Track Cleaning

Discussion in 'Permanent Way' started by TheSnapper, 6 November 2017.

  1. TheSnapper

    TheSnapper Western Thunderer

    Saw this in the latest edition of the online magazine "Model Railroad Hobbyist", and thought it would be good to share & discuss:


    Most of the time I've used Isopropyl Alcohol for Track Cleaning, but now am tempted to try other things.
    Presumably Kerosene translates to Paraffin and Mineral Spirits to White Spirit or perhaps Lighter Fuel? (Goodness knows what Toluene = in the UK - Cellulose Thinner possibly?)

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  2. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer

    "Mineral spirits" isn't methylated spirits is it?
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  3. Steph Dale

    Steph Dale Western Thunderer

    Mineral spirit is 'White Spirit' aka 'Turpentine Substitute'.
    I suspect Kerosene is an analog of Paraffin as you suggest, although it must be fairly high purity in order for it to not be waxy.
    Toluene is indeed one of the chemicals sold as cellulose thinners or even lacquer thinner.

    I'm surprised there's no mention of petroleum distillate (lighter fluid), which is what I use.

    Denatured alcohol is Americanish for Methylated spirit.

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  4. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    Indeed, kerosene (jet fuel) is a highly refined distillate as not to be waxy - known a parrafin in the UK.

    Parrafin wax is a solid at room temperature.

    Naptha is lighter fluid.

    It's all to do with the number of carbon atoms.....
  5. PaxtonP4

    PaxtonP4 Active Member

    Toluene in the UK is Toluene!

    Quite frankly I wouldn't mess about with aromatic hydrocarbons - especially chlorinated ones. Certainly not sloshing them about over track work.

    I suggest you stick to the alcohols.

    Last edited: 6 November 2017
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  6. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    I’ve used light mineral oil, of the type sold for beard trimmers, not sure if it’s better or worse than ipa.

    Stops the Slaters rusty wheel rash though.

  7. Gilbert

    Gilbert Active Member

    Does anyone know what is in Slaters track cleaning fluid?
  8. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    I have an old-ish bottle with a little left in it.

    It says “Contains: Halogenated Aliphatic Hydrocarbons”

    Schoolbook chemistry says “carbon tetrachloride” but there are lots of compounds which fit the description.

    Reading this Halogenated Organic Compounds | CAMEO Chemicals | NOAA suggests PaxtonP4’s advice is perhaps worth following...

    Slaters are obliged to provide an MSDS if you ask - I did Google it but no luck.

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  9. unklian

    unklian Western Thunderer

    So I guess that lighter fuel / petrol is the best UK available cleaner. I know a few people who swear by it .

    The other thing I have heard is to make sure the rail head and all rolling stock rims are well polished and as smooth as possible. A lot of the time, wheels especially , the surfaces concerned are covered in fine machine marks and scratches, which help arcing and the accumulation of the dreaded "black gunk".

    Just my 2 cents ;)
  10. John Bradshaw

    John Bradshaw Member

    At the risk of sounding like a whimp I'd think very carefully about using products like toluene. Yes, it is a very effective and powerful solvent and great for cleaning but it is nasty stuff. Even in industrial applications people try and use less nasty chemicals now. Carbon tetrachloride is another one, undeniably very effective but equally nasty stuff.
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  11. paulc

    paulc Western Thunderer

    Back in the dim dark past when i was a draughtsman we would use Carbon Tetrachloride for cleaning the film before comencing . This was to get rid of waxy deposits that the ink wouldn't adhere to then one day it all got rounded up and disposed of amid much moaning and wailing from the old school most of whom were smokers as well .
    Ahh the good old days , yeahh right .
    Cheers Paul
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