Model Railroad Accessories-Track cleaning cars in all scales including HO, N, O & On30, Z, S and G, plus N scale DCC frames

An Evaluation of the “Eliminator”

by Jack Beairsto

From the May/June 2002 issue of N-Scale


This was intended to be a comparison test of a number of track cleaners, however, it degenerated to an evaluation of the one we liked the best, the Aztec Eliminator. My first order of business was to call Aztec for any updated instructions on the use of their product. I spoke with the owner (John Claudino) who explained the principle behind the cleaning efficiency of “The Eliminator.” He said that a Cratex® (Bright Boy) roller was housed in an aluminum chassis at a 1-1/2 degree angle to the track. As the car moves forward the roller tries to go to the side causing a scrubbing action on the rail. In one foot the roller would be 5/16 of an inch to the side if it were not restrained inside the car body.

Next was to find a suitable test bed: an N scale layout. That requirement in mind brought me to the home of my good friend John Hullman. John owns, what I believed to be, the perfect layout to challenge “The Eliminator.” 100 feet of Atlas nickel-silver track on the layout had all the amenities i.e. switches, crossovers, sidings and inclines that I would need to do my testing. He completed laying the track portion of his layout two years ago, and it has never been cleaned or used over that period of time. We decided to clean the track by hand using a Bright Boy and all of the electrical connections were checked for continuity. The layout was then left for three months to get dirty naturally in preparation for testing.

“The Eliminator” was housed in a 21000 series Micro-Trains box car with body mounted couplers. Turning it upside down exposed the working portions of the vehicle. Positioned at one end of the frame is a free rolling Cratex® roller followed by three pipe cleaners, the manufacturer calls “mops” and “brushes.” As the car is pulled behind a locomotive, the Cratex® roller scrubs the rails. The first brush (mop) is wetted with track cleaning fluid and washes away any debris left by the Cratex® roller.

The second and third brushes are used to dry the track and to provide the same sequence of cleaning events should the car be pulled in the opposite direction. A small bar magnet was attached to the car as part of the cleaning system. It, of course, would recover any ferrous metal in and around the track such as nuts, screws, spikes and trip pins.

The locomotive was cleaned and put on the track along with “The Eliminator.” We paid strict attention to the manufacturer’s instructions throughout the test. I set the power supply to 7.0 volts and the current limit to 1.5 amp. I noted over 300 milliamps startup current drawn, which was within expectation. After the loco was under way, I noted the minimum and max amount of current drawn for each completed test lay, once around the layout, approximately 100 feet. At the end of lap 5, the brushes were dirty and were changed. The Cratex wheel was examined and a very faint discoloration noted. At the end of lay 10 the brushes were dirty, but there was no visible change on the Cratex® roller. There was, however, some metal residue on the magnet. At right is a tabulation of the currents in milliamps by number of cleaning laps.

What can be seen from the table is a drop in the average current drawn by the locomotive, thus indicating cleaner track. The engine is obviously becoming more efficient. It’s also apparent that after five laps not much in the way of additional cleaning was achieved. One could conclude that with the given track contamination, it took five laps to completely clean it up. I do not dispute there are many other influences which could alter the results found here. However, what I saw is what I presented and the ultimate decision of relative value rests with the reader. This car is well engineered for ease of use and low maintenance. For the money ($59.95), I think it’s a fair price for a quality product.


“…the one we liked the best, the Aztec Eliminator.