Two quick questions

I have two quick questions for you.

Firstly, Joe’s been in touch and I’m sure someone out there can help:

“I get your newsletter every day and find them fascinating.

So I got out all my old Lionel Trains,buildings etc to put together a 8×8 layout.

These are from 25 + years ago.

I found the track had black marks here and there on it. I’ve tried vinegar and alcohol to no avail, do you or anyone have any suggestions.

Thanks for any help.


Who can help Joe?

Please leave a comment below if can, I do like it whe the blog inspires people to dig out their trains.

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Even if you already have the Beginner’s Guide, there are still three brand new buildings.

What’s more, you also get the warm and fuzzy feeling of directly supporting the blog, which at the moment, is struggling somewhat.

Course, I’m biased, but the three new buildings on there own are worth $9 each – that’s what they sell for in the store.

So please don’t miss this offer! It will never, ever, ever be this price again.

Grab it right now before it disappears – it’s just $9 for the lot.

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Are you really going to miss out on this crazy offer?

And don’t forget Joe if you can help.

That’s all this time folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.



29 Responses to Two quick questions

  1. Laurence McMaster says:

    First time commenting, I’ve been reading your column for quite awhile.
    Maybe Joe could try some sandpaper (600) grit with WD 40 it worked for me

  2. Pops Somerfield says:

    I’ve found that brake cleaner removes most anything. It also will not harm plastic parts.

  3. Pops Somerfield says:

    Sorry Joe. I inadvertently left out some details. Spray the automotive brake cleaner on a clean rag and wipe the tracks. You’ll be surprised at what it will remove.


  4. Rob McCrain says:

    Try GooGone. It will leave a slight fine oil residue when you are done which you can wipe off with a clean cloth. I use it on Farland if my track gets really dirty.

  5. Bob Shipley says:

    Second vote for GooGone. I have Lionel tubular track and it works great. Apply it with a Scotchbrite pad. Wipe dry when done.

  6. BigPauly says:

    Acetone works great for oil based spots. Don’t use nail polish remover—it has additives. Plain old acetone from the paint department.
    Also removes oily spots from clothes. Just pour a little on and launder as usual.

  7. dickietrack says:

    I would try some very fine Scotchbrite (or equivalent). Keep rubbing it gently without applying too much pressure. Assuming your track is brass, I suspect the black marks are mild surface corrosion and the Scotchbrite should remove it easily.

  8. robert dale tiemann says:

    didnt htye make an eraser type ppiece that was used for this. i tried to find mine to gat the name but couldnt.

  9. William Orton says:

    It should be rust, so black implies a chemical got on the tracks.
    I would go with fine sandpaper as mentioned above…maybe steel wool or a plastic abrasive greeny. Then a little track cleaner to prevent future rust. Any non alcohol based liquid could mess up the insulator for the center rail so any cleaner should go on rag, then on the metal.

  10. John Simms says:

    Sandpaper or emery cloth with a piece of wood as backing. I’m building an American Flyer layout with original equipment.

  11. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Joe……try steel wool. Don’t forget to vacuum aftetwards

  12. Norman r Rosen says:

    What you use depends upon what the stains are. Any good metal cleaner, even Brasso, will remove a lot of tarnish. Remember, clean only the top, not the sides of the rails as this will add to the authenticity. Another thing that works and can be found in most hardware stores or Amazon is fine grit sanding blocks. They are remarkably effective; Then go over the rails with mineral spirits. This is an excellent cleaner.

  13. John Holly says:

    Try pure Acetone that you get from the hardware store (NOT fingernail polish remover) get the good stuff. It work great on my silver, gold, and copper coins and leave zero residue on them.

  14. John Derrenkamp says:

    Never use steel wool on Lionel track. It will be pulled into the motor. If your engines are equipped with magna-traction it will stick to the wheels. Use only scotch type of pad.

  15. Bill Suarez says:

    I’m not a Lionel expert but if track cleaning solvents are not working for you I would try a 000 grade steel wool on a section to see how that works out. 000 should not cause pits or scratches in the rail surface.

