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Messing about with track panels

Posted by Mikkel , in The Depot, Construction 29 January 2012 · 1,615 views

Track Depot C+L Timbertracks gwr
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Been doing some further experiments with the Timbertrack panels from C+L. This is mundane stuff for experienced track builders (especially as there is no pointwork involved), but for me it's all new and part of an exercise to see if this whole track-building lark is something I want to get seriously into. 'The depot' is a good test-bed for this, because most of the track won't really be seen anyway J Above: The C+L GWR panels are essentially intended for EM/P4. In the comments to an earlier post, we discussed that my attempt to use OO 16.5 mm gauge on them gave a narrow gauge impression. Nick kindly did some maths and found that 31.5 mm sleepers would give the best proportional appearance of GWR 9ft sleepers with 16.5 mm gauge. So I cut down the timbers to that length, as seen above.


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Above: I then conducted some highly scientific experiments to determine the correct colouring of the timbers.


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Above: After much testing, I finally arrived at the exact formula: Slosh on some sleeper stain and see how it goes!.


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Above: Next, the timbers were weathered with powders. Again, clinical testing in a whisky-free environment led to a clear conclusion: Add some light stuff, then add some darker stuff. (Note the flying sandpaper. Dunno how that came about, but anyway it was useful for distressing the sleepers a bit.)


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Above: So it ended up looking like this. Those are thin timbers!


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Above: Just a test here with rail loosely in place. I think the proportions are better now?


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Above: Finally I did a test with Carr's ash ballast. I wanted to see if I needed to remove the webbing between the timbers. The C+L website says it's up to you, as it won't necessarily be visible. It is in my case though, as you can see above. So that will have to go.

So what did I learn from this?

1. Trimming the timbers does make the OO solution look less narrow gauge (I think). However, it also makes the timbers exactly as long as the C+L ready built flexitrack, which makes it tempting to just use that instead.

2. I might as well have purchased a bag of individual timbers instead of panels, since I'll be cutting away the webbing anyway once the panels are in place.

3. Bread crumbs make for lousy ballasting.
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Nice entry Mikkel; I'v ejust acquired some P4TC track sections so will be embarking on something similar very soon... but sticking to 18.83... and not yet trying the wooden sleepers... they do look good though. Which powders did you use - just curious having just placed and order with C&L just this evening.
Jon
With Timber tracks the webbing is the same thickness as the sleepers so you cannot cover it with ballast ( unless you model some of the pre-group lines who covered the sleepers). In 0 gauge I used a mixture of the flexi-track and individual plastic sleepers the later is more satisfying but is slower for long lengths.
The wood sleepers do take on a nice colour for a small layout individual wood sleepers looks promising.
Don
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Buckjumper
Jan 30 2012 01:15
The rail / trimmed sleeper length ratio looks pretty good to me.

Unless deep ballasting I have to admit I prefer full depth sleepers as sometimes the ends were fully exposed, and as you've pointed out, with all the effort of trimming the webbing you might as well have used individual sleepers. Still, I like what you've achieved with weathing them.

Carrs ash ballast seems a bit coarse for its intended purpose in 4mm - probably not bad for 7mm or even G1, but having said that it looks pretty much spot on for normal GWR ballast when compared it to photos in books like Edwardian Enterprise. For ash ballast I've seen little to match Chris Nevard's air dry clay method.

And yeah, that breadcrumb's a teeny bit overscale...

Which powders did you use.

The weathering powders are Carr's, from a set with four shades of dark grey. I'm a bit confused though as it's not the "Grey Tones" set that appears in the photo on the C+L website - the ones I have are darker shades. Anyway to expand on my rather blasé comments about weathering: I used the two shades of powder seen in the photo (which are the lightest and second-darkest in the pack respectively). I applied the lightest shade first, more or less consistently across the panels, then softly dabbed on a bit of the darker powder more randomly. The sand paper was P240 used with the grain of the wood after the powders. Apart from roughing up the wood ever so slightly, it takes off a bit of the colour and so adds to the worn look.

With Timber tracks the webbing is the same thickness as the sleepers so you cannot cover it with ballast ( unless you model some of the pre-group lines who covered the sleepers).

