…but not like important good work

With most of the ties now in place, I’ve shifted my attention toward rail. As I write this, I figure I am approaching the point of having about half the rail for the layout installed. Electrical drops have been soldered to the underside of each section but as yet there is no main power bus to tie those to. I’m using CA to bond the rails to the ties. While I’m satisfied with the quality of the glued joint, I intend to spike the track too. For spikes, I’d like to try those really sharp looking spikes that Andy Reichert is selling and I’ll order those this week. When they arrive, I’ll also tidy up a few rails that, while in gauge, I’m just not content with their position.

With the rail glued in place, I also took some time to break out some tubes of paint and set to work with getting some new colour on the rail. The rail itself is recycled from a previous layout. It had been painted already so the work here was more to lighten the colour and generally tidy things up. I’ve used alternating shades of burnt umber and raw sienna as the new colour palette for the rail. Once I get some ballast stuck down I plan to revisit the rails again with a bit more weathering on them to just take the edge off that almost-too-freshly rusted state they currently show.


I like the idea of using a brown as a base colour for track. To that end, using a can of Tremclad Leather Brown spray paint I’ve painted the turnouts now too. I’ll give the paint a further few days to dry and then will start washing some  colour onto these parts to distinguish between the rails and the ties and make these metal and plastic parts better blend in with their neigbouring elements.

I found a jar of Woodland Scenics fine ballast, “Buff” colour, and thought I’d spread about a tablespoon’s-worth of it just to see if the colour might work. This shade used to be my favourite ballast colour but I’m not sure that I still feel that way. Photos along the real Claremont& Concord show ballast in a more blue-gray hue and I think I’d like to move in that direction.

Stepping back from the layout, while painting the rail, I was still feeling really pleased with the state of progress on this project and my own work. I remarked to Krista: “I’m doing something really good here. I mean, not good in a saving the human race important kind of way, but good nonetheless.” That expression sort of stuck with me and there’s the title for this update.

While most of the work continues with a seemingly endless parade of mugs of tea by my side, they have been joined by the occasional glass of Garrison’s IPA as well as several glasses of a nice Shiraz of rather dubious origin.

During quieter times when some audio would help, I’ve been listening to a few different Melody Gardot albums as well as some podcasts I’m behind, episode-wise, on (such as Model Rail Radio and Thinking Allowed).

What’s on the punch list next?

I wish there were such things as turnout throwbar fairies. That you could place a model railway turnout under your bed at night and by morning you’d find they’ve arrived and installed a nice hinged throwbar for you. I’m just being lazy and I only need to do this for three turnouts. I really just need to just get on with it.

If I had two wishes for Christmas…I’m not Steve Martin reciting a classic sketch. If I had two model railway wishes the second I’d spend on a mechanism to move those point blades, hold them in place, and route power up to the frog. Every modeller has something that, even the mention of, inspires an almost paralyzing anxiety. Turnout mechanisms is mine. I don’t know what to do and I wish the problem would just solve itself by my avoiding it. Mind you, that never works so I need to figure out a way past it.

Fascia. Fascia. Fascia. The joy of success borne of work on top of the layout is perpetually undermined by how ugly the plywood framing looks. Sooner rather than later I need to address this problem so I’m less embarrassed by my own deficiencies here.



  1. Chris,

    One minor suggestion: fill the gaps in the circuit board ties before you go much further. Nothing lets down a well modelled piece of track more than an unprototypical gouge in turnouts.


    1. I agree Simon,

      I can only spray paint outdoors and yesterday was one of those nice afternoons that couldn’t be wasted. I figured I’d get a major coat of paint over everything the come back to do things like filling in the gaps.


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