Watching Paint Dry

paint0

All model railroads involve tradeoffs. The supposed logic for smaller setups is that we trade size for detail. So while I’m running five cars trains instead of 50 car lineups, I can take the time to detail the scene to the Nth degree.

But as I’ve mentioned numerous times before, I’m lazy. For me the biggest tradeoff involves focusing on the things that will readily and consistently be seen. The backs of buildings or the undersides of cars? Pass. Track? That’ll I spend time on.

My process for painting and weathering track is somewhat involved, and would not be ideal for larger layouts. But The Hills Line is just the right size to make this method worthwhile.

Step One: The Gray Base

paint1

Paint the entire track with Testors Flat Light Aircraft Gray enamel spray paint. Since I’m using spray paint instead of an airbrush, I cover up the fascia and backdrop to prevent overspray. The small cans don’t have a wide pattern, but this is a place where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

paint2

Let the paint dry and cure for 24 hours, then remove the paint from the railtops with an abrasive track cleaner.

paint3

Step Two: Bring Out The Grain

paint4

Cover the ties with a wash of Burnt Umber paint. Since the spray paint is enamel, the wash needs to be acrylic or the gray base will be eroded away by the mineral spirits. Acrylic artist’s colors tend to be much cheaper than oil colors.

paint5

Using a foam brush, dab and slosh the wash over everything. Remember, you’re not painting a masterpiece. The goal is to cover every square inch of track quickly and efficiently. The inconsistent application is a benefit to creating variety in the tie coloration.

paint6.jpg

Let dry for 24 hours again, and if necessary feel free to go back and add a second coat in spots to touch up the ties. But remember, you want the gray to leak through the brown to simulate the texture of real wood. Once done, clean the railtops again with an abrasive cleaner.

Step Three: Rusty Railsides

paint7

Run a Rail Brown colored paint pen along the visible sides of the rails.  On the IAIS Grimes Line I used Floquil Paint Pens for a quick and simple application. Since that’s not longer an option, I turned to Woodland Scenics Track Painter pens.

Whatever brand you use, do not use a rust color. In photographs and to the eye it comes across as orange and toylike. Instead go with a dark grayish brown for maximum realism.

paint8

The tip of the pen is run along the visible web of the rail, allowing some of the paint to land on the tie. This helps simulate the presence of tie plates.

paint9

For areas where the pen will not fit, such as between the guard rail and stock rail of a turnout, I load up a microbrush with paint from the pen and slide it along the rail.

Clean the railtops one last time, check your points for unhindered movement, and your track is ready for primetime.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.