Track Cleaning Cars

The Centreville Railroad layout is a bit large, each peninsula is 3ft deep which can be a stretch to get to the furtherest sections at times. The curves that go past the back corners can be especially difficult to reach, and even the track that is part of the Long Bridge can be a struggle to get to. When it came to track cleaning for years I would just use a Bright Boy eraser and call it good. But the longer reaches on the Centreville can make it difficult to get a Bright Boy in some areas. Plus, a Bright Boy isn’t great for cleaning up overspill from putting down ground foam or ballast.

Tomix makes a track cleaning car that can both vacuum and polish track, however it’s DC only. While I wired the layout so that I could switch it over to DC – doing so means pulling every engine off the layout and that’s a pain. A few folks have also installed DCC decoders into the Tomix track cleaning car but honestly I don’t really have the desire to rip one apart to install a decoder.

Instead I went with the Lux Modellbau vacuum and track polishing cars.

These cars aren’t picky if they’re on DC or DCC, the motors automatically turn on when the car starts moving and stops when the car stops.

These are German made cars from a German company so all of the markings on the cars are in German, with European style buffers at the ends of the cars, and as is common on European models – Rapido couplers. (Which for the record is not the same as Rapido Trains)

Model detail isn’t the name of the game here. Compared to what you would get on your average N Scale model from pretty much anybody the printing is pretty grainy and low res, but then again these aren’t really intended to represent an actual prototype I think the goal is to make them not look particularly out of place on the layout if you have them parked up on a siding.

Right now I have them paired up with my Bachmann HHP-8 and have run the cars around both mains a few times and run the vacuum car through the sidings. The vacuum car definitely picked up debris around the track.

The photo above was one loop around the outer main line, and the pads on the polishing car were unsurprising dirty after the same loop.

I’m not sure where that silver piece came from, but I know it wasn’t from these cars.

There was quite a bit more in the hopper after making its way through the East Yard though. It’s not perfect, you can still see some ground foam between the ties on a few tracks, but quite a bit was picked up.

I like the cars, but there are two big negatives – the first being that the polisher only came with one set of pads and I’m not sure if or where I can get replacements. I suspect I’m going to have to make my own, and while I’m looking for a reason to get a digital caliper – I hadn’t been planning on this being the reason.

The other negative is cost. They’re expensive and the Lux Modellbau cars aren’t easy to find in N scale in the US. I picked up both cars from Eurorail Hobbies for $187.95 for the polisher, and $179.96 for the vacuum car. In that respect alone, retrofitting DCC into a Tomix Track cleaner might have been a smarter option.

Here’s a few videos of the cars in action