Monday, May 12, 2014

More Track Painting and Ballasting

I've made some more progress on the two sections of track I've been painting and ballasting for practice in preparation for building my office shelf layout. In my last post on the subject, I left off with the track painting nearly complete and some work started on the roadbed. This past weekend, I spent some of my free time working on on both and have a bit more to show for my efforts now. 

First I'll show the initial paint job on the track. It came out much better than I thought it would. There is a noticeable improvement over my last attempt at track painting. The difference maker is definitely the rust colored paint on the rails. It may have taken me an hour or two, but I made sure to include the tie plates when painting the rust color.

Fully painted rails, ties, and cork roadbed shown before cleaning the rail tops.
I thought about leaving the tops of the rails painted in the rust color, but decided against it in the end. Even though the shelf layout I'm building will not be powered, I don't want to get myself into a habit of doing something that would not work for a running layout. So I went ahead and cleaned off the tops of the rails to complete the look.

A look at my test section of track before applying ballast.
The next step was getting some ballast and applying it. I started with some Woodland Scenics medium buff ballast and that's what you see below. I thought it looked to uniform and bright to be very prototypical, so I decided to by some medium dark brown and mix them together. That didn't work so well and I won't even post any pics at this point because it just doesn't look that great. I think I really need to go with a grey blend and maybe mix in some of the buff or grey.

Starting to ballast the test section of track.
 While its back to the drawing board for my ballast work, I ran into another interesting problem with the switch that I am doing for the piece without the roadbed. I originally got this track dirt cheap and its pretty old and beat up, so I knew it might need some work. Well, in the spirit of making things look as real as possible, I found myself manually cutting and replacing the end ties and the two contact points for the wiring. It's a bit of tricky and delicate work, but completely worth it for the more prototypical look you can achieve by doing it. 

A look at my "Franken-track" with the end ties all replaced with ties from scrap track.
I've been calling this piece my "Franken-track" because its got pieces from two different manufactures, which is really only noticeable when you get in real close and look at the detail molded into the plastic ties themselves. From a distance, it looks great and will more than do for what I need. It's not shown in this picture, but I did go ahead and replace the two contact points with four new section of ties from a scrap piece of track. Now I just need to finish painting the ties and move onto painting the rails and tie plates.

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