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Model Railroading > Auto Trans Fluid For Track


Date: 04/25/11 23:43
Auto Trans Fluid For Track
Author: alaska

In the May issue of MR there was a two page article for using ATF for track operation.
Apparently the ATF enhances electrical conductivity and reduces the crude buildup on engine wheels.
It must be used sparingly so it will not cause too much slippage.
Unless you have steep inclines it should work well and must be used periodically since it evaporates (ATF is refined mineral oil).
The article used a paint brush on sections of track which should be done weekly.
I was wondering if it could be used in the brass tank car that spreads cleaning fluid or alcohol on the tracks to clean them.
I'm sure most of you have read this article if you read MR and wonder if anyone has tried this stuff on their track.

Hal



Date: 04/26/11 03:31
Re: Auto Trans Fluid For Track
Author: kgmontreal

This is like the Wahl Hair Clipper Oil of the past. If used (and I wouldn't) it must be applied very sparingly and certainly not from a track cleaning tank car.

KG



Date: 04/26/11 08:24
Re: Auto Trans Fluid For Track
Author: ChessieSystem

It would be interesting to compare the composition of generic ATF fluid to railzip.



Date: 04/26/11 11:48
Re: Auto Trans Fluid For Track
Author: Kemacprr

Rail Zip is Ford ATF !!! Always has been . The article in MR does not specify what type ATF was used. ------ Ken McCorry



Date: 04/26/11 12:37
Re: Auto Trans Fluid For Track
Author: funnelfan

I never liked Railzip, but it does look like ATF. I've used CRC 2-26 with success, but it's also a lubricant in addition to electrical cleaner, so shares the same properties as ATF. PSMRE in Tacoma put a lot of time and effort into their project that resulted in the article. But the PSMRE only runs short trains on their moderate grades, and couldn't fully test the traction issues with various cleaners. My club, the OMRS has experienced traction issues with electrical cleaners on our two helixes. We were going to try some ATF on your mainline, so traction issues will become rather apparent if there is any.

Ted Curphey
Cheney, WA



Date: 04/26/11 13:34
Re: Auto Trans Fluid For Track
Author: rehunn

I got carried away with the 2-26 on a grade and results were some turp to clean it off!! We did one application
on steel rail nearly a year ago and it's still working very well. Our sound issues seemed to have disappeared
as well.



Date: 04/26/11 20:51
Re: Auto Trans Fluid For Track
Author: rapidotrains

rehunn Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I got carried away with the 2-26 on a grade and
> results were some turp to clean it off!! We did
> one application
> on steel rail nearly a year ago and it's still
> working very well. Our sound issues seemed to have
> disappeared
> as well.

What sound issues did you have? Are you talking about onboard sound cutting in and out or are you talking about a lot of track noise?

I've struggled with track noise on all of my layouts. The white glue and ballast combined seem to act like an amplifier...

-Jason



Date: 04/27/11 07:51
Re: Auto Trans Fluid For Track
Author: rehunn

Cutting in and out, primarily, and we're talking O scale. I'm sure the steel rail is part of the problem
but the 2-26 cleared up the problem. We had used the Wahl oil previously but it didn't last and also
didn't help the conductivity issues. Would make sense since clean petroleum oil is pretty much
non-conductive.



Date: 04/27/11 11:00
Re: Auto Trans Fluid For Track
Author: rnb3

FWIW, usually, automatic transmission fluid or ATF IS conductive. This is not my opinion, but a tested fact. Not all ATF is equally conductive. There are hundreds, if not thousands of formulas that meet the specifications for ATF. Each formula uses different ingredients that affect the conduciveness of the product. Currently, the most common ATF specifications are Dextron II/III/VI and Mercon. Dextron is the brand name for GM’s family of ATF specifications while Mercon is the brand name for Ford’s specifications. Most of the ATF available on the shelf at the local parts store meet both brands’ requirements with the same formula. Another requirement for ATF is that it be plastic compatible, and have a high surface tension. The plastic compatibleness is because most, if not all automatic transmissions have plastic parts (speedometer gears, bushings, spacers, seals, etc). High surface tension helps the fluid “stick” to parts that are spinning at very high speeds, to keep it from being thrown off.
These 3 characteristics, (conductive, plastic compatible, and “sticky”)combined with being readily available and very inexpensive, are the driving force behind using ATF in model railroading applications. The real problem is that the formulas available have and continue to change, resulting in different experiences by different people over a large time span. I have read that some people think that only Dextron II will work (hard to find today). I don’t know, but I’d bet this is a result in the difference in the compositions of the formula as it has evolved, and cost of production, and availability of materials, and regulatory restrictions on materials have changed over the years. My research shows that the effect on model railroading use is little impacted.

