How to Preserve Your Collectable Locomotive

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How to Preserve Your Collectable Locomotive

eBay is a great place to buy rail transport products, spares and accessories. From locomotives themselves to additional accessories and cleaning products to preserve your model train set and all of its components, eBay is a great resource for any model train enthusiast. Model train sets have been popular since their conception many decades ago, and thanks to this popularity there is an abundance of model train sets, spare parts and accessories to choose from on eBay.

The purpose of this guide is to inform the reader how to preserve collectable locomotives and how to purchase preservative products from eBay.

eBay is the perfect place to buy rail transport hobbying products. As such, an authoritative name in the world of Internet shopping, eBay offers its customers a choice to purchase their items immediately (Buy It Now)) as well as to purchase through the auction format.

Rail Transport Hobbying

Rail transport hobbying is the term that describes owning rail transport systems that are modelled at a reduced scale as part of a hobby activity. These scale model sets include: locomotives, tracks, rolling stock, signalling, streetcars and general items of scenery called a ‘layout’ (i.e. roads, buildings, vehicles, people, rivers, mountains, tunnels and so on).

The history of rail transport hobbying dates back to the 1840s with the introduction of wind-up clockwork ‘carpet railways’. It was not until the early twentieth century that the first electric models would appear and these would be the basis of today’s models.

Model train sets range from small and simple oval track setups to large oddly shaped tracks that depict real life train routes. Model trains come in a variety of different sizes and are based on the scaled-down size of real trains. Typically there are six different size scale-model trains available:

  • Z scale (1:220)  - Smallest size
  • N scale (1:160)
  • HO scale (1:87)
  • S scale (1:64)
  • O scale (1:48)
  • G scale (1:22.5) - Largest size

To put the scales into perspective; a locomotive scale of 1:22.5 means that the model is 22.5 times smaller than its life-size counterpart.

How to Preserve Your Collectable Locomotive

Model trains are not just toys, some are valuable antiques and many are pieces of artwork that have had a lot of effort and many hours spent on them. Due to this, it is incredibly important that model trains and their components are cleaned and maintained correctly in order for them to work efficiently for many years to come.

In order to preserve your collectable locomotive, regular maintenance and cleaning to remove any trapped dust or debris must take place. Unfortunately, cleaning locomotives is a hands-on process unlike that of cleaning the model train track, which can be easily done autonomously with a cleaning car.

Whilst regular use of a model train set will generally keep it running at a good level and free from dust, dirt and debris will always get caught in the locomotive’s moving parts, so cleaning is an essential task for any rail transport hobbyist.

To clean locomotives, there are several must-have products:

Compressed Air

Compressed air comes in aerosol form and is air that is kept under a pressure that is greater than the atmospheric pressure. Compressed air has many industrial and domestic uses from pneumatics and refrigeration to vehicle propulsion and railway breaking systems.

In rail transport hobbying, compressed air is an essential cleaning product because it is one of the most effective way of removing trapped dirt, dust and debris- especially when in confined or hard to reach places. Compressed air is also a better method of cleaning the inside of locomotives because unlike a brush, it will not disrupt or move any of the internal components.

Model Train Cleaning Gel

Although model train sets are not messy or dirty in nature, they use lubricants and oils that trap dust and debris inside the locomotive. Therefore a cleaning gel should be purchased to remove this dirt. Model train cleaning gels are generally antibacterial and non-abrasive, so it is kind to the paintwork whilst effectively cleaning the locomotive.


A lubricant is an essential product during the cleaning process because the locomotive will be stripped of its prior lubricant and it will need replenishing. Generally there are two types of lubricant for model trains, one for plastic and one for metal. To establish which one is needed, remove the locomotive’s outer casing and see whether the internal parts are predominantly metal or plastic.


Like all cleaning processes, tools are also needed as well as cleaning agents. For locomotive cleaning, it is recommendable to purchase a small brush with fine bristles, as locomotives are relatively small and possess some difficult to reach areas which must be cleaned.


Cloths are another must-have product for cleaning locomotives. Cloths are used to wipe over the inside and outside of the locomotives outer shell to offer a shiny appearance at the end of cleaning.

How to Clean Locomotives

To thoroughly clean a collectable locomotive, you will need all of the cleaning products previously mentioned to complete the steps below.

  1. Take the locomotive off of the track and remove its outer casing (or shell).
  2. Next, it must be established whether the internal parts are made of plastic or metal, as this will decide which lubricant type will be used later.
  3. Now, find the plastic straw located on the side of the can of compressed air and attach it to the nose of the can. Shake the can thoroughly for a few minutes before use.
  4. Now, holding the compressed air can 6 inches away from the locomotive, spray the air in an even stream over the gears, wheels and any other internal moving parts. (Repeat this step on all four sides of the locomotive).
  5. Next, assemble the can of lubricant (metal or plastic) in the same manner as the compressed air. Again, hold the can of lubricant 6 inches away from the train and spray a fine stream onto the locomotive’s moving parts. Use a dry cloth to wipe away any excess lubricant.
  6. Now the locomotive’s outer casing must be cleaned. To do this, place a small brush into some model train cleaning gel and gently brush the locomotives exterior removing all grime or dirt. Finally, wipe the locomotive with another clean dry cloth to finish off.

This cleaning method should be carried out every six months or three times a year if you run trains several times a week. A general dusting of model train sets should be undertaken at least once a month to ensure it runs at its optimum level.

How to Buy Rail Transport Hobbying Products From eBay

eBay is a great place to buy rail transport hobbying products. From model train sets and accessories to cleaning agents and products to preserve them, eBay stocks everything a model train enthusiast could wish for.

Finding a sought-after product on eBay has never been easier thanks to its search toolbar. Simply type in the name, type or manufacturer of the desired item and press enter. The buyer is then met with a selection of search results to scroll through before choosing one. Once the suitable result has been found, click onto it to be taken to the products individual listings page.

Every product on eBay has its own individual listings page containing a wealth of information surrounding the product including: a detailed product specification, an in-depth analysis, comments about the items condition as well as photographs to compliment the text.

eBay is renowned for its comprehensive service and as part of this great service, the website provides all of its customers information about the products seller. This usually includes their selling history and eBay rating as well as their location. By disclosing the location of the seller, the buyer can decide whether it is easier and more cost-effective to pick the item up or to have it delivered and pay the relevant delivery fee.

Going the extra mile for their customers, eBay also offers the facility to contact the seller should the buyer wish to ask a question or require more information about the product.

Once the buyer has found their desired product, they can purchase it in two ways: to buy it immediately (by clicking ‘Buy It Now’) or to bid for it in an auction format (by clicking ‘Bid Now’) attempting to seek out the best possible price.


There are many factors to take into account when buying products to preserve your collectable locomotive. However, with comprehensive information and overall great user experience that eBay offers its customers coupled with the considerations and the information outlined in this guide, purchasing products for cleaning, maintaining and preserving collectable locomotives on eBay is easy.

When purchasing an item when using eBay, it is important to note that all payments are made safe and secure thanks to third party payment authority, PayPal to give the buyer peace of mind.

The right cleaning agents and products aligned with the buyers’ rail transport hobbying desires and requirements will preserve the locomotives for many years to come.

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