It's a pity the webbing is the same thickness as the sleepers, as it would have added to the advantage of the panels if you could have left them on. But I assume the webbing would become too brittle if it was made thinner. In fairness, I think perhaps the real advantage of the panels is that you can lay longer lenghts of flowing points and straight trackwork and experiment with it in real time. For micros like mine, there is perhaps not much advantage of using panels - except that it is what made the whole track building thing seem more tangible and less scary at first!

Unless deep ballasting I have to admit I prefer full depth sleepers as sometimes the ends were fully exposed [...] Carrs ash ballast seems a bit coarse for its intended purpose in 4mm

I agree that the depth of the sleepers is another issue. The shallow depth does not perhaps show directly once ballasted, and yet it doesn't take much to reveal the lack of depth. The human eye is not easy to betray! Regarding the ballast: that last photo does perhaps misrepresent it a bit, as it's so close up. There is a comparison with 2mm ballast in this entry here: http://www.rmweb.co....-carrs-ballast/ . But I agree that like virtually all model ballast it seems slightly overscale. I think it works OK for the bay area, but for internal use in a goods depot I am not sure I will be using any ready to buy ballast at all. Will have a look at Chris' approach.
Very nice work Mikkel, as ever and a pleasure to read.

Must admit, I have never undertaken ballasting whilst balancing a sandwich in the other hand...interesting technique... :P
Very nice indeed.
As you probably know I am using C&L flexi track for my new layout modules and It's easy to lay, just like Peco stuff really!
But,I must admit using those wood panels does give you the opportunity to weather each individual sleeper just like the prototype, a job that you have done to perfection.
Well worth the extra effort in my humble opinion. I might just try some on my next module.

As far as the webbing is concerned I agree it does need removing, looks much better with it removed.

Cheers!
Frank
Hi Mikkel,

Glad to see those proportions have worked quite well. It does, I think, capture the essence of 9' sleepers which always appear to me to have much more timber outside the rails than the extra 3" per side would suggest.

Thanks for the suggestions about powders, I need to try some differential weathering on old and new track and this gives me some ideas to try.

Nick

Must admit, I have never undertaken ballasting whilst balancing a sandwich in the other hand...interesting technique... :P

Cheese and Tomato sandwiches are best, as its no big deal if you drop them on the track. BLTs, on the other hand....

As you probably know I am using C&L flexi track for my new layout modules and It's easy to lay, just like Peco stuff really!But,I must admit using those wood panels does give you the opportunity to weather each individual sleeper

Yes I had noticed you use the Flexitrack, Frank - it does look good and is very tempting, I think. As for the wooden timbers, weathering each individual sleeper (well, almost) is satisfying, and on a micro its doesn't require a big effort. On a normal, decently sized layout it might be another matter though? But wooden timbers would go well with a trestle like yours on Morfa Bach - there's something special about that real wood "feel".

Glad to see those proportions have worked quite well. It does, I think, capture the essence of 9' sleepers which always appear to me to have much more timber outside the rails than the extra 3" per side would suggest.Nick

I'm glad you think so Nick, you got the dimensions spot on, many thanks for that!
Hi Mikkel -

Playing 'catch-up' after 'nights' (cant access rmWeb at work any more...)

I think you hit the nail on the head when you saifd you might as well use individual sleepers. I'd make a suggestion that it might be worth joining the 'EM' or 'SCalefour' Societies. Both do wooden sleepers (and crossing strip - might be cheaper than 'C&L'?

As to the sleeper colour - to me it appears a little 'light'. I've got a detail shot taken in the 'bay' at Moreton in Marsh - although the line is little-used, the wooden sleepers (some held down with 'GWR' chairs) are about 'plain chocolate' shade even tho well weathered.

Just an observation.

Regs

Ian
Hi Ian, I have been wondering about the colour too.

I suppose it depends a lot on where the track is located (and maybe also the period?). Most of this track will go inside the goods depot, where I assume the wood would be less weathered by the sun and less exposed to dust etc. So in principle I think you are right it should be darker.

But I think it also depends on the colours surrounding it, ie how it looks in relation to its environs. I've got some track down now and embedded almost up to the sleeper tops - will post photos in due course to illustrate.

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