Monday, November 26, 2012

Grass in the Valley


A week of traveling suspended work on the ground cover, but I've finished the rough base for the back of the layout, difficult to reach when it's in its normal place in the corner of the room. Above is a picture with the table turned toward such sunlight as we have on this blustery day. I'm still refining my ballasting technique; I definitely laid it on too thick in many areas, but I ran the loco around a few times and it only needed a little work with a dental tool to remove any bits that were causing it to rattle.

A view of the heaped-up ballast. The concrete supports for the bridge still need to be painted, and the bridge itself needs a little touch-up after getting hit with some plaster. I lightly sanded the surface of the rails where I had ballasted, and the loco runs very smoothly.

The entire layout, back in its normal spot. Hard to see my progress from this angle, but now I can continue on the areas in front that are easier to see, and easier to reach. You can also see my progress on the road and the level crossings. In the meantime I'm working on converting a construction crane into a yard crane, pictures to follow once I have a base coat on it.

Friday, November 9, 2012

On Ballasting

What I've learned about ballasting so far:

  1. It's always easier to add more ballast than it is to taking it away
  2. Working around switches is not as hard as it seems, you just need a lot of light and a careful hand
  3. Dentistry tools are very helpful!
  4. Don't let the ballast creep up on the inside of the rails. If you test the track surface with a boxcar and it seems smooth, beware that a locomotive with deeper flanges will bump and scrape over the same section
  5. Overall it seems better to ballast first then do the groundcover around it, since the width and slope of the ballast edges is more a matter of setting it up by eye than measurement
  6. It's tedious but the layout looks so much better once it's done!
Just turned the layout around so I can better work on the rear portion. Painting is done, after it's dry I'll try to improve my ballasting technique based on what I've learned.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Landscaping and Roadscaping

Recently I started ballasting the track, starting from the front left and working around the back of the layout. So far it's proved much easier than applying the ground-cover flock, which just seems to want to clump together.

Today I mixed up some more patching compund and applied another layer to the road, smoothing out the areas that needed it. I've also finished adding crossing boards to the level crossings. I didn't have any curved pieces so for here and the other road crossing I cut pieces of thick card and glued them down. Later I'll paint and surface them to match the road.

Also finally got around to improving the rear part of the layout, and adding a level platform for the switching tower, which you can see temporarily perched up on the hill. After this coat is dry, next steps are sanding and painting, then continuing with the ballast along the section of track pictured above.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Belated Update

 Starting work on a freight depot, where boxcars are unloaded and transferred to trucks. The platform edge is a plastic Peco piece, the bulk of it is layers cardboard, and the boards are balsa wood.

A four-track crossing, started adding balsa wood slats.

First test of ground flock over green paint.