Working out how to clean model train wheels can be a really simple task for someone who already knows how to do it properly, but it can also get tedious and a bit fiddly if you have no idea what you are dealing with or how to do it correctly!
There are a bunch of different methods you can follow to get your model train wheels clean and tidy, but what’s the best one?
So, let’s dive straight into how to clean model train wheels!
Why You Need To know how to Clean Model Train Wheels
Besides having great model trains, amazing scenery and a great layout, there’s one other crucial part that is essential for running your layout; maintenance.
A big part of maintenance is making sure your locomotive wheels are clean, so in this article, we’ll run you through a few quick and easy methods that won’t cost you an arm and a leg!
The thing you need to be aware of is that depending on your model train set-up, a lot of the power for the locomotive will run through the track, causing the wheels to turn, thus giving your model train power!
Because the power is delivered by the connection of the rails and the model train wheels, the easiest way to make sure that your model train is running at 100% power is to make sure that there’s a clear connection between the track and model train wheel.
Otherwise, you may face various kinds of failures and difficulties, like disconnecting the power or a train that doesn’t have enough juice to get up a hill or incline.
There is no way out of cleaning your model train wheels if you want to maintain the best electrical conductivity, although there are some easy methods we can run you through!
Damp paper towel and alcohol
The simplest way to clean your wheels is by using a damp paper towel and alcohol, both of which are easily available and convenient to use.
There are many alcohol solvents made especially for cleaning purposes. They are not only effective for cleaning wheels but also can be used to clean the rails.
What you’re going to do is to pour some solvent onto the wet paper towel and gently rub the wheels clean. Make sure to be extra careful as the wheels tend to be sensitive and fragile.
If you’re finding that kind of annoying, what you can do is get your damp paper towel, drape it over your train tracks and then run the model train wheels over some straight track. The paper towel should help pick up any gunk you have on the wheels.
You will also need to make sure to clean away any excess remaining so the components are dry. So you can either let sit and dry for several hours or run the train over some paper towel like above, just using dry paper instead!
If you’re pretty against using alcohol solvents (if your train is old, brass or has some parts that might be damaged, you can also try more natural cleaning products like vinegar instead!)
Wire brush track cleaner
You can also opt for a wire brush track cleaner to clean your model train wheels.
However, as they also come in various shapes and sizes you need to make sure you get the right brush for the gauge size you will be dealing with, so just double check before you pick one up!
Why not use turpentine?
A very common question when it comes to cleaning model train wheels is ‘can we use turpentine to clean them or not?’
And the answer is a big NO.
The turpentine can not only cause corrosion on some material but is also sure to damage your beautiful paint finishes.
Given how small the model trains are, this can be a very complicated fix to handle. So when it comes to cleaning your wheels and tracks, steer clear of turpentine.
If you have any other cool tips and trick for how to clean your model train wheels, please let us and everyone else know in the comments below!
Peter has been building model trains for longer than he can remember. An avid fan of HO and O scale this blog is a creative outlet to allow him to dive further into other scales and aspects of the model train community and hobby.