Cleaning Cars

 

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CLEANG CAR

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Keeping tracks clean is essential to smoother operation.  While the constant operation and the running of many trains is, always has been, and always will be the best way to keep tracks clean, track cleaning cars can be of help when this is not possible.

 

There have been many designs to perform this task ranging from dripping a solution on a pad that rubs along the tracks to motorized brushes and abrasive blocks dragged under a car.  Here are two track cleaning cars based on parts from Centerline track cleaning products.

   

NRTC_003_ASc

     

     

 

 

CenterLineCleaning_01c

 

 

Centerline provide track cleaning cars for several scales.

While some units differ from the HO one shown here

      They all operate on the same principle

 

   A heavy brass roller “scrubs” the railhead as it is pulled along. 

This roller wrapped with toweling saturated with cleaning agent

Loosens dirt and absorbs debris

Can be replaced to provide new clean surface

Rollers are available separately so user can keep one or more in reserve

 

This base be covered with the plastic shell of a car.

  

Wrapping the roller is easy

Centerline recommends using Handi-Wipe paper toweling

Towels are cut into strips

Wrapped around roller

 Held in place by thread or vinyl bands

    

 

Centerline recommends an alcohol based solvent called Goo-gone.  This will dissolve grease and will keep roller “wet” as well as leaving a protective film on the railhead.

 

 

  

GooGone_01c

    

There are several other products that can be used. A plain solution of kerosene and soap will do a better job of washing the dirt from tracks while a contact cleaner will leave a conductive film on the rails

 

 

 

  

LSBC_144_ATc

 

     

This is an example of a box car shell shortened to fit the Centerline frame

And paint scheme was typical for the LaSalle and Bureau County Railroad,

A small 22 mile bridge line in the Chicago area

That did much of its work at night.

 

 

    

The LaSalle and Bureau County Railroad Company - Theft

Besides having a purple Baldwin switcher, the LS&BC was also famous for being involved in a boxcar theft scandal from the Penn Central Railroad

 in the early 1970s.  Apparently, the LS&BC purchased some boxcars from the Penn Central to refurbish and put into service to earn "per diem" charges.    The PC delivered the boxcars, but more and more boxcars kept showing up  until the LS&BC was literally plugged with them. 

The PC accused the LS&BC of stealing them, but the LS&BC wondered how they could steal things that were given to them.  A series of articles  in THE NEW YORK TIMES from March 19, March 20, and June 17, 1971, state that the boxcars were purchased by an outside company and the LS&BC was contracted to repair the boxcars.

 

   

 

   

The LaSalle and Bureau County Railroad Company - Theft?

Besides having a purple Baldwin switcher, the LS&BC was also famous for being involved in a boxcar theft scandal from the Penn Central Railroad

 in the early 1970s.  Apparently, the LS&BC purchased some boxcars

from the Penn Central to refurbish and put into service to earn "per diem" charges.

  The PC delivered the boxcars, but more and more boxcars kept showing up until the LS&BC was literally plugged with them.  The PC accused the LS&BC of stealing them, but the LS&BC wondered how they could steal things that were given to them.  A series of articles  in THE NEW YORK TIMES from March 19, March 20, and June 17, 1971, state that the boxcars were purchased by an outside company and the LS&BC was contracted to repair the boxcars.

 

 

    

A somewhat different explanation is told in The Wreck of the Penn Central by Joseph Dauphin.  The book indicates that the PC had such bad records and control of its own equipment that they (Penn Central) had no idea where their rolling stock was at.

 

Another insight into what happens is the fact that is common for one railroad, as a courtesy to perform a minor repair for another.  Broken air hoses or damaged wheels are often replaced.  It seems the LS&BC might simply have been over ambitious in its repairs and simply extended it repairs to completely re-paining of cars.  A car with a broken hose my be seen entering the shops one day, and a few days later emerge with a brand new LS&BC paint job and be assigned on a per diem rate for a western railway.

  

More information is available at:  http://www.trainweb.org/lsbc/    

 

  

 

 

 

  

       

This cleaning car is a scratch-built version of an actual box/tank car circa 1870.  This was back before the time of steel tank cars and oil was shipped in wooden barrels and was a first attempt to ship oil products more efficiently.  A steel tank was mounted under the floor between the trucks.  This nicely hides the cleaning rollers.

   

     This underside view shows the twin roller wells of the  car.  Note the brass buffers used to contain the rollers under the body.  These provide a smooth surface to reduce the surprisingly heavy drag of the rollers

 

The “drop-out” openings allow easy access to the rollers to add cleaning solution.  I have several spares and use one pair for “heavy” cleaning and another for simple maintenance.

     

  

 

 

 

  

RESOUCES

 

Centerline Products       http://www.centerline-products.com/

 

Goo-gone                   http://www.GooGone.Com   

 

Handi-Wipes               (Not available directly from Clorox)              search for Handi-Wipe towels  CLO13387

 

  

 

 

 

   

 

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Bob Van Cleef, MMR

Last update    7/25/2012