Painting Track

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Jim Cullen, May 28, 2003.

  1. Jim Cullen

    Jim Cullen Member

    Just started the slow process of spray painting my track with Floquil Roof Brown. Since the layout is in a bedroom, and my wife thinks the smell is too bad, I am limited to doing small sections when she is not home and the bedroom windows can be opened for ventilation. I was going to move the layout outside, but it's been raining so much it's hard to plan a good day to do it without wind of course. Also the bugs would probably get in the way a little.

    Hand-painting the track with water based paint would have minimized the in-house problem, but I think spray painting does a much better job.

    Anyway, I think painting the rails really makes them look a lot better. I make three passes with the spray can; low angle on one side, low angle the other side, and straight down. Wiping the top of the rails right after spraying makes rail cleanup go much faster. I'll hand paint some black and other colors later, mostly between the rails.

    Do you guys paint your track before putting down ballast?
  2. csxnscale

    csxnscale Member


    I am not an expert, but this is what I do:
    first paint the ties
    than paint the rails
    next step is balasting
    and last step is weathering the balast.

  3. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Jim, I always paint the rails before ballasting. I use a brush which makes the job long and tedious but is worth it in the end. The only part of the rail that should be shiny is the head. The ties get some of the paint on them but I don't try to paint them. I use craft acrylic burnt umber to paint my rails. It is a dark brown and looks like the CN rails that run through Georgetown where I live.
  4. SD90

    SD90 Active Member

    I haven't started painting my rails yet, but I am taking notes!
  5. Lighthorseman

    Lighthorseman Active Member

    I haven't painted too much track, but I've tried both airbrushing, and brushpainting. Holy cow, is brush painting ever tedious! Yes, the results are definitely worth the effort, but I will always be a proponent of spraying or airbrushing.

    I also once left the paint on the railhead a little too long, and had a DEVIL of a time removing it. The sooner the tops of the rails are cleaned, the better.;)

    All in all, I cannot foresee ever having unpainted track again.:)
  6. billk

    billk Active Member

    Painting the rails by hand (ie with a brush or a paint pen) isn't too tedious if you do it before putting the track down. I use a paint pen, and you can zip it along a 3ft piece of flex at a pretty good rate. And the mess is certainly less - no overspray, very little paint on the top of the rails, etc.

    With flex track, bending it will expose some bare spots that you will have to go back and touch up, but if you do that as part of the track laying process it's not so bad since you're in there messing with the tracks anyway.
  7. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Here is a photo of track I just painted with a brush. It look dark but thats what the real ones around here look like

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  8. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    This photo shows track painted and ballasted

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  9. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    great effect. that pic with the ballasted track is in my file for use when I start painting the track here.:) :)
  10. Jim Cullen

    Jim Cullen Member

    Great looking track and ballast; well done.
  11. stary

    stary Member

    remember though, before painting track that's already been laid, make sure it's perfect, ellectrically.
  12. sapacif

    sapacif Member

    I use a black permanent marker for mainline rails. Colors very well. I have to use a brown paint marker for sidings as the brown non-paint marker does not color well. In both cases, final weathering of the ballast is the final touch.
  13. the_great_snag

    the_great_snag New Member

    I use a little bit of vaseline on the rail heads. This hugely helps with getting the paint off them later!

    The trick is to apply it with your index finger. Get a blob on your thumb, and keep lubing your index finger with it every so many inches. You just want enough to get your finger greasy.

    You also want to wipe the railheads off pretty thoroughly or your locos will slip and slide for a while until it's worn off!
  14. hemiadda2d

    hemiadda2d Member

    I will take another pic tomorrow, but I use cheapo Walmart brown, and iron oxide-colored spray bombs. A buck apiece, and I do it outside, or with the garage door open. I paint mine before laying them. I masked off the points, and did the turnouts, too. The final touch is a bit more highlighting or weathering, and final touchup on the turnout points--by hand. I'm no Picasso, and the effect is pretty uniform, but the trains will be running long before I finalize the way the track appears, as far as weathering is concerned.

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