Ties and Ballast

As they say in another hobby, it’s time to fish or cut bait. So, this week I put away the test track and went for broke on the south module. I also happily discovered that October is still more than a week away, and I may still accomplish my goal for the month.

Ties and ballast

I first stained the ties with a alcohol and black leather dye mix that came out somewhat darker than planned. I had actually gone over all the ties with a razor saw to impart some more grain, but that seems to have disappeared. So the ties came out somewhat flatter than I would have liked. The ones that I hacked with my skrawker were pretty good, but infrequent.

Then I used some makeup pads to dry-brush on some acrylic paint to highlight them and grey the ties down a bit. This was a mix of raw umber and titanium white. On the Proto:87 Stores site, they say you should use oil paint for this, but I didn’t want to have to wait for it to dry before laying rail. I did a test with oil on the engine lead where I won’t lay rail for a while; it dried in a little over a day, and looks slightly better. On the north module, I will use oils.

Tie colour

Once the ties were looking good, I masked off the interesting ties, like those around switch rods and frogs, and dumped a load of ballast everywhere. This is a 1:1 mixture of sanded grout and Pembroke dirt. The lady at the tile store didn’t know what to do with me when I couldn’t answer whether the grout was for the wall or the floor (answer floor), but the colour is a decent match for the dry Pembroke dirt.

Ties and ballast

Ties and ballast

I had a choice of a shade lighter or a shade darker, and chose the lighter one. I reasoned that colours get lighter with distance. Anyway, I’m quite happy with the effect.

You might notice that one of the photos contains a piece of rail getting fitted. I also set up the rail planer this week and planed all the frogs and points. If I’d had some wire for the feeders, there would have been some rail installed tonight. Well, fortunately October isn’t coming as fast as I thought it was for once.

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5 thoughts on “Ties and Ballast

    1. Hah! Then I would have had a whole other set of explaining to do.

      “What size spacers do you need, sir?”

      “Well, I’m not going to use them for spacing tiles exactly, so what sizes do they come in?”

      “Are you using them on the floor or on the wall?”

      “They’re going on the layout, and I dunno what I’ll use them for just yet. Do you have a sample pack?”

      “No. Next?!”

    1. Thanks Greg. I find it challenging to get all the ballast away from the foot of the rail. Ballasting first seems to be much easier. In your case, where you also have tie plates to catch the ballast,I would think ballasting after rail would be even more aggravating. Even with just ties to consider, Andrew and I spent a good hour last night poking ballast around on the north section.

      Notice that I left all the PC board ties un-ballasted until the soldering was done. Soldering and dirt is not a good combination.

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