Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Dirt in the yard

My goal is to try and make the yard look under maintained with lots of dirt instead of fresh ballast.

I know actual dirt would have probably been the best choice, but right now it's buried under a decent blanket of snow and I didn't feel like digging any up.  So I turned Woodland Scenics ground foam and Grout.

As mentioned before, I chose not fill the space between the tracks with solid ballast.  I intentionally left some painted plywood showing through and planned to cover this with my "Dirt" and leave patches of ballast showing through.

After a little experimenting, I wound up mixing Woodland Scenics Fine Earth ground foam with equal amounts (approximately 50/50) of a Mocha (or an Earth colored) grout.  This gave me the ability to spread/sprinkle the mix into the scene a little easier.  Trying to sift the grout can be a little tricky as it's so fine and can get go down pretty heavy.  By mixing it with the foam it gives some body and a little more control.

I started off by brushing a 50/50 glue mix that I used for ballast in a random pattern around the ballast patches as well as up on the ballast next to the track.  Then using my fingers, I grabbed a pinch and started spreading it around the ballast.  You have to be a little careful here as the Grout can stain and discolor whatever it touches and can be hard to get off.  A little is fine, but you don't want too much.

This is a little time consuming, and I suppose there is faster way, but it worked for me.  Trying to get good pictures of this is turning out to be a little more challenging.  The color never seems to come out quite right but in person it looks pretty good.

This is the base color of the yard, but I plan to add some greenery to it, being careful not to put too much on.  I'll probably use more fine ground foam as well as using the static grass.  Another thing I want to try is to make and use grass/weed tufts mixed in with everything else.

As for ballasting, this all I have left to do for now, a small stretch from the top crossing around to the two turnouts by the giant pair of scissors and the tracks in the engine facility.

Here's a close up of the two wood crossing I forgot to add.  These were darkened using PanPastels, then I sealed them with TCP Flat paint to help resist the glue mixture when I applied the ballast.



Saturday, February 20, 2021

Yard ballasting

This is probably the most ballast that I've spread in one scene.

Even though this is nothing more than open staging yard, I figured I might as well make it look halfway decent so it blends into the rest of the layout.

I started off by spraying Krylon Camo Brown on the track like I've done in the past, it's a great color for the base.  But it is a little stark with the color I'm using for ballast.  I also wanted the yard to look weather worn and unmaintained, which meant the ties were not going to be fresh looking.

Just after starting the ballasting project you could tell how stark the color differences were.

So I grabbed a makeup sponge and mixed up a couple thin batches of acrylic paint, one tanish and the other more grayish and proceeded to blotch the sponge on the tracks.  There was no way in hell that I planned to paint each individual tie or groups of ties, so this was going to have to do.

At this point I also decided to sprinkle on more ballast between the tracks.  I plan to add a lot of dirt to the yard, so most of the ballast between the tracks will be covered, and I found doing a little testing that it'll be cover the ballast up rather than adding small amounts of ballast to the dirt.  Just looked a little more natural.

So the ballasting proceeded.  What's lighter is freshly glued.

I was having so much fun ballasting that I almost forgot to add the first crossing.

This is where it stands for now until I get the second crossing that I ordered.

While I'm waiting for the second crossing to arrive, I also decided to play around with some Pan Pastels and chalks to dirty the yard up a bit before adding the dirt.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Back to ballasting

Not near as exciting or fun as the loco facility, but a needed process.

I've got all 7 of the turnouts ballasted on the head end of the yard.  I've got another 13 on the opposite end.  At first I wasn't going to ballast the yard as it's just supposed to be used as an open staging yard.  But as things progressed I figured why not make it a part of the layout?  

While the yard is long (16') it doesn't have near as much track as it had previously.  Also, with the work that I put into the engine facility recently, if it didn't get ballasted, it just wouldn't seem finished.  So let the ballasting begin...

Awhile back I seen a product called Ballast Magic by Deluxe.  It's a powdered glue that you can mix with your ballast (and other scenic materials) and you spread it just like you normally would, but instead of using a 50/50 type glue mix to adhere the ballast, you just spread it and spray water on it.  The water activates the powder and when the water dries, the ballast is suppose to be stuck.

Recently a couple of friends bought some who thought they'd give it a go.  Another one said he's sold on it and that's all he plans to use.  So I figured why not?

The instructions say to mix it with your ballast to a 7:1 ratio (ballast:powder).  In my trial that didn't work, so I tried 5:1.  That made it solid, but with a bit pressure I could still get it to crumble.  So what I've done is to mix the powder with the ballast to 5:1 ratio, once dried I come back and soak it with alcohol and then add the typical 50/50 glue mix to make permanent.

Sound like an extra?  Yes, but if it keeps me from having washouts, I can live with that.  Right now I'm doing this only on the turnouts, haven't decided if I'll use it everywhere else or not?   We'll see...


Saturday, February 6, 2021

Biddle's fueling pad

I've been working on the fueling pad for the Biddle loco facility last week.  I've been trying to keep it simple, with the just basics but as I progressed, I kept finding myself sliding down that steep rabbit hole.

I started with two strips of "0.60 black styrene for the main pad, glued them together and scored the concrete relief cuts.  I also pre-drilled the holes for the fuel piping and safety guards.  Then painted it with a concrete color and used a sponge to "pad on" several different colors of gray, I followed this with several colors of Pan Pastels and sealed it with Dull Coat.  The fresh fuel spills was made using Tamyia's Black Panel Line Accent Color lightly dripped in selected areas, in some cases I applied it three or four times.  

Next I started glueing down the little details.  The fuel piping and guard rails were made from "0.40 brass rods. The piping support came from some scrap styrene "I" beams.  The fuel hoses were stripped 22ga wire, soldered to the end of the brass rod, painted and glued in place.

The tool cabinets were made from chunks of styrene, painted & weathered.  The barrels were just cut from styrene tubing and the MU rack came from the Botchmann diesel fueling kit. The MU hoses were short chunks of 22ga wire, cut, bent and glued to the rack.  When everything had dried, I sealed the entire thing with a final coat of Dull Coat.

All in all I'm happy with how it came out, just enough detail and not overdone.  In time I'll get at least one worker glued in place and frozen in time.

Next I needed some lights, because the union workers would throw a fit if they had to work in the dark!  I'm not a big fan of lit layouts, while they do look good, I was starting to look down that rabbit hole again.  So I debated about buying the Woodland Scenics PlugNPlay light poles which would give me the option later to power up the lights. But I came to my senses and just made a few instead.

I started with some copper rods for the main poles, and again used some of the "0.40 brass rod for the arm and soldered these together.  I found some small brass tubing for the light housing and scratched my head trying to figure out how to make the globe until I stumbled across some craft beads.  These were 8/0 "Seed Beads" in a clear/pearl which I just glued on the bottom of the light housing. After that I painted the poles and arms and sealed with Dull Coat.

With everything done I sat it in place, located and drilled three holes for the light poles.  I'll leave these loose so I can finish working on the area and will probably just leave them loose so I can clean the tracks later.

Just a few more details and then I can start ballasting this area and the rest of the yard.