Large Scale Central

Amor All sprayed on tracks has left tracks slippery

I posted here about my issue with Amor All treatment for the ties but didn’t get a response. I figure I would start a new thread for my particular issue.

I applied Amor All original formula about a week ago. I have noticed ever since then a significant drop in traction of my trains. I was running them all tonight and my SD70’s have been having issues pulling, especially on grades. They have no traction tires. My GP-38’s struggle too but a little less.

Here’s what I have tried

  • Cleaning with a track cleaner block. The block has gotten kind of greasy.
  • Mr. Clean magic eraser. Track was still kind of greasy.
  • 320 grit sand paper with a light rub. Sand paper was dirty pretty quick.

I inspected the wheels of my SD70’s and they do in fact feel kind of greasy now as well.

The tie’s look great but the track seems slippery then it used to. It has not rained really since I applied it.

At this point I am not sure how much has rubbed off on to both the wheels of the engines and the wheels of the car and am concerned that even if I clean the top of the rails, the cars and engines will still have slickness to them. Are the sides of the rails really used for traction much?

Looking for advice on how to clean, or how long before the traction for my trains will go back to normal.

So rubber cleaning blocks will just get greasy as you found.

Sandpaper is not necessary, you don’t have an oxide problem, and you got it greasy.

Use Fantastik, or 409, you need a light degreaser.

Now the trick is the Swiffer, it will take you all of 5 minutes to clean the track, degrease it, and remove dust, dirt and bugs.

Easy, fast, cheap. Since I am tall, and my wife is short, I bought two of the “cleaning heads” and made one that is one section longer for me…

You can see a brief glance of me using it on my layout at 1:40… just normal walking speed is all you need.


By the way, the fluid left will actually clean the wheels of the train, I leave a train running while I clean the rails.

There’s a lot of history here and took quite an investigation to figure out what the black greasy buildup on rails from track power layouts is.

So, when I found out that not a solvent, but just a household cleaner/degreaser worked best, I could finally get my rails really clean, to the point that the swiffer cloth came away completely clean.

Then I ran a train and the rails got very dirty and much quicker than I expected. What I found is the residual cleaner (since it is water based, evaporates a bit more slowly) was actually loosening the dirt on the wheels of the rolling stock and the locos, and “sharing it” with the rails… so, a very simple way to keep your rolling stock wheels clean also.


Doing a quick bit of Googling it seems what you need is something that breaks down the silicon used in Armor All, which is probably what is mucking up the frictional coefficients betwixt wheel and rail. A suggestion I saw was Rust-Oleum’s wax and tar remover, or similar, as that breaks down silicon and would seem to be safe with plastics (rail ties). Acquire long stick, attach absorbent pad (the afore said Swiffler ?) soak in said remover and rub away. You’ll probably need to clean the wheels as well of all locos and stock that ran on affected track.

How do I know ? Some years ago I over oiled some stock and a thin film of oil, slippery stuff like silicon, ended up on the rail head and I very quickly noticed things were not getting up my inclines the way the used to. I also run live steam with my D/C track powered stock and I get the odd patch that gets oiled up and needs a quick rubbing out to restore traction. We have similar products in the UK.

The only time you will may gain any traction from a rails side is when going through a tight or reverse curve. That’s why you should avoid them on a layout. The friction they cause against the wheel flanges probably cancels out any traction benefits. There are parts of the London Underground system that are stuck with historically overly tight radius curves. You should hear the squeeling from the wheels in those places. They also suffer higher rates of track replacements in those areas for obvious reasons. It is common on the UK rail network, and others, that lubricant dispensers are used on tight curves, that apply to the wheel flanges a measured amount, to minimize this problem.

Is it a good idea to spray armor all on your ties? What is the benefit?

If you have slippery track from the AA you could grab your scotchbrite pad pole sander and make up a bucket of hot water and dish detergent and get to scrubbing. My RR is under trees and when they start to drop pitch/ sap and other goos I use the hot soapy water to clean up.

