Cleaning track is a fundamental maintenance task on a model railway but it’s surprising how badly wrong it can go.
As I covered in part 1 in how not to clean your track, there some chemicals you should never use on your railway track. But cleaning fluids aren’t the only thing some people get wrong. Catastrophic errors can also be made by using the wrong tools.
For the right kind of job a Dremel is hard to beat and one should be in every modeller’s toolbox but never fit one out with a sanding disc for track cleaning. There’s a great discussion here covering the story of one hobbyist mistakenly using a Dremel in this way to clean their track.
But the worst mistake I’ve seen in track cleaning was a few years back.
Yes, he did
An acquaintance had inherited a large quantity of old OO gauge track that needed a lot of TLC. Unfortunately, the technique this DIY fanatic choose was anything but tender.
The track had been found in a dark, spider-infested, shed and having been left there unprotected for some time had rusted.
Not understanding the mechanics of rails or how delicate they are but faced with long stretches of metal to clean Paul went to work with DIY power sander.
Yep, a sander!
His rationale being that sandpaper would shift the crap off the rails and a using a sander would speed up job, saving himself hours of work.
Sadly, by the time he called me it was too late.
At best, his railheads were scored and scratched and in some places had even been sanded away leaving nasty drops in track height. After a quick inspection, I had to tell him to throw out the majority of the track although
He wasn’t happy!
What he should have done
Hopefully, no one reading this will make the same mistake but I do hear of other sad sandpaper exploits. Save yourself the frustration and never let sandpaper near your rails. It’ll scratch the metal making dust and dirt far harder to clean in future.
Instead, click on any of the following and take a look at
for practical advice on keeping your track clean, the safe way.
>A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.