Rail-Zip treatment

I acquired a K-Line 2 truck shay, but found that it had electrical pickup issues which prevented it from reliable slow speed operation, especially through Fastrack turnouts. An experienced HO operator suggested I might try a product called Rail-Zip on the collector rollers.

I cleaned the rollers first with isopropyl alcohol followed by MEK. I then lightly coated the rollers with Rail-Zip and let the shay sit for 24 hours (per the recommendation from Pacer, the manufacturers of Rail-Zip). I ran the loco yesterday and there is substantial improvement - I can pull a train at reasonable speed around the layout and through switches.

I'm going to try treating the center rail with Rail-Zip (leaving out the MEK cleaning) to see if the performance can be improved even more. With the multi-wheel pickup on the outside rails I doubt they'll need any treatment.

Has anyone else already tried Rail-Zip on Fastrack? If so, what was your experience? If you saw improvement, how long did it last?

Original Post

A lot of hobbyists, myself included, found Rail-Zip to be a dirt collector requiring repeat applications more frequently to maintain electrical conductivity.

Oil-based cleaners also tend to reduce traction.

I used it in N scale decades ago on Atlas nickel silver track. I discontinued using it after I saw the amount of dirt that was collecting on the rail heads and freight car wheels, which translated into need for more frequent cleanings.

Unless a contact point is corroded, I have found that a good solvent is better for maintaining electrical conductivity. I use denatured alcohol and a cloth diaper to clean the rails.

However, the contact points, specifically the rail joiners, on FasTrack, do seem to benefit from a contact cleaner aimed at restoring electrical conductivity. I use Caig deoxIT DN5, applying it only on the joiners with a needle applicator. You might try doing the same with Rail-Zip.

Jim R. 

Actually, we (LHS) probably sell more Rail-Zip to some of our RC Airplane customers than to model railroaders.  The guys that fly the really BIG airplanes often carry them to the air field in an enclosed trailer that they have modified to safely carry their planes....fuselages, wings, fuel, tools, controllers, etc..   Like other folks who have utility trailers, travel trailers, and the like having an electrical plug-in tether, many find dirt/corrosion of the several contacts at the connector to be a nuisance.  Someone in that local group found that an application of Rail-Zip solved their towing continuity issues satisfactorily.  Over time the hint has made the rounds locally.  So we keep a small supply at the shop.

Re the experience of Rail-Zip exacerbating dirt on the wheels....  Again, locally we've also encountered that opinion.  But through discussion/questions we feel most of the issues our customers encountered have to do with over-zealous application, not allowing the Rail-Zip to dry, and.......plastic wheels.   It's not much of a model railroading secret, but plastic wheels seem to become dirty more quickly than metal wheels.  Static electricity, rail cleaning fluids of all different preferences, rough/scratched railheads aggresively scoured to remove oxidation, even excessive humidity, etc., etc......they've all been blamed for dirty wheels, especially so for plastic ones.  

Opinions AND facts abound on the topic, of course.  Many tend to find solace in a favorite technique for maintaining reliable electrical contact/continuity.  It's a TEHO issue.



That is exactly what I'm trying to do, GFTIV: Rail-Zip on pickup rollers and center rail. Shouldn't create gunk on wheels. The Rail-Zip instructions say this is a chemical reaction, so I'm hoping one application will last longer than a week.

On a related note, has anyone tried Deluxe Materials' Track Magic?...

Deluxe Track Magic Link

We're (LHS) finding a wide range of favor for their products at our store in several areas....trains, static models, R/C, et al.

We've had Track Magic available for awhile, but haven't had much feedback from customers.  It reads like it would be appropriate to this posting's discussion/application.

BTW, disregard the overseas shipping caveat on Deluxe's (UK) website link, above.  The product is available through stateside wholesalers such as Walthers, Horizon, et al.

Hmmmm....I guess it's time for me to try this stuff, too!


I've never had a conductivity issue with fastrack. Passenger cars seldom even flicker over the switches.

I occassionally ( 2 or 3 times a year at most)  wipe it down with 91% isopropyl when it looks dirty or when sound on a Legacy loco cuts out.

If I have any stubborn buildup. I run Lionels abrasive eraser over the track, then wipe it down with the alcohol.

 IMO,Rail zip or not, theres simply no substitute for cleaning the track.

" No matter how far we travel, the memories will follow in the baggage car."

Add Reply

OGR Publishing, Inc. PO Box 218, Hilliard, OH 43026 330-757-3020