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Model Railroading > Dapol HO /OO Track Cleaner.

Date: 11/19/22 13:12
Dapol HO /OO Track Cleaner.
Author: ChrisCampi

Anyone else use one of these? I picked one up a few years ago for fun. It has a vacuum, a small fluid tank and cleaning pad set up, and fine abrasive heads. I only use the vacuum feature.

It comes set up for twelve volt DC with a eight pin dummy plug. I installed a Soundtraxx decoder and set Vmax very low as the instructions state the vacuum motor is only good for 9 volts. I found I needed to seal the debris compartment better to contain the spoils and also needed to solder contact leads from the trucks to the pads mounted under the body to get reliable connectivity. It could stand a keep alive, but I don't feel it's worth the trouble. The only thing to watch out for is a piece of ballast getting wedged between the fan blade and housing which could possibly burn out the small motor, so it's not a run it and walk away thing, you need to baby sit it.

As you can see, the unit looks nothing like anything you might see on US railroads. I don't know what, if anything I can or should do about that. It turns out I run this about two or three times a year as a special train. It's kinda fun and it does work. I've included some photos of what it picked up after the layout was dormant for six months. I do not have a climate controlled room and the mainline runs through some open attic space so this unit is helpful.

I would like to install a magnet underneath. One gentleman I talked to set his up for swifter pads to clear spider webs from tunnel areas which I thought was clever.

Anyone else mod theirs with any goodie's?

Date: 11/19/22 13:16
Re: Dapol HO /OO Track Cleaner.
Author: ChrisCampi

I forgot to mention that it does have a push button on/off switch on top so you can leave it on the layout until you need it. I pull mine off until I'm ready to run it.

Date: 11/19/22 13:28
Re: Dapol HO /OO Track Cleaner.
Author: SPDRGWfan

I found a barely used Atlas brand version made by Dapol for Atlas recently. I haven't used it yet as I am still building the layout.

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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/19/22 13:28 by SPDRGWfan.

Date: 11/19/22 14:06
Re: Dapol HO /OO Track Cleaner.
Author: up421

Hi Chris,

Yes, I've used one, a few years ago. It was sold by Atlas, and it did a nice job with the vacuum.

This was on a club layout and we installed a decoder for control of the motor for the vacuum.

It was a nice addition to the track cleaning arsenal.


ChrisCampi Wrote:
> Anyone else use one of these? I picked one up a
> few years ago for fun. It has a vacuum, a small
> fluid tank and cleaning pad set up, and fine
> abrasive heads. I only use the vacuum feature.

Date: 11/19/22 14:13
Re: Dapol HO /OO Track Cleaner.
Author: SPDRGWfan

I visited a train show in August in Chantilly VA and a guy at the N scale layout was running the N scale version of this Dipol vaccum car and the compartment will really fill up with dust and small debris.  It seemed to work very well.

Date: 11/19/22 14:14
Re: Dapol HO /OO Track Cleaner.
Author: TCnR

The general look of it is very similar to the custom built MoW trains that UPrr has been running in the past year or two.
Good info.

Date: 11/19/22 16:25
Re: Dapol HO /OO Track Cleaner.
Author: boejoe

I agree it doesn't look like anything on US railroads.  Would a repaint to make it look less obvious help?  Otherwise, consider running with another piece or two of M of W equipment painted yellow as well.

Date: 11/19/22 16:52
Re: Dapol HO /OO Track Cleaner.
Author: chessie7602

I purchased the Atlas version when they first came out.  I had issues with the trucks picking up track power.  The springs on the trucks did not make good contact with a metal plate transferring the power to the body.  I ended up hardwiring the power and added a decoder to control the fan speed in the vacuum.  Worked well after that.  I never used the cleaning pads with it because I had two Centerline cleaning cars and a boxcar with a masonite pad to do the rest.  The vacuum worked well picking up all kinds of dust and loose ballast.

The MOW track cleaning train consisted of:
1) Atlas vacuum
2) Centerline car with the roller soaked in alcohol
3) Centerline car with a dry roller
4) Boxcar with a masonite pad


Date: 11/19/22 18:17
Re: Dapol HO /OO Track Cleaner.
Author: TomG

Chris I think it can be disguised to fit in. I had an old Concor CZ set from 70s in a box gathering dust and thinking about getting a CMX track cleaning car. Then one day I was looking at the Dapol vacu car and a project came to mind, Build a Speno railgrinder/cleaning train. The power car can be the Dapol dressed up and painted so its less obtrusive and run it behind the CMX, the repainted Budd 10-6, the Dapol, the 4 kitbashed grinders with masonite drag pads under them and then a couple tank cars. Then you have a train to run and its cleaning as you go. I dont know why FRRS is on the photos, its a Dale Sanders photo from the 1977 WP company magazine.

Weaverville, CA

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/19/22 18:23 by TomG.

Date: 11/19/22 19:41
Re: Dapol HO /OO Track Cleaner.
Author: west

The Dapol / Atlas track vacuum does really work well.  The idea is good; but the way the unit is constructed causes some issues that need improvement. I only use the vacuum feature.  Some of it's issues are the talgo couplers (especially when it is being pushed) and trucks with very iffy electrical pickup don't help. Hardwiring the trucks (as mentioned) really helps; a keep alive would also.
The biggest issue is the motor not being isolated from the dust bin.  Eventually, a large enough piece of ballast will be sucked into the motor ... and then the motor is toast !  Yes, it did happen to me.   So I isolated the motor compartment from the dust compartment: the fix takes about ten minutes and costs very little.  See attached photo.  Basically cut a piece of scrap styrene sheet, glue it in, caulk the edges and that's done.  You can mount a magnet in the small rectangular depressed area on the bottom; I did, not sure how effective it is.
The Swiffer idea to cut cobwebs in hidden track / tunnels is a good one. I was going to do that with an auto rack or double stack hieght car. But with some styrene you could modify this into that use too.  
Hope that helps,  
Don Marenzi

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/19/22 19:42 by west.

Date: 11/19/22 23:58
Re: Dapol HO /OO Track Cleaner.
Author: Kemacprr

These work great once you hardwire the truck pickups. Protecting the motor is a great idea think I will do that retrofit to the two I have. I repainted mine and decalled them as a Brownhoist Ballast cleaner as thats what they do sort of !! ------  Ken 

Date: 11/21/22 11:09
Re: Dapol HO /OO Track Cleaner.
Author: ChrisCampi

I appreciate all the replies Guy's. Agree hardwiring the trucks is a must. Tom, your rail grinding train idea has merit and I like it. I'll have to think about that for a minute. Don, I did something similar using tape but I like your method better and I'm going to go that route. Thanks for the great photo. Jim, seeing one in N scale would be amazing. Hard to believe they can get a working vacuum in that small package.

I also thought about painting it black and adding DODX markings. I love the Brownhoist ballast cleaner also. That's worthy of a pic or two.

It's great to see so many of you having success with this tool.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/21/22 11:18 by ChrisCampi.

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