Josh Clark has a quick video on cleaning locomotive wheels. If you notice your locomotives and trains aren’t running the smoothest you could try cleaning the track. He also recommends cleaning locomotive wheels on occasion. This could be every once in awhile depending on how often they are run. His method is quick an easy, only requiring a cloth and goo gone.
For the cloth, he uses old white t shirts that are cut up. It’s a fine soft material, perfect for cleaning locomotive wheels. He sets the locomotive on the track and places the cloth sprayed with goo gone flat on the track. It is important to always run the locomotive forward onto the cloth and hold it in front so it is pulling the cloth the right way. If you try to reverse it it will just bunch up the cloth. Josh turns the throttle all the way up and holds the cloth down as the train rolls over the cloth, running the locomotive back and forth across it.
To dry the wheels he moves the cloth over to a section without goo gone and again runs the locomotive over it. He recommends applying lateral and vertical pressure. The throttle is then brought back down to zero. The same method for cleaning locomotive wheels is now used in the reverse direction to clean the other half of the locomotive. Josh makes sure the wheels are dried thoroughly so there is no residue spread throughout the layout.