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Model Railroading > Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?


Date: 09/22/22 13:18
Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: SPDRGWfan

I'm interested in the Centerline track cleaning cars in HO to follow behind the CMX track cleaner.  On their website there are two types.  One with triangle shaped ends and another called NMRA.  Whats the difference and which is preferred?

Centerline Products Model Railroad Track Cleaning Cars (centerline-products.com)

Cheers,
Jim



Date: 09/22/22 14:09
Re: Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: PHall

I would think the car with the angled ends can go around MUCH sharper curves.



Date: 09/22/22 16:15
Re: Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: WrongWayMurphy

.Description says they come with brass roller and roller covers.

Sure would be nice if their website explained how they work or maybe
a picture of the underside showing the roller/roller cover.  If I'm going
to drop a Benjamin on one, I want to know more what I am getting.
 



Date: 09/22/22 16:27
Re: Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: kevink

Many videos on the tube of you. Just search for “centerline track cleaning car”

Posted from iPhone



Date: 09/22/22 16:42
Re: Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: SPDRGWfan

Checked YouTube videos. I didn't see any explains the two different types. Personally I've only seen the ones with the pointed ends in action. The rectangular one looks like the shape of a 40' boxcar so should be good also on relatively sharp curves too. I recall maybe on their website they suggest the rectangular nmra car could be hidden under a boxcar shell.

Ok did some digging and apparently the older version with the pointed ends is wider and may interfere with line side details on a layout. The newer rectangular car is designed to fit within the parameters of the nmra width and is narrower.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/22/22 17:03 by SPDRGWfan.



Date: 09/22/22 21:12
Re: Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: TomG

From their FAQ page.
 When Centerline Products first started, we offered the cast brass rail cleaners with "pointed ends". These cars are not designed to NMRA specs for width.
Later, we developed N, HO and S gauge cars designed to NMRA specifications. These rectangular cars were originally die-cast zinc and painted black. You could kit bash a boxcar, caboose, etc to cover one of these if you would like to disguise it.
In 2015 we purchased a HAAS VF2 CNC mill. At that point we started to machine the NMRA specification bodies from A360 brass bar. This purchase allowed us to made all of our track cleaners in brass at a similar production cost. An added value for the customer as compared to the original die-cast. But, now that they are all brass there is some confusion... "Which works better?" is a question we are often asked. ​The NMRA spec cars use a slightly wider brass roller. They all will clean in a similar manner. But, some customers prefer one over the other.

Tom
Weaverville, CA



Date: 09/22/22 21:26
Re: Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: TomG

By looking at the fore mentioned tube videos the diamond shaped ones are wider than the NMRA rectangular car. So if you want to hide it inside a piece of rolling stock ( no pun intended ) it will be a better fit.

Tom
Weaverville, CA



Date: 09/23/22 06:04
Re: Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: Bob3985

We have one of each on our model railroad club layout and they work fine following the tank car.
We also have a couple of the boxcars with the abrasive pad on the bottom too.
All do well at cleaning track.

Bob Krieger
Cheyenne, WY



Date: 09/23/22 07:45
Re: Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: RichM

Bob,you beat me to it...

I was going to suggest the same thing... when these cars first came out, they were very popular, and the conventional wisdom was to run them with the Masonite-and-nail pad cars.

Seems like there were a lot of comments suggesting this 10-15 years ago in the trade publications.



Date: 09/23/22 08:32
Re: Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: Frank30

Jim:
Thanks for submitting this question.  I've been a hobby dealer selling this item for quite a few years, but not recently as they seemed to be
changing owner(s).  They were the first of this breed of track cleaners 15-20 years back and sold well even at their relatively
high price, because they do work well.  That was the brass pointed end version. Perhaps the shape was guided by the need to
connect the center of the device where the action takes place to the trucks and the shape you see does that quite well.
That item underwent a slight narrowing of the width when it was determined that the original width exceeded NMRA side
clearance. Perhaps one too many station platforms was demolished in the process of cleaning tracks. The black cast version was created for those who wanted to keep the car in a train all the time without calling out attention to it as it could be covered with a boxcar body. 
Many scales of these cars followed including a huge G gauge version.

They actual cleaning action involves wrapping "cleaning material", at the time handi-wipes, machine cut to the proper width
around a knurled brass cylinder and securing it with a plastic pony-tail holder similar to a rubber band. This brass cylinder wrapped with "cleaning material" that had been "dipped" in Goo-Gone  was inserterd in the central square holder on the car so that it rotated as the car moved along picking up dirt  As it picked up dirt, you could turn the Handi-wipe inside out to expose new surfaces that clean. The plastic holder was used so reverse travel of the car would not unravel the cleaning material.  Goo-Gone was the preferred liquid cleaner and was sold by the car manufacturer.  Since Goo-Gone had a tendency to destroy a rubber band, the plastic hair holder became the product of choice to keep the "Cleaning Material" from unraveling when backing up.

In the years that followed, everybody with the ability to do so, reinvented the wheel, so to speak, until there was a glut of like items
on the market.  Anybody who can  add more info or make corrections to the above, please feel free to do so.

