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Slippery rail heads


Joined: 22-05-03

Topics: 18

Replies: 38

Posted: Mon 7th Nov 2016, 1:24pm
Slippery rail heads

My track is made up of 1"x 3/8"thk steel bar which tends to have a black slippery build on the head, probably off the leafs and nearby conifer trees. Coupled with the gradients all this becomes quite challenging. How do other members deal with this problem.

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Joined: 1-01-89

Topics: 9

Replies: 169

Posted: Tue 8th Nov 2016, 8:40am

At Sheffield we have only found one way to deal with this problem - the old fashioned sanding method. Get fine sand used to fill between block paving, keep it dry, fill empty dried plastic milk containers with a short length of ¼" diameter copper pipe inserted through the cap, and walk along the track carefully pouring the sand onto the rails.


Joined: 9-02-08

Topics: 13

Replies: 17

Posted: Wed 9th Nov 2016, 4:09pm

Network Rail use high pressure water jets, and localised brushing with a Chemical, although I know not what this is. Have you tried a pressure washer?


Joined: 19-09-01

Topics: 0

Replies: 10

Posted: Thu 10th Nov 2016, 1:52am

If it's a small section that causes a problem then washing up liquid and a cloth. However if it is the whole track then the more you run on it the cleaner it will get. At this time of year it is worth removing any fallen leaves from the track as regularly as you can. Even though we have finished regular running we still try and clear our track each week. It can seem pointless but it does minimise the sap on the rail and keeps the ballast cleaner and dryer.
The alternate is to put together a simple 2 axle, short wheelbase truck filled with bricks for weight. Attach a couple of wire brushes above the rail and between the axles with a light spring to push them down. The short wheel base is to keep the brushes on the rail while going round corners, wider brushes will also help with this. Push the truck around for the first few trips and it should help clean the track and minimise the sap picked up on the wheels. Additional brushes can be added if needed as well as a drip system for degreaser onto the front wheels. Full sprinkler could be added for weed killing if you wanted a maintenance truck! Just be careful what chemicals you are putting into the ground.


Joined: 22-05-03

Topics: 18

Replies: 38

Posted: Fri 11th Nov 2016, 4:43pm

Yes, already drop sand onto rail heads by hand, then reverse to pick-up traction. Been advised though this can wear the wheels.
Not got a pressure washer but can they run off a 12 volt car battery.
Like the idea of wire brushes weighted onto the rails. Perhaps worth building a vehicle to do all the above in one. Propel it in front of the Roanoke as suggested. Many thanks Mick, Lambrail and Russ for your pointers.


Joined: 9-08-09

Topics: 3

Replies: 93

Posted: Thu 17th Nov 2016, 9:30am

I build sanding gear into the loco, it only takes a fine dribble through a 1.5mm hole in the bottom of the box to regain traction.


Joined: 30-07-13

Topics: 3

Replies: 22

Posted: Thu 17th Nov 2016, 8:42pm

Sanding is unlikely to wear the wheels, but you have to be careful it doesn't get in the motion. My 3.5" Hunslet has working sanders, but the trick is keeping the sand dry!


Joined: 25-06-07

Topics: 2

Replies: 29

Posted: Wed 23rd Nov 2016, 2:01pm

I built sanding gear in my petrol mechanic 0-4-0 about 20 years ago and it serves me very well. See the article by Rob Bongers in The News 131 winter 2009 issue.

Part of my job was in a laboratory where freshly mixed wet concrete was quality tested. The ingredients were also checked, by passing dry sand or gravel through a set of calibrated sieves the grain size distribution is determined. I used the 400 degree Celsius oven to dry small amounts of sand, and passed the dry sand on a 0.5 mm grid sieve. Grain size below 0.5 mm is perfect. As Colin already wrote, only a small amount is needed for effect.
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