently say, rain, dew or wet = Carp Running. Using a piece of Carpet Tile on a block of wood will help clear the damp. But as you also say splash up does no good to electronics.
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

Registered
8 Mar 2014
2,358
29
San Diego
www.elmassian.com
Actually there's a big variation in success with track power and wet rail. If the water is pure, like rain water it won't conduct... but different soils have different conductivities.

I have no issues with wet rails, even wet them down as trains are running, adjusting new ballast.

But moisture will normally cause some lowered resistance between the rails, how much varies, it can be little and it can be a lot.

Greg
 
PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
22,075
41
Tamworth, Staffs.
I know of one person, who had to go battery, due to 'wet' rails..

But he lives on a Scottish Island.. You can taste the salt in the air, if windy, and could apparently smell the Chlorine, when track-power was turned on..
If damp (which it is most of the time!) he 'lost' over an amp, from leakage around his track.. :eek:
 
dunnyrail

MOTM

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
14,040
47
70
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
I am going all Battery due to the sheer hastle of Track Cleaning on a large layout. Too many times I have cleaned the Track for an Operating Day only to have to do it again the next day due to overnight rain. If only I could get the Aristocraft DCC Syetem to work. help thread posted!

But now I need to remember to run the Wiper Round the Track to clear off any gunge that has been lifted by sundry critters or rain.
 
Paul2727

Paul2727

Registered
5 Jun 2018
131
4
England
The Piko site simply states "Completely battery-powered. Turn it on and let it run till rails are polished clean."
I can't wait for the 1st proper field test result to show up on here.
Paul.
 
LGB333

LGB333

Active Member
I have recently installed a 60' track around my outdoor fountain pond. Every time I use it, it needs the track cleaned with the LGB cleaner pad. The loco and rolling stock are secured out of the weather, as is the transformer, and I don't understand why it always runs erratically after a rain, or even overnight with a dew the next morning. After cleaning, it seems to run fine for several hours. I'm using the transformer for a Bachmann Big Hauler set, and wonder if a more powerful amperage would solve this problem. The track has two power connectors, located midway around the track from each other, and fed by the one transformer.

Please help me solve this annoying issue.

Thanks very much!

Terry
My small 65 foot double loop outdoor layout track has been there now 10 years and exposed to all types of weather, rain, snow, freezing rain, etc. So, after each winter I need to hand clean the rail tops with one of the red LGB track cleaning blocks. Then I use a drop or two of liquid ZAP Rail-Zip2 on each connecting rail joint...….luckily I have six foot flexible track sections so the task isn't too bad. Do the switches too, including putting a metal slides. Let this absorb into the joints for a few minutes then use a cloth to wipe off any liquid from the rail tops at each connection. You don't want the Rail-Zip to get on the loco or train car wheels to spread over all the track...….that will eventually gunk them up dirt etc.

The weather causes corrosion to the brass track joints over time, so it's a continual battle to keep good electrical connectivity throughout the layout. Also, when you first install a layout, it's a good idea to use some electrical connectivity paste on the ends of each rail joint, which again helps to protect the metal from weather corrosion. Some hobbyists even solder a wire between each track's rail joints to help ensure electrical connectivity but that's a heck of a lot of work!

Let the Forum know if the various suggestions posted to your help request have worked for you.