Ballast drop

Ballasting ops have started on the Top Deck layout after completing a run of cable trough. I looked at several colours before deciding on Woodland Scenics buff as the base ballast colour. I place it with a small brush and a tea spoon, a few pieces at a time, tamping it in place with a finger and working it off sleepers and other equipment with the brush.

Some colours were not going to work! I rejected the grey and brown colours (foreground) after a quick check. Before ballasting, I paint the track sleepers and rail edges: Plain track concrete sleepers were painted with Phoenix Precision paints P989 New Concrete and the rail edges with P977 Rusty Rails colour. This will not be the end of the story because the track and ballast will be further weathered with some washes of track dirt. Not too much, though, I do not wish to loose the light colour.

Ballast is well under way. Several points to note include: 1. Make sure the layout runs well before starting this work. 2. Consider completing basic line side scenery as seen here before ballasting. 3. On a high level shelf layout such as this one, work from the back to the front. In other words, the down line will be completed first. The foreground line will be tackled later once work on the staff halt platform and scenery is completed to the front. 4. Install and paint signalling bases, equipment bases and cable troughs before ballasting. Doing this retrospectively will ruin a lot of hard work.  5. I will fit the conductor rail after ballasting. Conductor rails (and other track details such as turnout machines) get in the way, otherwise!

The ballast drop is finished for now (wagons are empty!). I complete about 12 inches at a time before applying Scenic Cement with a pipette dropper. Even though I find the process enjoyable and therapeutic, it’s best done in short but regular bursts! Nonetheless, the main line is starting to look like a main line as the irregularities and joins in the ‘plastazote’ foam underlay are concealed by a layer of ballast.




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