Saturday, January 24, 2015

Painted Track

So having settled on an approach to painting sleepers I spent today (on and off while doing other things) finishing off the hand built track for Hudson's Pizza. First job was to fill the gaps in the sleepers with milliput. Pressing a small amount into the gap on each sleeper smoothing it down and removing the excess takes a lot longer than you might imagine and then of course you have to wait for it to harden.

Painting was slightly more fiddly than in the experiments I did because of course the rails are soldered in place and blackened so I needed to keep the paint off them. First up was the white gesso, then a thin wash of RailMatch sleeper grime (50/50 paint and water). I then darkened the sleepers using a black wash which while bring out the details did make things a little too black. This was fixed by dry brushing a little sleeper grime and then a little Model Color brown sand to give a result that I'm really quite happy with.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Chemically Blackened

A very short update on the track building today. I spent about ten minutes cleaning the track with a fibreglass pen before chemically blackening the rails and then burnishing the rail top with a wooden coffee stirrer to remove some of the blackening and ensure a good surface for locomotives to collect power. Everything still works and it now looks a bit more prototypical. The sleepers will be next.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sleeper Painting: Experiment Number 3

Having thought about the sleepers a little more I realised that the main problem with the original approach wasn't so much the colour as it was the texture; they were horribly smooth and unnatural looking. After a few suggestions from different people I've come up with what I think is a simple yet effective approach. The sleeper shown here (the furthest right) is painted using the same basic colour as the other sleepers (RailMatch sleeper grime) but with some additional texture.

The trick was to prime the sleepers using some white gesso which provides a textured surface for the paint to stick to. I then thinned the sleeper grime down a little so that it wouldn't obliterate the texture and finished with a quick black wash. This seems to work well giving both texture and some colour variation and is remarkably easy to apply as you don't need to be particularly neat about the painting. With a little extra weathering as the track is bedded into the layout I think it will work well.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Equal Opportunity Modelling

As an equal opportunity modeller I thought I'd allow my other locomotive to experience the new track which gives those who prefer steam locomotives something to watch.

Round and Round She Goes, and Where She Stops Nobody Knows

The last time you saw any work on my new layout there was just a new paper track template. Things have moved on quite a bit since then.

Firstly I spent quite a lot of time at the mind numbing task of cutting and then filing a groove into the 90 sleepers required for the layout. I used the same jig as before to help measure and cut the sleepers which definitely makes the job easier although it's still rather boring. The sleepers were then all attached to the template using double sided sticky tape. That is the easy part, next up is the rails.


Obviously the rails needed to be curved into shape before I could try soldering them to the sleepers. Curving them as I went would just have ended in disaster. Now I don't know of anyone who sells a rail bender for OO9 gauge but I bought one from KBscale designed for use with a slightly large rail (their market is 7mm scale modelling). This consists of three sets of washers bolted to a plate. Sliding the rail between the washers introduces a curve into the rail while keeping it flat and not allowing it to twist. I used the tightest setting and it worked perfectly. In fact it produced rails with a curve slightly tighter than I needed.

With the rail nicely curved I soldered on the outside rail first using the template to guide the positioning. I needed two pieces of rail to complete the circle so there are two gaps, one is a nice flush join, the other is a little wider than I would like, but I've now filled it with some solder and filed it back and it seems okay. With the outer rail in place I then soldered the inner rail in place using the excellent rail gauges Paul turned for me. Again two pieces of rail were needed to make the circle but I made a better job of the joints.

Of course having two rails at roughly the right distance apart doesn't mean they will work as track. The only way to know for certain is to add a locomotive and some electricity and see what happens...


I thought I might have to adjust a few tight spots but I couldn't spot any obvious problems so it looks like the track is done (structurally at least, it still needs painting etc.). The video was taken before I filled the over large gap in the outside rail which is what you can hear as the loco passes through the left side of the circle. With the gap filled in the noise is a lot less obvious.

While I was really happy with the short test track, given it was my first attempt at building track, I'm really impressed with how this has come out. I always assumed I'd just be buying track when I built a new layout so I owe a huge thanks to Paul for providing the gauges and everyone who has provided suggestions, advice, and encouragement!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sleeper Painting: Experiment Number 2

Okay that didn't take long. Here we have a rough experiment of painting a metal sleeper. This again follows the same approach I use on the metal parts of the wooden bodied wagons and I've shown some rust where the rails meet the sleepers. I've also included a photo of both approaches for a comparison.


Any thoughts?

Sleeper Painting: Experiment Number 1

I'm still trying to clear enough space on my desk to get cracking on Hudson's Pizza but I have now cut and gapped all 90 sleepers I will need for the circle of track.

While I was really happy with how my first attempt at hand built track turned out I've been wondering if I can make it look better and slightly more natural. Specifically I was thinking it might be possible to improve the sleepers. On the test piece I simply painted them with RailMatch sleeper grime. There were two problems with this approach. Firstly there was no texture to the sleeper tops and secondly the colour was very uniform.

What you can see on the left is my first attempt at trying something different. The sleeper isn't soldered to the test track just placed underneath for the photo. Basically I ran a file along the sleeper to add some wood grain and then painted it in roughly the same way I do my small wooden bodied wagons albeit with an extra round of dry brushing using Model Color London Grey to give a slightly more silvery appearance. If I'd painted this in situ then there would have been a bit more variation as it would have been difficult to dry brush right up against the rails. Now I'm not sure I'm entirely happy with the final colour but I'm also finding it difficult to work out if I prefer this to the block colour of the previous attempt. Any thoughts or suggestions?

And before anyone says anything, yes I know Hudson's would likely have used their own metal sleeper track system for the test track, but I'm only basing my layout on it and I think wooden sleepers will be easier to model.... possibly. Maybe I should have a go at doing a metal sleeper?