Building a display track

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by JimBrown, Apr 21, 2007.

  1. JimBrown

    JimBrown Me

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    So, since the RC flying season is not quite here yet, and I'm not yet ready to start my new layout, I thought I'd build a display track. A little something to use for photos and such.

    I figure something about four feet long would do nice. Today I dropped in to the local lumber store and had a peek at what was laying around. I found a nice four foot long by 9 1/2 inch piece of half inch plywood that would do the trick. When I went to the cashier to pay, they were not sure how much to charge, as it was a cast off. They ended up letting me have it "on the house". No charge. I think I know where I'll be getting my lumber when I start the new layout!

    I then dug up an old four foot piece of homasote I had in the "junk room" that was left over from building my 4x6 switching layout 20 some years ago. I used a jig saw and cut a strip from that with 45 degree beveled edges. Doing it free hand and trying to follow a line drawn on the board was not the most accurate method, but it produced a useable piece. Besides, the big stuff isn't always perfectly straight. :D

    I then cut some kerfs in the strip so I could put a bit of a curve in the track and then glued and nailed it to the plywood.

    [​IMG]

    And that's where I am for now. This coming week, I'll drop into the hobby shop and pick up the wood ties I ordered. I've already got a small supply of code 70 ME rail from the old switching layout that I can reuse, as well as a good supply of spikes. Once the track is laid, I'll start in on a bit of scenery, something I've never done. Should be fun!

    More pics to come as I make progress.

    Regards,
    ...jim
  2. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

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    Nice, I can't wait to see more.
  3. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

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    cool,theres always something to do around here!--josh
  4. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

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    That's a great little project. I'll be building a display/photo shelf like it shortly, using an old shelf kit I got from work.
  5. JimBrown

    JimBrown Me

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    Hi guys!

    Sorry for the long delay! The RC Plane season got started shortly after I started this project, and it was a busy one. The flying has pretty much finished now, so I'm getting back to this. (I've also got some airplane repairing and building to do, so further updates may be a bit sporadic. :) )

    Anyway, once I had the base done and my order of ties arrived, it was time to make a jig for laying the ties.

    [​IMG]

    I found a piece of old aileron stock I had laying around and figured it would be perfect for the job. A few pieces of strip balsa will be glued along one edge.

    [​IMG]

    Then I marked out 1/4" lines to glue the tie spacers in place. (1/4" is close enough for me. I'll be modelling branch lines/yards/spurs.)

    [​IMG]

    And here's the jig ready to go. The ties have been sanded down to about half their thickness.

    [​IMG]

    All one has to do is place a bunch of ties between the glued ties and then lay down a thin strip of masking tape. I also mark a center line on the ties with a felt tip pen.

    [​IMG]

    Here the ties have been removed from the jig, ready to glue in place.

    ...jim
  6. JimBrown

    JimBrown Me

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    [​IMG]

    After marking a center line on the road bed and spreading some wood glue around, the strip of ties are placed and left to dry.

    [​IMG]

    A nicely done set of ties, all glued down.

    [​IMG]

    I then spray painted a coat of grey primer, then began to sand the tops of the ties with a sanding block.

    [​IMG]

    Here I've finished sanding and all the tie tops are even.

    [​IMG]

    Then went back and stained the roadbed and ties with a black stain. (It's all I had. I'm sure that once I get the scenery thing figured out, I'll probably use a different colour.)

    ...jim
  7. JimBrown

    JimBrown Me

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    [​IMG]

    Now to lay some rail. I'm using code 70 rail here (left over from my old switching layout) along with some ME small spikes. During the summer, I purchased the Micro Mark track laying tool set that includes three sets of specialty pliers. A spiker, a spike remover, and a rail nipper. The spiker really helps, keeping the spikes straight as you push them in.

    [​IMG]

    Once the first rail was done, it was time for the second rail, using a good quality gauge, of course.

    Laying this four feet of track took about two hours. However, the first foot took the first hour. The second hour saw the remaining three feet done. Practice make perfect!

    Following are a couple of photos taken in my workshop once the track was finished.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    ...jim
  8. JimBrown

    JimBrown Me

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    Next step will be the addition of some scenery as well as track ballast. This will be new territory for me, and I'm not sure how to proceed.

    I did up a little thing in 3rd Planit to give me an idea of what I might do.

    [​IMG]

    Comments are welcome.

