Monday, 10 August 2015

Detailing concrete Peco track

After individually hand painting each sleeper on my goods shed siding in my previous post, I quickly turned my attention to the rest of my layout, and most importantly the concrete sleepers on my main line. That was 2 weeks ago, at around the same time that I began to appreciate why most modellers just dust their model railway track with an airbrush and be done with it. But press on I did, and the code 100 concrete PECO track on my layout no longer looks like off-the-shelf model train track.

Start by painting the sides of the rails in a grimy, rust-brown using a No 2 artists brush.

Turning my attention to the concrete sleepers, or concrete ties once more for the sake of my US readers, I mixed up a concoction of black, white and burnt umber as shown in the upper photo, and applied it to both sides of the rail using a No 2 artists brush as shown above. The secret is to get the paint all over the moulded plates that hold the rail in place to the sleeper, as in real life these are also steel and will have weathered or rusted at the same rate as the rails.

Carefully wipe away any excess paint from the concrete sleeper base using a damp Chux cloth.

Next up, I grabbed a damp Chux cloth and wiped away the excess paint from the concrete sleepers, using my thumb nail to glide along the edge of the moulded rail plates. The damp cloth will make it easier to remove any paint that you have accidentally brushed onto the concrete sleepers or ties, and also smears the concrete surface with a light dirty coating, providing an instant weathering technique for concrete track. If you want your concrete track to look newly laid like I do however, simply rinse the cloth in the sink and repeat the process once more.

A close-up look before applying a second, more watered down coat to conceal the sections of rail still showing through.

Stand back and take note of any sections of track that still have the nickel silver rail showing through while you wait for the paint to dry. I found a watered-down second coat made from the same mess I had mixed up on my artists palette was enough to conceal any section of rail still showing through. Make sure you apply it lightly, or the tip of the brush will wipe away the first coat if it hasn't yet hardened. I allowed about 20 minutes for the acrylic paint to dry, which was just enough time to make a cup of tea, before thinly applying the second coat. Finally, use the same damp Chux cloth to wipe away all the paint from the rail surface. I also wiped the paint from the inside raised section of the rail head, once more using my thumbnail as a guide, as I don't want a thick coat of paint causing a build-up of 'gunk' on my locomotives and rolling stock at a later date.

The before shot of the 'mouse-hole' end of my layout.

Once I finished detailing the concrete Peco track, I followed up with the sidings and No 2 road on my layout using the same method of hand painting Peco track that I explained in a previous post. Comparing the before shot above, with the after photo below, you can see how much of a difference hand painting my track has made. Even before ballasting.

And after I had completed hand painting PECO's code 100 track.

While this project took much longer than I'd anticipated, like all things, the effort you put into preparation pays off when you see the completed job. There is no way you could do a project like this after you have ballasted your track. No matter how big your model railroad is, it is important to remember that even the track beneath the expensive locomotive we are running deserves to be presented as a model in it's own right. Even before I turn my attention to ballasting my layout, there are other things to consider such as weeds on little used sidings, former service areas that may have a lasting deposit of cinder ash and oil spills and finally loading/unloading areas that may have had past spills from fertilizer, stock feed or in my case concrete. But as usual, that is a story for another day.

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Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil