Saturday, May 30, 2015

Living In The Stone Age

I'm the kind of guy that is very conservative in term of using method. Most of the time, I'll try to get the most I can from an obsolete tool, even if I know there's far better means available.

Ballast job done a week ago

Once again, I had an epiphany when I decided to switcher from eyedropper to spray bottle to apply the wetting agent to ballast. Yes, we are in 2015 and I was still ballasting and scenicking large surfaces using an eyedropper. It took me a ridiculous amount of time. And only a few minutes yesterday. So lesson learned and I'm moving forward. Laying ballast is a piece of cake now!

I also did some experimentation with my ballast mixes. They are more of less sifted gravel mixes from different origin. I was running of "coarse" ballast (which means fine according to HO scale standard!) and decided to add grout in the mix. Not that much but I quickly found out grout isn't as easy as real stone to ballast. In fact, when there's too much grout, the glue doesn't sink in the material and takes forewer to dry.

On this picture, you can see the right track is full of glue. In fact, it was ballasted and glued more than 90 minutes before the left track. I know there will be a fine layer of glossy PVC over the ballast grains in that section. Another lesson learned, not too much grout in the mix.

This picture was taken 90 minutes after the previous one!

Also, as I ran out of regular ballast, I decided to use my more powered ballast. It is a mix of fine dirt and small stones that looks quite convincing for older ballast. Initially, I was thinking to use it only for sidings, but the results are better than expected and looks much prototypical to me than the regular mix. The regular mix is good to represent freshly ballasted track and I will only use it for that purpose from now on.

Finally, the new ballasted track got its ties color lighten with some acrylic wash before ballasting. I felt the first part was too dark to be convincing and decided to go for a more weathered earth tone. I think I'll continue to do this in the future. I'm always affraid to do bold color constrasts and sometimes it is a pitfall because the end results looks too much plain. I've got to work on that and I remember a painter once told me when I was a teenager that I should leave those fears away and amplify what I see and draw. He was right but that's a lesson that is taking more than two decades to sink in!

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