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Alan Kettlewell

Track Painting & Ballasting

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Hi All,


Having had a full 2 week session painting and completing the job of ballasting the track on Midland Junction I thought I'd post a few photos. One of the issues when building a large layout is evident in the photo of all the empty jars of Woodland Scenic ballast I used in the latest round. This is about 2/3rds of all the ballast used as I did some of the ballasting a few months ago; I didn't complete it all in one go as I needed a break to relieve the sheer tediousness of the task.


For this round I used one of those handy track ballaster gadgets - form Green Scene I think. I've seen the demo videos but only when used on single track so I was keen to try it on double mainline track. There was still some work required pushing ballast into the 6 foot way between the tracks but I can say that, all in all, it worked quite well and certainly saved a lot of time.


For track colour I sprayed the whole track first with Railmatch 'Sleeper Grime' and then hand painted the rusty sides using a watered mixture of Mig 'Standard Rust' powder and matt black paint. I mixed this in small amounts on a tin lid and used this as a palette mixing a bit at a time to get the dark shade I wanted. This method also produced a variety of shades which I thought looked quite like the real thing when studying some colour photos. It also allowed different shades to be used deliberately in different areas, eg darker track in yards and station areas, lighter on open track. This was a very labourious task and I hope the effort has been worthwhile.


Apologies that the picture quality is poor but I used my phone camera - I'll charge up the battery on my proper camera and post some more shortly.














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Guest jim s-w

Good Stuff Alan


straying off topic for a bit - what is the gradient you have used that is visible in the pics? I need a dive under for New Street and I am thinking 1 in 50 but it that too steep?





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Hi Jim,


I have several track runs that are on a gradient. On the visible area of the layout there are two long runs that rise about 4 inches over a length of 20ft, so about 1 in 60. The steepest gradient would be in the storage loops where the visible aspect isn't so important. The tracks here have to rise about 3 inches over 12 foot so about 1 in 48. Long 9 coach steam hauled trains struggle a bit to climb these but diesels handle it very easily.


So 1 in 50 would be quite steep except for short steam hauled trains or diesels.


On a previous layout I built a helix to raise the track about 8 inches. The helix was made from circular boards cut out from a 4 ft squares of board. Each 'circle' has to raise the track so it can cross itself and allow the height of the train - I allowed only 7cm headroom between levels, just enough room for the trains, so the gradient was quite steep. The diameter of the track was about say 3ft 6inches or 105cm, therefore a gradient of (Pi x D) = 330cm / 7 = about 1 in 47. On this, steam locos wouldn't haul anything more than 6 coaches but again, the diesels handled it easily with up to 10 coaches. Also of course, gradients on straight track are easier than those on a curve.


I hope this helps.




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