All Aboard the Polar Express Passenger/Freight Model Trains – How to fix flickering lights on model railroad cars by cleaning the wheels. Built up dirt and grime on the wheels of rail cars interfere with the electrical connection. This can prevent proper functioning of interior lights and other onboard electrical accessories. The first step in fixing electrical problems with locomotives, tenders, and railcars is thoroughly cleaning the rails as well as the wheels of your model railroad cars and locomotives. In this video, I demonstrate how to clean the wheels for better performance.
Track cleaning isn’t a matter of “one and done”. Tracks, wheels, and rollers should be cleaned before you use them for the first time. Then they should be cleaned again monthly. If this is done on a regular basis, it’s an easy process. However, sometimes a more extensive cleaning is needed. For example, if you happen to get paint or adhesive overspray on your rails. Then more effort is needed to get your layout back running at its best.
I’m using the Tidy Track Rail and Wheel cleaning system from Woodland Scenics. But you may find that something else works best for you. Track and wheel cleaning solutions are basically Isopropyl Alcohol. I use a 91% Isopropyl Alcohol First Aid Antiseptic as my cleaning solution,. It is inexpensive and cuts through grease, oil, and grime very effectively.
The wheels on my Lionel O-gauge Polar Express passenger cars are especially dirty. This is the result of overspray from adhesives and other materials used in building my Polar Express Layout and deferring this chore for several months during construction of the elevated track. Since I thoroughly cleaned the rails and the wheels on my LionChief Polar Express Locomotive and Tender just a week ago, this video is devoted to cleaning the wheels of my Polar Express Passenger cars.
The first step is using an abrasive track cleaning “eraser” to remove the accumulated dirt. The thick accumulation of dirt required about five minutes of concentrated effort for each wheel to get down to bare metal. Approximately another five minutes per wheel was required to vacuum-up the dirt, grit, and “eraser crumbs” from cleaning each wheel, and then finish cleaning the wheel with isopropyl alcohol. Several wipe-downs using a towel and isopropyl alcohol are needed to clean the remaining dirt from each wheel. When the wheel is clean, the towel used to wipe it with isopropyl alcohol will come away clean.