I am retired but I feel like a child because I have really gotten into trains about a year ago. If there are others out there like me, let me tell you about the importance of clean tracks. I have a MTH trolley that stopped at a particular point on my layout every time and then moved again after a while. I thought I pushed some program button and spent hours reprogramming, doing electrical continuity checks, checking track voltage. Everything was fine. Tightened all the tracks. Then, decided to clean the tracks. DUH. It worked. Everything is now good.
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Electric Trains - clean track is a must - period
I don’t think you have to be crazy but every now then can’t hurt
I started into the hobby in Lionel O gauge Fastrack in 2014 and now have 15 locos; it gets addictive.
I have 2 Lionel trolleys that did the same as yours - even after cleaning my track; found that I also had to clean the input rollers AND, just as important, the wheels. Then, they both ran like new.
In my case when a loco stalls I clean both the track and the rollers on my engines especially. And I don't use smoke. Of my seven engines, three I bought were gently used and the rollers on those have moderate wear and tend to collect dirt easier. I found inspection of track continuity is another part of happy running. I had two areas of track that were a problem with a couple of engines and discovered that I missed screwing down the track there and the track would sink just enough to cause a loss of continuity. I shimmed the ties and it fixed it without redoing the rail connectors. Cheers.
Just thought I would post this perhaps to save someone else some grief. I had a new PS3 engine which ran fine at the LHS but when I got it on my Gargraves track it would stop intermittently. After totaling frustrating my LHS I found out the middle rail on the gargraves track was slightly below the middle rail on fastrack. Kind of like taking the car to the mechanic and having it work fine of course in front of him. MTH sent me some rollers that came down a little further and no more problems. Can’t tell you how many times I cleaned the track before I figured it out.
I have an alert on my phone that pops up the first Saturday of every month. It tells me to clean the track.
So i get out my Centerline cars and let them run for 30 minutes. While that’s going on I spend 5 minutes with a scotch brite Pad and give every thing the once over.
I often wonder how many time electronics are swapped out because of dirty track. 😯
I bought and then used four different track cleaning cars on my L-shaped layout with O-gauge O42 track and switches. The cleaning pads showed black residue, so I considered the performance(s) a success -- until I followed-up with a rag doused with 91% Isopropyl Alcohol, which removed more black residue. There's no substitute for that low tech method!
Others noted the need to clean the wheels and pick-up rollers.
Mike Mottler LCCA 12394
I retired a couple of years ago. All but one of my employer supplied uniform t-shirts, a lifetime supply,became square cut wiping clothes for...you guessed it...track cleaning cloths ( doused in rubbing alcohol.) I agree with @Mike H Mottler, the lo-tech way is the best.
I used to clean my track somewhat regularly, and then I read a post here where someone said they never cleaned their track.
I have a great car that rolls a roller along the track. I would put denatured alcohol on the rollers, and it would do a great job of it. However, I’d have to open all the windows, and sometimes wear a respirator.
So, I figured I’d give not cleaning a try.
The update is that my trains have run just fine for several years on uncleaned track
I use Atlas nickel/silver track and at first I had to rub the center track rail and unblacken it as trains would stall here and there. Finishing that phase seemed to have been about the same time as when I stopped cleaning the track, and things have been running great ever since
So, go figure.
Alcohol ( not Jack Daniels ) and elbow grease are a must for great running 3 rail trains.
I have noticed that some of my legacy engines do not run well on dirty track; as soon as I clean the track with 91% iso, back to normal; have seen a few track cleaning cars discussed on the forum; am considering one - maybe they are not 100% but do just enough.