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@tripleo posted:

Visual aspects aside, what actual affect does rust on track have on the operation of a train? I'm thinking of 3 rail O/O27 track. Does it add resistance to the current path? How detrimental is it to the contact between the track itself and the pickup rollers and wheels? Just curious.

Rust is a poor electrical conductor especially at the low voltages on which model trains operate, so yes it does add significant resistance.

Rust is also an abrasive which will cause accelerated wear on the wheels, traction tires, and pick-up rollers.  When it flakes off and gets stuck in the lubricants, it will add friction, accelerate wear (especially in exposed gears) and steal motive power.

If you like the look of rusty rails, painting their sides would be a better long term solution than allowing actual rust to continue growing and spreading.

Stated before:  Track, tin plate, gargraves, are hollow tubular tracks that have a protective galvanized coating, (very thin). The Galvanize, zinc coating, inhibits rust, unfortunately, any track use or cleaning, deteriorates the coating. Excessive use of abrasive materials, like Scotch-brite pads, while doing a good job, of cleaning rusty track, also removes any remaining/existing galvanize.

Thanks for the replies. Steve pretty much confirmed what I suspected regarding electrical efficiency. I was given a huge box of O27 track with varying amounts of rust along the sides of the rails and what could best described as "tarnish" on the tops. A lot of 42 inch curves were included in the box. I may just throw together an oval of the stuff just to play with and see firsthand what negative aspects develop.


I have used tubular track on my entire layout, what I have is the original AC Gilbert American Flyer  track. That being said, some of this track is 75 years old and some of the track had rust when I started the layout. I cleaned up the rust on the top of the rail with a Bright Boy track cleaner and the tops of the rail remain clean and rust free as long as I run trains and clean the track at regular intervals. I have used a number of different products to clean the track, commercial track cleaning solutions, alcohol both the rubbing type and denatured and GooGone. I have settled on Mineral Spirits to clean the track and have had no problem with the oxidation returning to the contact surface. I am not sure if the mineral spirits helps in inhibiting the rust from returning but I have very little of the black gunk showing up now as was the case with other track cleaning products and, with the low odor mineral spirits no noticeable odor.

I have pasted a link to the article that got me to try the mineral spirits.



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