Tuesday, September 27, 2011

8/3/09 Started painting the rock formations, fine turf and @#$%ing ballast

 After weeks of foot dragging I finally bought Woodland Scenics “Earth Color Kit.” For $20 you get an assortment of pigments, a pallet and a foam applicator (which looks just like the foam polyurethane applicators one finds at Lowe’s for less than a buck). Painting these rocks turned out to be insanely easy. First you pick out two pigments (“Yellow Ochre and “Burnt Umber” in this case) dilute them in water as per the instructions and apply little spots. Just dab each one on until the rock is covered and then cover with a light wash of black.  Now I suppose at some point I’ll probably dip into my unending supply of black poster paint in paint the floor of the tunnel seen to the right of the photo.
 I always have mixed feelings about the Turf. On the one hand it’s nice to finally have some greenery. On the other it looks a little too perfect for real life (other than maybe a golf course). Installation is fairly easy, brush on white glue, sprinkle on the turf (a Woodland Scenics product) and spray with diluted white glue.

I started ballasting the track using you guessed it, Woodland Scenics fine ballast. Ballasting has always been on of my absolute least favorite task in model railroading. It’s messy, laborious and yields marginal results. But this was by far, hands down, the worst ballasting experience I’ve ever had. I followed the procedure of spreading the ballast on the track, evening out with a brush, spraying with “wet water” and then diluted white glue. Imagine my surprise (read furry) when none of it stuck. So the next day I repeated the wet water and white glue. Again the stuff didn’t adhere! Well long story short tried and tried to get the stuff to stick in vein. I swore the stuff was coated with Teflon.

After a few days of struggling with the ballast, a traveler came through the welcome center, who happened to be a model railroader. He and I struck up a conversation, which inevitably turned to my ballast issues. The traveler informed me I needed to use a 50/50 ratio of water to glue. So when I got home I mixed up a solution of water and glue and had at it. Unfortunately said mixture gunked up my sprayer in short order. Undaunted, I opted to simply pour the mix on and let it soak in. Success! The ballast was set up like concrete. So yeah ballast, who’s your daddy now?

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