As an investment goes, this is a fairly meaty one at over £70 but a track cleaning car offers dramatic returns in the way of saved time and this is perhaps the best one you can buy. The decision to buy this CMX Clean Machine was based on a small matter of 205ft of mainline to clean in the future and if anyone thinks it’s better to do that with an alcohol soaked cloth on the end of a finger – wow – madness! This is a better solution and it works too.
This is the N scale version which made its début at this weekend’s Inverness exhibition, cleaning the track on the large helix on the club’s N scale layout. One clean was all that was required for smooth operation.
This helix is part of the Inverness and District MRC N scale layout and is very different to my helix. I must confess that the building and operation of this layout has given me much experience of how N scale models perform and what they will tolerate in terms of curvature, minimum radii and inclines. This helix is relatively steep but the performance of Atlas 6-axle diesels on it was amazing; an SD35 and SD60 managing 26 Bethgon coal cars of varying origins up and down without bucking, slipping or needing assistance.
The SD35 was a late substitution for a second SD60M, two of which are the usual power for coal drags on this layout. It had a fast and late decoder swap using one I happened to have to hand. That turned out to be a poor match in terms of speed curves and would not run well with the first SD60. It ended up working with the LMX Dash8-39B (seen above) on a 22 car mixed train which also tackled the helix without a problem. This bodes well for power to train length ratios on my own layout and it appears that two large 6-axle locos should handle the coal drags without too much trouble. Three units on 30 cars would be a better ratio from a power and appearance standpoint; I shall have to think about that.
After several requests, here’s a couple of close ups of the new Bachmann Farish Class 57 and 66 seen earlier testing my helix. They run superbly and the up to date chassis design lends them to a different approach to DCC including decoder fitting solder points. There is now a direct contact between the lighting board and motor terminals (no direct contact between motor and split frame chassis) which means direct lighting board replacement decoders with 4-functions and independent control of the lighting could easily be developed. Any takers?