Running-in a Rolling Road.

September 1, 2017

A brand new Graham Farish Class 37/4 undergoing running-in following purchase.

One of the most important things you should do with a brand new model loco or multiple unit is to run it in under controlled conditions, either on a dedicated test track or, if room is an issue, use a rolling road! Running in procedures are usually well described in the manuals that come with a new model such as the Graham Farish Class 37/4 (above).

Bachmann OO gauge Class 20 takes a ride on the KPF Zeller rolling road.

My current rolling road of choice is the KPF Zeller 600mm long ‘Professional’ which has roller units for HO/OO gauge and N gauge mounted on the side bars. So why use a rolling road? Well, a great deal of fine tuning can be achieved by watching how a model runs on a rolling road and fine adjustments can be made accordingly. The manner in which the motion of steam locomotives is working can be observed for tight spots or binding which is easier to detect including the point at which it happens. Less than concentric wheels may be identified together with a whole host of other small defects that would be harder to see when testing on a layout.

A very useful feature of the KPF Zeller rolling roads, no matter which length or gauge that is used, is that the roller units can be moved along the side bars to suit the wheelbase of the loco.

The design of all the rolling roads is based on two strong side bars secured parallel to each other with special insulating brackets. The bars are very neatly finished, allowing the various tight-fitting spacer brackets to slide along them and beveled at the ends to prevent snagging. The various pick-up roller units sit on the bars and are secured in place with a thinner centre bar. The pick-up rollers slide along the bars so the correct position for the driving and bogie wheels of a locomotive can be selected.

A driving wheel cleaning attachment is also available separately which is fitted with small cleaning pads cut from domestic cleaning cloth.

An elegant and simple accessory for the KPF Zeller rolling road range is the driving wheel cleaning attachment which easily and quickly cleans locomotive driving wheels. The one designed for OO/HO gauge is demonstrated in this article and is a modified pick-up roller unit which can be fitted with the same cleaning cloth pads as used on the KPF Zeller track cleaning cars. The wheel cleaner is fitted to the rolling road by removing the end spacer and one or two of the pick-up roller units. Slide the cleaning attachment into place and return the pick-roller units too. Refit the end spacer and plug the power back in.

The centre axle of an 0-6-2 tank loco is cleaned on the rolling road. The model is gently held during this process.

The pads are soaked with a drop of track cleaning fluid dispensed from a dropper (10ml is supplied with the attachment and a drop on each pad is all that is needed) and the model mounted on the required roller units to support it. The attachment is positioned under the wheels requiring cleaning and everything carefully seated before operations commence. Each pair of wheels on one axle are cleaned one at a time. The model is run gently on the rollers, being held by the fingers to ensure the wheels being cleaned are making contact with the cleaning pads. Remove the loco, replace the cleaning pads if necessary and mount the model again with the wheel cleaning attachment under another pair of wheels. Rinse and repeat, in effect.

The result of a quick clean using a spot of track cleaning fluid on the cleaning pads.

N gauge roller units suitable for 9mm gauge models including British, European, Japanese and North American N gauge/N scale.

HO/OO gauge roller units. The rollers are ‘coned’ to match coning on model wheels.

Idler unit to support the front bogie of a steam locomotive (HO/OO).

The side bars not only support the roller units but work as power bus rods too, supplying power to the roller units so the models will run. There is a middle bar too which stabilises the rolling road and provides power for three-rail models which are quite common in Europe. Power is introduced from one end with simple plugs and the rolling road is suitable for both traditional analogue power and DCC.

Ten Commandment Models offers the full range of KPF Zeller rolling roads in the UK, ranging from mini ones to test short engines such as tank engines for modellers with branch line type layouts to the large professional standard road which will suit people with mixed collections and who do professional modelling work such as kit building and decoder installation. More information regarding the range of KPF Zeller HO/OO, N and O gauge rolling roads available in the UK, including the wheel cleaning attachment can be found here.



