Thursday, April 30, 2020

Throwback Thursday: Ballasting & Buildings

If there's anything positive about not being able to get to the basement to make more progress on the layout, it's that it's giving me a chance to catch up a bit more on the blog. Yup - it's still "Throwback Thursday" cuz I'm still reporting progress I made early this month. But at least I was making progress!

Before continuing with any static grass south of Jordan Lane, I needed to continue ballasting the line south to the Goff Brook Bridge. And I also needed - finally - to fix-in-place the Valley Coal siding and ballast it as well.

Tools for the job: Cup of ballast, spoon to scoop it out, brush to spread it, folded business card for precise placement, bamboo skewer to pick out rogues.
I've mentioned before that the line was freshly ballasted with traprock during the summer of 1945, so I got something that looked "close." I plan to add weeds and weathering to match my Autumn 1948 era.

One thing I wasn't counting on though was that it would darken so much during the gluing process. Newly-applied ballast to the left of Jordan Lane - ballast that's been glued is to the left.
The process is slow: apply ballast, spread evenly, make sure it's even with or below the tops of the ties and away from the web of the rail. Then mist heavily with alcohol (or apply alcohol using a pipette), then apply diluted white glue with a pipette to saturate it all. Ballasting is certainly time-consuming, but it's strangely therapeutic. And you can easily listen to podcasts while doing it, so the time goes by nicely. Note in the photo above, I not only ballasted the mainline, but "ballasted" the house track with a heavy layer of dirt.

One thing I should have done from the outset - but which I thankfully remembered before it was too late - was to remove the hard edge/corner from the shoulder of the cork roadbed. If you don't remove it, it wreaks havoc with your ballast. It won't want to stay put.

Ballasting isn't just about applying ballast to the mainline. As I mentioned above, I applied dirt to the house track. And here I'm applying cinders to the north end of the bulk track.

The siding at Valley Coal has been "floating" ever since I installed the coal hoist there a little over three(!) years ago so it was high time I finally committed by gluing in the hoist and gluing down the track.

Bit of a blast from the past since it's been a LONG time since I last glued down track. As per usual practice, I spread Aleene's Tacky Glue on top of the cork, pressed the track down onto it, and weighed it down overnight.
Once the track was settled, I ballasted it with a mix of dirt (toward the turnout) and cinders (toward the end of track). A liberal spilling of coal here and there finished it off.

And speaking of finishing it off - here's the ballasting job done all the way south to the Goff Brook bridge on the Wethersfield/Rocky Hill town line. It's very cool how ballasted track instantly helps things look a bit more tied together.

Next, I turned my attention to the structures at the north end. Here's Ballantine's Beer Distributors - built on the base that came with the kit. I thought I could "blend it into the scenery" by adding some fine ground foam to it. But that only made it stand out worse.

So off it came! Unfortunately, it took the loading docks with it. No matter - I really needed to weather this building anyway and the docks probably would have snapped off anyway during that process. I can just glue them back on after the weathering's done.

While the walls of the Wethersfield Lumber building had been nicely weathered during construction (simulated peeling paint using the rubber cement trick), the only weathering the roof ever got was the ambient dust in my basement. So I used some Bragdon chalks to dirty it up a bit. And, as always, I practiced on the "back" side first (the side away from the aisle). Let's just say, practice is always a good idea and in this case my lousy job on the hidden roof won't be noticed....

While I was at it, I weathered the Ballantine's office building as well. I'm discovering that weathering is one of those things that's REALLY EASY overdo. Best to work up to the level you want gradually, taking breaks to check out your work. It's often easier to add more than to back it off. I should have remembered that with this building. I think it's just a wee bit heavy on the weathering.

Still looks decent though, at least to my eye. You may recall that this was on the roof of the Walthers kit, as a second-story office. I just removed it and got a "bonus" structure.
Finally, I got around to weathering the station itself. It's been pristine ever since I got it, so adding some weathering really raised the level of realism.
And that's probably as good a spot to stop as any. If you're an eagle eye, you may have noticed some static grass growing across the tracks from the station..... yup, applying static grass south to Rocky Hill is the next huge step that has to be done to get Wethersfield to a level of "done-ness."

Hope you're enjoying following along with the progress! Blog's starting to catch up . . . which means I need to be getting back down to the basement again soon . . .

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