Of course a big part of running a track powered RR is not only having clean track but also clean wheels on your engines. I made this PSA a few years back about how to clean your engine wheels. I used rubbing alcohol in the video which evaporates rather quickly but it cleans well. Today I use goo gone which does a great job of cleaning but leaves the wheels a bit slippery. This wears off as you drive along. I think it is good to allow the opposite truck wheels to slip a bit when you are holding your engine over the paper towel so as not to damage gears and the goo gone allows this. Don’t press down on your engine but lift it a bit and let the wheels spin on the paper towel.

The swifter is a great idea. Definitely makes cleaning the track easier. I bought some Fantastik and scrubbed the track. It took over 10 pads as they got black pretty quick. I also cleaned the wheels of the engine itself. I then tried running a train and it seemed improved but when I tried a bigger load it slipped again for a similar load in the past that didn’t have issues for the engine.

Rubbing my finger on the rails after applying the liquid, still seemed a bit slick, though better then it was. Perhaps it needs time to dry? If not perhaps I will try Max’s suggestion wit a swifter.

A few things to note. I run battery power so never clean my rails as I have never had to until now. The greasy of the track was caused by the Amor All.

To answer your question, Todd, the Armour All is applied to the ties to slow the UV degradation of the plastic ties, and to slow the hardening of the plastic. It works well, but does require some attention to the railhead, as Gregg said. Using this method, I’ve had some of my track outside in the sun for 17 years, and the plastic ties look as good as they did in the box from the store. Its much less expensive than replacing ties every few years.

I sprayed the swifter dry wipes with Fantastik. I have also tried soaking the dry wipes an orange cleaner I have that is supposed to remove grease. Engines still have traction issues… Reading Greg’s site it looks like I should have used the wet wipes instead of dry wipes. Not sure if this will make a difference.

Steve, what do you use to remove the amor all off the rails?

I’ve never had a problem with slippage, but then my max grade is 2.5%. If I were to have a problem, I’d consider rubbing alcohol soaked Swiffer, or Simple Green. Just like Moms spit, that will take rust off a bumper.

The only difference is I watch the micro fiber when it comes as a freebe at harbor freight and they cleanup and are used over again.

The wet wipes only please!

The dry wipes shred and the key is the degreasing fluid in the wet wipes. I thought it was clear on my site, but will fix.

The key is you really don’t need abrasive material, just degreasing. Also, again, since the swiffer fluid does not evaporate immediately, you don’t have to re-apply fluid to the pads.

Nicolas, get the wet pads and report back, there is a HUGE difference, I use the dry wipes inside the house for dusting/sweeping, but the wet wipes are a whole other world. Needless to say, you don’t ever have to worry about a solvent attacking anything with the wet wipes.

Years ago we studied this, and if you read my entire track cleaning page I explain how a number of us figured out we had to combat, and what worked. I believe the “Wheel Doctor” review is there and how the inventor shared what he found on track cleaning.

Easy, disposible pre-wetted wipes, heavy duty for rails, and the residual moisture will help clean wheels of rolling stock.

This discovery is one of my once-in a lifetime great discoveries in the hobby.


I’ve had my track outside in the sun, heat, rain and snow for 24 years and haven’t had issues with the plastic ties, (knock on wood), however, since I’ve been running my steamer, I do have oily rails in spots. I use Brake Kleen, sprayed on a rag, to wipe down the rails. Takes the residue right off. Note: 1) spray on a rag, not directly on the track, this stuff will eat/deteriorate plastic. 2) the active ingredients in it evaporate fast, and will be cold to the touch, when the rag gets warm, time to re-spray the rag. I can usually get 10-12 feet of track (both sides) done per spray. 3) wear gloves if you have sensitive skin. I use a pair of leather work gloves. I had an issue with a liquid brake clean when I was young and stupid - no rubber gloves, dipped some parts in the liquid, scrubbed with a brush in the liquid and burned my hands. Even though I washed in soap and water afterwards, the top layer of skin turned black, hands tingled for 2 weeks.

