Trains4Africa
Because all Boys (and some girls) love Trains

Realism to Your Rails

Easy Scenery Tips & Techniques

 

One the most often overlooked scenic detailing projects is the painting and weathering of track work. This project is not only easy, but also quick and inexpensive as well. The small amount of time that is spent on this project will yield dramatic results, even making sectional and flexible track look like a finely detailed model.

Step 1: Prepare the roadbed area. This is as easy as painting the track base in an earth or gray color. If raised road bed is being used make sure to paint it as well. Often spray spatter paint available from either a hobby shop or home improvement store will help add a layer of realism and finish to the right of way. Once the paint is completely dry, install the track to the layout or display base.

Easy Scenery Tips & Techniques

Step 2: Mask off the track from the surrounding scenery and paint a flat dark brown color. Spraying the paint from either an aerosol can or airbrush is usually the easiest and quickest way to apply the paint, however, the track can also be painted with a brush with good results. You should allow the base color paint to completely dry before moving on to the next step.

Easy Scenery Tips & Techniques

Step 3: Next we mask off the rails and tie plates to paint them a rusty brown. Since an airbrush was used to apply the paint to this HO scale project, 1/2” masking tape was laid down to mask off the ties. The choice of color is up to you, as main line rails take on a some what greasy dark brown cast rather than the bright rusty rails found in sidings and branch lines. Use photos of the real thing as a guide.

Easy Scenery Tips & Techniques

Step 4: With the track painted the next stage is to add ballast. Apply a mask along the tracks and run a bead of scenery cement along the outside edge of the ties. This will assure a good bond for the ballast along the outer edges of the track work. Next add ballast to the track working it into place with a firm brush.

Easy Scenery Tips & Techniques

Step 5: Wet the entire track area with a fine misting spray bottle, then apply a thinned mixture of scenery cement one drop at a time over the ballast. Allow 24 hours for the glue to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Easy Scenery Tips & Techniques

Step 6: Mix up a 50/50 wash of black acrylic paint and water and liberally apply to the ballast. This wash will darken the crevices in the ballast to add shadow and depth to the road bed.

Easy Scenery Tips & Techniques

Step 7: At this stage highlights are added by dry-brushing the entire right of way with light colored acrylic craft paint. Highlighting brings out the details of the ties as well as the surrounding ballast. Once the highlights are dry, clean the paint off the top of the rails and remove any excess ballast from the sides of the rails and in the flange ways (opposite top). Working in small sections will allow you to detail many miles of track on your layout!