Track Cleaning for the Long Term.
This commentary on Track Cleaning was posted by "George" on Dec 3, 2001 in our old Academy. Note that there are no pictures, but the thread was good enough for our Academy before, so we are posting it here as well.
Here is another way of Track Cleaning by George

Around 1982-1983 there was an article in Railroad Model Craftsman about track cleaning with Radio Shack products that I tried and swear by.

Buy a small spray can of "Realistic (Radio Shack's house brand) Color TV tuner fluid", and a can of "Radio Shack Degreaser Spray".
Don't ask me why they have two different names for their products. Get some paper towels. As a kid, I used to do this with Ronsonol, maybe why I didn't do very well in school! Anyway, first vacuum the track with a long, narrow skinny attachment to remove dust and anything loose. I wrap a paper towel around my index finger so there's a wad at the end, and I spray it with the TV tuner fluid. Wipe it along the rail and look at the gook that comes off.

According to the article, this fluid not only removes everything, but also provides a thin coating which actually seals the rail from air, thus preventing oxidization, yet is an invisible electrical conductor. Probably best for poor slobs who won't change from brass to nickel-silver! The film
on the rail is not harmful to locomotive traction tires or plastic, and from my experience of doing this for over the years, does not attract and hold dirt. Sludge accumulation on plastic wheels is another matter entirely, but not that bad and a welcome trade off to being hunched over cleaning the track. Traction does not seem to be effected either.

The degreaser has two uses.
1.) For the skeptic, it is a second application for removing the TV tuner fluid from the cleaned track if desired. This two step procedure leaves the track as clean as the day you laid it and your trains will thank you for it. It really leaves the railhead squeaky clean. Use the same primitive method of paper towel and finger as with the tuner fluid.

2.) I find by that I prefer to use the degreaser spray FIRST. It also performs wonderfully as a cleanser, while it simultaneously removes the old coating of TV tuner fluid.

Now you're probably scratching your head asking why the devil I would use two sprays instead of one. Here's the attraction from the article that enticed me to try it in the first place, Now, what would you think if I told you that you wouldn't have to clean your track more than about ONCE A YEAR?
Stop laughing IT'S TRUE! No, I'm not pushing DIDI 7. I last lived in an urban environment adjacent to a rail yard on the south, and across the street from a factory as well as in line with the wind and an electrical generating plant to the west. Dust was a major problem in that place, and I ran the trains about every day. Before I used this method, I had to clean the tracks every several weeks!

I tried using only the TV tuner fluid. It worked as promised. Everything ran beautifully for approximately one year. I was concerned about health issues using this alien chemical, plus thoughts regarding any kind of build up, so I switched to just the degreaser. It worked well, but only lasted barely six months. My regimen now is degreaser first to cleans, then TV tuner fluid to coat. Everything works like a charm for ten to fourteen months. How about that?!

No improvised tools, no lighter fluid, no nail polish remover. Only
exposure to another potentially unknown health risk from a chemical product
that works. Hey, the parrot didn't drop dead, so it can't be all that toxic!

Happy Rails.

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