I’ve finished ballasting and scenicing the right of way along the Federal Cold Storage Spur. As a few others have mentioned, I find hand laying track to be very relaxing, particularly (or especially!) when you don’t have that much of it to do. Because they’re painted a darker color, the Proto:87 etched tie plates aren’t really visible. Of more importance is what you don’t see; oversized spikes and/or the absence of tie plates. I also used a new technique with the grass. Rather than mixing the green in with the beige prairie grass, I laid the prairie grass first. I then masked off a few short sections here and there with paper towels and dusted on the green so you have more distinct borders between the green and beige. Here’s the overall sequence.
- Ballast track
- Mask off track with thin strips of paper towels damped with a mister bottle
- Lay down a base layer of Heki Prairie Grass (pn 3363) using a static grass applicator
- Follow up with a layer of 6mm Silflor “Autumn” grass
- Mask off short sections of the prairie grass here and there and dust on a green blend
- Work in tufts of green and brown poly fiber pushed into the foam scenery base with tweezers
- I added a few stalks of natural materials from the moss in my backyard. You have to use natural materials judiciously and sparingly as most are often oversize.
- Seal with dilute matte medium applied with a mister bottle.
- Remove paper towel masks.
Taking photos of your work and blowing it up can be a great aid in pointing out things that need to be fixed. The original base rail paint consisting of rail brown dusted with camo. paint was way too uniform in color. I went back and mixed up a blend of brown and rust color (10 brown to 1 rust) weathering powders and worked them into the rail web and tie plates with an old brush. The final chalk application made a big difference.