I did promise a while ago that I would explain the process we employ for cleaning the wheels of our locomotives and I guess it's about time that I made good on my pledge.
Actually, it is quite a simple process and involves nothing more than some small pieces of J Cloth, or similar, plus a few drops of that magic ingredient, Wahl's Clipper Oil.
Firstly cut a strip of cloth and place it on the track just in front of the loco. You must ensure that, whilst one set of wheels is on the cloth the other set remains in contact with the rails in order to pick up power.
Now place a few drops of the clipper oil onto the cloth, along the rails and allow a few seconds for the oil to soak in to the cloth - see Photo 1.
When the oil has sufficiently soaked in, slowly run the loco over the cloth - first in one direction and then in the other. You need to make sure that the entire surface of each of the wheels has been cleaned by the oily cloth.
Once you have traversed the cloth at least once, although you can do it more than once if you want, replace the oily cloth with a dry piece of similar size. Now repeat the exercise, running the loco over the dry cloth once or twice. You will notice two lines of black crud appear on the cloth and the dirtier the wheels beforehand then the darker will be these lines - see Photo 2.
Once this is done the wheels should be clean and shiny, see Photo 3, and, what's more, a fine layer of the oil will remain on the wheels and this will help to keep them clean for some time to come.
We have now cleaned all of our loco wheels using this technique and, together with the freshly cleaned track, has resulted in a much smoother operation all round.