Sunday, August 20, 2017

Painting and Weathering Track in Villeneuve

As I stated earlier this year, I wanted to step up my game in terms of painting tracks in Villeneuve. After many years of hitting the rails with a good old can of Krylon Camouflage Brown, few randoms washes of cheap acrylic paint, a dab of weathering powder and calling it a day, it was time to be more serious.

Let's face it, it doesn't look right to me. Many trusted modellers got great results with this trick over quality flextrack, but I found out over time their prototype generally implied relatively well maintained mainline track. Such wasn't the case over the CN Murray Bay sub. As a kid, we used to walk the track for a few feet and I certainly recall the ties weren't that dark but rather silvery and lightly brownish from weathered away creosote.

To get that look, one must thing about track the same way car weathering is done: in layers. Since I'm using recent PECO North American style tracks I know they have enough crisp details to be correctly weathered without looking out of place. That said, I have also another limitation due to our club meeting structure. Once per week, often less, we gather together one evening. It means time is limited and we must go right to the point quickly if we want a decent amount of progress. Also, since painting tracks involves a fairly large amount of spray painting, we thought it would be best to do that on the same day to minimize exposition to harmful fume (even if wearing approved respirators).

Here is the procedure, which can be adapted to suit your need and prototype as you see fit. While the foundation color steps remain true, the finer weathering job should reflect the effect you want to achieve. Remember, these are  guidelines, not a creed to be followed. I certainly recommend readers to take a look at Mike Cougill's articles about track weathering on OST Publications. While Mike goes further than most would do, I suspect some people could discover an area of interest they never expected to be so interesting.

First, the track is entirely painted with white primer (or flat white) which will be our foundation color for weathering.

Second, when the primer is dry, mask the ties with tape.

Third, paint the rails with Krylon camouflage brown (or a similar color). This will be the rusted steel foundation color.

Fourth, remove masking tape on all the trackwork and touch up any white primer that could have lifted during the process. Use any acrylic or oil based paint you like and apply with a small brush.

Fifth, prepare an oil wash made of oil paint and odourless turpentine. Recommended color is Burnt Umber which can be mixed with some black to get a grayish color according to your prototype. Before applying this oil wash, make sure the spray paint is dry.

Sixth, add more wash where needed to get the right look according to prototype pictures. Some track work such as turnouts are generally darker in some area due to grease and oil spills.

Seventh, using full strength oil paint you can add small details like creosote seeping or drybrush some features. It is the time to darken some ties to make them like new replacement ones.

Eight, ballast the track with suitable material.

Ninth, using Dark Earth weathering powder, weather the rails and steel component to give them a realistic rusted powdery look. If you use details such as fishplates, it's a good time to hit them with lighter weathering powder so they pop up a little bit.

Tenth, using washes and/or PanPastel and/or weathering powder, add any oil dripping, spillage, dust and weathering required on the track center and ballast. This vary from prototype to prototype and era depending on locomotive used, fuel and other factors.

And now for a time accessment, it took us about 8 hours of work at a leasure pace to paint about 18 feet long of mainline, including a 5 tracks yard with associated turnouts. This represents about a quarter of the entire layout and I expect another 5 hours to completely weather the track. Given it will take about two work sessions, I consider this is quite a good investment in time. Particularly in a layout area where one can operate for a hour at slow speed and having the time to appreciate a higher quality track work.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Weathered Intermountain Cylindrical Hoppers

When Rapido announced their new "correct" cylindrical hoppers for bulk commodities like cement, I knew a few of my Intermountain cement cars would be phased out in a distant future. With that in mind, I thought it was an excellent occasion to weather them and get some experience before messing up with the Rapido fleet.

Interestingly, cylindrical hoppers develop great weathering patterns over a relatively short amoutn of time, particularly cement cars. Cement is highly corrosive and take a toll on a railcar fleet in no time. Thus, armed with prototype pictures, I was ready to try my hand.

I certainly didn't reinvent the wheel, only using my habitual weathering techniques (oil, powder, washes, India ink, etc.) to get the look right. As always, a good weathering job should always be about layering several coats of dirty to replicate correctly the natural process. If you want to rush things or treat weathering as a single coat of dirt you will fail to capture the real thing.

Meanwhile, I've also started to work on a bunch of Procor cement car, which are even more interesting to weather. They are certainly not straightforward to do and I had to way a month for oil paint to dry, but patience is the only way to get good results. More on them on a later post.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Photobucket Mess and Blog Restoration

Like many other blogs and forums around the world, my blogs are also among the recent Photobucket new policy victims. While I have no interest discussing the great loss of information suffered in terms of knowledge, I certainly can recognize Photobucket was in its own right to do so. Most of us were there for the free ride and we should be glad it lasted for such a long time. I'm in no position to complain though I feel Photobucket made itself infamous in a matter of a few minutes.

