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Layout In A Box – Demo Micro Layout Project (part 8) Painting The Rails

Scale Model Scenery Demo Micro Layout Project

Part Eight

Following on from part seven of this series in which we covered the ballasting of the trackwork, we now look at a quick & easy way of painting the rails on the track work. To get our rails looking more like the real thing, they need to be painted. There are various ways to paint the rails, some of these include:

  • Using a painting airbrush & spraying the track
  • Aersol paint can to spray paint the track
  • Paint brush
  • Rail painter sponge roller applicator tool
  • Tidy Track rail paint pens

The photos below show the above items. Paint wise, there are various rail colour paints & track grime paints available on the market. It’s down to your personal choice/budget & preferred method as to what you go for. Experiment with which method works best for you. 

Tools

The tools we’ll be using for this job are…

  • Woodland Scenics Tidy Track Rail Paint Pen
  • Cloth or sponge
  • Track rubber

Lets get started. Now you can of course paint the track prior to ballasting, we however have ballasted the track before hand. The method we’ll be using is a quick & easy one & takes a short time to do. We are using for this project the Woodland Scenics Steel Rail Paint Pen, part no:  TT4580. Woodland Scenics also do two others, these being:

  • TT4581 Rusty Rail Paint Pen
  • TT4582 Weathered Tie Paint Pen ( Rail Sleepers )

Each one comes with a extra spare fibre tip to replace the one on the pen when it becomes worn. The paint pens can be used before or after track laying. Expect to pay around £9.50 at the time of writing this article (November 2019).

Make sure the rail sides are clean & free of any ballast chippings. Remove any ballast chipings that may of stuck to the sides of the rail, a small flat bladed screwdriver can be used to dislodge any chippings fromthe rail sides. Run the vacuum over the track clear up any loose stray ballast. 

The tip of the paint pen if brand new will need to be primed with paint, or if the paint pen hasn’t been used in a while. To do this, first give the paint pen a shake up, you’ll hear the mixing ball rattle inside the paint pen. Next, take a piece of card or paper & place the paint pen tip onto it. Push the pen down  & up which retracts the tip inside the pen, a few times. You’ll see the paint start to soak into the fibre tip. Once the paint reaches the end of the tip, drag the now loaded tip along the card or paper a few times. Once the paint pen is laying down a good solid painted line, then it’s time to paint the rails.

The tip of the paint pen if brand new will need to be primed with paint, or if the paint pen hasn’t been used in a while. To do this, first give the paint pen a shake up, you’ll hear the mixing ball rattle inside the paint pen. Next, take a piece of card or paper & place the paint pen tip onto it. Push the pen down  & up which retracts the tip inside the pen, a few times. You’ll see the paint start to soak into the fibre tip. Once the paint reaches the end of the tip, drag the now loaded tip along the card or paper a few times. Once the paint pen is laying down a good solid painted line, then it’s time to paint the rails.

Keeping light pressure of the tip of the paint pen against the rail sides, proceed to run the paint pen along the sides of the rails as shown on the right. Don’t worry about getting paint on the rail tops at this stage.

After running the paint pen along the side of the rail, wipe clean the rail top with a cloth or a sponge. Then proceed to paint the next section of track whilst the paint dries. The paint is rapid drying, so you don’t have to wait long for it to dry. If the first pass with the paint pen isn’t dark enough to your taste, run the paint pen over the rail again to achive the density of colour you require. Here you can see one small section after the first pass & can be compared with the unpainted rail.

Move on to painting the insides of the rails, however, if you just view the track from one side only, a tip here is to just paint the rail sides that are viewed from the viewing side only.

On pointwork, where the switch rails make contact with the outer rails, don’t paint the areas where switch rail makes contact with the insides of the outer rails. This makes sure that power correctly reaches the switch rails.

Once all the rails have been painted, clean the rail tops with a trackcleaning rubber. Test run a locomotive to check for any dead spots that the paint may of caused. If any dead spots are found, clean the affected areas with a track rubber or your preferred track cleaning method.

Happy modelling 

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6 Comments

  1. MalcT

    I have thought about using these pens and after seeing this demo will definitely use this method. Thanks Iain.

    • Iain

      Your welcome 🙂 They’re a great bit of kit.

  2. wicky0570

    I have considered using these pens but was never sure if they would work! Thanks for another excellent article. I will be investing in one of these pens now I have seen this.

    • Iain

      They are a great bit of kit & an excellent time-saver with them being quick drying too. I always keep one in my modelling paints box.

  3. PantoPete

    I use POSCA paint pens available in a variety of widths and many colours for all kinds of scenic work. They write on anything – plastic, metal, wood, glass, paper – I even paint figures with them.

    • Iain

      Thank you for the heads up on the POSCA paint pens Pete, i’ll check them out. 🙂

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