It may not be the most fun part of the hobby, but model railroad maintenance and cleaning is necessary in order for model trains to run smoothly. From the ballast to the turf, the landscape details should be secured down so they don’t end up on the tracks and cause problems during operation.
Similarly, if you are using aluminum mesh for the inside of hollow mountains, it’s important to secure the edges so loose pieces of aluminum do not fall off throughout the years. Another way to reduce the time between maintenance is to select a room for your model railroad where it is less likely that dust and dirt will be kicked around.
There are three main parts to model railroad cleaning and maintenance: the rolling stock, the tracks, and the landscaping. Rolling stock needs to be lubricated before it can operate properly on the track. Martin feels strongly that removing the wheels before oiling them is the best way to lubricate wheels. He dips the end of the wheel in a small pool of oil rather than pouring oil on the wheels while attached to the car. This way, you have better control over the amount of lubricant on the wheels. This also reduces the amount of oil that is transferred on the tracks while running.
For cleaning the exterior of the cars, Martin uses soft makeup brushes, which are great for brushing off any dust. Another issue is the dirt that lies on the tracks, which causes a buildup of dirt around the wheels. Watch the full video to see how Martin manages this issue.
To discover other tips for cleaning model train tracks and wheels or to learn more maintenance tips, visit the Model Railroad Academy archives.