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Thorne North pt 2

Before track laying and ballasting commences, I decided to investigate the best techniques for rail and sleeper weathering.

There are many techniques and many products to support them. It was obviously advantageous to settle on a technique before jumping in both feet and ruining the layout track, hence this test piece.

The base of this test piece is a bit of MDF, painted with the brown emulsion that will be used as the base count on the layout (this example only has 1 coat, the layout will get at least 2).

Initially I fixed a small section of Hornby track to the board with waterproof PVA glue.

When the glue had dried, the sleepers were brush painted with Tamiya acrylic paint no. XF-64 “Red Brown”  with the idea of simulating brake dust and general track grime.

When the sleeper paint had dried, the rail webs were painted with a different Tamiya acrylic paint no. XF-9 “Hull Red” with the intent of simulating rail rust. Simulating rail rust can be tricky to get the right impression. What do I mean by that? Take a look at railway track in different locations and you will see different rusting effects. High speed main lines out in the sticks will be more orangey as oil spill and brake dust (to name but 2 examples) are much less than on station platform lines where trains regularly stand.

With the sleeper grime and rail rust paint dried, I sprinkled loose, dry ballast (Woodland Scenics Medium Gray Blend B94) onto the test piece. Using a small bristle brush, the loose ballast was gently brushed off the tops of the sleepers, then levelled between the sleepers with little pinky tips and worked into any small unfilled gaps. It may not be obvious from the photos but the track does not have cork underlay and therefore there is no ballast shoulder at the sides of the piece.

Once happy with the ballast coverage, the entire area was wet down with a 50:50 mix of water soluble PVA and water (and a few drops of washing up liquid). The area was given a good soaking until the mixture appeared to “pool” on top of the ballast. At this stage it looked like the test piece had been ruined, but this is quite normal with this technique. As you can see from the pics, the dry work piece looks ok and a good representation of ballasted track.

I will be using this test piece to experiment with other track weathing techniques, and possibly make another test piece utilising concrete sleepered track (and cork underlay to produce a ballast shoulder).

If you look at Keith Platt’s wonderful photographic references, you will notice that the platform lines have a significant layer of oily grime from standing trains.

About The Author

Holls

I'm arguably now the right side of 50 and returning to railway modelling for the first time since adolescence.

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