Best way to clean model railroad track

Cleaning model railroad track is essential for ensuring smooth operation of trains and preventing derailments. Here are some of the best ways to clean model railroad track:

  1. Use a track cleaning car: A track cleaning car is a special type of car that has cleaning pads or brushes attached to its underside. As it moves along the track, it cleans the rails and removes any dirt, dust, or other debris.

2. Use a track cleaning fluid: There are various track cleaning fluids available on the market that can be used to clean model railroad track. These fluids are applied to a cleaning pad or cloth, which is then used to wipe the rails clean.

Track Cleaning Fluids

3. Use a track cleaning block: A track cleaning block is a small block of material, such as abrasive rubber or fiberglass, that is used to clean the rails. Simply rub the block over the rails to remove any dirt or oxidation.

Track Cleaning Bright Boy

4. Use a track cleaning tool: There are various track cleaning tools available, such as brushes, scrapers, and erasers, that can be used to clean the rails. These tools are particularly useful for cleaning hard-to-reach areas, such as switches and turnouts.

Tidy Track Rail Tracker Cleaning Kit 

This Woodland Scenics Tidy Track is my preferred method to clean track

5. Use a vacuum cleaner: A vacuum cleaner can be used to remove any loose dirt or debris from the track. Make sure to use a soft brush attachment to avoid scratching the rails.

Vacuums for cleaning track and excess scenery

Regardless of the method you choose, it is important to regularly clean your model railroad track to ensure that it operates smoothly and reliably.

Developing Your First Model Train Layout

To develop your model train layout there are four major steps to take before you begin construction:

1: Select the size of your model train, that is the scale or gauge. Scales range from micro-sized Z scale for tiny layouts to giant G-scale used mostly for outdoor garden layouts.

Visit hobby shops or model train websites and see the various scales available. Staff at a hobby shop will usually be happy to point out the advantages and/or disadvantages of each scale. Your decision about scale/size will be partly based on the space available for your layout. The most popular scales are O scale which is 1/48th actual size and the smaller HO scale which is 1/87th actual size. As a result of being the two most popular scales these have the greatest variety of locomotives, cars and accessories available.

Model Train Scales an article written earlier may also help.

2: Learn about layouts for the scale you have chosen by reading magazines such as O Gauge Railroading and Classic Toy Trains (these two are for O scale). Model Railroading provides detailed information about HO and N scale. All are full of information – all the good train hobby stores carry them or you can pick them up at places like Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

Also visit websites related to your scale choice Google the term “model train layouts” for a great listing of sites with information about model train layouts. You may also wish to check out Youtube for more information on layouts.

Re-visit hobby shops you visited for information when deciding on the scale of your model train set and ask questions about layout. The good ones can provide helpful advice and they sell how-to books on wiring, scenery, detailing and other subjects.

3: You then need to decide on how you start. Do you want to start with a little layout that can later be extended? Do you want to set up a permanent layout right from the start? Do you want to develop a ‘theme’ layout say a layout depicting California logging railroads in the 1920s? The major decisions are to determine your objective and set the size parameters for your layout. Don’t forget that the size parameters for your layout will be determined largely by the space you have available a basement? the corner of a lounge room? portion of your garage? etc.

Deciding a Track Plan Before Building Your Model Railroad Layout another article written here.

4: Begin making sketches and drawings on plain paper it’s easier to make changes to your drawing than to have to physically pry up a section of track that ‘went wrong’. Refer back to magazines and websites during this planning stage just to see what others have done. Many magazines and websites will have photos of layouts appropriate to the scale you have chosen. There are even some computer programs which can help you with designing your layout – look for ads in model train magazines.