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I'm surprised you don't have problems with Magic Erasers, being water based I'd expect them to promote rust pretty quickly!

I was not aware of that, I have been using them for about eight years. There have been times when the layout has set for months and the track has gotten really dusty. I can back the train around the layout once and eliminate any contact problems. Because you have pointed that out Gunrunner I will do a close inspection of the track tonight and update.

Last edited by shasta

Not sure I'm that wild about that choice either Pete, but it appears better than Acetone.   Looks like it's mostly naphtha (lighter fluid), another thing I'd be pretty cautious about around any sparks.

I have been using this along with the original DuPont Prep Sol for over 70 years. No fires even with acetylene torches being fired up around me. Nothing is risk free. Drop an engine on your foot and it might send you to the hospital. We still play with trains. YMMV


Interesting thread.

Whomever doesn't think that Acetone is explosive is dead wrong.

I use 91% to 96% rubbing alcohol from the pharmacy to clean the track.    I just dampen a lint free cloth with it, and clean the rails by gripping the rail with the cloth in hand and pulling it around the track by hand.  It evaporates in literally seconds.   The cloth comes away black with grease etc.  An old cotton undershirt works bets.  I have been using it on my O gauge track for a year and there is zero rust.

I always unplug the transformer from the wall first, and never have the one pint plastic bottle of alcohol on the train table.  I can't imagine how this would be a fire risk.

Maybe the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works, but I hate them.  The Eraser  goo that falls off of the eraser as you use it is more trouble to clean up than the original spots, and they stick.   Get some of those good strands up inside of a loco or in the trucks or axles and you've got a problem. 

Yes, I guess you could vacuum afterwards, but why use anything that you must follow up with a vacuum? 


There is a Magic Eraser that has no soap or cleaner, it's just the melamine foam pad and it is all white. They  scrub effectively if you need to, can be used dry, and probably not as abrasive as scotch pads. I have not tried them for cleaning track.

This is what we’ve been having decent luck with on old Marx tinplate, except we’re using the thin sheets that come eight to a “book.” Because they’re so thin, they’re easy to use on anything that isn’t flat. Cut a piece of one of the sheets and go over the engine lightly, no scratches and all the miscellaneous crud lifts off. It’s actually more convenient than baking soda (but I’m still nervous about trying it on anything with delicate decals or soft paint.)

We’ve always used alcohol on track and engine wheels and haven’t had fire problems. Don’t soak anything and do let it dry, no biggie.

Just saw a youtube vid from Ron Marsh,who is a N scaler  It is a mush watch, for years model railroader have been using all types of things to clean track.  Mostly bad to very bad.  Rons train and things RTNT is his channel.

While this will only work on the center rail, for 3 rail layouts. most issues are at the point where power is picked up by the roller on the center rail.

WATCH IT and let me know what u think,  BILL 

Giving this some more thought, Gunrunner John's use of 2000 and a light abrasive pad, on the outside rails, would be a good choice, because of drive tires. Many only clean our engines, but car trucks also contribute to poor track  connections , so one must keep rolling stock wheels clean. Power for engines, tracks cirt for signals and assy depend on clean track.   This is the price we pay for having a smooth operation.

It seems from posts online elsewhere that the dry Magic Eraser (again, not the product with any detergents) is already being used by others to clean their track. The melamine foam traps dirt rather than push it away and many like it for this purpose. The main complaint seems to be that the light weight foam snags easily at joints, etc, leaving tiny white shreds. Hand wiping maybe, but probably a PITA if used with a cleaner car.

Hi Gunnerjohn. We have something in common besides trains. I worked for the Liquidometer Corporation in Long Island City working with fuel measuring systems. I also worked for Grumman Aircraft Engineering Company as a vehicle designer. Sorry all for the hijack of the post topic, but I couldn't resist.

As for track cleaning, IMO it takes a petroleum distillate to remove oil and traction tire rubber from the rails. I do a deep cleaning of track by hand with a rag / towel moist with a petroleum solvent. I also run a track cleaning car with a 3M Scotch Bright Pad to lightly scuff the rails and remove dust. My track has durable nickle-silver rails.

Last edited by Bobby Ogage

I use a little  Naphtha on a rag or old or twice a year. Naphtha evaporates rapidly and leaves no residue. I don't own a track cleaning car and never will.  By the time you fool around with a track cleaning car you could have your whole mainline clean.  I don't clean storage yards or industrial sidings...the dust preserves the track

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