    Thanks!
    ...jim
  9. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

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    Hey Jim, welcome back. Making that tie jig is a great idea.:thumb:

    Loren
  10. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

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    Lookin' good, Jim. :thumb: Before you do any scenery or ballasting, paint the sides of the rails. I find that a brush works better than spraying, giving more control and using less paint.

    Wayne
  11. JimBrown

    JimBrown Me

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    Thanks Wayne, that's the kind of tip I'm looking for. Now for some more questions. Brush size? Paint type? Paint colour?

    :)

    Thanks,
    ...jim
  12. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

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    I used PollyScale water-based paint for my rails, as it has almost no odour. I think that I used a brown, although many different colours will work. Take a look at the prototype for ideas. For a brush, I used an old (and cheap) 1/4" watercolour brush like the kind little kids use when they first start painting. The stiff bristles allow you to work the paint around the moulded-on spike heads, which is important, as any shiny spots will ruin the effect. Don't worry if you get some on the ties (the tieplates on the prototype rust, too) and it won't be very noticeable once you get the track ballasted. I usually paint about 10' or 12' of track (both rails), then use a dry rag over my fingertip to wipe the excess paint off the railtops. The paint will be dry to the touch, but not hardened, so it comes off easily. Don't ballast for at least 24 hours, as the paint will "cure" and become much more durable.

    Edit: Well, I hunted for a picture to show a close-up of some track, but I couldn't find the one I wanted, so this one will have to do. The track is Atlas code 83 flex.
    [​IMG]


    Wayne
  13. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

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    You can use any paint for the rails that is "rust" colored. For a project this small Poly Scale would work fine, but if you are going to eventually do a complete layout, craftpaint from Wal Mart, Micheals, etc would be a lot cheaper. The water based acrylics are the best to use because they are less toxic than solvent based paints. Your track looks like it was freshly laid on that display track, which is fine because all track is freshly laid at some point in time. When you build your layout, you would probably want to go with a greyer color for the ties, since the ties tend to weather to a grey color with time. Also on some of your sidings, you would want an occasional split tie, since the railroad typically does not replace every tie as soon as it splits, but leaves the split ties in place until enough have split that the siding becomes hazardous to operate.
  14. JimBrown

    JimBrown Me

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    Thanks for the tips, guys.

    I'll be back to let you know how it goes. (Railfair is this weekend!)

    ...jim
  15. JimBrown

    JimBrown Me

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    On my way back from RailFair30 yesterday, I dropped in to the LHS and picked up some Polly Scale paint and some brushes. I picked up "Railroad Tie Brown", "Grimy Black" and "Rust".

    Today, I did some experimenting.

    Here's the track before I did anything (this is very old rail that I've had for over 20 years, hence the oxidation):

    [​IMG]

    And here it is painted:

    [​IMG]

    And finally, with some ballast added (not yet glued):

    [​IMG]

    (Note, it looks like the addition of ballast changed the auto white balance setting in the camera. I'll have to learn how to manually set that.)

    The ties are painted with "Railroad Tie Brown" (Duh.) The rail is painted with three different colours. On the left is "Grimy Black". On the right is "Rust". And in the middle is a mix of the two, about 50/50.

    I'm leaning towards one of those colours, but before I do, I'd like to hear your comments. Keep in mind that initially I'll be modelling a branch line and industrial area with low traffic.

    Thanks!
    ...jim
  16. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

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    Jim: I like the mix or the pure dark. I think that the pure rust is too red for rails -- most of them are a darker red to black colour. The only time I see that colour is fresh rust on the railtop after a rain before the first rain wears it off.
    I use a variety of colours on rails, usually because I don't remember what the last colour used was.
    I use acrylic or water-based paint on the sides of rails because it doesn't usually come in contact with anything, as long as you paint after tracklaying. If you paint top surfaces, like guard rails and wing rails on frogs, you need a paint that will withstand your track cleaning methods.
  17. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

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    Jim, I would take a photo of the rail in your area and match that. Rail is going to look different to people depending on where they live. I am in Washington state so of course the rail on the right looks "normal" to me. Real rusty red.

    Loren
  18. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

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    For a little used industrial spur, you will likely not find ballast. Such track is often just laid right on top of the dirt, and then the weight of trains pushes the ties down into the dirt. Also the ties are not usually as neat and uniform on a spur as they are on a mainline.