Over time, a locomotive’s wheelsets will gather dirt and other gunk that will affect its ability to run smoothly, but regular wheel cleaning keeps your steam or diesel locomotives running at their peak. By using 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and a paper towel, two items that you most likely have in your house, you can give your engine a quick cleaning that greatly improves its performance, 1.
First, I set some paper towel on the tracks. Then I use a pipette to apply some isopropyl alcohol to the towel (wet but not soaked), 2. Next, I run the locomotive on the alcohol-soaked towel and let it build up some speed. I hold the locomotive and let the wheels spin for a few seconds. As you can see in photo 3, there’s quite a bit of dirt on the towel.
I offset the wet towel and clean the rear trucks, 4. If you don’t offset the towel (or use a new one), you’ll just spread the dirt onto the other wheels. To finish, run the wheelsets over a dry towel.