It’s a lot of work cleaning a layout the size of the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum layout. Modelers have to be careful when reaching over the scenery to not hit the trees. They have experimented with liquid, but they have found that the best thing to use is a little pad connected under each freight car in each train. Dick Page shares with Allen Keller how to make a simple, cheap and effective track cleaning car that can be built at home in just a couple of hours. The car does a terrific job of keeping the track clean without unnecessary abrasive or chemicals.
Dick shows a completed car that has been partially disassembled in order to see the details of the cleaning car’s construction. The weighted cleaning pad floats on the track, lightly buffing it as the car moves around the layout. There are two long bolts extending through the floor of the car with about one inch of the threads at the head end filed down to allow the weighted cleaning pad to move freely. The cleaning pad is actually a piece of felt from an old felt hat, which can be picked up at any used clothing store.
The pad itself is about two inches long and needs to be just slightly wider than the width of the rails. The pad carrier is fabricated of styrene and weighted with lead buckshot secured in place with white glue. The felt pad is then glued to the styrene with rubber contact cement. The underframe has been modified with the middle section removed to accommodate the pad carrier guide mechanism. Dick also has eliminated the standard metal weight and replaced it with some lead weights glued to the car floor, which in this instance are large nuts. For more videos on maintaining your track or info on cleaning your track and wheels, visit the Model Railroad Academy archives.