How to disinfect Code 55 layout?

SleeperN06 Jun 28, 2018

  1. SleeperN06

    SleeperN06 TrainBoard Member

    So a couple of years ago I put my entire layout in storage until I can move into a larger place with room for my trains.

    Well I finally bought a place in AZ and today I pulled everything out and discovered Rats have been living on the layout. There were rat droppings everywhere which I tried to clean up with a brush and a vacuum, but it stained from the dried up piss. I don’t know if there were a lot of rats or if they have been there for a long time because every square inch was covered.

    I don’t want to toss the whole layout because I have way too much time and money invested in it. I am concerned about diseases and have already spent time in the hospital for a bacteria infection. My job prior to retirement made us clean everything with bleach, but I don't know how bleach will react to Atlas code 55 track
  2. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

    Spray with Lysol. Shop vac everything. Spray more Lysol and shop vac again but I’m afraid it’s a lost cause.
    Personally I would accept the loss and build a fresh layout but that’s neither here nor there. Good luck.
  3. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member

    Here in our area western CO, we have deer mice that carry the hanta virus. Kills people every year. The instructions include wearing a mask, praying everything down with Lysol or bleach and water to keep the dust down and kill the bad stuff.
    The track would be easy enough to clean and rinse to get rid of fumes. But the rest of your MRR depending on the building makeup and such. I am agreeing with Jim
    sure isn't worth getting sick over.
    That's too bad. How much MRR are you talking about?
    Hardcoaler and JimJ like this.
  4. SleeperN06

    SleeperN06 TrainBoard Member

    I have about 50 code 55 turnouts and that is too much of a loss for me.
  5. SleeperN06

    SleeperN06 TrainBoard Member

  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Salvage the switches. Toss the rest. :(
    JimJ, HOexplorer and mtntrainman like this.
  7. jpwisc

    jpwisc TrainBoard Member

    I agree with @BoxcabE50. Pull the switches, dip them in a diluted bleach solution, dry them and reuse on a new layout.
  8. SleeperN06

    SleeperN06 TrainBoard Member

    I’m thinking about standing on its side outside and spraying it down with a diluted bleach solution and then rinsing it with hot water. If I let the hose out in the hot sun for an hour or so it gets boiling hot to where it will burn you and then I can blow dry it with my leaf blower. If it stays in tack then I’ll repaint it and if not then I guess I’ll have to start over.
  9. EMD F7A

    EMD F7A TrainBoard Member

    DO NOT MESS with potential toxic or bacterial ANYTHING soaked into wood!! That's not worth the loss! Save the switches, BURN the rest. Otherwise, every hole you drill or any time it ever gets damp again, all the crap that's soaked into your board will seep right out and put your health at risk! Since you have a new place, start fresh and maybe even step from a racetrack layout to something more long-term operations minded...?

    I don't see more than $100 worth of flex track there. I'm sure your health and safety are worth that.
  10. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    Actually, there's no reason he couldn't save all the track and dispose of the wood.

    SleeperN06, JimJ and Ghengis Kong like this.
  11. John W Zerbe

    John W Zerbe TrainBoard Member

    What he said. I would not risk the potential hazard of what is soaked into the wood.
    JimJ likes this.
  12. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

    First I would recommend a visit to the local drugstore for a doctors face mask and a box of disposable latex gloves and not bring the layout inside the house.

    Chlorine based bleach is corrosive to a number of metals and can definitely mess up electronics and Chlorine fumes can cause respiratory issues if you stay exposed to them long enough. I 2nd the others and say that the wood is probably not worth saving because of the previously stated issues.

    I would take the turnouts and take a cheap foil disposable cooking pan and place them in there to soak in at least 70 to 91 % alcohol and buy a cheap toothbrush that can be thrown away, to do any scrubbing that might be needed on the turnouts. Something like a disposable foil Turkey pan would be about right. The alcohol and turkey pan are fairly cheap if you have a Walmart nearby or similar store nearby.

    A cheap spray bottle for spraying some alcohol on the layout before beginning work would do well to dampen everything down to reduce dust and airborne particles. Then I would submerge the turnouts in the alcohol in the big pan and let them soak a while. Also possible to salvage some track that will fit in the pan. In fact you could fashion a long tray from tinfoil and and soak any flex track sections that can be removed.

    If the layout posted is the one then the structures can also be saved by again spraying these with alcohol or a dilute bleach solution. We have for years saved old household cleaning products spray containers which are rinsed thoroughly and then filled with a diluted bleach and water mix for a general disinfectant. Hopefully everything but the wood will be salvageable.

    I also recommend not wearing the clothes worn to clean the layout into the house but change clothes out on the porch or in the garage and put the old clothes in a trash bag. You can take the trash bag to the washing machine and dump them in the water on the hot setting with some detergent.