That said, it means most of this blog posts were rendered almost useless. I estimate about 200 posts have broken links and that represents about 2/3 of everything I wrote on Hedley Junction until I switched to Blogger’s option to directly embed the material in late 2015. Given I generally use 3 to 4 pictures per post, it means I would have to restore more than 600 to 800 images. That’s a lot of work! However, I feel I have a duty toward the readers here to keep things in order.

As a matter of fact, over the last weeks I already started restoration work and can announce Hedley-Junction satellite blogs such as Quebec South Shore Railway, Temiscouata Railway Connors Branch and Erie Harlem Staion are now fully functional again.

In the case of Hedley-Junction, the sheer amount of information means I’ll do the work as time allows. Don’t expect a swift restoration as I have many other commitments. However, I already restored the first posts describing the origin of the project and now plan to restore posts from the most recent to the older since I think older content was less relevant to the actual version of the layout. I certainly hope the blog will be back in its glory by September.

Finally, my summer vacation starts today and will be quite busy, including a large scale home improvement project. I suspect I won't have time to model as much as I would want, but probably will continue working on my cement car weathering which is quite much involving that I first thought.

Saturday, July 8, 2017


As I'm moving forward with my intention of getting rid of useless material so I can start renovating the "old kitchen" - an unnoccupied room in my 1875-built house, I can see in front of my eyes many layout projects, ideas and ephemeral inspirations that shaped my vision of railway modelling. While it is easy to look down on such artefacts and consider them incredible waste of money and time, they are, in fact many steps that helped me to achieve a better understanding of my hobby.

A fraction of things that no longer have a place in the collection...

No toddler starts walking on his two feet the first time he tries and the same applies to all the aspects of our lives. At some point, you've got to experiment and start grasping the several aspects of the surrounding environment. The small 0-6-0 saddle tank speaks of a time when I was investigating local limestone and marble quarry operations, which led me to discover the presence of Maine Central in Southern Quebec which opened a larger door into Northeastern railways in general, both in Québec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. Even a single picture of Ciment St-Laurent plant put me on the track to discover the Shawmut Line, its coal mines and the intricate history of Pennsylvania Railroad's coal hopper fleet.

At some point, I'm doing archeological work on my own life and turning upside down at least 15 years of active modelling since I decided to get a layout of my own once for all.

As I recently said, what recently surprised me was the large fleet of American cars I had while I generally don't model such roads. However, looking back at Harlem Station, I couldn't help but see many interesting projects that would fit perfectly that layout theme. Funny how I'm constantly brought back to that layout since the first time I witnessed that prototype back in 2010 when Jack Trollope was creating a version of it presented by the late Carl Arendt on his wonderful Micro-Layout website. Little I did know at that time Harlem Station would became a fascination for me. And while all the other New York harbor terminals are much famous because of their intricate track plan, I was in fact attracted by Erie's diminutive yet highly efficient use of space. At Harlem Station, you can't add or remove a track, everything is highly optimized in that weird spartan railway fashion. And while small, this terminal - for me at least - is a window on the 1950s United States since cars from everywhere in the country gathered on that small city block.

And while you think I'm diverting from my propos, in fact I must admit thinking about the Harlem Station layout is a good way to see if something can have a second life or if it is truly unneeded in my collection.

Except a few emotional pieces, many were steps I won't visit again and if I ever do, my approach will be drastically different and shouldn't be tied down by a collection built when I was ignorant about the subject. They served their purpose and clinging to them wouldn't make me move forward.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Ciment St-Laurent - Part 3

Villeneuve is progressing at a steady pace! Among various chores that had to be done, we raised the landforms around the cement plant and tracks to better match the buried look that could be seen on the prototype.

To do so, a new layer of cork sheet was glued down and nailed on the benchwork. This layer of cork is slightly lower than the surrounding cork roadbed to still keep some topography there.

The track was also painted Krylon Limestone Gray. This may sounds absolutely weird, but when the ties are weathered with oil paints and rails painted dark camouflage brown with some weathering powder, the results is quite good. I tested it on a scratch of flextrack beforehand.

Jérôme is putting the cement plant mockup back in place.

As for the cement plant itself, a new 5/8 high MDF base has been made and fitted on the layout. This baseboard will serve as the foundation for the plant and will be removable so we can build and detail the structure on the benchwork.