Keeping Track Clean - Graphite stick

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John New
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Postby John New » Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:19 am

If you have enough to fill an isolating gap, you will have far too much on there


True Steve and I wasn't planning to cake it on.

I can see it is obvious that when using stubby pencils you need to be careful when running it along the rail head and inner rail faces to avoid chips/scrapes of graphite dropping into rail gaps.

Question really is - is there any thing else to watch out for/avoid other than over application and clumsy hands?
Last edited by John New on Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Geeky Gecko
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Postby Geeky Gecko » Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:21 am

I used a carpenter's pencil after reading about their use on these pages, and I was converted - for a while. Then my engines started to run erratically, re-application didn't improve matters. As a last resort, I cleaned the track and wheels with meths and restored smooth running. I haven't tried again. I had sort of concluded that the graphite had caused an electrical short somewhere.
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Postby DCRfan » Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:54 am

I have been using carpenters pencil on four layouts for about the same number of years and have never had a short or the problem you describe.
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Postby Prof Klyzlr » Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:08 am

Team,

RE "Caking up" and short circuits

I <have> heard of some modellers experiencing short circuits and issues around plastic frog turnout when using graphite.

On furthur close inspection,
the modellers in question admited that they had

- Obtained "graphite powder" / "dry-lock-lubricant" from a hardware store

- added Metholated spirits or similar to form a slurry/paste

- and slopped the resulting goo (s)lavishly over any and all visible rail.

I'm going to say this 1 time,
<This form of application is OverKill :twisted: >

Sing it with me, in the key of "smooth running"

1 - clean all rails and wheels
(that includes ALL locos and rollingstock,
method of "cleaning" is up to you)

2 - swipe (literally "to pass over lightly and swiftly")
over the rails with a graphite stick/"woodless artists pencil"/carpenter's pencil

3 - run trains over said treated rails.

With the wheels and railheads thusly coated,
you should be in good stead :wink:

At the first sign of wheel/rail-contact-related hesitation,
give a targetted "swipe" with the graphite stick...

If you play host to any "foreign", "visiting", or "not-usually-used" locos/rollingstock,
ensure they get a wheelclean BEFORE heading onto the graphited rails.
(You wouldn't vacuum the carpet,
then walk thru the house with muddy boots now, would you???)

As always, your mileage may vary,
but there's a weight of evidence worldwide says that this technique works... :D
Happy Modelling,
Aim to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr

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Nick Ellingworth
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Postby Nick Ellingworth » Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:14 am

If I may throw in my tuppence worth, I found that using a carpenters pencil really helped running on Dunwold Manor throughout the day at Dereham which as I'm sure everyone is very much aware of thanks to my constant whining on the subject was previously running very very badly. As the day progressed running got better and better (aside from one overheating loco) it only stalled or had issues when I came back from taking a wonder around the show hall.

So I recommend putting a bit of graphite on the track setting the train going then leaving the layout alone all day. :wink:
*Insert witty signature here*

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Gerry Bullock
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Postby Gerry Bullock » Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:25 am

Geeky Gecko wrote:I used a carpenter's pencil after reading about their use on these pages, and I was converted - for a while. Then my engines started to run erratically, re-application didn't improve matters. As a last resort, I cleaned the track and wheels with meths and restored smooth running. I haven't tried again. I had sort of concluded that the graphite had caused an electrical short somewhere.


Same happened with Secciole Salina at one show when the temperatures must have been around 30 Celcius. When checked out at Clubhouse fault couldn't be reproduced so we concluded that short was caused by rail ends touching.
Never happened since and the Carpenter's pencil is still in use. :wink:
So little time, so many ideas!!!!! GerryB.
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Postby Prof Klyzlr » Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:29 am

Dear Gerry,

It's a little OT, but I never leave a rail gap without inserting a shaped piece of 0.010 or 0.020" styrene. It "compresses" a little with rail expansion, but ensures you never have to hunt the dreaded "intermittent short"...
Happy Modelling,

Aim to Improve,

Prof Klyzlr

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Postby commerlad » Tue Aug 18, 2009 5:04 pm

John New wrote:
1) As it conducts electricity obviously you have to make sure you don't bridge any isolation gaps and cause shorts. (The old pencil doen a spark plug trick comes to mind) Are there any other numpties mistakes to be avoided?


I thought the pencil for the spark plug was a trade secret for old car buffs

just like the sucking of teeth when asked how long for them to get a part
Sometimes I think laterally, Then I have to get up.

Mark in UK

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Postby Will Vale » Wed Aug 19, 2009 9:04 am

Thanks all for the advice. It sounds like I should probably leave the graphite off during construction and apply it after track painting etc. has been done. It's been quite good having bare rail for a while, since in concert with a rigid-chassis 4 wheel loco (Trix Koef II) it's very easy to find any track which isn't perfect. It's amazing how well the Bachmann Davenport gets around it compared to the Trix loco, despite having a shorter wheelbase and weighing about the same. I think the compensated (or just loose?) axles help :)

It would probably help a great deal if the layout wasn't in the open-plan kitchen-dining-room :oops:

W


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