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  • Topic: Thoughts on Constructing a New Track Cleaning Car

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    • March 2, 2021 9:51 PM EST
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      I decided that the cleaner should have the ability to shut itself off when not moving or being dragged rather than pushed.

       

      I run Kadee couplers so I made a sliding mount that lets the coupler mover fore/aft abour 1/8".  When the cleaner is pushed, the coupler slides forward and a magnet can trigger a reed switch, or it can just push a momentary switch.

       

      When the engine pulls the cleaner back, the Kadee slides back and away from the reed/switch shutting off the cleaner's motor.

       

      If the engine stops, the cleaner pulls itself forward via the the abrasive wheels and shuts itself off.

       

      I made a copper reinforcement and slotted it on the mill.  I slotted the trucks just using the drill press and pulling it against the bit as it turns.  This allows the coupler to slide back and forth but not up and down while retaining its position.

       

      The Kadee is actually mounted through the slot in the copper (and plastic) and the existing plastic tab that sticks beyond it is unused, but does not interfere with the Kadees in any way so can stay.

       

      This post was edited by Todd Brody at March 3, 2021 6:30 AM EST
    • March 9, 2021 5:12 PM EST
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      Coming along.  I cut the frame, deck, and coupler mount on the laser today.

       

      I also ordered a pair of 11.1 volt, 2,200 mA Li-ion batteries and a charger for $30 total.

      From the underside you can see how the coupler lever switch (spdt) is activated.  The forward toggle switch selects if the motor runs when either pushing or pulling the cleaner.  The rear toggle selects the onboard battery pack, the wheel pickups, or motor off.  While the wheel pickups do little on very dirty track (only the rear axle sees semi-clean track), once the track is semi-clean, they should work provided the wheels are clean. 

       

      Of course if I wanted to use the existing hole (I did), I had to "clearance" the toggle switch for when the axle raises or it would hit the switch and loose travel.  The wires come put though the holes where you now see the screws.  These align with the frame and the wire come forward to where they come onto the deck.  The stake bed's holes will make it easy to retain the battery pack.

      This post was edited by Todd Brody at March 9, 2021 7:08 PM EST
    • March 16, 2021 9:45 PM EDT
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      The track cleaner is complete, though I may add a flashing diode at some point in the future to indicate when the cleaning motor is running.

       

      It's a simple matter to hold down the battery pack with a couple rubber bands.  This also allows for a quick change.  I got two 11.1V, 2,200 maH, Li-ion packs and a charger for just $30 shipped, but had to change out the plugs to what I had.  

      From the bottom you can see the workings.  The six 1/4 oz lead weights along the front edge counterbalance the battery pack that sits behind center.  This is also just the amount of weight necessary to make the abrasive wheels contact the railhead.

      A close-up of the switching arrangement.  The center-off, DPDT switch selects the battery pack or wheel pick-ups.  Note the bridge rectifier connected to the track pick-ups.  This ensures that the motor spins the same way as it does on the battery regardless of track polarity.  The SPDT switch selects whether the motor spins when the unit is being push or pulled.  For example, like the LGB track cleaner, it can be set to spin the cleaning motor when it is being pushed, but the motor will stop when it is towed the other direction.  This also allows for the unit to also be towed so that it runs when pulled behind a battery-powered engine, but stops when pushed in reverse. 

       

      In theory, the switch/motor direction/combination create an "auto-off" feature.  The motor spins so as to pull the car away from the engine regardless of if it is pushed or towed.  If the push/tow engine should stop, and the cleaner motor continues to run (as it will with batteries or under track power if the push/pull engine gets stuck), this opens the coupler switch shutting off the motor. 

        

      The old springs had lots of wear and not a lot of tension so bottomed out.  Luckily, I have plenty of spares from the various AristoCraft engines and coaches.  These work fine and all moving and rubbing areas received a coat of LaBelles grease. 

       

      And, because it is imperative that the motor be easily removable to change the wheels, I wanted the deck to be quickly/easily removable with a way for the wire to come through, but I didn't want it to show.  A pair of magnets are CA'ed to the bottom of the deck to secure the deck to the two screws that hold the motor in place.  The extended battery wires allow the deck plenty of freedom when removing the motor or working on the chassis.  The wires are secured in the channels with wedges of foam so that they don't interfere with the placement of the deck. 

       

       

      This post was edited by Todd Brody at March 16, 2021 9:46 PM EDT
    • March 17, 2021 9:39 AM EDT
      • Elverta, CA
         
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      Todd

       

      Well thought out and nicely executed idea!

       

      Lets see some video of it working please.

       

      A fuse would be a good idea IMO.

       

      FWIW: You purchased a Li-Poly battery... Not a Li-Ion. While these batteries are widely, if not exclusively used by radio control model plane, drone, car and boat modelers they do not have battery protection circuit boards to prevent battery abuse installed in Li-Ion battery packs. If you'll not you have a battery balance pigtail to be utilized with "balance chargers". This feature is superior for battery management and charging regimens. You can add a PCB for a few bucks or simply monitor the voltage. There are also audible and viewable voltage monitors available for the Li-Po's for a few bucks too. I've been using Li-poly's for my, trains, drones, cars, boats and planes for maybe fifteen years with great success.

       

      Michael

        

    • March 17, 2021 2:13 PM EDT
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      Michael Glavin said:

      Todd

       

      Well thought out and nicely executed idea!

       

      Lets see some video of it working please.

       

      A fuse would be a good idea IMO.

       

      FWIW: You purchased a Li-Poly battery... Not a Li-Ion. While these batteries are widely, if not exclusively used by radio control model plane, drone, car and boat modelers they do not have battery protection circuit boards to prevent battery abuse installed in Li-Ion battery packs. If you'll not you have a battery balance pigtail to be utilized with "balance chargers". This feature is superior for battery management and charging regimens. You can add a PCB for a few bucks or simply monitor the voltage. There are also audible and viewable voltage monitors available for the Li-Po's for a few bucks too. I've been using Li-poly's for my, trains, drones, cars, boats and planes for maybe fifteen years with great success.

       

      Michael

        

      This is the charger I got.  It charges the three cells separately.  

       

      The cleaner is very aggressive, though I did get the most abrasive pads.  There are four separate "grits" available of these pads.  I didn't think they would be as aggressive as they are.  But then, the motor would spin at about 8,000 RPM without a load.  When it is spinning and you look at the pads, they are so fast that you really don't see them moving.

       

      It really needs to run at a fairly constant speed and I'll do up an FA with 14.8 volts with an on-board TE that used to have 15 sub-C nicads.  At this point I have several nice shiny spots on the track where the initial trials have been performed.  With the right amount of weight, it will take off on it's own with great speed!  It could probably drag a railcar to slow it down, but the speed would not be consistant across the pike.

    • March 20, 2021 6:00 PM EDT
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      For the pusher engine, an AristoCraft FA with on-board TE, I purchased a 14.8, 5,200 mAH pack on the bay for $28 shipped from the US. At that price, even if it doesn't last it's no great loss.

      Does anyone have recommendations for a charger that is commensurate with the cost of the battery?

       

      Image 1 - Youme-Power-14-8v-5200mah-50c-Li-poly-Battery

       

      Image 2 - Youme-Power-14-8v-5200mah-50c-Li-poly-Battery

    • March 20, 2021 7:26 PM EDT
      • Santa Ana, CA
         
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      I got one.

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