Sequence of construction

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by ezdays, Feb 8, 2003.

  1. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    I have asked questions, I have read books and even watched some construction techniques on TV and I am left just a bit puzzled.

    I am convinced that it is best to lay the roadbed and track before doing any significant scenery construction, but I am wondering about when to put down the ballast. Most books show that happening right after you paint the track, but one book I just read said to do the ballast last in order to keep it from getting messed up. That seems to make sense to me, but I'd hate to follow that advice and find out I should have done otherwise.

    I need to be enlightened. I'm going to be working in N scale, but I would think this would apply to any scale.


  2. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Don,
    It really doesn't matter when you ballast the track, I always do it before the scenery, then paint the rails rusty (Backwards way round), I just like the effect, some of the rust gets into the ballast.


  3. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    That was a quick reply, that's what impresses me about this forum.:)

    I can see where doing the ballast last would keep it from getting messed up from stray paint and plaster. But I can also see where it wouldn't look that good just sitting on top looking neat and clean and would require some additional work after that.

    Boy, do I have a lot of fun ahead of me, and a lot of learning to do in the process.:rolleyes:

  4. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member


    You are finding that a lot of this layout building stuff isn't rocket science and the "how you do it" is really what makes sense to you. You will probably get 50 or more ways and sequences from the group here because that is what felt good at the time they did it. I have put the ballast down before scenery and that worked years ago but on my current layout I am putting it down AFTER the plaster.

    Try it both ways if you like to see what is best for your layout and modeling abilities. The way that works best for you is the one that works best for you.:) :) :)
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Use whatever sounds reasonable. You may find the sequence is csenery, ballast, scenery on top of ballast. I tend to do ballast first, but it needs touch up after the scenery.
    There was one railroad construction series where they put down the scenery first, then laid track on top of it, using plaster as ballast to hold down the track. (not kidding, around 1959)
    Strongly recommend doing wiring before painting/ballasting track.
  6. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    I just do it the way nature and time would do it. What was there first? The rock. What next? the ground, and dirt. What next? Some grass, maybe trees etc. What came along last? The ballast and rust... What came next? some more dirt, and grass etc over the ballast.

    However,my "time rule" has one exception. Put some track down before anything else so you can run some trains. :):):)
  7. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hi Don!
    I also STRONGLY recommend getting your track laid & wired, before you start scenery...track-laying & wiring is where you have the most potential for making mistakes.
    In other words, there's a lot of room to play around with scenery...chop it up, move it around, etc...
    Track laying, on the other hand, has to be done right, for the layout to operate . Believe me, model RRing gets to be a drag, when you spend all your time rerailing cars, & fiddling with stalled locomotives. :rolleyes: If you screw up with the track-laying, &/or wiring (& if you're anything like me, you will...:rolleyes: ), you will have to go back, & fix it...this is sooooo much easier to do if you haven't done any painting, ballasting, or scenery yet.
    So get yo0ur track down, & wired, & get those trains running !! Then move on to the really fun part...building your own miniature world around those flawlessly running trains!

    You are beging to learn why this such a multi-faceted hobby! I've been at it for 10 years, & I'm still learning! (& having lots of fun in the process!)
    Keep us posted, Don! Looking forward to following your progress! Remember, we're here to help, if you need us!
  8. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Thanks for the input. I can see where it would be essential to follow some rule and the rest is left up to what works best for who's doing the work. Tomorrow I get my stitches out and I should be able to get around better and start on constuction. I finally found a place closer to home that has the 1" blue foam, so on the way home I'm going to pick some up along with a 32" door. I'll try to try to take a few pictures along the way, but I doubt that my digital will give me the resolution on close ups that yours does Charlie.

  9. Railery

    Railery Member

    Hi Don. What i like to do is lay the track and wiring first. Work out all the kinks. Then i paint the track.

    If your working on a flat surface and u need to trace an outline of your track to lay your roadbed, this is a good time to paint the track. U get your outline at the same time.

    i like to ballast the track before scenery and i do that by scenicing 2" on either side of the track first and then ballast. That way there is a buffer and when i get around to the scenery the ballast doesn't get disturbed.

    And ballasting first or last is only ones preference. :D Have the time i end up jumping around the layout anyway, scenicing here and there. Eventually it will all get done. :D
  10. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Hi Don, I did this ballest following shamus's techniques described in the academy in his article called Track Ballasting and Track Cleaning.

    BTW: Little Mack was relocated for his own protection. We found a nice owner to care for him.

    IMHO: you can't really mess up your ballast, becuase weeds and grasses sprout up from it and junk of all sorts collects on it and rusts and stains it. Used to see rail spikes all over the place, but I think they got better at picking 'em up.
  11. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    Nice, thanks for the links. Now that I've seen what you've done, I have to ask another question; how did you get your tracks to look that scuzzy? That had to take a lot of work to get it that way. So far all that I've read tells me to spray paint them black or a rust color, but you have really neat rust, and texture that doesn't come out of a spray can. I'm glad you showed me that 'cause now I have a standard to shoot for.:D

    D:cool: N
  12. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way



    I've revived this thread because I'm still interested in your technique for weathering your tracks. That has to be the most realistic looking track treatment I've seen. It looks to me like an overlay of several different colors, brushed or sprayed? What kind of paint.



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