    I state all this based on my experience as one who responded to hazmat incidents of all natures many hundreds of times as part of my job for over 28 years.
    umtrr-author, JimJ and SleeperN06 like this.
  13. SleeperN06

    SleeperN06 TrainBoard Member

    Layout72610-1_1.jpg Actualy I don't think anything got in to the wood because I seal it all with primer and painted it before laying the track. I even painted all the cork road bead with enamal paint before gluing down the track with silicone glue.
    mtntrainman likes this.
  14. SleeperN06

    SleeperN06 TrainBoard Member

    I haven't brought it inside the house yet and its still sitting in an open flatbed trailer. I just wish I would have thought to protect myself with a mask and gloves before vacuuming it outside. This whole thing has me upset. The funny thing is that i put rat poison down years ago just in case even though there were no signs of them, but I don't think they even touched the stuff.
  15. WM183

    WM183 TrainBoard Member

    The good news: Urine itself is pretty sterile. Kidneys are remarkably effective filtration systems. The bad news: Literally everything else about rodents is filthy, germ ridden, and dangerous. I'd keep the turnouts and burn the rest, and I'd pull the turnouts outside, and preferably upwind.
    EMD F7A likes this.
  16. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

    I'll also chime in like everyone else has said, IT'S NOT WORTH THE RISK!

    Rat excrement is probably acidic and even if you can wash everything you may end up with non reliable track work due to the acid eating away at the metal all these years. The Haunta virus is serious stuff and often kills humans. Even if you think you have cleaned everything why leave it to chance that your can infect your ENTIRE HOUSE or anyone that visits or lives in it? How much would that end up costing?

    I don't mean to be insulting but that last picture doesn't show me anything worth the risk of salvaging. It's not like you have a fully scenicked layout with the bells and whistle. I would start over with new equipement and you can design a better layout (we all know there are areas which could have been designed/built better) and correct all the oopsies.

    And if you do decide to try and save the turnouts (I would save the building too), I would use 91% alcohol or denature. Bleach can do funky sutff to plastic depending on concentration and soak time. But be careful with alcohol in a bucket or tray, quite flammable.
    EMD F7A likes this.
  17. SleeperN06

    SleeperN06 TrainBoard Member

    This is probably the last straw for me in N-scale. I just don’t have it in me to do another layout. I can’t find my cost list from 10 years ago, but if I remember correctly it cost me over $3,000 with all the turnouts and electronic DCC switch control under the layout.
  18. SleeperN06

    SleeperN06 TrainBoard Member

    I just did a rough estimate of the track to be about $1500, The electronics could be salvaged because they were underneath plus another $100 for the table, paint and glue, but the time I put into this is just more then I can stand. I've never been able to anything twice and I'd probably die anyway trying to finish it..
  19. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

    You're falling for a common business fallacy: sunk cost.

    "But we've already put so much time/money/effort into this project" is the WORST reason to continue going forward with it (or in your case to NOT go forward with something else), if it otherwise is now a bad idea.

    Conditions have changed. Your old layout is ruined. It sucks. Really sucks. Very frustrating. But think about, say, golfing. Yeah, you spend a few hundred (or thousand) on a set of clubs, but the ongoing cost is in greens fees, travel, etc. to actually play the game. Almost 100% of that is completely consumed and cannot ever be gotten back. Is it wasted? No, because it's a hobby and you enjoyed doing it while you were there. Same thing with watching a movie or attending a sporting event or going fishing. But whether you go golfing or fishing or to another movie tomorrow usually only depends on how much fun you had previously, not on how much time/effort/money you have sunk into the hobby so far*.

    Same thing with your layout. You spent a bunch of time and money on it, and presumably enjoyed the process of planning and building and running it. That money and time was spent, and it's gone. Forget it. Now, look forward. Do you want to do model trains? Then do model trains. Switch scales if you want, or stick with N. Doesn't matter. The fun of this hobby is in the creative act, in the PROCESS of planning and building and scenic-ing and running the layout. Just like the fun of golf is in the PROCESS of playing the game. So make something NEW and don't look back.

    I struggled with a very similar thought process when I tossed out my previous layout to build something bigger. I was getting kicked out of the room and almost nothing of the old layout was salvageable (except some structures I sold and a few turnouts). I had to come to grips with the above. About ten minutes after I did so, I started ripping into the old layout and by bedtime the whole thing was on the curb. I've never looked back, except to look at the pictures and have good memories while looking at the new layout and making better memories.

    As for the money side, again, look at golf. The clubs are like your DCC system or something. The money spent on your layout is like greens fees and such. You'd never say "Well, I'm going to quit playing golf because I've already spent $XXXX on greens fees and I can't get that back." You'd say "Well my budget allows $XX per month for golfing expenses, so that's how much golf I'm going to play going forward." You would do the same with the hours spent as well. So if you spent 10,000 hours and $3,000 (or whatever) on your old layout, just consider that to be money/time spent on experience gained, and continue to spend whatever time/money makes sense to you on the next thing.

    *OK I'll admit the only reason I'm slogging through season 14 of "ER" on Netflix is because i've already watched the other 13 seasons and I just can't leave it incompletely watched. I should know better.
  20. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

    Man TwinDad, you need to write a self help book! :LOL::ROFLMAO::):D

    What you said is spot on. I know it's easier when you are not the one spending the money but Johnny B, please think about this. If it helps, step back, ignore it for a few days until your head clears. You've been gone from that specific layout for a while now. A few more days is not going to hurt.
    BoxcabE50 and TwinDad like this.

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