This week…. Ballasting!

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Yep, it’s that mundane task that we all have to go through at some point. Maybe it’s because I’ve only got a smallish single track layout, but I’ve actually enjoyed it. I tried out a couple of methods on a test piece but in the end went with the old and tested method of applying the ballast dry, wetting with water and fairy liquid before fixing with 50/50 water/pva. The first results were seen a month or so ago when I ballasted the area in front of the platform. I suppose although ballasting was the main focus, it is also the start of the scenic modelling on the layout, something I’m genuinely excited about.

I suppose my approach, was similar to how I would approach weathering a wagon or locomotive. For several days before hand I studied photos of the area around Cwm Prysor and although these were black and white, it gave me a good idea of how things should look, in particular the trackbed of the loop.

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The overall finish I’m really pleased with, but it took several hours to get the desired effect. The basis of the loop trackbed was Treemendus Earth Powder. Geoff Taylor had recommended this to me, and it’s a great substance to work with. I’m not sure what it’s made up of, but ‘Earth Powder’ really sums up the results. This was sprinkled on top of diluted PVA, before then adding the odd sprinkle of fine ballast. I then turned to Busch fine black ballast, a black sand substance which works well to represent ash ballast. This was also used as the basis for the the siding. Once applied though it didn’t look quite right, so after some further thought I decided to add some powder. This had the desired effect I was after, giving a textured feel. To create slight discolouration to the ballast, I added a dirty wash through a pipette which I found soaks evenly into the ballast giving a natural look as it seeps outward.

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The buffer stop has come out rather well I think. It’s the standard GWR design produced by Lanarkshire Models and has been on the layout for several months. It had been sprayed brown when the track  work was done. However yesterday it was brush painted (along with the rail edges) with Revell 84. Once dry this was given a wash with AK interactive rust streaks. This same method was applied to the rail edges and  I think has created the desired effect.

A rather productive weekend I think and it’s one less thing to do. Next week I’m going to Das the bridge buttresses in preparation for carving the stone work, the results have been quite successful on the culvert portal, and with some advice on painting the stone work from Geoff Taylor. Once that is in place I can mod rock the surrounding area and begin making the lake.

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So we are getting there I think and the target for summer is still looking favourable. I’m still learning, but the important thing is I’m still enjoying this strange, crazy yet wonderful hobby we share in.

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Cwm Prysor developments….

Since the last update, with the layout now wired, things have continued to move in a positive direction. 🙂

The track has been painted, initially with a coat of Grey Primer and then secondly with a coat of Halfords ‘Camouflage Brown’, as recommended by Jim Smith-Wright. The results of which are very pleasing and have just the right look for a basic coat. Plus it blends the SMP and  timber sleepers together quite nicely. I’ve now painted the entire landscape to the rear of the track, just to give a good earth texture before scenic work begins.

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I have also been doing some ‘Ballasting Experiments’ which have proven interesting. I initially tried the method of adding PVA first, then lots of ballast before hoovering the excess up. The results were not great, with the ballast sticking and bulging out between the sleepers. I therefore went back to the conventional method of diluted PVA sprayed before hand with water with a drop of washing up liquid. The results were far better as can be seen below. I have been trialling two ballast types, Woodland Scenics ‘blended gray’ Medium and Fine. I already have one I prefer, but I’d be interested in your thoughts.

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I was originally going to begin ballasting the layout next, but I have decided it’s going to be best to start landscaping the front of the layout….that way the modrock stage is done, without effecting the ballast work.

Next weekend I head up to North Wales again, this time to stay for a few days as a sort of mini break, which will involve be taking in the delights of the Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog Railways. What I am looking forward to though, is meeting up with some friends, one of which being the ex signalman from Bala I have mentioned before. We are going to have a bit of a sight seeing tour with a look around Capel Celyn, Arenig…..oh and possibly this place for some reason! 😉

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In other news, I have just finished writing another article for Railway Modeller on ‘Goods Traffic for Cwm Prysor’ It has been an enjoyable experience once again to be writing for the Modeller and hopefully will be published the beginning of next year. Tony Wright has kindly taken some lovely studio photographs of my stock which should look very nice in print.

That’s all for now! 🙂

Tom