N'scale track cleaning car.

hawkdriver Aug 5, 2022 at 12:37 PM

  1. hawkdriver

    hawkdriver TrainBoard Supporter

    Can anyone recommend an effective and reasonably priced track cleaning car.
    I am not interested hearing about the bad ones as I am sure there are plenty.
    Perhaps a purchased car hand modified to work well?
    Has anyone constructed their own cleaning car that works well?

  2. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

    The Aztec brand are among the best but now out of business due to retirement of the owner. I have two of them plus a couple of homemade ones. For the homemade I use a Masonite pad, rough surface down. My homemade are built out of Bachman old time 34 foot flatcars with the underframe structure removed. The Masonite pad is designed to float up and down and the cars are heavily weighted. Works very well and the pad is refurbed by a simple light sanding that removes the crud.
    Hytec, MK, Shortround and 3 others like this.
  3. DeaconKC

    DeaconKC TrainBoard Member

    @John Moore is describing what I used to have, and am now going to build again. It was originally designed by John Allen for the Gorre & Dapetid Railroad. It works! I used an old boxcar, no idea of what kind, and youu just run it in your consists randomly.
  4. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

    John at Aztec did make the best and if you can find one...any one since he built 3 different styles, get it. Otherwise, the John Allen masonite cars work great as well (and since you make them yourself, you can make a bunch and run a full train of them).
    BNSF FAN, Hytec, DeaconKC and 2 others like this.
  5. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    I have a bunch of the Aztec track cleaning cars I bought from Jim Reising estate. I am keeping the boxcar cleaners.


    I would be willing to sell you one of the Aztec gondola track cleaning cars (center cars in the pic below). It would also come with one Cobra™ (Handi Wipes® covered) roller. The Cobra is designed to be run “wet” (with cleaning fluid).


    ALSO...If interested I could sell the black Aztec frames in the top right of the pic. If you want to 'roll your own' with your preferred brand of trucks and boxcar shell.

    I haven't researched how much any of the Aztec track cleaning cars are worth...but I am sure we can come to a mutually agreed upon price. Message me if interested. TIA
    BNSF FAN, Hytec and DeaconKC like this.
  6. MRLdave

    MRLdave TrainBoard Member

    Depending on what you have for a layout (DC or DCC) the Atlas/Tomix cars aren't too bad. The only issue is they are a powered (DC) car, so if you run DCC, you need to wire in a decoder. In some respects this is good, because it allows you to control the motor speed......in DC the motor spins at whatever speed you set for the towing unit, i.e. you can't run a high cleaner speed and a slow travel speed. But they ARE versatile.......they come with abrasive pads, a buffer (soft cloth) pad, or a vacuum fan (for picking up loose debris). They also have the ability to use fluid, which drips onto a foam pad on the bottom of the car. A plus is you can buy replacement pad sets online from multiple sources. Another issue is they all seem to come with Rapido couplers.....my solution, is since it's part of my cleaning train, I just put Rapidos on one end of the cars on either side of it......you could also put Unimates on the car. You can't change the trucks because the trucks have the pickups for the motor. cost $50-100

    The rest of my cleaning train starts with an Aztec Cratex roller car, which I really like, but at some point the roller will need replacing and I haven't found a source. The second car is a masonite pad car. The last car on the train has a set of Woodland Scenic dust monkey pads fitted to each truck. They have no weight to them, but the black streaks where the rails rub says they are working......and you can clip them to the bottom of any car you want.

    There is also the CMX cars........I've heard good things about them, but have no experience with them. cost $200-250 And Bachmann has a track cleaning car....it seems similar to the masonite cars, but I've been unable to find out what the pad material is, but it appears to be something similar to a scotchbrite cleaning pad. Even Amazon has the cars and replacement pads. cost $40-50

    I've been toying with making a couple of cars.....they would be similar to the masonite cars, but I was thinking of using the pads Woodland Scenics uses for their wheel cleaner. They are self-adhesive strips and come in either a plastic strip (feels sort of like Velcro) or a fabric strip. They work well for cleaning loco wheels, so they should do the same for rail. They are about 3/16 in. wide so there would be 2 strips, one on each rail attached to some sort of hard pad (masonite?).
  7. freddy_fo

    freddy_fo TrainBoard Member

    I run a masonite equipped boxcar for maintenance and it's been fantastic for keeping the track clean and reducing the amount of "heavy" cleaning needed.

    I've got the atlas motorized track cleaning car but not very impressed with it as it doesn't work well on dirty track lol. I suppose now that I am DCC I could add a decoder and power cap to keep it running better but not inclined to do so at this time.

    The last car I got and really like is the CMX tank car which cleans very well. Downsides are it's price and it's heavy where I've only got a few locos that will pull by themselves which is a Kato EMD E-8, Kato 90/43 SD MAC and the Rapido DASH 8. Ganging up a couple of locos to pull one though is not hard for many to do.
    BNSF FAN, Hytec, hawkdriver and 2 others like this.
  8. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

    I found that the Atlas/Tomix track cleaning cars did not like any sharp curves. and when used as a wet cleaner the tank leaked at such a rate as to hardly be able to do 10-15 feet of track, thus it was scrapped as a bad investment. I chose the Bachmann old timer 34 foot flatcar as my candidate for a Masonite pad cleaner. Why because they were plentiful and cheap at the time and had an all metal underframe thus good weight and tracking. Plus they could handle tight radiuses. I used thin Masonite 1/8th inch thick. I mounted the Masonite on .040 thick styrene pads and I sanded round all edges to keep from snagging switch points. My pads have a taper on all sides. The mounting was to install track spikes at the center line and to drill holes in the metal car underframe. At one point I had some coupler springs mounted on the track spikes to maintain downward pressure and I soon replaced those with tungsten putty on top of the pads. I did eventually add more weight to the flatcars in the way of loads.

    My Aztec car was specially adapted for me by John after a conversation about the tight radiuses on my layout. It is based on a 36 foot wood boxcar. I run all three cars together with at least 3-4 locos as power. And I replaced the Bachmann flatcars truck with MT trucks with truck mounted couplers.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2022 at 10:10 PM
  9. DeaconKC

    DeaconKC TrainBoard Member

  10. sidney

    sidney TrainBoard Member

    TIP for ya with the cmx tanker....... Remove that spring and it pulls much better . It still does a great job of cleaning with out that spring (OR make it a VERY weak spring ) i burned my spring with a lighter and that made it very weak so now almost any loco can pull it around with out much problems. im trying to figger out how to shave off some of that brass its way too heavy . might one day take it to the lathe and remake it........ they dont need to be that heavy....
    BNSF FAN and hawkdriver like this.
  11. platypus

    platypus TrainBoard Member

    I use a home made one that has a piece of wood that floats below a box car. Just give the wood a light sanding if it gets too dirty. Sorry for the bad photo quality. Only shot I could find of it was where it was in the background.

    Attached Files:

    BNSF FAN and hawkdriver like this.

Share This Page