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Model Railroading > To Rail Zip or not to Rail Zip?

Date: 02/24/09 11:40
To Rail Zip or not to Rail Zip?
Author: santafedan

I posted a question below in the post about clipper oil. I use Rail Zip and am very happy with it. We all know about the wheel gunk situation. A fellow modeler said Rail Zip caused this to happen more frequently than using anything else. He uses paint thinner to clean his track. He still has gunk buildup.

I know from being in the hobby 50 years this is a chicken or egg topic. What say you about the clipper oil, Rail Zip, thinner or what ever is in use today about gunk?

I run long trains with 4 power units and mostly Atharen plastic wheels. I clean wheels about every 4 or 5 years. I do have powerful ceramic magnets on all locos, cabooses and last passenger cars for reed switch triggering. They pick up very fine black powdery stuff. I am not sure what the stuff is. Perhaps that helps keep the wheels gunk free. I run the Centerline track cleaner with the Rail Zip about once a year.

Date: 02/24/09 13:12
Re: To Rail Zip or not to Rail Zip?
Author: leroystew

your problem is the plastic wheels. Spend the money on metal wheelsets, and most of the dirt should disappear.

Date: 02/24/09 13:15
Re: To Rail Zip or not to Rail Zip?
Author: TCnR

I've tried Rail-Zip for spot clean-ups but it's too thick for larger applications. Here's another thread about a bunch of favorite cleaners (no, not WD40)

The CRC 2-26 stuff is my favorite right now, found small cans at Home Depot. It's in a spray can but loads into the rail cleaner with rollers that I'm using without much trouble. The gunky stuff seems to be picked up by the rollers and then get tossed. Also works for the Patent Pending paper towel method of cleaning locomotive wheels. I'm down to three cars with KD wheels and those cars are heading for the neighbors house now that ExactRail chip gons came out.

Just read Athearn plastic wheels, toss the wheels. Anything metal works better, not Kadee's either (that blackening chemical seems to be problematic).

Date: 02/24/09 13:45
Re: To Rail Zip or not to Rail Zip?
Author: brfriedm

Replace plastic wheels and fix the real problem.


Date: 02/24/09 15:39
Re: To Rail Zip or not to Rail Zip?
Author: GCRY_4960

Its as easy as that. Made a HUGE difference on my friends layout.

brfriedm Wrote:
> Replace plastic wheels and fix the real problem.
> Bruce

Date: 02/24/09 16:00
Re: To Rail Zip or not to Rail Zip?
Author: CNW

I also use CRC 2-26 with success. I spray a small amount on a small piece of cloth and rub the cloth over the rail heads. A little bit is left behind on the rail. I also use it to clean locomotive wheels. The stuff will leave the rails just a little slippery, but it hasn't caused any problems. I pull 30 car trains up a helix with three powered units without any problems. I've tried clipper oil and Rail Zip too, but the CRC in my opinion works as good or better. I've also tried Radio Shack contact cleaner which works well but you can't spray it out of the can without getting it all over the place and it's very expensive. I purchase the CRC at the local Menards store here in the Midwest.

My layout has 200+ feet of track and I can clean it all in one evening. There is still a little "black crud" that shows up but doesn't seem to cause a problem. For long term annual maintenance, I take all of the rolling stock off the layout and vacuum everything. I then clean all of the track as described above plus clean all locomotive and car wheels using the CRC. I measure the cleanliness of the wheels and rail by looking at the headlights on my locomotives; zero flickering means clean track (I'm using DCC). In the past I suspect Kadee wheels may have caused some problems too (I can't prove it) so I got rid of them all and switch new Kadee cars to use Intermountain wheels.


Date: 02/24/09 19:51
Re: To Rail Zip or not to Rail Zip?
Author: funnelfan

I used Rail Zip several years ago, but it seems to cause more trouble than it helped. I use the CRC 2-26 now with good success. A well known local club uses ATF after testing it extensively. I also have been replacing all my metal wheels with Intermountain wheelsets.

Ted Curphey
Cheney, WA

Date: 02/25/09 04:54
Re: To Rail Zip or not to Rail Zip?
Author: gp60

I also use CRC on a Centerline and it seem to work the best for me.

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