Teasers for a Monday…

August 14, 2017

A view of part of one of the superb KPF Zeller rolling roads sold in the UK by Ten Commandment Models including the driving wheel cleaning attachment. KPF Zeller produces a rolling road to suit all of the popular scales and with differing lengths to suit individual requirements. Once the review has been published in RMM, I will put a more detailed set of pictures on here. So, okay, what’s the loco being tested for service on the rolling road?

Some strange-looking rolling stock has appeared in the studio recently – coaches from Epoch 5/6 which equates to post 2000. I guess British outline modellers interested in what would be Epoch 6 in the UK (if we used that date system) won’t know what a straight loco-hauled coach is…they are so rare these days! (tongue firmly in cheek). So here’s teaser 2 for today – I think a clue is in the destination window…

KPF Zeller track cleaners for routine track cleaning in OO/HO and N gauge.

July 26, 2017

My experiments with the KPF Zeller OO/HO and N gauge track cleaning cars sold by Ten Commandment Models showed that they are particularly effective at cleaning the rails of any model railway.

I have been taking an interest in track cleaning technologies for years and have played around with several different types of track cleaning device – from Relcos (don’t use such high frequency track cleaners with DCC systems) to the amazing but expensive US-outline based CMX Clean Machine (not suitable for layouts with equipment and platforms close to the running lines because of the cleaning pad clips). Another elegant and simple track cleaning system has come to light in the form of the KPF Zeller track cleaning cars which are available in the UK for both OO/HO gauge and N gauge. They are imported and sold by Ten Commandment Models – the cars being German made.

Simple friction-based track cleaning which works through the action of weighted arms and pads of cleaning material. The OO/HO car (shown) has NEM coupling pockets which will accept Kadees, traditional UK outline couplings or anything you like!

The underside of the OO/HO cleaning car. The wheels can be exchanged for finer ones if desired for finescale OO and EM gauge. No cleaning fluids are needed for effective track cleaning.

The design of the cars allows the modeller to build a wagon body onto them if desired. Also, the cars are built within the loading gauge of HO and N gauge making them suitable for all types of UK-outline and European layouts which will have platforms and other structures close to the running line. They will be invaluable to those modellers with large layouts too, including US-outline modellers with miles of track such as my Montana Rail Link 4th Sub project. The cars are not powered – so they will work on any layout with any power system: traditional DC or DCC – it matters not!

The weighted and pivoted arms fitted to the OO/HO model with cleaning pads visible. Any suitable cleaning pad material can be used and is attached with double-sided sticky tape. Simply run the car around the layout, collect the dirt and then throw the dirty pads away!

The N gauge version. Both cleaning cars are specially weighted for effective cleaning and good track holding properties.

The N gauge car is shown once again. Two separate pivoted arms and pads are used to avoid catching any detail in the centre of the track, or indeed any third rail or stud contact system. The simple hook coupling will engage with standard N gauge couplings.

So that’s it! Personally, I prefer to clean the track before an operating session using a track cleaning car. Clean pads are fitted and the car run first around the main line track several times before being removed from the layout and the pads inspected for dirt collection. The spent pads are removed, which is easy to do, and new ones fitted before repeating the exercise. The cars are easily propelled into platform bays, dead end sidings and over complex point work. Once the layout has been covered, the track cleaning car can be stored in the staging area of the layout until it is next needed.

Some modellers may use the cleaning car throughout the operating session. It can be included in the formation of an engineers train and run almost continuously – there are couplings fitted to both ends of the cars which will allow it to be run as part of a train. If you decide that this is your preferred method, remember that the cleaning pad material is designed to collect dirt and should be discarded after a while or they will become ineffective.

For more information visit Ten Commandment Models here, here and here and also take a look at the rolling roads too. KPF Zeller’s web site can be viewed here. My thanks to Matt of KPF Zeller together with Dave of Ten Commandment Models for their assistance and an elegantly simple but well-engineered solution to routine track cleaning.