Frank30 (Boston)
 



Date: 09/23/22 08:58
Re: Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: NCA1022

Frank30:

Thanks for the good history of these track cleaning cars.  Since they were first produced, modelers who soaked the roller in Goo Gone to clean their track discovered that Goo Gone left a residue on the track that attracted dirt, making the just-cleaned track get dirtier faster.  A much better cleaner is 99% alcohol, which does a great cleaning job without leaving any residue to deal with afterwards.

My track cleaning train consists of a Masonite slider car to catch any big bits of dirt, a CMX brass track cleaning car loaded with 99% alcohol, a Centerline roller car with a dry roller to mop up any alcohol remaining from the CMX car, and a final Masonite slider car because, well, why not...  Works great.

- Norm



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/23/22 08:59 by NCA1022.



Date: 09/23/22 11:03
Re: Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: SPDRGWfan

Interesting history discussion.  It seems the Centerline cars have evolved from soaking the handy whipe wrap for applying a cleaning fluid to having them follow behind a CMX car to wipe the rails of the cleaning fluid applied, such as Goo Gone, or Alcohol, but according to Joe Fugate at MRH, the latest preferred CMX cleaning fluid is oderless mineral spirits.  Here are his comments on the subject.

Cheers,
Jim:

"Field testing on this speaks volumes. The La Mesa club uses mineral spirits alone to clean their rails using a CMX car followed by 3 Centerline cars to do the wiping. Yes, that leaves a slight mineral spirits residue -- but that's a non-polar residue, which is what you want.

Cleaning the rails *after* the mineral spirits with 90% alcohol leaves the track bone dry and with a polar charge to the metal molecules, which encourages micro-arcing and causes the oxides to build up more quickly.

The La Mesa club started out using alcohol to clean the rails -- and yes, the rails were cleaner -- very clean and bone dry. But they found through hard knocks the track got dirty again quickly with micro-arcing oxides. That went away when they switched to mineral spirits.

The La Mesa club runs trains more or less daily for many hours each day, so this "field testing" is about as strenuous as it gets.

We can discuss theory all day long, but super clean and bone dry isn't good -- think static electricity on a cold low humidity day -- it snaps like crazy. The slight oily residue from a non-polar cleaning actually helps reduce the micro-arcing, and the rails stay clean longer. Same reason why a slight residue of Wahl clipper oil on the rails was the rage a few decades ago."



Date: 09/24/22 10:56
Re: Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: pennsy3750

Doed Atlas(?) still make the vaccuum cleaner car?



Date: 09/24/22 12:11
Re: Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: SPDRGWfan

pennsy3750 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Doed Atlas(?) still make the vaccuum cleaner car?

No, but the original company that supplied the Atlas rebranded cars, Dapol, still sells them under the Dapol name.  I think it is a British company.  I found a slightly used Atlas version on Ebay for about $80.  The Dapol cars can be found on Ebay, probably other sources.

Cheers,
Jim



Date: 09/26/22 09:42
Re: Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: inyosub

I use these in a train, to clean, I use Alcohol on the lead roller and dry wiper with the trailers.
I have a bunch because people keep giving them to me. (who knew?) 
Thanks SPDRGDWfan for sharing the La Mesa Joe Fugage comments. I found that enlightening. I may switch.
I remember how hard alcohol was to find during the pandemic. I stole mine from layout track cleaning to hand sanitizer!
Re:the Dapol Atlas track cleaning car. A  friend left one here and I thought it was as a favor. but I could never get
the thing to run. So it may have been abandoned as hopeless. Not sure there but I wouldn't spend much on one
to find out. 
I'd stick with centerlines. cheers.



Date: 09/26/22 14:20
Re: Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: SPDRGWfan

The Dipol/Atlas vacuum cars seem to work really well.  The examples I've seen would need emptying out frequenly because they sucked up a lot of trackside dust and debris.

My biggest concern about Alcohol is it would evaporate so quicky I wasn't sure it would be effective for that reason.  Joe seems to make a pretty strong argument for the oderless mineral spirits.

Cheers,
Jim



Date: 09/26/22 16:34
Re: Centerline Track Cleaning cars - two types?
Author: ChrisCampi

inyosub Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I use these in a train, to clean, I use Alcohol on
> the lead roller and dry wiper with the trailers.
> I have a bunch because people keep giving them to
> me. (who knew?) 
> Thanks SPDRGDWfan for sharing the La Mesa Joe
> Fugage comments. I found that enlightening. I may
> switch.
> I remember how hard alcohol was to find during the
> pandemic. I stole mine from layout track cleaning
> to hand sanitizer!
> Re:the Dapol Atlas track cleaning car. A  friend
> left one here and I thought it was as a favor. but
> I could never get
> the thing to run. So it may have been abandoned as
> hopeless. Not sure there but I wouldn't spend much
> on one
> to find out. 
> I'd stick with centerlines. cheers.


Don't abandon that vacuum car just yet. Instead fire up your soldering iron and solder leads from the trucks to the contact pads under the car. If running DCC, you'll have to install a decoder and lower that max voltage as nine volts is max recommended. Tape up the debris box area to better contain the dust and ballast you collect and install a keep alive if you want and your good to go. Note that sometimes ballast can wedge between the fan blade and housing and cause the motor to stall, so you need to pay attention when running it so the motor won't burn out. I run mine about twice, three times a year.

You will be surprised at what you collect.



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