This new tool came about because of a modeler report that burnishing (very hard rubbing) of the rails would flatten imperfections and provide a harder surface. The burnishing tool used for this was a stainless steel fender washer.

You’ll still need to clean track, but the effort will be more in the nature of dusting it off, rather than removing crud with an abrasive device, or chemicals.

The washer method, while effective, is nonetheless very tedious and often very awkward. There is also a fatigue factor, what with pressing down firmly on the washer with two fingers while moving it back and forth.

But, what if there was a purpose built tool to do the job? That’s when a fellow modeler and I began to collaborate to design such a thing. As the pictures indicate, it incorporates a large wooden ball mounted on a bridge, beneath which are two stainless steel discs mounted on rubber pads. This should enable the user to bear down on the tool with his palm, and with two discs, one following the other, make the job faster and easier.

We’ve tested the first working version of the tool (which has no ball) on the worst track we could find – old, corrided brass and steel. It was effective. You should clean the track FIRST, to get rid of any particles or corrosion, and make sure no grit is left behind. THEN come back with the “gleamer” tool to polish and harden the rail top. Thereafter, track cleaning should be very easy -basically removing dust.

The test version is scaled for HO; narrow enough to cover one section of track without bumping into others on either side.

Not shown in the pictures is an extension arm – a formed metal handle that replaces the ball, and allows you to reach into bridges, under covered train platforms, etc.

If you are interested in this tool, or would be willing to try one out, please let us know by an email to

Thanks for reading.


By user