Sunday 14 November 2021

Track, Weeds and Ballast

Some months ago I posted a few images of my track building on a Danish railway modelling Facebook group. One comment I got was that I should try make a few really bad sleepers with missing spikes. A good idea that I began working on almost immediately. Now I have tested a few methods to show track damage. So far only on a very small section of track.

Track with split sleeper, flowers and coarse grass in the ballast. Static grass will be added later.

With a lot of prototype inspiration and interest in track deterioration I made a list of faults that would be obvious to an interested spectator. The list included:

  • Missing spikes
  • Split sleeper
  • Plants growing through (or in) the sleeper
  • Empty spike holes
  • Vegetation in ballast

I first made a couple of sleepers with heavy structural weathering. A handfull of sleepers were mistreated thoroughly with knife, file and steel wire brush. I made sure to split a few of them halfway lengthwise before staining. When gluing the sleepers to the cork underlay, I used toothpicks to keep the splits open while the glue dried.  

Sleepers glued in place for another length of track. The halved toothpicks are holding splits open while the glue dries.

While I was spiking the track, I deliberately left out a few spikes here and there. Where they were left out I drilled a hole to illustrate where a spike had worked loose and dissappeared. At one spot I pushed a spike half way down (don't do this on the inside of the rail, as you will most likely foul the clearance for the wheel flange).

Rail painting was done with different enamel and acrylic rust and brown paints. I tried to mix colours and to use slightly different colours randomly along the track. When reasonably satisfied I added a thin wash (made from rust coloured oil paint and turpentine).

As I used to when I modelled in 1:35 scale I planted some of the vegetation before adding ballast. For me it's easier to represent coarse vegetation growing up from below when my artificial grass and plants are actually placed under the ballast layer. For thinner grass I plan to use static grass applied with a electrically powered dispenser. A first for me as I previously used grass mats and tufts on the old 1/35 scale version of Nystrup Gravel.

First flowers added near a split sleeper. I used marguerites from Busch (item no. 1207) made for H0 scale.

Being a gravel producing company Nystrup Gravel's ballast is naturally gravel. Not the best quality as that went to customers, but gravel with too much dirt and clay content was judged fine enough for ballasting the company tracks. 

The very small test area with ballast and grass made from sisal rope. More vegetation and weathering is planned and I will gradually let it spread over the Nystrup Gravel track.

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