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Dirt: The N scale operator's arch enemy

Read the N Scale Insight column from the July 2019 Model Railroader
RELATED TOPICS: N SCALE
MRRNS0719_01
Jim likes to clean his locomotive wheels on a staging yard track where there’s no ballast or painted track to spoil with the isopropyl alcohol.
Jim Kelly photo
A locomotive model won’t run if current doesn’t pass from the rails to the pickup wheels. “Duh,” you may say, but that fact isn’t necessarily obvious, especially to younger people who haven’t tinkered with mechanical or electrical devices to the extent previous generations did.

Filthy track can look clean. The dirt on rails and wheels is usually a mixture of oxidation, lubricants, and dust that isn’t particularly visible. And the problem is that this invisible mix is an insulator. And if it gets transferred to the treads of our locomotives’ pickup wheels, the problem is compounded.

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