Sunday, July 23, 2017

Weekend Report: Goff Brook Progress & Track Painting/Weathering (and an "oops!")

I've been enjoying riding a wave of motivation lately - one of those all-too-rare times when everywhere I look I see projects I can do Right Now, instead of being overwhelmed with too much to do and no oomph to do anything anyway. And when those waves come, you'd better catch them or risk getting swamped - distracted by something else.

I've been focusing on the Goff Brook/Wethersfield/East Berlin area of the layout and finally making some visual progress. Thankfully, Bill has been able to come over a few times lately and his work in the Goff Brook is really bearing fruit, as you can see:

Looking northbound toward Goff Brook and Wethersfield. Note the line poles, heavy brush long the ROW and the farmer's field in the foreground (complete with wire fence).

Goff Brook Bridges - both railroad, and Middlesex Turnpike. Water still needs to be added, and need to figure out how to deal with the road heading into the backdrop, but this seen is really taking shape.

View of the edge of the (semi)finished area - really need to figure out that road/backdrop transition.

We'd debated whether to use a photo backdrop, but the mockup here makes it a no-brainer - I'll definitely be using them wherever possible.
In between Bill's visits, I finally got the rest of the track painted in the area. Click here for all the prep work leading up to spraying - and here's how it looked as the fan was sucking out all the fumes:

Valley Coal area, looking north toward the station area. Note the use of old sheets, foamboard, and cardboard to protect the blue backdrop. It also helped that the exhaust fan was pulling air out the window to my right.

Station area looking north towards Wethersfield Lumber and the Rt. 15 bridge area. More use of old sheets.

East Berlin area with cardboard masks
Once the base coat (Krylon Camouflage Brown) was dry, it was time to try weathering the track - which at this point means weathering the ties. I'd planned on trying Mike Confalone's method using Polly Scale colors (concrete, mud, dirt), mixing them 70:30 with water to form a wash, and applied randomly to the ties. But I found that method to be a little too unpredictable for my (OCD/left-brained) sensitivities, and I didn't want to have to wait until everything dried to see what I'd end up with.

So after Bill showed me how he does it using a dry brush technique, I decided to try that. And it worked out great.
Those that know me know how scary this photo is - first time I've ever used a pallet palette, and look at all those paints! I used primarily "Apple Barrel" matte acrylics that I got for 50 cents each at Wal-Mart. They come in a wide variety of colors, are water soluble and dry dead flat.

Close up of the Wethersfield House Track - right side shows the track with just the Krylon base coat; next to that - and above - shows the result of the drybrushing. I didn't expect there to be such a dramatic, and positive, difference! I found I used mostly the Territorial Beige and Pewter Gray. Black (or water) did a good job of toning down any ties that stood out too much.

All track in this area done - note the (maybe too-subtle?) difference between the house track/siding and the mainline. Though the Valley Main - as secondary track - is weathered somewhat, the siding is even more heavily-weathered in keeping with its lowly status.
The technique is really simple - just choose a few different shades of gray and brown, dip your brush in and wipe it (almost) all off on a paper towel, then apply - randomly (tough for an OCD-er) - to the ties, varying color as well as coverage. Sidings should have just about every tie weathered and be lighter in color, while the main should be darker with some new ties here and there.

I admit, this process does take some time (and it remains to be seen how noticeable it'll be once the track is ballasted and the scenery is in), but after the initial 10-15 minutes' acclimation it goes fast. I did all the track from Goff Brook through Wethersfield to East Berlin (+/- 35' of track, including sidings) in about 3 hours, start to finish. But the time was actually enjoyable (helped with some podcasts) and surprisingly therapeutic.

Unfortunately, it was only after I did all this nice tie weathering that I started to reconsider the Stanley Chemical siding in East Berlin.

Figuring this siding would be buried in the dirt, my original plan had been to have it make its way down from the main (on full-size (1/4"?) HO cork roadbed) to plywood level.

I rasped the roadbed down to make a nice transition with no vertical kink - but there's still quite a gap. 

While I figured I could fill the resulting gap easily enough, I was worried that the track would actually be too low once I added ground goop and scenery.

So, figuring it would be much easier to build terrain up to cover the track rather than have to live with pancake flat plywood, I decided to add some N-scale roadbed underneath this siding as I had the others.

Since I certainly didn't want to re-do all that nice tie weathering, I prepainted the new roadbed outside rather than in-place as I had all the others (again using the Krylon camo brown).

Then I had to carefully lift up the track, apply glue to the plywood, slide the roadbed underneath, apply glue to it and then lay the track back down - weighing it all down at once. 
Of course, it would have been best had I figured all this out sooner - but this is yet another in a long line of examples of how easy it is to re-do and/or have a do-over. And that dawning realization is really helping me with my usual Analysis Paralysis. As the Nike commercial says - Just Do It. And as any experienced model railroader will add, And don't be afraid to do it over. There's no such thing as a mistake - just a learning opportunity, right?

If we can just remember that - and really take it to heart - I think the waves of motivation will continue to come in and give us a great ride.

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