Friday, March 24, 2023

Grade Crossings at Essex

With the track/ties in Essex painted/weathered, it was time to do the grade crossings. But before getting to those, here's an "after" photo of the new scenery at the north end of Wethersfield (by the Rt. 15 overpass) that I should have included last time . . .

From this perspective, you can see the variety of colors and textures a bit better. I can't emphasize enough (and have to regularly remind myself) how critically important a variety of colors, textures, and layers are to achieving realism in scenery. The good news is that you can always add more; the bad news is that you may sometimes feel you don't have the time to add enough. But suffice it to say, adding ANYthing is far better to having nothing but plywood and foamboard to look at.

Which provides a good segue back to my work in Essex . . .

The last time I worked in Essex, I only posted quick photos of me and JimD doing the initial ground cover. As you can see in the photo above, I didn't get much further during the following weeks, but I did get the photo backdrop mocked up and the roads painted. And as I mentioned at the top of this post, since I got the track painted & weathered, the next step is to do the grade crossings.

There are two grade crossings which "bookend" the station area in Essex. The Middlesex Turnpike (aka Rt. 154) borders the north end, with Plains Road (aka Rt. 153) anchoring down the south end. While I decided to do both crossings with "concrete" (DAP spackle), the Middlesex Tpke crossing has scrap rail to guard the flangeways. I bent some rail to match the curve, bent the ends in, and then used gap-filling ACC to attach the "guard rails" right up against the spikes on the ties.

To protect the flangeways from the spackle, I used Tamiya 3mm curvable tape which I had on-hand. Turns out, it's perfect for the task.

I used the same tape to protect the flangeways at the Plains Rd. crossing - but the only flangeways here are those on the turnout. Turns out (see what I did there?) I didn't really need to use the tape here since I didn't bother adding any other guardrails, opting instead to "carve out" the flangeways later. I also used some blue painter's tape to protect the surroundings from the spackle.

Once I masked around the north end crossing, it was time to apply the spackle!

The spackle shrinks a bit as it dries/cures, so I needed to do two coats to make sure everything was filled in nicely.

And here's how the south end crossing looked once I pulled up the tape. The "speckles" were actually loose ground foam that I accidentally blew on before the spackle fully dried. OOPS! No worries - between carving out the flangeways, cleaning off the top of the rails, and painting the "concrete" you won't (shouldn't) even notice.

I decided not to do full guardrails here since, being a turnout, it would have required a bunch of little pieces of rail and I wanted to try and avoid that. And I figured I could, by just carving out the flangeways later.

Thankfully, I didn't have to worry about that with Middlesex Tpke. Just peeling off the tape was sufficient to create nice, clean, clear flangeways. Just have to make sure I can get paint way down there at the bottom of the flangeway...

After cleaning off the tops of the rails, it was time to do a test run . . .

And there you have it - pretty straightforward. I think I may try precoloring the spackle in the future since, once it's painted, it may be difficult to clean the tops of the rail without scraping the paint off and having the white show through.

But for now, I'll just hope the there aren't any derailments on Middlesex Tpke or Plains Rd during the next op session... Fingers crossed!

1 comment:

  1. Looking good Chris. Great ideas on the road crossings