G scale track cleaning car

Cary’s been in touch with another update – his G scale track cleaning car.

I have to say, it really made my day.

I justlove what he’s doing – his G scale is not only huge, it has bags of character:

“Hello Al and All!

My Garden Railroad (8 years in the making so far) shutsdown for the winter months.

If you want to see trains running, my post from last summer is here.

During the winter months I make buildings, vehicles, paint people etc… Here’s some of this winter’s projects, but first, here’s a problem I suspect not experienced by most model railroaders.

A recent wind storm took out the top of a tree and now I have a rather large tree limb hanging above my town with all those beautiful scratch made buildings.

G scale track clearing

It’s too high for me to get to. I guess I’ll have to wait for it to come down on its own and then repair whatever damage it does. (and stay out of the area on windy days!)

Now that the track and buildings are in place, this summer I’ll be putting in the roads.

I plan to dig a shallow trench the width of the road, mix about half soil and half of the small gravel I used for ballast and then pack the mix into the trench which will hopefully give the impression of a gravel road and withstand the effects of erosion.


Last year I had to add several drainage ditches to help with wash outs. That created the need for three bridges. Yes they are narrow even for a single lane bridge, but I was able to make them from scraps leftover from other projects.

They are made from concrete board, treated lumber and a mix of leftover exterior house paint.

g scale bridge


There are three locations where the road will cross the track. I had some scraps of composite decking lumber and decided to use that to make the crossings. Composite material is dimensionally stable, does not warp and tends to turn black over time due to mold. We’ll see how they hold up, hopefully I can leave them out year round.

G scale crossing


Of course the most worrisome thing about an outdoor model railroad is how in the world do you keep the track clean? So far I’ve been doing it with drywall sanding screens and a sanding pole.

It only takes 15 minutes to clean the 120 feet of track, but I have to clean every time I want to run trains. I think I’ll be experimenting with track cleaning for some time to come, but here is my first stab at it, my G scale track cleaning car.

I took a Bobber caboose, loaded it with weight and attached a spring loaded pad to the bottom with the idea that I can trial various materials on the pad. Of course the track must first be clean enough for a loco to pull the track cleaning car, but I hoping with frequent (labor free) cleaning maybe the labor part will be less.

g scale track cleaning car

g scale track cleaning car


I had already built several water towers for my layout, but I like the way they look and again they were free projects built from scraps.

water tower

I look forward to this summer’s progress and hope to send out a new video end of the summer.

Stay Safe Everyone and Happy Modeling!

Cary in Kentucky”

Now on to Ben. He’s come up with a wonderful idea, so I thought I’d publish it.

“Hi Al,

I thought I would share how I’m using elements of the hobby to help my Grandson, Travis.

Maybe other “Grandpas” out there are willing to try the following with their Grand kids.

My 7 year old Grandson, Travis, has a form of Autism.

Travis is an exceptional little man, with a sharp mind, curious spirit and a love for arts and crafts. In an effort to help him (and my daughter) keep busy with constructive activities while at home, I went to my workshop and put together the elements of a train diorama, about 16″x 16″.

I packaged everything he will need to complete the project, from plaster cloth to ground cover, rocks, track, glue and even an old locomotive and caboose.

I also created a set of pictures of how-to instructions.

Then I made a video that gave him a quick tour of my workshop, with a focus on the scenes I’ve created and ending with a challenge to him to make a scene with the package I was sending him. And of course, I added several minutes of the the trains running through my layout for his enjoyment.

I was a bit nervous, not sure if he would find any of this fun or interesting, but I just got word from my Daughter; he viewed the video last night, and was “enthralled” and very excited to get the package to begin working on this project. (appropriately named “Travis Junction”)

I’m hoping other Grandpas out there may view this and get the bug to do something similar for their Grand kids.

As always, thanks Al for maintaining this site and sharing everyone’s pictures and videos.

Ben, Chicago, Illinois”

That’s all for today folks. A big thanks Ben and to Cary for sharing his G scale track cleaning car pics.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

27 Responses to G scale track cleaning car

  1. Mike Street says:

    Your railroad sounds great Gary, very jealous, sadly I haven’t the space or the money ! I have an idea for your track clearing though, how about a snow plow, or in your case a debris plow. A Scratch built car with a plow on, perhaps with some sort oh brush/bristles on the base of the plow to get all the bits off the track.
    You could push this car, just like real plows are, followed by your track cleaner car pushed by a loco or two even.
    Just a thought, hope it gives you an idea.
    Cheers Mike S

