Update No. 3 - Ballasting, track details & an AGM!
Once the track had been tested for running quality I was faced with everyone's favourite jobs - rail-painting and ballasting
This was also the time to add in what I consider essential track details like concrete cable trunking and orange under-track ducting. Concrete trunking
is available commercially, but isn't cheap and to me looks a little too toy-like. If you look at the real railway the concrete trunking in the 'cess' is usually very weathered and almost blends in with the aged ballast. My 'cheapo' version is simply made from matches: cut off the flammable head, make a shallow incision with a craft knife across the middle, then two more incisions in the middle of each half so it now looks like four blocks. Lay lots of these end-to-end then give a liberal coat of concrete paint.Orange ducting
that is used to protect cables laid under the tracks had me stumped for a while trying to find something thin enough as orange 7/0.2 wire was too thick. Orange thread was one idea, but was too fragile. I settled on the orange strand from telephone cable, simply scrape off the white banding with a fingernail (or if like me you have none because you bite them, a craft knife
), and use a heated sewing needle to melt suitable holes in the track webbing between sleepers. Curve the length of wire slightly so that the ends will protrude from the ballast and insert under the rails between the sleepers. The end result can be seen below.
Rail sides were painted with Humbrol enamels, mixing red rust and brown shades together until it roughly resembled what I saw whilst waiting at the station every morning. I also noticed that far from ballast being neat and even (as is depicted on a lot of 'mainline' layouts) it was quite rough with bits along the centre of the track, and pronounced shoulders of ballast abutting, and sometimes covering, the sleeper ends. A bit of research confirmed this to be the same back in the 80s/90s so I set out to recreate this. As it turned out it was easier than I thought! Lay ballast roughly, then drag one finger along the centre of the track to push any surplus over the rails, then drag said finger along the rail tops with reasonable pressure and hey presto one ballast shoulder
Extra roughness was created in areas away from the track using a fingertip and a paint brush handle, then the whole lot glued by the time-honoured method of misting with water followed by lots of PVA/water/WUL mixture applied with a large dropper. Extra care was taken around points, and every point was operated back and forth every 15 minutes for six hours to make sure they didn't stick . . . none did
A couple of coats of Railmatch Sleeper Grime was sprayed over all the scenic track areas and you will notice below I remembered to assemble and fit my Metcalfe platforms BEFORE ballasting.
By now the NGS AGM was only two weeks away so in an effort not to present a flat board in the competition the branchline was laid and ballasted including the bridge over the mainline, lots of plywood was added in the shape of end boards and back boards to frame the layout, and some profiled fascias for the front, plus a flat area for the town and the sloping "rock face" that covers the fiddle yard. The few buildings I had assembled were added (Metcalfe station building, loco shed for dairy shunter, and a basic scratchbuilt production facility constructed over one sleepless night) plus any details I could quickly throw at it! In that mad fortnight Mrs Sprintex and I also managed to get the north end hills built from polystyrene and painted brown complete with concrete tunnel mouth, a car-park and station approach road built, and a rudimentary bit of wiring so we could operate some of the points on the scenic side. Finally we ran out of time, the evening before the AGM being spent trying to DCC-convert my Farish HST set.
This was the 'point control' on the day - touch the bare brown wire to the appropriate yellow wire!
The rest is more easily illustrated by the video made on the day of the AGM. Sorry for the lack of variation of trains but this was all I had DCC'd at the time!NGS AGM 2009 - Hasford Blacklock
The idea was to give the best impression of what it will be like when it's finished. It must have worked as we got 2nd place out of over a dozen entries