Tie Colour

Now we come to one of those great challenges with modelling the turn of the century: colour. In particular, since we’ve been talking about track, what colour should the ties be? The ties on the Canada Atlantic were almost certainly untreated, as preservatives for ties were something of a research topic, and the CA enjoyed cheap timber. So, we can’t just go down to the local tracks and check them out. We can’t even look at quite old tracks and think they’re going to match (can we?). So, this week, I made up some more test track and experimented with colour.

Tie colour

I’m always on the lookout for authentic turn of the century data, and a trip to Upper Canada Village this summer yielded some good points. Here is what wood looks like if you put it on the ground and leave it out in the sun for a summer or two:


And here is how it looks if you don’t walk on it, but put it on a roof instead:


The sidewalk surprises me for being so light. It’s hard to say how much of that is the dust that is beaten into it by so many passing feet. I don’t think my ties should be so light, but perhaps not as dark as the roof either.

I tried a variety of greys and blacks and dark browns. In the end, I think for the wooden ties, the best match is a stain with black shoe die, which seems to pick out the grain nicely, followed by dry-brushing (actually makeup sponge) with raw umber lightened to a very light warm grey. That appears on ties two and three (counting from the left) above. Click through to my Flickr photo to see the other colours I tried.

On the non-porous point ties casting, I applied an initial undercoat of Testors Sand from a rattle can. Then my notes get rather fuzzy! The best-looking tie of the bunch is, I believe, the black leather dye with raw umber and white dry-brushing.

Tie and ballast colour

You’ll also notice I’m testing ballast and a revised switch rod assembly, but those are posts for another day.

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