Model builder Ron Kuykendall puts a lot of emphasis on the smoothness of his track. He makes sure to clean his track to keep it running well. When Ron was having problems with his track gunking up, he wrote a number of letters asking for the cause or for advice. One response he received informed him that the lead in nickel silver rails creates a chemical reaction that produces the grime inherent to the track he uses.
The skidder car technique – placing a slab of masonite under a high car and running it on the track – helps to manage this problem. These cars are pushed ahead of his diesel prior to any running session. Diesels run very cleanly specifically in pairs so that one locomotive can take over if one is dirty. Buffer cars are also handy. The buffer is a pad of felt that Ron keeps running on his track at all times. Wherever a shaft goes through a bearing point in the motor is a point of friction.
Every point of friction needs lubrication to keep it from going dry. Ron lubes his motors, gears, and axles. For diesels lube must be used in every bearing point and the wheel sets can be replaced with Northwest Short Line’s. He also replaces the stamped aluminum connecting bars with flex wire. This has a much more positive contact mode than what comes in the kits.
Most of Ron’s layouts are built on hollow core doors. This is an idea he took from another modeler who discovered that working with hollow core makes for very mobile tabletop railroading. For elevation, one can simply build off the surface of the door. Cutting into the doors creates crevices. These doors are strong, cheap and maintain their integrity very well. For more tips for cleaning model railroad track or helpful track videos, visit the Model Railroad Academy website.