Rail-Zip appears to have most of the same physical properties as ATF, i.e. it is red colored, oily feeling, thick fluid, and slippery. I have noted that Rail-Zip smells like Wahl clipper fluid, and believe this to be possible source of the miss-conception that Rail-Zip and Wahl oil are the same. The MSDS for Wahl oil states that it is a Chevron product and 100% white mineral oil, and is non-conductive. The MSDS for Rail-Zip states that it is a “Hydrotreated Light Naphthenic Petroleum Distillate” used as a cleaner and corrosion inhibitor. There is no mention of it being a static generator, which usually means it is at least some-what conductive. An MSDS for Dexton III states that it is a “Solvent Refined, Hydrotreated Heavy Paraffinic Distillate” while Dextron II is a “highly refined mineral oil” with additives, or “Severely Solvent Refined, Light/Heavy Paraffinic Distillate” and Dextron VI is a “Highly-refined petroleum lubricant oil” with other ingredients. They can be amber, clear, or red in color! The conductivity is a result of the “other ingredients” define ATF from plain old oil.

My thinking is that Rail-Zip and ATF might work the same, but you need to try it on your application, to see if you like it. I think Wahl oil is a urban legend, linked by its aroma. FWIW, I use Dextron II as a gear lubricant on plastic and metal axle gears (Athearn, Atlas, Kato gears in HO and O scale) and as a conductive enhancer (wipers, axle bushings, wheel to rail).

It doesn’t help clean track… it helps make the dirt conductive! That is the bottom line! Oh, and by the way, you only need a VERY small amount to go a long way!

Rick Bacon
Windsor, CO



Date: 04/27/11 23:29
Re: Auto Trans Fluid For Track
Author: Notch16

Great info, great ultimate tech summary: the fluid doesn't clean, it helps conduct. Good stuff here!

Should point out that the GM spec is 'Dexron' without the 't' -- normally TO adopts a hands-off policy about spelling, but this is a trade name and it seemed helpful. No ill intended, only enhanced conductivity. :-)

~ BZ



Date: 04/28/11 21:54
Re: Auto Trans Fluid For Track
Author: rnb3

Notch16 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Should point out that the GM spec is 'Dexron'
> without the 't' -- normally TO adopts a hands-off
> policy about spelling, but this is a trade name
> and it seemed helpful. No ill intended, only
> enhanced conductivity. :-)

Notch16, you are correct! The proper spelling is D-E-X-R-O-N. No "T"! I was wrong, and there is nothing wrong with you being accurate. Thanks for the catch!

Rick Bacon
Windsor, CO



Date: 04/29/11 13:29
Re: Auto Trans Fluid For Track
Author: brfriedm

Saw an ad for this in the latest NMRA magazine from Daylight Sales. I wonder what the product is in the tube? Claims to be a brand new product made in the US.

http://daylightsales.com/product_info.php/cPath/147/products_id/1472

Bruce

---------------------------------
Oxidation has met its match!

Developed for the railroad hobby, this new product will solve the problem we all face of locomotives stalling during operation.

Neverstall is not a wheel or track cleaner. Rather, we have found that oxidation is the root cause of stalling when everything else looks like it should be fine. A little drop on the contact points, axles or the wipers on your wheel sets cleans oxidation and will make your engine run better than new.

Once applied, Neverstall will work for months!

Uses include:

Switch points

Wipers and contact points on locomotives and rolling stock

Battery terminals

Handy needle applicator gets into tiny places

Plastic friendly and made in America, the 6 ml tube is enough for a club or large layout.

Note on shipping charges: The website defaults to $8.55 based on the value of the product. We will credit your account back $6 for each single tube order as it costs a lot less to ship. For multiple piece orders or mixed orders of other product, we will pro-rate back a portion of the shipping charge.

$19.99



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/29/11 13:31 by brfriedm.




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