Weathering Track: 3’x18″ Layout

It’s kind of amazing to me that it’s been almost 15 years since I had a “layout” this far along. I’ve decided to call this project a layout, as lots of layouts in the “Cameo” style that I’ve become quite fond of wind up being this size or slightly larger. In the future, I may wind up figuring out a way to transfer between the two tracks, but for now, it’s a “photo layout” or “experimental layout”, trying out new materials and figuring out what works, and in some cases what doesn’t work.

So far so good on that front.

I was originally going to hand-lay track on this layout, but the size is vision-prohibitive for me. That’s fine. There are still ways to lay Proto48 track. Turning to Right-O-Way, I have used some code 125 P48 flex track. The ties and rails are nicely detailed commercial track. For this project, I used two sticks of track, and employed a carbide cutoff wheel on my Dremel tool to take some of the length off the rear track, which was then adjusted slyly to add to the mainline. Using Righ-O-Way rail joiners, I made the front stick the proper length for the layout. The joint is hidden in the grade crossing I installed. I like the joiners from Right-O-Way, but I may explore using some Atlas Code 100 joiners in the future. I understand that those may work nicely and create a snug fit.

The next step was to add joint bars. I had some laser cut bars left over from PSC of Canada, which sadly are no longer made. I decided to use them for this project anyway. I’ll have to source new ones next time, but after measuring and marking the 39′ lengths on the rails, I used CA to glue the joint bars in place.

The first coat of color was applied to everything using a rattle can of Rustolem Came Brown. The paint goes on flat, and the dark brown is a nice base to start from.

As with most things I do, I started building color from photos I’ve taken or collected of track. Knowing I was also trying to replicate the look of untreated redwood ties, I decided to aim for a grey tone to the ties, while the rail would need some dark and some light/new rust to give it variation.

Track with the ties painted. Note the large color variation.

For the first pass at weathering the ties, I broke out a Vallejo set called “Model Air Old & New Wood”. In addition to the colors in this set, I also selected one additional color as a sort os strong dark grey, also a Model Air called Concrete. With those in hand, I set about randomly painting ties.

With the initial colors on the ties, I then used a Micro Lux color called “Rail Brown” to go over the darker color on the rail, the tie plates, and the spikes. That added some bright tones to the rail. After that had dried, I went over the rail again with some enamel paints from Ammo of Mig Jimenez. I leaned heavily on the “Streaking Rust Effects” for a darker rust tone. When that had dried, I went back again and spot-rusted the rail and other metal using the “Light Rust Effects”.

At that point, with the majority of the weathering done, I took the track to the layout and using a thin application of paintable grey caulk, I set the track in place and let that set.

Weathering nearly done on the track, it was installed on the layout with a thin layer of grey latex caulk.

With the track in place, I added what I would call an “evening-out” wash, just to the ties, from Monroe Models. Using their “Ash Grey” wash over everything that is wood took the contrast between the ties back a little from the extremes I had achieved with the different wood paints, but didn’t loose that effect completely. There is still variation in the ties. To get a little more of that variation enhancement back, I then applied to a small number of ties, the Monroe Models “Quick Age” wash.

Ballast going down (yes, I did this in the kitchen)

With the track laid, I proceeded to add a real rock blend from Superior Scenics. For this I used their “Salt & Pepper” blend in Fine. A soft brush helped get everything into place, and then I followed up by applying copious amounts of Woodland Scenics scenic cement through a disposable dropper to lock everything in place.

It seems like a lot of steps, but as with most modeling projects, the majority of the time spent is in waiting on paint or glue or wash to dry. All told, this took me about 4 total hours.

The last thing left to do is to give the rail heads one more cleaning with a brightly cleaning block.

I will shortly cover the grade crossing and road on the layout, but that’s next time.


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