Monday 13 November 2023

Removing the tram tracks

One of the trickier tasks I faced with transforming the setting of my inner-Melbourne HO Scale shelf layout to the NSW North Coast, was removing the tram tracks that once ran down the middle of the Philden Street overpass. They were anchored down to the bare MDF board good and well using Super Glue, meaning they were always going to call for the road to be completely resurfaced. So long as I didn't damage the MDF board base of my road bridge in the process.

I removed one track at a time to first assess what the damage was going to be.

Using a pair of small long nosed pliers, I was able to wiggle the strips of rail using a little bit of force until they came free from the base of the road structure. Lifting them directly upwards as they pulled free limited the damage, but they did leave a deep indent in the surface of the road that needed to be filled with some wood putty and then sanded.

With the footpaths and bridge structure built in place, I needed to be super careful not to damage the bridge sides. Fortunately the Jetty Hotel and Haunted Bookstore structures were not yet anchored into place, so I could remove the buildings and see to all the messy work while the layout was still resting downstairs on the garage floor following its last exhibition outing at the Sunshine Coast in early September.

Once the patched-up tram track cavities were dry, I could sand them smooth using a small square of sandpaper and wipe the surface clean with a damp disposable cloth before trying to match the paint colour of the road surface.

I next painted some darker grey highlights over the patched-up strips of now removed rails using acrylics. As the road surface was originally brush painted using a stippling effect rather than long continual brush strokes, it was a whole lot easier to match the paint to the original colours I used on the overpass. A hodge-podge array of grey colours was achieved simply by mixing some black and white acrylics onto an artists palette, and then stippled over the top of the darker highlights I'd just used to paint over the now removed tram tracks.

I highlighted the old tram tracks using some darker paint before repainting the road surface.

The finished effect was made by stippling, (using a dab-dab dot painting method), rather than applying brush strokes.

Stippling a road surface is an easy way to blend worn tyre track highlights and achieve a patchy road surface, as opposed to painting an all-over single colour of grey. As you can see in the photo above, I was able to curve the worn tyre lines towards the bottom right of the scene. This is where the Haunted Bookstore will stand and will help the road appear to curve down and behind the structure when viewed from the front of the layout rather than just ending hard against a blue ocean backdrop.

This is just another example of what has been involved behind the scenes of revamping this layout over the course of 2023. Consider it a preview of what you can expect to find in my final Australian Philden Model Railway book, which will be available sometime next year.

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