Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Moana 7: Back from the dead - track, ballast

It's been a long time since I last posted anything here. I could run through a list of excuses but at the end of the day they are just excuses: the truth is I've been stuck, and I still am, on a certain point. Or turnout or switch if you prefer. But I'd rather not get into that now...

I forced myself into the trainroom at gunpoint yesterday as if I don't so something Moana will get covered in cobwebs. So, lets get trackside. And to do that I'll need some track.

The track was soldered up and sprayed from the side with a spraycan of browny metal primer (except the point's delicate bits - they will be done by hand later). I like to solder up track into lengths as it lessens the risk of electrical problems later on and gives nice smooth joins on curves. I usually do a max of 2 metres at once - you need to leave some fishplated gaps in there to allow for for the natural expansion of track and baseboards as the heat and humidity changes throughout the year. I hate soldering, but striking while the iron was hot, I also put in a feeder to the froggy bits on my Peco electrofrog point. This is the one gripe I have with these points - about half of them end up stalling your locos on the frog and blades over time unless you keep everything spotless. Even that doesn't solve the problem always, so this time I'm taking no chances.

Track was then glued onto the cork roadbed with contact glue thus:
And I even used some thin styrene on the outside and weight on the inside to provide some Ghetto Superelevation.

After that had set nicely, I came back today to ballast. I quite like ballasting - even though I'm crap at that as well - as even if you do nothing else scenerywise, it makes a layout look so much more 'complete'. Adding ballast after the scenery, means you have to be careful not to flick it into all the crevices of your nice bushes with the thick brush used for shaping it, so due care was taken, and Mr Lux paid a visit afterwards to clean up any escapees. I used fine buff coloured stuff from Woodland Scenics out of my collection of half used bags, mixing in some dark cinders through the cutting at the left end of the module where I want things to fade away into the darkness. I used the old diluted-PVA-with-a-squirt-of-liquid-soap to stick things down after wetting the ballast with alcohol (isopropyl, not Jim Beam).

Once that was done, I used dabbing fingertips to clear off the tops of the sleepers and a fingernail to clear out the rail sides. I don't like the 'chip of ballast stuck on the side of the rail' look.
I liked that cork roadbed until yesterday, but it was a bear to cover up with ballast today as the glue mix tends to drag everything downhill and leave the top cork edge exposed. I should have brushed on some thick PVA first, but even then the watery glue would probably have caused that to run downhill as well. Maybe the solution is to brush on PVA, apply some ballast to the slope and shoulder edges, let that set overnight and then do the rest of the ballasting the next day.

And now the Axis of Evil:
I think I want this point motorised, so I've installed an old point motor, but somewhat foolishly, its not connected up yet. This is what's been holding me up for the last month as I don't think I've ever powered a point before.

Both I and Han Solo have a bad feeling about this.


lukeuedasarson said...

Are you in danger of increasing the noise levels appreciably with partial superelevation like that?

Cheers, Luke

Motorised Dandruff said...

I thought Noise was good? I have noticed that the real thing is quite noisy. I could hear trains leaving Dunedin going north from 2 km away at my flat.

And more importantly, I want to know what Robbie the glue dispencing robot has been replaced with?

sxytrain said...

Its good to see someone else paints their track (& before ballasting I might add). Soooo many layouts you see with shiny rails. Really shows up in photos.

Darryl said...

I'm not sure the partial superelevation will make much difference?

With all the ballast and glue, I doubt there is any more air cavities than normal, although the cork and foam certainly don't quieten things down as much you might expect.

Darryl said...

Ha. Or do you mean more noise from the trains running into the pliers holding the track down? :)

Luke Ueda-Sarson said...

There's noise and noise, though.

Very little of the sound of a real train rumbling by 2 km away is coming from the trackbed (or maybe I am too used to well-maintained non-NZ trackbeds?) but on a model that is often not the case - the sounds often change horribly depending on what the track is laid over. Real trains tend to change sounds depending on what they are running through/by rather than over, with notable exceptions of bridges, of course.

Cheers, Luke