Thursday, January 26, 2012

Virgin Railhead 08

Time for Ballast.  Bill (AKA Geezer) over at the Railroad-Line Forums pointed out that I might want to just do weeds and dirt, but I was already ballasting as he was making his post.  As I work on subsequent modules I am going to make some track without ballast--maybe even sunk into a section of swampy ground.

I have a pile of Adobe mix in my yard composed of local sand and clay--it matches the color of the ground, and the very tiny bits of stone match the colors of the local rocks--mixed--so, it seemed a logical starting place.  I sifted the various scales of material out and ended up with everything from "dirt" to "ballast" to "talus", and even some boulders that I have yet to sort out.  All good and useful, and the price can't be beat.  A big advantage of using real stone for ballast is that it does not float, like some brands of commercial ballast.

I ballasted in a fairly conventional way.  I placed the stone between the rail, misted it with alcohol, and then flooded it with adhesive.  The adhesive mix I use is 50% Elmer's Glue All, 25% water, 25% washer fluid.  The washer fluid works very well with acrylic products.  I use plain 70% alcohol from the drug store--nothing fancy, and spray just ahead of where I am gluing.  I don't do any gluing prior to ballast.

I am also a big fan of ballast before rail: no danger of fouling points, or otherwise messing things up.  To my eye, this is the biggest advantage of hand laying track.

I dry brushed everything with Unbleached Titanium White, both before and after ballasting to bring out the detail and add highlights.  As I work, I realize the layout will be indoors most of the time, and adding highlights is important to keep things feeling as if they are bathed with light. 

The prods from folks at the Railroad-Line also inspired me to diagram the rest of the line. I really have the bug--the track work is going well, and I am having fun. I am going to build in modules--which will let me skip around and adjust things as I need to. If I shorten or lengthen, it will be easy to change. I have a good size storage room with one door and no windows that will hold the lot of it.

Scenes from East to West:

1) Cable Works (based on a real cable works for transporting lumber down from higher elevation) The famous "Cable Mountain".

2) Lodge (Loosely based on Zion Lodge).

3) Loco service, once associated with nearby settlement, but now isolated--to expensive to move, so in the middle of no-place--a bit like some remote desert water towers on the UP.

4) Burnt out settlement, loosely based on Grafton UT.

5) Gravel Pit and remnants of flood.

6) Virgin Railhead

7) Funicular to raise cars up and down the lip of the Colorado Plateau. I am thinking of something like the inclines used in Cincinnati Ohio. . . a match for the geographic obstacle I would face if I were making the railroad in this place--and a way to make the railroad double deck (if I get that far), without hidden tracks or a helix.

8) Silver Reef, transfer warehouse to Union Pacific, Transfer Station. Probably need a passing siding here too. Railhead for Silver mines. I want to build some of the historic structures from this mining town--but am Pulling the UP down from Cedar City.

9) Long Causeway over relocated Salt Lake. Think about how the water looked in High Plains Drifter, filmed near Mono Lake.

10) Salt Works.

11) Staging

The great thing about modules is that if I get bored, or want to do something else, I am not left with a half finished model railroad. At the same time, I can get my "bucket list" of things I want to build out here.

There is nothing prototypical about the railroad--though I am borrowing freely from real places, and will borrow scenes from the "ghost rails" that stretch all over Utah.

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