  2. Mike Street says:

    I think spell checker has changed Cary to Gary, apologies about that , Mike S

  3. Len Jackson says:

    To Ben. The stay-at-home school kids are a world-wide phenomena at the moment, even here in Australia. I have a 9 year old grandson who just loves to make things that work, so I’m just about to restart the installation of my 11 year old train layout that we couldn’t do properly in our last home. Grand Pa’s have a special role with Grand Kids and especially Grandsons who have a mechanical or ‘things working’ leaning . . . Keep up the good work, Len

  4. Bert says:

    Cary, I subscribe to this YouTube channel Dave has here and although I do not have a model train layout, it is something I always wished I had myself !
    There is just something SPECIAL about a nice train layout especially the scenery which I feel is the the best part of every layout, the trains are just the frosting on the cake as they say.
    There is just something VERY SPECIAL about a nice train layout, such as YOURS CARY I find it very relaxing, and if the layout is a scene that you have created or a scene of a place you hold dear in your heart, perhaps a special place from your childhood.
    From my vantage point here, when the sun is at certain angles I can look down and see several railroads I have the pleasure of actually seeing running through the entire UNITED STATES coast to coast as well as railroads in several areas in Europe.
    Cary, your video that you created for your grandson Travis became something SPECIAL to me as well, as Travis will be able to see grandpa’s train layout for many many years as he goes through life. Cary, I am SAVING YOUR VIDEO SO I TOO CAN WATCH IT THROUGH THE YEARS.
    What a wonderful gift you have given to Travis, so much so that I just had to post for the first time. THANK YOU FOR THIS WONDERFUL VIDEO CARY
    I am posting this from my personal email account so I can also receive email from my email which is uplinked to the ISS email systems so it does not get lost in the thousands of emails the I.S.S receives daily.
    BERT aka “BULLDAWG 1 ”

  5. Peter S. Maylott says:

    Hi Al,
    A solution to Cary’s problem whilst a caboose in front of the engine is not prototypical, one can always run a snowplough or even a dummy locomotive suitably weighted, which would solve that dirty track, loco not running problem, and affix the track cleaning pads to that to the dummy loco or snowplough. Engine then travels behind the track-cleaning car on clean or cleaner track.
    That hanging tree branch will obey Murphy’s Law, 2 hours before Cary displays his layout to a journalist or a friend, that branch is going to come down, wipe out his town and buckle the track. You know you can trust Murphy!!

  6. PETER VONK says:

    This was wonderful to watch, a gift from God to see.

  7. Robert Brady says:

    GOT TREE : Ask a friend or hire a tree guy. That’s dangerous .or tie a rope on to it and pull with truck or car or tracker.I use to do tree work at my job.Not that difficult.

  8. Don McClellan says:

    make a track cleaning car similar to the old American flyer car. pour some borasso into the tank. It will saturate the felt under the car and clean the track. I use this cleaner and it comes out shinning clean.

  9. Roger Dale Shaw says:

    Great job Cary, loved the pictures and video. I especially liked your track cleaning caboose. Roger, Louisville, Kentucky.

  10. Anthony Tesoriere says:

    On our club H O layout we always push a track cleaner car in front of an engine, as well as pulling one or two.

  11. Al and Company..
    An amazing set of entries today…
    The Cary’s G-Scale is great… Do suggest getting help removing that dangerous hanging branch… Murphy was an optimist!
    Note to Cary, Piko makes a self-powered track cleaner.. A model of a GE 25 ton switcher… It is very reasonably priced.
    The video is sweet and a great idea ti share something loved with someone loved. The project box is a nice bonus….
    Then there are the comments…
    As a general rule, where there is a will there is either a way or a relative!
    For the most part, there are many ways to have a railroad even when time, space, and money are at issue… I tend to build micro/mini layouts — In HO and in American O scale… Most are less than 8 square feet…
    I regularly read Garden Railways and have seen interesting G-Scale garden efforts using half a whisky barrel for the garden and the railroad circling the rim.
    Bert’s current living quarters on the International Space Station… Great view… No Covid-19 worries… Tiny living space! Not a viable environment to do any model railroading in. — And I once had a model railroad (operating) in a 1971 Volkswagen Microbus that had been set up as a camper.
    May you all be safe and healthy
    California USA

  12. Robert Belk says:

    To: Ben in Chicago!

    What marvelous outreach to your grandson Travis! Truly inspirational.

    God Bless!

    Bob Belk, Bethesda, MD

  13. dave says:

    I have a suggestion to the limb problem and a question or two fisrt the limb I take it that you are not in the city ?? I helped a neighbor with the same problem we put a weight on a long rope and tossed it up over the limb he pulled to see if it would dislodge it did not then as he pulled I popped the limb it was stuck in with my shotgun (I hunt and shoot skeet) the limb fell far away from his shed problem solved Now my question to the group I have LGB and USA trains G track I need flex for some of my curves for my under construction all steel elevated outdoor layout years in the making I see that there are 2 codes for track will they interchange with the track I now own ?? looking on E bay saw some new and used flex and a PECO brand track any one dealt with this

  14. Bob From Towson says:

    Ben,Your video was heart warming…I hope Travis loves it!!!

