The last few weeks have had many of us staying home account the Covid-19 pandemic. In my case, I have a weeks’ vacation which I managed to stretch into twelve days off. This gave me time to lay some track in Santiago Yard.
Main track laid down, with a couple of boxcars posed just to add interest to the scene. From the main track are No 1, 2, and 3 Sidings.
Previously, I’d laid ties and ballast down. The cinder ballast was laid first, using a blend of Woodland Scenics’ products. I used mostly fine cinders, but mixed in small amounts of a couple of other colours to add some colour to what otherwise would be a black cinder monolith. I tried using some finely sifted real cinder ballast from the real Santiago Yard. It looked great, but had a fatal flaw. I smelled a strong sulphur smell on a foot of ties laid down using this product, so went back to using the WS ballast. But I don’t use this ballast as is. I find even the “fine” ballast too coarse, so grind it a bit in old blender–cast off by my wife when she got a new one!
Laid down on a bed of brushed on carpenter’s glue, a thin layer of ballast was spread on No 1, 2, and 3 Sidings, as well as the River Spur lead off the main track. The loose ballast was brushed off after it dried. I’ve learned that carpenter’s glue gives a yellow cast to materials like light coloured ballast. This is not an issue with cinder ballast! I prefer using carpenter’s glue, as it is resistant to water.
The main track and all turnouts were ballasted using WS fine gray ballast. I first masked off a demarcation using painter’s tape between the yard tracks and No 1 Siding. This time around, I wetted the ballast with “wet water” aka a litre of water with a few drops of detergent in it. Once the ballast was saturated, I used an eyedropper to drizzle diluted white glue on the grey ballast. I let this dry and then removed the masking tape, leaving a sharp line of grey ballast bordering on the black cinder ballast of the yard tracks.
The famous “masking tape” method for making a sharp demarcation between colours of ballast. I’m using an old pill bottle to hold the white glue/water mix. It sits in a holder made of a four-inch square of 1/8″ acrylic sheet with a two-inch length of 1 1/2″ inside diameter ABS plumbing pipe glued vertically to it. Seldom do I knock over open paint and glue bottles–now!
Peeling off the tape, I found a nice sharp edge of ballast, but also that edge was higher than the cinder ballast in the yard tracks. Chipping it away was tedious–but white glue is softened by water. With a spray of water, i was able to remove ballast sort of to my liking. I’ll probably revisit this again later.
Turnout for the west end of Santiago Yard dropped back in place after ballasting the main track. More ballast will be added, but we’ve basic ballasting in place. The missing closure rail will be placed later. It’ll be a movable rail as part of a spring or spring-rail frog. Things will look a lot cleaner with more ballast.