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My Use of Oil on Vintage Track

Keep in mind that I run vintage Flyer on vintage re-bent steel sectional track.  All my observations on based on that system.  My layout is five scale miles, with no switches (turnouts) and my locos run in forward only.  After I first built the hirail layout, I cleaned off the track rails using a rag dampened with 90% alcohol.  The rails were as clean as I could get them; IOW's, free of dust and grease.  I found that my vintage Flyer locos would make only about a lap or two around before I had to clean off their wheels.  Also, there was a lot of sparking between the pick-up wheels and rails.  To my dismay, the locos ran a little erratically, as though I needed more feeder wires to even out the current on the track.  I was unhappy with the way my trains were running and I started to consider upgrading to a newer track system.
I remembered reading in some old Gilbert factory literature about cleaning the track rails with kerosene.  I reasoned that what made kerosene different from other solvents was that it had oil in it.  Out of desperation, I applied a light coat of 3 in 1 oil to the track rails.  The difference was like magic.  The sparking stopped.  I was able to run the locos for a week or more without cleaning the pick-up wheels.  The speed of the trains evened out and I was able to reduce the throttles on my transformers from around 80 to 60 or less.  Naturally, there was a loss of traction on the 2% grade.  However, after about 2-3 days, that improved a lot.  I'm thinking that the oil dried some and soaked into the rails.  Now the traction is okay.  It's not terrific, but I can haul one action car and three others including a caboose, using vintage non-pulmor steamers with diecast boiler shells (I don't run diesels nor steamers with plastic boiler shells).  So my conclusions are that on my RR, the oil improves electrical continuity, reduces sparking and acts to keep the pick-up wheels from collecting dirt.  
I have a small jar of Bullfrog Snot on order.  It is used on the rear drive wheels to make traction tires.  Since it isn't a modern electronic devise, I will allow myself to use it on my all-vintage pike.  When I have observations on it's use, I will post them here.

My Use Of Bullfrog Snot On Vintage Steamers


I run classic linker American Flyer steamers on vintage steel track.  I keep a light coat of oil on the track rails to aid electrical conductivity, electrical pick-up and to retard corrosion.  However, classic linker steamers do not have Pul-mor traction wheels and that presents a problem for me with a 2% grade on my 5-scale mile hirail branchline layout.  I decided that I have the following options:

  1. Use Bullfrog Snot
  2. Swap out the rear drive wheels for Pul-mor drive wheels
  3. Remodel my layout to eliminate the 2% grade
  4. Sell off my classic linker steamers and go with all knuckle coupler steamers with Pul-mor drive wheels
  5. Put rubber bands on the drive wheels
I discarded ideas 2-4.  Option 5 is a good one, if the rear drive wheels have the extra-large flanges.  One of my locos do, so the bands are on order.  More on that when they are tested.
Since this is a retro-style vintage layout, I reject the notion of using modern electronics on it.  However, Bullfrog Snot is not a modern electronic component.  So, I bought some Bullfrog Snot and applied it according to the directions.  It went on green - presumably so one can see what one is doing during the application process.  It dried clear, which is nice because I didn't want green drive wheels.  I put two coats on, with about 10 hours dry time between coats.  I gave the final coat a 24 hour dry time.
Without Bullfrog Snot, I could haul one action car, two freight cars and a caboose, with a lot of wheel slipping.  With Bullfrog Snot, I can easily haul two action cars, two freight cars and a caboose, or two New Haven action pax cars and two New Haven coaches with no wheel slipping.  I'm guessing that I could haul more, but it is not really necessary, so I am satisfied.  The only question that remains is how long this treatment is good for.  Today is May 7, 2011.  I'll revisit this post when the Bullfrog Snot needs replaced.  STAY TUNED! lol


May 09, 2011 update:  I found that I can tow five linker action cars + a caboose up my 2% grade with my non-pulmor Hudson.  The rear drivers have Bullfrog Snot as a traction aid.  Now I can do a little ops session by loading those cars at various places and unloading them at other destinations around the RR.


June 02, 2011 update:  Still going strong!