  15. Glenn Hazel says:

    We call that a “Widow Maker”. I had a near miss two summers ago. I was mowing the lawn after a storm I completed a pass an turned back for another. right wear I had just mowed was a 6″ branch stuck in the ground. It looked like you made a fist with your index finger extended. I pulled it up, there was a foot or so buried in the ground that could have been me. I would certainly try to knock the thing down. Just be certain you have a clear path to run.

  16. Cary E Price says:

    Hi Dave, using a shot gun to dislodge the limb had occurred to me, not much holding that thing up there, Given your success I may give it a try. As for G scale track… I started collecting g scale 25 years ago with LGB sectional track, I just stayed with it. It’s been outside for over two years’s now and holding up well. Sorry no experience with flex track in this scale.
    Cary in KY

  17. Gloria says:

    What a beautiful way to help your family by involving your grandson in a creative activity. Can’t wait to see Travis’s finished project. I believe the grandparents job is to support the parents and enrich the lives of the children. Cary is doing both.

  18. Dan Hulitt says:

    Cary, good luck with spring cleaning and hopefully that limb will land in a safe spot, and as indicated by some others perhaps, methinks your track cleaning car (well done I might add) would work better if pushed, rather than pulled. Nice work.
    To Ben, a neat way to connect with a special grandchild and a way to use his many skills.

    To Al, I always knew that this site was “out of this world” and Bert has confirmed it!

    MN Dan

  19. dave says:

    Hello Cary thanks for the reply heres what I am looking at I have LGB track and USA straight track what is the difference between code 250 track and code 332 track ?? the peco is G45 sl900 would any of these work with what I have now ?? what happened when I was rolling the 1 inch angle steel for my roadbed I found out LGB track cannot be used to make a 90degree turn so I have all the stuff made and don’t want to scrap it I will use flex just for the 90 DEG curves im planning on about 300 feet of track a big loop around the area of all my scrap metal sculptures and other yard ornaments I have built thru the years in my fab shop out of left over parts thanks dave

  20. Paul Wienold says:

    Gary, a friend of mine also runs G scale and with a little over 400 feet of track found he was spending all of his time cleaning track. His solution was to battery power his trains. Fairly easy using RC airplane batteries. Now he spends time running his toys, not maintaining them. PAUL in Los Osos, CA

  21. Dave Fife says:

    Try taking an old engine or usable running frame and put a flat car behind it with a 12 volt motorcycle or emergency lighting system battery on the flat car. Wire it directly to your engine with a switch and power resistor to control voltage to get your desired speed. Put your cleaner car behind the flat car and turn it on. Let it run around the track for as long as you need to get the rails ready for your trains to run properly. Store the battery operated system until needed again.

  22. Bruce Webb says:

    It’s been a long time since I have said anything on this site but now is the time to do so. 1st. Al love this site and everything you stand for. 2nd. I simply loved Cary’s post and it reignited my enthusiasm I my own layout. I have been building the “round to it rail road and open pit mine” for the past 3 or 4 years and still building. as soon as possible i will go out to the garage here in salt lake city Utah and continue where I left off last fall to see if i can make more headway on the thing. Still a lot of work to do. It is a 24 X 16 foot project coming along fairly well for now have a safe and happy day and future. Regards to all. Bruce Webb gone for now but still watching.

  23. Ross Johnston says:

    I loved your gift to your grandson Ben! Such a gift will benefit him immensely and help develop his fine motor skills. GREAT JOB! Cheers Rossco Adelaide, South Australia

  24. Mike Matejka says:

    Great project Ben! As a parent of an autistic child, there’s a lot in the railroad world that can sustain and stimulate those on the spectrum. Some really like organization, systems, timetables, understanding freight cars and their uses, etc. Sounds like you’ve made a great start and your outreach is wonderful for a do-able and not overwhelming project.

  25. Mike Matejka says:

    Ben – one more thought to share — you are in Chicago, south of you in Bloomington-Normal we have our “Autism Friendly Community” initiative. I shared your video on our facebook page, I think it will inspire, edify and touch others.

  26. Joe Gennari says:

    fantastic!!! thanks for sharing!!! what a great video!!!
    everyone stay safe and god be with you all!!!

  27. Clay says:

    Where’s my box?!…Seriously, …..a great layout. Love the beacons on top of
    the bridge and old water tower. Nice comments of family!

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