Apr 3, 2016

Ballast and static grass and ink - oh my.

I got the urge to work on track after the last 'test' operating session (which deserves it's own blog post, or several... ) and started looking for a way to paint ties and finally select & ballast the track.

And then I got to thinking about ground cover, and foams & static grass layers.  And quickly got overwhelmed with all the possible choices.

Ties - I finally found a Vellajo Game Color paint (Bonewhite) that is a nice pale tan, that sort of matches the untreated bleached-white of RGS ties.  So, I brushed / dry-brushed that on ALL of the ties, then layered on random ties w/ other colors.  Big improvement over the dark ties of the Peco & MicroEng flex track.

Ballast - so, that completed, I embarked on the task of finding something dark that resembles the dirt / earth / cinders / rock that makes up RGS ballast.  The RGS ballast is different by region, because they mostly used what was nearby.  For me, w/ light-colored ties, I wanted something dark, in either dark greys or dark / reddish / tan earth tones.

This deserves another series of photos and blog post(s), but briefly - I tried a LOT of options, trying to find local sand / paving sand / decomposed granite and other stuff.  Polymeric sand. Reptile sands as well.  And grout coloring.

Here's some earlier tests - none of these worked exactly, although that last one is close to what I'm using near Ophir.



And more testing -
 

The two strong colors, black and dark brown, where reptile sands; too uniform and too strong; I tried these:



There was the attempt at using Wedding Sand - great selection of colors, but it SPARKLED!  Sad...


And another attempt at using this Polymeric sand - a little salt-n-pepper, but not too bad.  Except it also SPARKLED!  Not as bad as the wedding sand, but still...



I even tried staining screened limestone (which is white) with a black alcohol india-ink wash, which appeared to mostly work, although it took time.  Screening after that into various sizes was REALLY dusty (prompting the teens nearby to ask for basement ventilation!).  It wasn't that bad... but still.

 

And finally some more testing - the red stuff is screened rust / orange oxide rock from a local stone supplier (they were ready for us modelers - had empty coffee cans ready and just sent me to the back lot; no charge!).  The limestone and oxides were from there.  The oxides I really liked, but for ballast (at least alone), the color was too strong, althought that's hard to tell from the photos.



The jury is still out - none of these ideas was quite right.

And then static grass... just put in a sizable order from Scenic Express.  My initial idea here is a base of light(ish) fine ground foam (this over mostly light-tan paint on the terrain), then 2mm grass in either very light green or tan, then layers of longer grasses, in either sage, light green, or perhaps a few darker greens.  I'm shooting for a late spring look - so, new growth of winter-dead stuff.

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