Excelle Lubricants Garden Railroad Cleaning and Maintenance Kit

An assortment of cleaners and lubricants
Marc Horovitz
Garden Railroad Cleaning & Maintenance Kit
Excelle Lubricants
Phoenix Unlimited, Ltd.
Website: www.phoenixbottles.com  
Available exclusively from:
Wisconsin-Illinois Trains
S83 W18787 Saturn Dr.
Muskego WI 53150
Price: $79.99
Website: www.WI-TRAINS.com

Cleaning and lubrication kit; contains motor cleaner and degreaser (12 oz. tub and 6 oz. spray bottle); four 15cc bottles of various lubricants; track conditioner; track-conditioner applicator and handle; screwdriver set; cleaning pads and supplies; gloves; instruction booklet

Pros: Wide selection of lubricants in one package for just about all applications; motor degreaser and cleaner will easily clean electric motors; screwdrivers supplied for engine disassembly; all lubricants and cleaners are plastic compatible; helpful instruction booklet

Cons: Purpose of rail conditioner not explained; handle on rail-conditioner applicator too short for comfortable stand-up application
When it comes to taking care of our electrically powered locomotives, it’s easy to let things slide, either for lack of knowledge or lack of supplies. The Garden Railroad Cleaning and Maintenance Kit supplied by Wisconsin-Illinois Trains is a big help in this department. The kit contains a variety of lubricants (oils and grease) as well as some liquid motor cleaner and degreaser and some rail conditioner. In addition, an application tool and pads for the rail conditioner, a miniature screwdriver set for the disassembly of locomotives, rubber gloves, floss and plastic toothpicks, cleaning pads, and a helpful 10-page instruction booklet are included. Also, on the company’s website is a video that demonstrates the use of the motor cleaner.

The motor cleaner is a powerful degreaser and cleaner. It is water-like in consistency but is highly flammable and you shouldn’t breathe the vapors, so its use outside or in a very-well-ventilated area is mandatory. Although it is plastic compatible, you should probably be careful with it around painted parts. The product is supplied in both a 12-ounce tub and a six-ounce spray bottle. For best results, you should disassemble the locomotive and remove the motor from its gearbox. It can then be hooked up to power leads and immersed in the tub while running at a slow speed. The liquid does not affect the motor’s electrical properties. Even apparently clean motors will produce a surprising amount of gunk. The spray bottle can be used on the gearbox and the little plastic toothpicks and floss will help to remove old grease from gear teeth.

Once the motor and gearbox have been well cleaned, they must immediately be relubricated, as the cleaner will have removed all lubrication. The instruction booklet discusses which of the oils or grease to use on what components of the engine. Also in the instruction booklet is unexplained technical information about each of the lubricants. If you’re curious about what all this means, I’m sure that the explanations could be found online.

Three different oils, tabled “Medium,” “Heavy,” and “Gear” are supplied in 15cc bottles. Also supplied is a PTFE grease labeled “NLGI 2,” which is a National Lubricating Grease Institute designation. All of the oils and the grease are plastic compatible, so should not harm any part of your locomotive. Also, each is available separately from the company’s website, should you run out of one.

The big mystery in the package is the rail “conditioner.” No explanation of its function could be found anywhere, aside from the advice to apply it to the rails twice a year. The instruction booklet describes how this is to be done, using the supplied application tool and Scotch-Brite pads. The tool is sturdy and well made, though the handle is too short for convenient stand-up application on ground-level lines. The semi-abrasive pads are secured to it using Velcro.

The entire kit is packed in a sturdy cardboard box that will serve well for storage. Each component is provided with its own cubby. One of the kit’s strong points, in my view, is having all of these essential maintenance products in one place, with information on the use of each. If instructions are followed and locomotives maintained on a routine basis, their working lives should be greatly extended.


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