Clay? Well it shrank

I have all the track “paved” on the traction module now and I thought I’d try to tidy it up a little and get some paint onto it. I thought I’d share some first photos of the clay before sanding, etc.

Working with the clay was a little better than trying to use plaster poured between the rails. I felt like I had more working time as the clay dries where the plaster hardens from a chemical reaction that needs to be slowed down (I’ve used vinegar to speed up the curing of plaster, I wonder what the agent is to slow it down?). The more the clay dried out the more it reminded me of using drywall “mud”. As with the mud, the clay shrank as it dried and it cracked. A lot.

Since this is usually the point in an experiment when I start to feel a little overwhelmed and frustrated I figured I’d just push ahead and go back and fix up the cracks, etc. later. Since I’d never shaped clay after it had hardened before I figured this new learning opportunity might created some additional areas to “correct” and I may as well as get them all at once. I started with a small square of sand paper to start shaping the clay between the rails but started to notice that the clay was simply clogging up the paper. In the end I elected to use an X-acto knife held at an angle to plow along the top of the clay surface, almost in a screeding action. This seemed to work well and following this I tried some more sand paper to just clean up some areas. As I thought, I did damage a few areas and no doubt a call will need to be made to the road crews to get out here and plug up some of these new pot holes. The cracks? Yup, still there.

Given this little bit of inertia I brought out some acrylic paints and thought I’d wash some colour onto the surface as well. How does it look now? Well, from some angles not too bad, from others, well it looks like what it was – a testing platform.

I’ve got a few minutes left before I need to do something not tramway related so I think I’m going to work on my little tramway track panel idea some more.



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