Six-year old turntable ties require delicate staining

I got up early this morning to do a little sanding on the ties around the turntable. It turned out that the edge timbers were particularly proud – on one side, they lost about .010″ (.25mm). There is still a step of about the same to get on one end of the turntable. I think, going slowly, my little engines will be able to manage this okay.

I thought I would have time tonight to prepare the rails, but between school starting and work, it has been a busy week. All I had time for was staining the ties. This turntable was only six years old in 1905. So, the ties should be graying, but not positively silver or black. I mixed up a very thin wash of India ink and rubbing alcohol and splashed it on, being careful to hit the ends of the ties. Okay, not “delicate” like the headline says, but somewhat restrained.

While I had the brush out, I also stained the timbers inside the roundhouse. The timbers that outline the roundhouse represent the mud sills on which I believe this structure rested. As they’re starting to rot, they got a heavier wash of the India ink (the structure was listed in “Fair” condition by 1908). I also hit the door sills with the India ink as they would weather when the doors are left open during the day.

Further inside, I started with a raw sienna acrylic wash. Then, around the pits, I added raw and burnt umber to represent oil spills, leaks and stains. As with the pits themselves, I concentrated these stains toward the back of the roundhouse under where the engines would park. Tenders shouldn’t cause as big a mess, I think.

Roundhouse timbers


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