ROLLING STOCK


keeping your model railway clean

After having spent a great deal of time building your layout, the next problem you will have is to keep it clean. A customer once complained to Ettore Bugatti that the car he had supplied did not start easily in the mornings. Bugatti relied that all his cars should be kept in centrally heated garages!

By rights, your model should be stored in what is in effect a 'clean room'; humidity and temperature controlled with dust extraction. The problem is that unless we dressed up in 'Noddy suits', even that would not work as humans are constantly shedding their skin and this amounts to much of our house dust.

If you are able to cover the layout when not in use, deterioration will be slowed down. Be careful not to damage anything with a cover, which should never touch any of the scenery.

If you exhibit your layout, you are completely sunk as thousands will shed their skin all over it! Bit by bit the colour becomes a little grey and the whole affair will lose its freshness. Now, PROVIDED that you have ensured that all paper products on your layout (such as posters and signs) have been properly sealed with matt varnish, you can carefully use a mister with distilled water and give the layout a spring clean. Things will mostly return to their original freshness.

Dust free floors are essential in my view. I use floor paint on the concrete surface where County Gate is kept and this helps considerably.

County Gate's home

our workshop during the build of Cliffhanger

County Gate is kept in a converted barn/garage. The walls and ceilings are lined in foil backed plaster board and the floor is painted. It is well lit using 8ft tubes and a dehumidifier is installed which clicks on and off if humidity builds up. Two wall heaters also prevent freezing during the winter months.

track cleaning

Keeping the track really clean is the bugbear of all small model railways.

Once the track has been painted and ballasted, a lot of care is needed to remove any ballast that will foul the wheel flanges. The scenic work is also very messy and considerable effort is needed to remove debris and spray products from the rail tops. For this we used a Peco track rubber which was pushed around with a 2 prong fork, to keep hands away from the delicate scenery. (Don't use your wife's silverware for this if you wish to live long and prosper)

Continued maintenance is needed and the track rubber leaves shiny debris on the track and scenery gets damaged nearly every time.

Our first attempt to find a viable alternative was a conversion of some American device which claimed wonders. In a nutshell, a brass drum is wrapped in a bit of dishcloth and soaked in track cleaner. This is supposed to rotate, dragging slightly and clean the rails. The thing just derailed. I tried weighting it further and it just derailed some more.  In short, it was as useless as a chocolate teapot.

At last the Japanese came to our aid!



We sold the BMW and purchased a Tomix 6421 track cleaner. We have fitted a Digitrax 123 chip to operate the motor. There is a mini vacuum cleaner, debris being deposited in the centre collector. It will suck up loose bits of ballast if running flat out. There is also a sprung loaded rotating wheel which can be operated as a dry polisher or wet, cleaner can be added to a reservoir. We find the wet cleaner a bit useless, but the dry cleaner is perfect! In the UK, the track cleaner is now available from Dapol.

It is not powered itself for running. I wonder if it is that effective on DC as delivered power would depend on the tow loco speed but on DCC it will run to full capacity.

as it comes  - click on image to enlarge

 The boxcar cover for the Tomix in Glenthorne Harbour Authority livery. - click on image to enlarge


spiders, bugs and mice

A word about SPIDERS. Generally, these creatures do not bother me too much; at least in the UK where they are not harmful to humans. When it comes to County Gate, however, we have a very different story. We have spent hours removing their handiwork with fine sable brushes and still miss a few. After some days, the first train through the tunnels will always reappear covered in cobwebs. It was all a bit like Indiana Jones and the temple of doom!

It was time to go to war! A quick Google and a company called the Pest Control Shop came up. They suggested that I use a combination of water based spray (which is also residual) and ultrasonic devices. The spray is quite horrible but if sprayed last thing at night has dispersed by morning. Since then, no more cobwebs have appeared. Another problem solved!

This is what the blurb says about the ultra sonic devices:

"Strikeback Ultrasonic Pest Repellers use advanced ultrasonic sound technology to emit sound waves which are outside the hearing range of humans, but which many rodent and insect pests are sensitive to, creating an environment that pests would rather not be in.

With a very impressive sound output of 115dB, the Strikeback Ultrasonic Pest Repellers have been designed to operate silently, unlike some pest repellers which can emit an annoying clicking sound. Furthermore, the frequency output fluctuates between 30kHz and 70kHz, rather than being static or limited in range, helping to prevent the rodent and insect pests getting used to the pest repeller.

As ultrasonic sound waves cannot travel through solid objects, it is best to use one Strikeback Ultrasonic Only Pest Repeller in each average sized room that you wish to protect.

Please note that all forms of pest control take variable amounts of time to be effective.

Has no effect on cats, dogs or fish, but will affect pet rodents if they are in a room where a repeller is plugged in."

So there you have it. Don't share the model railway room with your pet rat Roland.