Price: $34.99 (no. TT4550)
Features: Rail Tracker handle and cleaning head, cleaning and maintenance pads, bottle of track cleaning fluid
What’s in the box
What makes the Rail Tracker kit stand out from others is the variety of replaceable pads you can use for track maintenance and the fact that you can use the Rail Tracker with your hand for strong-arming track grime or attach the Rail Tracker handle for getting to those just-out-of-reach spots.
The handle can be raised or lowered, and the knob that connects it to the track handle rotates 360 degrees. This is especially handy for tunnel entrances and bridges, utility lines, and pedestrian crossovers vaulting over your right-of-way.
The Rail Tracker set (no. TT4550) includes the Rail Tracker and the Rail Tracker handle. You get a bottle of cleaning fluid (no. TT4554), and two no. TT4551 rescue pads (for removing large buildups), two no. TT4552 maintenance pads (for routine cleaning), four no. TT4553 cleaning pads (for cleaning the track), and four no. TT4553 finishing pads (white felt for removing excess residue after cleaning). Additional fluid and pads are available for separate purchase.
The rescue and maintenance pads are grooved on one side and smooth on the other. This design lets you rub off accumulations of oily crud or rubber buildup from traction tires. The grooved side is for use on straight and curved sections, while the smooth side is for switches and crossings.
The grooves are made for HO, which surprisingly, is just fine, since that means “Half O.” You can use them inline on the handle or angle them so one groove is on each outer rail and two are on the center.
The cleaning pads are dark felt. The finishing pads are white, so you can easily spot where you have failed in your maintenance-of-way duties and need to have the second-shift crew do some spot cleaning.
I decided to clean the Classic Toy Trains workshop test track. It was dirty, yet it would be a brief job.
I’m not sure how much impact the maintenance and rescue pads had on our test track (they’re designed to remove buildups that need friction to remove). However, there was one spot that had enough traction-tire rubber residue to need a thumbnail to get it off. It did scrape off the grimy texture with relative ease.
As for the general cleanup, the pads did a fine job, especially using the extension for some hard-to-reach spots against the rear wall. The rails are clean enough for another two or three years … oh, did I type that? Well, you know what I mean.
The cleaning kit is a pretty handy weapon to have in your arsenal in the war against dirty rails. For more information Woodland Scenics has a series of user videos you can view to learn more about the system at woodlandscenics.com.