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  • Topic: Thoughts on Constructing a New Track Cleaning Car

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    • January 2, 2021 3:12 PM EST
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      Thoughts on Constructing a New Track Cleaning Car

      I have several various types of "passive" track cleaners, including manual, railcar, and engine, but none of them "spin an abrasive" like the LGB track cleaning engine.

       

      I did have one of those, but it was troublesome, even after LGB "fixed" it, and the abrasive disks have gotten so expensive as to be prohibitive (>$20/pr and I could go through a couple at a time).

       

      I figured that there had to be a more economical way to accomplish this.

       

      There is a company (Cratex) that makes rubberized abrasive disks in various grades, diameters, widths, and chuck holes.  

       

       

       

      https://www.mscdirect.com/product/details/41168642

       

      On the bay I found a seller and paid $51 for 100 medium grade disks with a 1" diameter and 3/16" width for a 1/8" arbor.

       

      The idea is to find a motor that could fit a wheel to each side, yet fit within the confines of the track, working voltage, mounting provisions, size limitations, etc.

       

      There was no way to find such a motor with a 1/8" shaft on both sides.

       

      But, I got one of these.  They are 16 volt (about perfect) and have two 2mm shafts and spin at 11,200 RPM (unloaded).

       

      The height (20.8MM or 0.81") is less than the 1" wheel diameter, so I should get >0.2" of wear before the motor drops to where it would drag on the ties.

       

      To compensate for the 2MM shaft, I ordered a piece of 2MM ID, 4MM OD stainless tube that I can slip over each end.  4MM is about perfect for the large radius of a 5/32-32 nut which is very close to the wheels' 1/8" arbor hole (which is probably oversized anyway).  Alternatively, it could be turned down to a 1/8" center. 

       

      The parts are only available out of China, and have been ordered, but shipping will take some time.  Once these arrive, I can work out a set of trucks to contain it. 

       

       

      This post was edited by Todd Brody at January 2, 2021 3:17 PM EST
    • January 2, 2021 5:29 PM EST
      • Kansas City, US-KS
         
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      If this motor doesn't work, I suggest using two motors.  One for each rail.  

      ____________________________________

      The Rock Creek Railway runs mostly D&RGW steam era engines and rolling stock outside on 332 track.  I use NCE 10A DCC with Zimo decoders. 

    • January 6, 2021 4:07 PM EST
      • Cape Cod,
         
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      Hmmm...  It sounds like a good plan.  Will these be mounted vertical or horizontally?

    • January 7, 2021 1:32 PM EST
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      The intent is to mount the motor horizontally set up like an arbor or such with a disk on either end, similar to the LGB track cleaning engines.  The disks form the "tire tread" and a washer can serve as the flange, if necessary.   The motor could pivot, like the LGB, or float as a third axle between two sets of wheels.

       

      The idea is to use one motor so both sides wear about the same and the motor drops equally side to side.  Two motors complicates (one per side) this as they would want to tilt with pad wear whereas the complementary stationary axles wouldn't.

    • February 12, 2021 8:31 PM EST
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      Back onto this.

       

      Today I took a couple USA traction tire wheels and milled them down to the width of the flanges.  Then I lathed them down in diameter so that the flanges wouldn't bottom out as the new "treads/tires" start at just 1" in diameter.  The center of a USA wheel is about 1.2" in diameter so if the diameter of the flange is not reduced accordingly, they would bottom on the "tie plates" in short order as the pads wear down.  I wish they had 1-1/4 or 1-1/2" diameter wheels.

       

      The SS rod easily "hand threaded" with a 10-32 die and its diameter is just larger than the motor shafts.  Hopefully, not so large as to be "sloppy" when CA is applied.  The OD also fits the hole in the USA wheel pretty well and it is a simple matter to drill out the abrasive wheels a bit for the larger size.

      This post was edited by Todd Brody at February 12, 2021 8:33 PM EST
    • February 13, 2021 8:05 AM EST
      • Eastern Massachusetts
         
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      When stating abrasive I hope it is a very fine grit that actually just polishes the rail as that is what the material in the LGB track cleaner does.  I have seen some adds touting the LGB cleaner as a grinder, it is really a polisher.

       

    • February 13, 2021 9:46 AM EST
      • Pleasanton, California
         
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      Todd, Here's my version of a track cleaning car.  No moving parts other than a floating block with Scotch Brite Purple pad mounted under a caboose.  The Scotch Brite pads are very gentle on the track.  I've been using the Scotch Brite pads since 2007 in combination with the Caboose and a pole sander.

      This post was edited by Dan DeVoto at February 13, 2021 9:47 AM EST
      ____________________________________

      Dan DeVoto

      P-Town & West Side R.R.

      Pleasanton, California

      https://www.youtube.com/danstrains

    • February 13, 2021 1:20 PM EST
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      Dan Pierce said:

      When stating abrasive I hope it is a very fine grit that actually just polishes the rail as that is what the material in the LGB track cleaner does.  I have seen some adds touting the LGB cleaner as a grinder, it is really a polisher.

       

       

      I took one of the disks and mounted it on the threaded stainless rod and after just a few "finger spins" against the railhead, the track shines beautifully.  I think the abrasiveness is just about perfect.  The disks feel like hardened rubber.

    • February 13, 2021 1:23 PM EST
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      Dan DeVoto said:

      Todd, Here's my version of a track cleaning car.  No moving parts other than a floating block with Scotch Brite Purple pad mounted under a caboose.  The Scotch Brite pads are very gentle on the track.  I've been using the Scotch Brite pads since 2007 in combination with the Caboose and a pole sander.

       

      I have several variations of this including one suspended from an AristoCraft U-boat that articulates with the curves.  I also have 3D printed pieces that turn my AristoCraft FA/FB into track cleaners.  But they are all "passive" and nothing beats "active."

