Another question about weathering track

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by ClarkW, Oct 23, 2005.

  1. ClarkW

    ClarkW New Member

    Hi all,

    Sorry to ask as I am sure this has been discussed before, but have to ask anyway. I did a search on weathering track, and got one thread titled weathering track, but it is a bit much - under coat, top coat more. The rest of the threads didn't sound much like what I was looking for.

    I am about to lay my track, code 83 flex track, and am under the impression that I should solder on drops, then paint the track and ties. Next glue the track down to the roadbed, finally cleaning the top of the track. If this isn't correct, please advise.

    My primary question, however, is what colour should I use for the tracks and ties. I was in my LHS the other day and was handed a bottle of paint with the recommendaton to use it. Problem is, I got it home, put it someplace and have no idea where it is or what colour it is. I would like to work on some track laying this weekend (what is left of the weekend) and need to paint some track. I can check, and get some more paint, at my LHS but that doesn't help me today.

    Thanks for the help and patience.

    Clark W
  2. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    Here's how I do it. Purchase one spray can of Tremclad oxide-red primer rust paint and another can of Tremclad flat-black rust paint.

    Before you lay your track and turnouts:
    Wipe some oil along the top of the rails of your track. Stuff some Kleenex into the space between the points and the closure rails so that paint won't adhere to the inside of these rails. Pin the track and turnouts to some corrugated cardboard so that you can easily spray paint onto the tracks. Take it all outside.

    First, spray the ties and the tracks with the red-oxide primer. Let the paint dry. It's going to be real shiny and oxide-red. Before you push the panic button, lightly overspray the oxide-red with the flat black - not too much. Just enought to get rid of the bright sheen of the oxide red. You might want to dab a bit of grey onto some of the ties.

    Here's what it will look like.

    Next, take a steel bar or a flat file and scrape the paint off of the top and the inside edge of the rails. You may have to use some turpentine to do the job. Take your time in doing this part of the job. You are now ready to lay the track.

    I solder my rail joints which leaves a shiny silver patch on the sides of the rail. Take a Q-tip and swab a bit of oxide-red and then some flat black over the solder pad.

    Bob M.
  3. Fergie_PRR

    Fergie_PRR New Member

    Track Colour

    I'm not sure how in depth you wish to get with the color, but depending on the type of track your modeling, that could also affect the color chioce. IE. Heavy mainline will usually take on a darker color, espcially if your modeling the stream era. Branchline and idustrial trackage is usually more of a rust color.
    If you use an airbrush, railroad tie brown works great, but I like railwaybob's idea, as it lets you chose how dark to make the track after the coat of rust!
    Again you can also make the ties a more gray tone, if you wish to model the older branchline / industrial track look.
    As for the track contacts, I've found pre-soldering the feeders to railjoiners works well, as it hides the feeder below the rail. Again, there are many methods, all which will work well!

    Shawn F.
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I pick out a shade of dark reddish brown acrylic from the plastic jars at the craft store, burnt umber or sienna or whatever looks right. Also a jar that looks like rust.
    I just brush this down the side of the rail, slopping a bit on the fastenings but being careful around rail joiners. Then I scrape off the top and inside rail head.
    There are paint shades called rail brown or track colour.
    Use rust sparingly; the only time I've seen fresh orange rust is after a rain, and it gets removed by the first train along.
    Check the military modelling section for Oily Black; use that around switches.
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    With flex track, you can solder one set of feeders per section. If you think this is overkill, you can solder two pieces together with railjoiners and add a set of feeders there. That way you hvae one set per 6 feet of track.

    I would wait to paint the track until you have laid it - especailly on curves. If you paint it first, when you bend it for the curve the rail slides through the "spikes" and shiny unpainted spots are revealed.

    There are many "right" answers to a lot of model railroading questions - the key is to pick the answer tha works for you... ;)

  6. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    How I weather my track:

    Lay the track first. Solder all connections and run all your power wiring. Put tape over all switch points to avoid messing up electrical connections.

    Using an airbrush or spray can, spray paint the track a grayish-brown color. I generally use Polly S Railroad Tie Brown (an obvious choice) but your color may vary.

    As soon as you're done spraying, use a small piece of wood to scrape the paint off of the tops of the rails. Any place that doesn't come right off, use your favorite rail-cleaning liquid and a bit of paper towel. You can use a Bright Boy but it will get clogged with paint fast.

    Next comes ballasting. Normally ballasting is done by pouring ballast onto the track and shaping it with brush and hand, then "wetting" the ballast with rubbing alcohol or weak soap solution, then adding diluted white glue or scenic cement to secure the ballast in place.

    Here's my timesaving weathering/ballasting solution: Use rubbing alcohol to wet the ballast--but add a couple drops of India ink to the alcohol--diluted, like 60 parts alcohol to 1 part India ink. This makes the alcohol an "ink wash": the ink will settle in the crevices and corners of the track and ballast, darkening them and highlighting detail. For particularly dirty places like engine service areas or coaling stations, make a separate "ink wash pass" to put some extra black gunk on the track. Here's a shot of how my track looks:
  7. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    Stage 1: Bung down and solder together the track, pinning it here and there where you need to to keep it in position...
    Stage 2: Drop feeders and power it up
    Stage 3: Most important -- test and re-test your track, particularly turnouts and tricky bits...
    Stage 4: Once you're happy, paint the track. I spray Rusty brown from a can sideways from both sides, then semi-gloss off-black from the top, and a bit of very dark green, and a bit of dark brown, and a few dribbly bits of gunmetal or another glossy grey. Total time: 2 minutes for however much track there is...
    Stage 5: ballast. Nowadays, I use light grey tile grout mixed 50/50 with WS ballast. Takes no time at all, very controllable, dries well, doesn't stick, can be poked out of holes in the turnouts without trouble. It's so much better and easier than the old-fashioned ballast/alcohol/glue method. Forgotten what site I read it from, but it was the best ever...
    Stage 6: inkahol over the ballast to darken and accentuate. More in the yards, yada yada
    Stage 7: bright boy over the top of the rails

    all done!
  8. ScottyB

    ScottyB Member

    I weather my track after it's been laid using the methods in "Trackside and Lineside Detail..." Minimal cost. You use 3 Krylon spray paints -- Ruddy Brown Primer, Flat Black, and Flat Grey. Do like Railroad Bob says above, oil the track, watch the points, etc. I start with the primer, then a couple quick, small shots of black and even quicker, smaller shots of grey. Looks great.

    Then I go back over with a q-tip and bright boy to wipe off the top of the rail. Looks good to me!

  9. ClarkW

    ClarkW New Member


    Once again, I am blown away with you folks. I really appreciate the answers to my question. I will take your suggestions, and try to get my track to look good.

    Again, thanks

    Clark W
  10. santafewillie

    santafewillie Member

    I lay the track, wire it and test it first. I then spray-paint with different shades of brown, railroad tie brown looks best for me but I do use others. This method avoids the unpainted shiny spots that need to be touched up later as masonjar pointed out. If you work in short sections, you can wipe the paint off the tops of the rails with a paper towel. Any that you don't get the first time around can usually be removed with a Brite-Boy cleaner after it dries. I highlight some areas with grimy black or something similar with a paintbrush, especially around turnouts. In my case ballasting may not occur for several weeks (or months) later, depends on my creative mood.

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