"Z" Cleaning & Lubrication

Wait! before lubricating, you probably need cleaning!

9 times out of 10, a poorly running loco has picked up dirt or lint and it is affecting the loco.

The best thing to do is disassemble the loco, clean the parts in an ultrasonic cleaner. Barring that (and you really should buy an inexpensive one, look in the Target for an ultrasonic jewlery cleaner), then clean each part with alcohol.


Below are pictures of an MT GP35 that was not running right. Lint in the gears, bearings, and excessive grease in the worms that trapped more fibers.

The loco needs to be completely disassembled, the bits of junk picked out (fine tweezers) and then cleaned, re-assembled and lubed.

Nice cleaning mix for an ultrasonic cleaner:

  • 20% orange cleanerconcentrate
  • 10% alcohol (lowers viscosity)
  • 70% water
  • 3-4 drops Dawn dishwashing soap

 What lubes to use?

Historical recommendations from Bill K.:

  • Motor bearings only: decanted Slick 50 (aerosol automotive product)
  • High speed worms only: Labelle 102 (thick, doesn't fly off at speeds)
  • All other gears, axles: Label 108 (thin, easy to get 1/4 drop)
  • Commutators and all scratch-and-pray electrical contacts: Atlas Conductalube

 Products I like

I like a lot of the products from aerocar ( http://aerocarlubricants.com/ )

They make things at least as good as the best of their competition, and some without parallel.

I especially like the conductalube cleaner, you can put a drop of it on the brush/commutator of a motor, and it will basically clean and lubricate the carbon brushes without gumming them up.

The other favorite product is the NG gel lubricant. It's like a gel, but liquifies under pressure. So, it's as good as oil under pressure, and then it reverts to a gel and clings to the gears. Does not fly off like oil and lubes better than grease.

How to lubricate

First, less is better. Too much does not lubricate better and just attracts and holds the junk you just went to the trouble to remove!

The finest drops of thin oil on the shafts and a small dab of the gel lube for gears.

Weather Underground PWS KCACARLS78