    • February 13, 2021 8:56 PM EST
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      Looks like the spacing should work out about perfectly.  I'll get some nylock nuts and probably flange the wheels on both the insides and outsides to help them stay on the rails.  Was a PITA threading the stainless steel without bending it too much. 

       

      BTW, I ended up threading it to 10-24.  I originally was using 10-32, but the inner thread diameter is greater than 10-24 and the nut could slip up past the threads.  The 10-24 die cuts/has a deeper thread so the nut does not slip.

       

       

      This post was edited by Todd Brody at February 14, 2021 3:06 PM EST
    • February 17, 2021 8:06 PM EST
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      I think I nailed the gauge.  The wheel flanges come in perfectly spaced on the Kadee coupler gauge.  That thin piece of brass shown on the right is a spacer/shim I made fitting the assembly to the track, but isn't necessary according to the Kadee gauge, which is probably far more accurate than the track gauge.

       

      What that shim is is all that is left over from a USA GP-9 metal wheel after I put it through the mill and lathe..., as are all of the wheel pieces.

       

      I'll cut the flanges down a bit on the lathe because the "tread" is smaller than that of the USA wheel, and as the pads wear, the flanges would eventually rub the tie plates. 

       

      I guess the real question will be "Using CA, will the axle tubes hold to the motor shafts under load?"

       

      This post was edited by Todd Brody at February 17, 2021 8:09 PM EST
    • February 19, 2021 12:59 AM EST
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      I was getting it all together and it occured to me..., 

       

      I want to run track power and the motor shalf will short out the wheel flanges unless I use plastic wheels or start with metal wheels with plastic centers for the inner flanges.  The treaded tube is fine as is the metal outter "keeper" that can be turned down. 

       

      Alternatively, the motor could be mounted "rigid" between two axles and there would be no need for a flange at all, just "keepers" on the inside and outside of the pads.  The AristoCraft 3-axle truck from the Heavyweights mounts the motor in the center right at the axle line and there would be no need for flanges.  But that could make it difficult to change cleaning pads.

    • February 19, 2021 6:28 PM EST
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      So far so good with the single that I have. Here you can see what I'm doing. I will have to disconnect the pick-up wiring because I had to use lower profile wheels and very few wheels on the market have insulated axles. The existing AristoCraft wheels are too large in diameter for my needs.

      As it is, the two outter axles are sprung and the spring suspension holds the central pads just above the rail head. As weight is added, the pads will bear down on the track. The amount of weight controls the tension, provided the CA that holds the axle shafts to the motor shafts continues to hold. I haven't tried gluing it yet.

      I need to continue to grind the flanges that I made into spacers so that their diameter is a couple tenths less than the pads so that thay don't short out the track when using track power to push this along. With everything in perfect alignment, flanges shouldn't be necessary just as there are no flanges on the two center axles on the C-16. I can't put a washer on the outsides dues to spatial limitations, but the nut digs into the rubber pretty well.

      The motor will be CA'ed to the acrylic and the acrylic screwed to the frame making it removable to change the pads. Otherwise, you couldn't get them on/off because the side frames would be in the way.

       

    • February 19, 2021 7:38 PM EST
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      I decided to mill a thicker piece of acrylic to size so that I could use the Aristocraft wheels.  They are much heavier with bigger flanges which should help tracking.  And, I can use the pick-ups to power it.

    • February 21, 2021 5:39 PM EST
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      And there you have it.  A one-off track cleaner like no other for just a few dollars in a motor, piece of tube, a connector, and some abrasive wheels.  And replacement wheels are ~$0.55 each as opposed to the LGB cleaning wheels that go for ~$25-$30/pr. 

       

       

       

    • February 22, 2021 1:46 PM EST
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      I did a pass, hand pushing, back and forth and back and forth and this is the result.  I didn't have the truck properly weighted and you can see where the one axle is slipping on the shaft.  But look at the original condition of the track and the bad vs the good side. 

       

       

      This post was edited by Todd Brody at February 22, 2021 1:48 PM EST
    • February 22, 2021 2:04 PM EST
      • Peoria, NW of Phoenix, Arizona
         
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      all the comments I have read on Facebook and elsewhere advise against abrasives to clean track , as the scratches left behind make the track get dirty faster. plus abrasives are actually removing material, wearing the track down in the process. My opinion , for what its worth, zero, zip , nada!

      ____________________________________

       

       

       

       

       

       

      The Babs River Railway

      We can do that, but its gonna cost you... a lot more

       

    • February 22, 2021 2:15 PM EST
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      The pads are available in four abrasive compounds from very fine to coarse.  None of them are as coarse as the LGB track cleaning engine, those products that are dragged, or even a drywall pad before it wears down.

       

      I'm betting that if you don't use some form of abrasives on your track, you don't run track power, your layout is indoors, you live in a very mild environment, or you run SS track.

       

      BTW, have you ever seen the "zebra stripes" left from the LGB track cleaning engine?

      This post was edited by Todd Brody at February 22, 2021 2:18 PM EST
    • February 22, 2021 2:55 PM EST
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      Now I'm thining about using the pads to make a wheel cleaner similar to the "rollers" used for static display.  

    • February 22, 2021 6:44 PM EST
      • Peoria, NW of Phoenix, Arizona
         
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      I use a red scotchbrite pad on a pole , I bought a drywall sander and it had a fine sandpaper on it and the track SEEMS to be cleaner and easier to get clean since I switched to the scotch brite and you cannot see any scratches in the track. I live inArizona , so sun baked with dust and occasionally wet

      ____________________________________

       

       

       

       

       

       

      The Babs River Railway

      We can do that, but its gonna cost you... a lot more

       

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