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Hey guys,

Recently I’ve acquired myself a three rail O scale CMX clean machine. Since this is an all metal construction car, I have chosen to use acetone to clean my track. I ran it around one stretch of track and in it cleaned it wonderfully. A couple months later I realized that my track had a rust on it. Is the acetone taking down the layer of protection on the track making is susceptible to rust? Just so you know I am using Gargraves Track. I thought to cure this I could use the acetone to clean the track and then lightly oil it was some sort of lubricant like WD-40 to prevent rust. Have any of you had this problem and if so what did you do to prevent the rust. Note, I clean the track first in around early February and didn’t have a problem until yesterday. The trains ran fine through the track the week before and then they stopped. I allways keep my basement dry by using a dehumidifier set to keep it at around 53% humidity. Let me know your thoughts.

Thanks, Daniel

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Roo  - while I agree that acetone wouldn't be my choice of track cleaner either, I'm not clear on what your table sez in this regard.  For something that winds up as a thin film on the rails, such as WD-40 or other oils, a low dielectric constant (I guess the preferred term is now relative permittivity - a 'trick' this old dog is gonna have trouble remembering) would be preferred - quite apart from whatever other properties a specific cleaner/solvent might have.  But if the solvent, like gasoline (low dielectric constant in your table) or acetone (higher dielectric constant in your table) evaporates, then it seems to me the dielectric value is largely irrelevant, is it not(??). 

More importantly from a safety point of view, the use of gasoline is a terrible idea as a solvent - especially when used in enclosed spaces that might have a source of flame or ignition (basement with a furnace or water heater...).  Carbon tet - while not flammable - is a liver toxin and frankly, not something to mess with (when there are better, safer, alternatives).  Both butyl and ethyl acetate, while in the middle of your table of dielectric constant values, are both flammable also.  I think there is a very important distinction between what one might use as a solvent in a well-ventilated space - a garage workshop that isn't part of the house - and what one uses in a basement or living space trainroom.

  Graphite is on that list too 😏

  But looking at some of the more oily substances is interesting. I recall someone loving kerosene and with a hefty dose of moderation seems intriguing.  Transmission fluid too, but friction modifiers like that can vary too much for me to speculate on; I prefered manuals anyhow  

   I usually use alcohol and follow with a trace wipe of wahl hair clipper oil ; but I don't clean live track. Lots of small scale folk do alcohol/wahl and their traction issues being greater out of the box (imo) intrigued me enough to try that. Though applying oil sparsely has a learning curve to keep traction normal, it's not hard and I like the result. I've also been using a Birchwood Casey gun cleaner/protectant, Sheath, on a small loop with similar results.  Both penetrate and break up light rust well. I imagine kerosene's oils would too.

  I really soak um pretty good once in while, making sure to get the rail foot, web and web to railhead transition/"corners" well. Then I concentrate on removing excess from the railtop and inner radius to the flange rub, but not below that. 

  Besides holding moisture, fresh acetone would strip any oils providing protection too. It might not be an issue if there were oils left to migrate. I.e. it cleans too well and needs follow up surface maintenance.  

I never considered acetone holding water before. It made me realize I don't really recall to what extent alcohol might do this. I know it mixes and there is attraction, but don't recall what's actually happening or how fast; e.g. how atmospheric moisture vs liquid build up/ useage as fuel dry might differ. I just know oils are good protectants.  

 Trace debris from old wheels rusting? Steel dust is like seeding for redness spread around. 

  I see cleaner cars used "daily" as beneficial. But not as a replacement for cleaning by hand.

(funny, I went decades not cleaning my track but once on a table it became needed kinda often..?¿?¿?)

richs09 posted:

Roo  - while I agree that acetone wouldn't be my choice of track cleaner either, I'm not clear on what your table sez in this regard.  For something that winds up as a thin film on the rails, such as WD-40 or other oils, a low dielectric constant (I guess the preferred term is now relative permittivity - a 'trick' this old dog is gonna have trouble remembering) would be preferred - quite apart from whatever other properties a specific cleaner/solvent might have.  But if the solvent, like gasoline (low dielectric constant in your table) or acetone (higher dielectric constant in your table) evaporates, then it seems to me the dielectric value is largely irrelevant, is it not(??). 

More importantly from a safety point of view, the use of gasoline is a terrible idea as a solvent - especially when used in enclosed spaces that might have a source of flame or ignition (basement with a furnace or water heater...).  Carbon tet - while not flammable - is a liver toxin and frankly, not something to mess with (when there are better, safer, alternatives).  Both butyl and ethyl acetate, while in the middle of your table of dielectric constant values, are both flammable also.  I think there is a very important distinction between what one might use as a solvent in a well-ventilated space - a garage workshop that isn't part of the house - and what one uses in a basement or living space trainroom.

If you look at the list again it states WD-40 CONTACT CLEANER further down WD-40 regular gets a higher reading which means it's not as good I would not use the higher reading.

