Large Scale Central

Bench Grinder & Corroded Brass Track & Some Sticky Switches

I recently came across a GREAT deal on LGB track, but it is extremely corroded. It appears as if the track was left in a basement that frequently flooded.

Anyways, I have been working on cleaning up the track. I haven’t put the brass track to the bench grinder, but I am wondering if anyone else has used a soft wire wheel to polish brass track. I am worried that the bench grinder would scratch it and leave brass shavings on the track that could find its way into the motor.

Additionally, there were some switches in the pile of track. All the switches do not switch smoothly. I’ve put new manual motors on the switches and they still remain sticky and do not move under their own power. Does anyone have suggestions for refurbishing old, corroded switches?

First, welcome aboard Ed. Glad to have you as part of our community.

I would NOT use a grinding wheel on the track. Your concern about shavings is absolutely correct. I would use some type of surface conditioning wheel either on the bench grinder or a handheld 4" grinder or similar. I use the disc noted below often to remove minor rust, corrosion, etc with great success.


The link above shows the discs I use but I am sure there are others readily available. I can’t help you with the switches but I’m sure some of our great modelers will chime in shortly.

Good luck in getting everything in shape and put to use.

I heard you can put LGB track in the dishwasher ( wait for the Wife to leave )

Just a thought but what about instead of a wire wheel you get a cheap buffing pad and use Brasso? I am spit balling have no practical application.

I have used this for old hardware but I don’t know how bad the track is.

Post a photo of the track. At my outdoor club layout we have nicely cleaned our LGB track with 220 grit spackle screen stapled to a green Scotchbrite pad and wooden block. Used with water it works well for us and does not appear to damage the brass. Our LGB track looked black and would not conduct power to the track powered locos. Note that the battery locos traction was slightly reduced.

Aloha a me e komo mai / Hello and welcome!

No ideas about the switches…Have you looked to see if anything is binding under the moving rails (correct term fails me).

As for the track, try scratchfree Scotchbrite pads (“Greeniew-weenies” for you Navy guys!). They leave no scratches and reall make the rails shine.


Use with some WD-40 …

Thanks for all the suggestions from everyone.

I will get around to posting pictures this weekend of the track. It is so corroded that I haven’t even attempted to put the tester locomotive on the track. As for the switches, I have cleaned out the switch mechanism and the area that it slides on. Perhaps some more cleaning and grease/oil/WD-40/contact lubricant?

This might be a crazy idea but what if you were to get a long low tote that you track will fit in and then give it a bath in Coca Cola? Rinse each piece off when done.
I would suggest doing the same with the switches with the switch machines removed. Give them a good soaking and then rinse them off. The points should move very easily. I have many switches on my RR and sometimes I have to pull the LGB manual machines and carefully take them apart for a cleaning. There is a wire spring inside that you do not want to disturb. I remove the top, place a finger over the spring part and clean it with an old tooth brush and some dish soap in the sink.
WD40 can cause more issues than it solves. I use a plastic safe electric spray by CRC call 2-26.

WD-40 with the scocthbrite give the rails a good cleaning .

Be careful where you shoot the WD-40!

When we first started the Triple O, we were told to shoot the WD-40 with the lithium grease into the joints. Youngest Daughter, who was about 6, sprayed the joints, rails, and ties! The ties quickly became concrete colored!

I am not sure this is an issue with regular WD-40.


And another idea, I clean copper alloys with cheap white vinegar, is does a good job as well


Jerry has a good suggestion.

When silver soldering copper and brass parts they get all sorts of black and gunk baked on. I set them in pan of vinegar and they clean up nicely. It can take a couple of days. The metal comes out nice and clean. Give the parts a good rinse with water and a wipe with a cloth and they come out just fine!

If they are corroded enough that the surface is rough, fine sand paper glued to a flat block of woods the best way to smooth things out again. Use the block laid flat on the track on both rails. Rub in the direction of the rails. Start with 220 grit, if the rails are really bad, then repeat with finer grit up to 1200 grit for a nice shine. Using powered tools is likely to get you into trouble fast.

Thanks for the advice from everyone. I’m glad to know that using the grinding wheel would be catastrophic and that it was wise to avoid it.

On to soaking them and cleaning them…