I have a new favorite juice for oiling my train cars

Last Updated on December 27, 2015 by Dave Farquhar

I’ve heard the suggestion several times now to use Quantum Hot Sauce fishing reel oil on model and toy trains. I finally decided to try it myself. I like it, for several reasons.

One is that it’s dyed red. So when you put a drop of it on your axles, on each side of the wheel (or just the outside on wheelsets where the whole axle spins, such as post-1970 Lionel cars) and spin the wheel, you can see the stuff flinging off and you can wipe the excess off before you put it back on your track and get the oil on your track, where you don’t want it. The red color makes it much easier to oil sparingly, which makes the trains run better and the bottle last longer.

The other thing I like about it is that it works. Spinning the wheels by hand causes them to spin longer with the Hot Sauce than it does with Labelle 107 or any other oil I’ve tried. That indicates lower rolling resistance, which means your engines don’t have to work as hard, which means you can run longer trains, or run them slower, or both, all of which are good things.

Quantum (no relation to my favorite disk drive maker) claims their oil contains a lubricant that permanently bonds at the molecular level to the metal. I’m no chemist, but some quick research indicates there really are some modern lubricants that work that way. I did notice that when I put it on some particularly cruddy axles that it soaked into the rust very quickly. Of course any oil will clean rust off the axles in the places where they rub against the wheels.

I haven’t quantitatively measured the difference yet, though I plan to do that when I have time. When you run old Marx train cars like I typically do–I count 17 of them on my tracks at the moment–any little thing you can do to reduce rolling resistance helps.

Hot Sauce costs no more than Labelle 107 does, being able to see it makes the process of oiling the wheels much easier, and though I haven’t yet proven that it’s better than Labelle 107, my observations give me no reason to believe it’s any worse. So I recommend it; when I get some time to do a proper test, we’ll see just how highly I recommend it.

For some reason, lubricants for trains frequently create hostile discussions, so that’s why I want to test the effects thoroughly. I’ve said before that any oil, applied carefully and in a small quantity, is better than none at all.

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