Prepping for Track

If it feels like I’m taking forever to get to tracklaying, you’d be correct. But the extended effort now should benefit down the road when the rubber meets the road… or the ties meet the foam.


First off, the deck and bridge ties for the Iowa River bridge are complete and installed. The bridge is being kitbashed from a Central Valley Truss Bridge kit, modified to fit the space and altered to a lattice truss. Since I’m looking at a heavy lift to get the bridge complete, I wanted to at least be at a point where I could lay rails and run trains.


Same thing goes for the I-Beam Bridge over Ralston Creek. The bridge was kitbashed from leftover parts of a Walthers Trestle kit. The ties are first painted a flat gray, then covered with a wash of burnt umber. The end result is a wood feel with grains just peeking out of each tie.


I also took the time to lay out both the track centerlines and roads. Consider this a last sanity check on clearances and spatial relationships between objects, especially since grade crossings will play a heavy role on this layout.


That sanity check discovered I had carved too much away from the slope to the Iowa River on the north end of the layout, which wouldn’t give me enough support for the track. Filling the space with flexible spackle works well. Once dry, I’ll sand and paint the area with Behr’s Wild Rice, using the same method mentioned in my last entry.


It’s also a quick (and sometimes sobering) way to ensure correct lengths for industrial spurs before you starting cutting track. You can sketch and plan and dream all you want; nothing beats a physical mockup to confirm that what you think will work will actually work. Both Stutsman and Maiden Lane are designed for five 60-foot cars plus a single Geep, which to my eye makes a good looking train on The Hills Line.


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