    Curious what others suggest of course.

  16. David M. Swanson says:

    While, I am not a Lionel person (I do HO) I have been given some Lionel stuff which is the 120 volt engine and track. 600-1000 grit sandpaper works well, to get heavy stuff off, I use Track and Rail Cleaner (ACT-6006) after to get the best electrical pick up. This old Lionel stuff works great, after cleaning. Yes, I had to re-do the engine, and clean all components, Looks great around my Christmas Tree. I have not tried other stuff, but other stuff should work also.
    Toetagger (retired Coroner’s Investigator)

  17. John from Baltimore says:

    Caution – be sure any solvent is completely dry before applying power, acetone, goo-gone are extremely flammable!!!

  18. santafedan says:

    Another issue with old Lionel track. Rust sets up INSIDE where the rail pins are. I got out my old Lionel train a few years ago after a long spell of not running it. The scorch marks on our rug shows how warm the joints got from the increased resistance.
    Wife not happy.

  19. Stephen Hill says:

    Mineral spirits . Paper towel with mineral spirits on it works wonders . Will need to come again behind with dry towel and remove excess . Also dry wall block sander works well . Just use it with no cleaning solution

  20. Ray Martin says:

    Older Lionel and American Flyer track are tinplate and not solid brass or nickel silver. If the tin is removed you will have continuing problems with rust on the steel underneath. I haven’t tried using solder to replace the plating but it might work. I worked with Flyer track extensively as a teenager and still have the track, although it hasn’t been used in over 40 years.

    Note that the tinplate layer can be easily taken off using abrasives such as Scotchbrite and steel wool. Sand paper is more harmful since it can cut through plating as it scratches the surface, leaving streaks where rust will develop.

    I would try the chemical cleaners and/or polishers to avoid taking the tin off of the surface of the steel.


  21. Trevor Gibbs says:

    If the track is TINPLATE, what you may be seeing is where the TIN coating has worn off or down and you are seeing the mild steel that is the basis of tinplate and no amount of solvent will bring it back to bright tin sheen.

    Old Triang track did a similar thing particularly on curves where one wheel going around a sharp curve would “skate” over the outer rails and slip a little when it reached a straight section and the wheels regained traction.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!


  22. John T says:

    If it is tinplate, the metal underneath should be cleaned before attempting to re-tin the track. I have re-tinned some copper skillets with mixed results, some turned out lumpy. Your post inspired me to examine some of my old Lionel track as well.

  23. John Duryea says:

    Joe I always used 400-600 sanding sponge blocks they work good for me. Sandpaper will scratch the track too much that will build up dirt faster 600 works good.

  24. Red says:

    IF you try steel wool I highly recommend a relatively powerful magnet afterward to pick up pieces of steel wool that you can’t see. Like the previous commenter stated that WILL foul up an engine and wheels.

  25. Steve says:

    You will ruin the metal and make a flat spot on the tract..
    Get a Mr. CLEAN scrub sponge from the grocery store and try a little alcohol to clean the track. The sponge is white and about 2 inch by 3 inch. It is great for cleaning tracks. If there is rust on the track add a few drops of oil and scrub the track. You can even clean your bath tub with Mr. Clean !!!
    Dont laugh !!! it works…….

  26. Bernard M Ross II says:

    The best that I have found to be is a scotch brite pad. Thats what I and most of the OGauge contacts use. Good luck!😎😎

  27. Bob Pitlock says:

    Of you use acetone keep it away from plastic. It has adverse effects on it. Another thing to consider is “magic eraser”” by Mr. Clean.

  28. Robert Brady says:

    Acid from fingers/ electricity = blackish medal stain on rails from when you used them thru storage.
    The critic

  29. George says:

    Don’t use anything that will scratch the track like sandpaper steel wool you need to polish the track. Any scratches that you put in the track will attract dirt in the future on HO nickel silver truck it’s best to polish it with stainless steel washers. Good electrical contact clear is also a substance to be used. Have fun.

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