Ah. I have grades close to 4%. I noticed though in general, even on level track that the SD70 is slipping. In my test I have it pulling a 5 car TTX modular container set + 3 hoppers and one additional car. Prior to the Amoral it was able to pull this no fine on level and up grades. Now it seems to slip quite a bit. The track also just has a noticeable slickness to it. So far the two cleaners I have tried didn’t work so I have ordered the stuff Max suggested. I could also try some simple green but since what I am trying to remove is probably the silicone from the Amoral I am not sure the Simple Green will remove it.

Acetone or MEK will remove just about anything. (

After you get the rail clean, clean your wheels or you will just be laying it down again.

Have you tried the Wet Swifter? Designed to clean floors from what we are likely to track in from outdoors; tar, grease and oils …

Since Greg told you to put it on, (I painted my ties after I covered the rail) you should also use what he does to clean the rail head. Why waste his

“my once-in a lifetime great discoveries” and try it before ordering more expensive stuff?

I’d secure several sheets to a section of track and as I push a car across it, I’d put a finger on one end of the truck to skew it slightly as I moved it to slow the wheels turning so it rubs more on the swifter. Have fun See you in a couple of days!

I intend to give the wet swifter a try as well. I did try acetone on the one grade section but it still doesn’t climb like it used to.

I think the next time I need to do the Amor-all, I am going to use a paint brush and paint it on the ties. After that I will diligently clean the track too. This might minimize it getting on the rails directly.

Next time … just cover sections of rail.

Make a tubing slicer; drill the hole and saw one edge close to being in the hole, push through the bit of wood to insert a blade tip just deep enough to slice plastic/rubber tubing. Pull 12’ or so… lengths through it and you’ll have re-usable rail covers. You’ll still want to hand paint around switches, but the tubing should be faster over longer stretches. No magic to picking 12’, it’s round.( I found it fastest to slide my covers vs. r and r, less messy to my hands too.

Will probably be easiest to make a starter slice long enough to get a grip when inserted.

I may be wrong, I know! Gasp!, but once you start with AA, you are stuck with it as nothing else will stick.

I’m sorry to say this but, you’ve gotta clean everything, before you try anything. Silicon spreads faster than butter(

Wishing you the best, years ago I got bit by the Snake Oil suggestion and encountered a similar problem. (smoke oil as a rail cleaner)

I originally used the dry wipes because I figured I was spraying it with Fantastik anyways. Didn’t think the stuff in the wet wipes might make a difference. I bought some wet swifter wipes. Sprayed with Fantastik and gave a good cleaning letting the test train and rolling stock trail behind as I went. Scrubbed the incline that is problematic twice.

The bad news: engine still slips and won’t climb up this section with rolling stock it used to be able to climb up here (as best as I can recall) just fine.

Things to note: It actually snowed while I was doing this, which is odd for Seattle. In general the rails are pretty wet, after having run the wet wipes over it. When I ran this rolling stock + engine over this section in the past it was definitely dry so perhaps it being wet has something to do with it. I’ll have to give this another try on a day when it will be dry.

i was thinking paint strippers’ thin masking tape would be great, but JCs tubing would be reusable and no possibility of ‘glue’ residue left behind !

doug c

nicolas, please report back after cleaning with the wet swiffers… it is a much more sophisticated degreasing compound than 409 or Fantastik from my experimenting.

Also, clean the rails until no black comes up on the pad, or very little… then run a train for a half hour and then clean the rails and see what you get.

Of course inspect the loco and rolling stock wheels for a before and after.

Acetone is really absolutely the worst thing to use, not only because it dries so quick, but it’s rough on plastic and skin.

I suspect you still have dirty wheels.