Lionel Track Cleaning

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Lionel trains have been around for more than 100 years. From their beginnings in 1901 Lionel trains were a huge hit with the public.
Lionel trains are often passed down from generation to generation. However, while the trains themselves may be almost indestructible, the tracks that the trains run on are subject to wear and tear, pitting and discoloration. If you want to keep your trains running on time every time, then you need to spend a little time every year or so cleaning and caring for your track.

Things You'll Need

  • 360-grit sandpaper WD-40 Soft cloth Scotch Brite cleaning pad
  • Clean your Lionel track by hand. It may take a while and it may be tedious work, but the end result will be well worth it, especially if you are a model train aficionado. Do not use steel wool to clean your track. Small bits of the steel wool can break off and then be picked up by the train's wheels. This can cause shorting and other problems that you really don't want to have to deal with.

  • Spray WD-40 onto a soft cloth and then rub your track lengthwise. Use a bit of elbow grease for stubborn spots of dirt and grime. For particularly stubborn spots of grease or dirt use a Scotch Brite scouring pad. Pad may be used wet or dry. If used wet be sure to dry track after cleaning with a clean cloth and/or a hair dryer.
    If your track is pitted or has rust spots, proceed to the next step.

  • Use 360-grit sandpaper on pitted track or rusty track. Use the lightest touch possible and stop as soon as pitting or rust spot vanish. Always sand each rail lengthwise, never across a rail.

  • Spray the cloth with WD-40 and wipe down the track after sanding.

Tips & Warnings

  • The track may be wiped down with a very light sewing machine oil after cleaning if desired in place of the WD-40. Keep tracks wiped down every few weeks to prevent the build-up of grease and dirt. Wipe with a clean cloth sprayed with WD-40.
  • Do not sand your track too deeply. A small amount of discoloration on a track can add an old-fashioned nostalgic look to your layout. Do not sand your track with steel wool or aluminum foil.
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