Caring for Your Model Train Set

Keeping model trains is a fun hobby that a lot of people still enjoy. Its meticulous nature may often consider it as a rare hobby, but this feature is also how people enjoy the experience.

Just like any other toy or machine, your model trains can also get untidy with the accumulation of dust, oil, and other dirt particles in their crevices. These pieces of dirt stuck in its little corners can affect the conductivity of electricity that allows your train to move seamlessly and generally affect your entire layout’s performance when left unattended.

Of course, you always want your model trains tidied up, up and running smoothly, and in their best condition. Therefore, taking care of your train models is an important task for a train model owner like you.

If you are a beginner in the train model field, you might be clueless about maintaining your pieces. So, here are some tips on taking care of your train models.

Cleaning the wheels

A lot of materials can accumulate on your train models’ wheels that affect their performance. Two of these are crud and oil. Wheels left with these layers of disruptive elements are the leading causes of rough train movement and disrupted transfer of power from the rails to the engine.

There are numerous ways to do this, and they all carry the same basic techniques. Your methods of cleaning would depend on the amount of build-up on your wheels.

For minimal build-up, use a clean cleaning cloth and put some Isopropyl Alchohol, cleaning liquid, or lighter fluid. Next, place the towel on the trail, laying it directly on a particular spot, and let your model train pass over it to take the dirt away.

If your model train wheels have more build-up than what is considered minimal, you need a more aggressive approach to cleaning. What you need to do is to turn on your model train power and carefully rub the wheels against a fiberglass pen as they turn.

For really heavy and thick build-up, it is recommended that you use a wheel cleaning brush to scrape the dirt off of the wheels as they turn. You can also use the blade of a flat head screwdriver as an alternative to the brush to tick off the dirt using the same technique.

Well, that depends on how often you play with your model trains, as the more they are run, the more dirt can accumulate on their wheels. However, a model train owner should do this cleaning every 3 or 6 months.

toy train in a drawn rail

Cleaning the Tracks

More often than not, tracks are left unchecked by model train owners, when in fact, it is one of the most crucial parts of making sure that your entire model runs smoothly.

When checked, small debris can accumulate in between the tracks’ sleepers and on the rails, which may cause your train to move across roughly. Never underestimate small pieces of items that can get stuck in your rails as they can result in disrupted performance and, when left unattended, possible damage to your models.

Cleaning your tracks is a much easier task than cleaning the other parts of your model. Carefully examine the tracks and look for anything stuck to its sections. Gently remove these elements with a brush or a tweezer,

Even as you are putting the pieces together to build the layout, you can already check your model pieces, including your tracks, for any possible stuck-ups.

Maintaining Engine and Lubrication

Like any other actual vehicle or automotive, your model parts also consume oil and lubrication to freely run as you please. Oil and lubricants maintain the smooth movement of your wheels, cogs, and other engine parts. As it is also a machine, these oils and lubricants can also get soaked up and need replacing.

Maintain your engine oil and lubrication by securing replacements six months after your first purchase and then 3 to 6 months afterward.

Cleaning your contacts

Contacts are tiny metal plates that are located between the wheels connecting to the engine. These contacts enable the transfer of power from the track of the wheels to the motor and then to the engine.

By now, you already know that this is an essential part of your model, and contacts are also prone to dirt build-up. This build-up can stop the flow of power, disabling the trains to move or cause them to run roughly.

Contacts must be checked regularly.

Keeping your railhead hygiene

Same as your rails, a clean railhead also allows the smooth running of your train models. Do your railhead cleaning by rubbing down the rail tops using either an alcohol or a track abrasive block. Do this step a few times and then finish off by brushing the dust off of the train.

Ideally, you must do this every three months to maintain a smooth-running engine.