Kerosene surprised me so I decided to wipe as much of the rails on the layout that I could reach and apart from the smell which lasted for two days it was a complete success I also already had the WD-40 CONTACT CLEANER here that I use for cleaning ..what else.. electrical contacts, but the Kero is cheaper than the WD so that's what I tried haven't cleaned the track for 3 weeks since.

This was from a five page yes five (5) page article on an English website which gave a very comprehensive explanation on why track needs cleaning and the correct way to go about it the solvents were all checked by a qualified chemist to give some credence to the report who also helped the writer prepare the report it is very interesting to read the five pages not just look at the list  there is much more. I only have a copy of the report given to me by a friend so can't tell you where to read it off the English site. Kerosene works believe me.

OK, I just found it and have attached it here. Roo.

 

 

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I have original AC Gilbert American Flyer track, all of it over 50 years old and some of it with oxidation. I have used Scotch Brite green pads to remove the rust and liquid track cleaner afterwards to remove residue. Running trains regularly and periodic cleaning with the liquid cleaner  seems to be a way to keep track in good shape. A Bright Boy track cleaner also does a good job of removing the rust, but keep in mind that you need to control the humidity in the train room.

As an added note the track cleaner I use is called "Track & Rail Cleaner ACT-6006

Ray

Last edited by Rayin"S"

Danielk

I too own the CMX cleaner car and YES I use acetone. I think people are not familiar with the car. For one, like you say it is a sealed brass tube body with a needle valve to regulate the DRIP that is used to drip into a brass block which holds the pad. 2 the pad is a piece of material that you cut and clip on. The PAD DOES NOT BECOME SATURATED to the point of acetone running everywhere. I have used this car for years and it is the ONLY one that I have found that actually cleans and can us acetone. The vapors of the acetone are NOT high enough to cause a BURST of flame as people think. You have a better chance of flame with KEROSENE! As for the material used I found some at Hobby Lobby that matched the sample they sent but is a different color. I am not familiar with Gargraves so can not answer as to rust reason. I use mainly Atlas 21st Century track with some MTH RealTrax.

Good luck with the cleaning car I rate it excellent and as far as I am concerned it is the BEST! Course that is MY opinion.

CurtisH posted:
The vapors of the acetone are NOT high enough to cause a BURST of flame as people think. You have a better chance of flame with KEROSENE!

Sorry, I don't know where you get your information, but that's not true!

The most hazardous property of acetone is its extreme flammability. At temperatures greater than acetone's flash point of −20 °C (−4 °F), air mixtures of between 2.5% and 12.8% acetone, by volume, may explode or cause a flash fire.

 The flash point of kerosene is between 37 and 65 °C (100 and 150 °F), and its auto-ignition temperature is 220 °C (428 °F).

I don't see anything in that data to suggest kerosene is more likely to ignite!  One spark and you have fire with the acetone.

Last edited by gunrunnerjohn

First, I agree with GRJ - the use of flammable solvents like acetone indoors is a terrible idea - true maybe not enough gets volatilized to reach the concentrations that are really hazardous when used carefully - but one cannot always assure that is gonna be true when making making generalizations on a forum like this.  There are alternatives that don't run the same risks.

Second, Roo, thanks for the writeup.  While I'm not sure we are disagreeing that using non-polar solvents is the best bet, I want to stand by my original claim that for solvents like gasoline or acetone (ignoring the more obvious flammability issues for the moment) that evaporate to 'dryness' at normal temperatures, their dielectric constant is irrelevant since there isn't enough of the material left on the surface to matter (with respect to suppressing 'microarcing').  In fact, under most indoor conditions - and especially in humid environments - the amount of water on those surfaces is going to be much larger at equilibrium, which might be one reason why low volatility, hydrophobic materials like clipper oil, WD-40, or even kerosene would be good choices (in addition to the low dielectric constant values).  I haven't tried any of them (and my tracks are dirty...), but I think I'll give something like clipper oil a shot.  I think the odor issue for kerosene and maybe WD-40 is likely to dissuade me from using them (maybe the deodorized kerosene would be ok) - the final 'what's that smell' test would rest with da boss anyway... (and I'm way over my limit on the 'forgiveness/permission' ratio).

Iso. alcohol vs acetone in a watercooler bottle; lit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ui3L5l4NhSg

Lighting kerosene attempts.... spark, flame, torch. All CAN light it, but how easy..? (and note a spark of an heater spark plug would be hotter and often in a steam of kerosene atomized in air.  The heaters without fans always use a battery op glow wire from what Ive seen. Quartz would also usually have a hot blue spark. Our sparks can be blue too. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2EY5jXepbg

Also the clear kerosene burns easier than red dyed stuff IMEx. I think it soots and smells more though. Red is a "home grade". Some stations have both...point is, the grade varies.

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