Douglas Hodgdon of Model Railroad Academy and Track Talk Live and Michael Swiridow the Curator of Pine County History Museum Model Railroad Club discuss how to clean model railroad track in this video. First Hodgdon shows the different track cleaners that are available. He first demonstrates with a Bright Boy. This is an abrasive block that has been around for over 50 years. Hodgdon uses the Bright Boy on brass track which oxidizes quickly and loses conductivity.
Even after cleaning, brass track re-oxidizes so quickly that this track material is no longer commonly used today. A foam track cleaning block is another method of how to clean model railroad track. They come in different grits and can be cut down to the shape needed. Doug scratch built a track cleaning car using this material with weights on top to bear down the foam block under the car’s body. The space between the block and the rail can be adjusted to best fit the track. This cleaning car is great to clean portions of track that are not easily accessible.
Some modelers don’t like abrasive materials because they makes tiny scratches on the track. A lighter method of how to clean model railroad track includes a paint stirring stick with a paper towel taped around the end and dipped in lacquer thinner. Modelers also use Goo Gone, an oil based cleaner that can remove dirt but leaves an oily film behind on the track. Some modelers prefer their track dry, while others prefer this way of how to clean model railroad track because the oil helps to prevent oxidation and improves electrical contact on the rail.
Another cleaning material is Rail Zip which is an automatic transmission fluid that contains a chemical meant to prevent further oxidation. Swiridow uses a system for how to clean model railroad track that is hard to access called the Tidy Track cleaning system. It is able to rotate and comes with different pads that can be attached including abrasive pads that are grooved to slide along the rail. Modelers can find it hard to clean around switches, so Swiridow suggests using electrical contact cleaner with a q-tip or paper towel.