How do you make run down trackage look real in N Scale?

txronharris Nov 10, 2016

  1. txronharris

    txronharris TrainBoard Member

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    I'm working on initial planning on my layout and with it being a branch line, I want to have grass and weeds between the rails and along the rails. Have any of you done this before? I was thinking some white glue between ties and some horse hair type grass or ground cover cut down between rails before ballasting.

    Also, as we all know shortline railroads don't have perfectly maintained trackage, and I was wondering about a small shim under one side of the track to get that "short line rock" as a train goes over it. I know for reliability purposes, it would need to be minimal and I'm planning on mounting the track directly to the benchwork or on shaved down cork to further mimic the disrepair. Of course I plan on painting the track rails and ties to help the effect too.

    So if any of you have ideas or photos of how you've done any of this, please share and post so I can figure it out and maybe help others to do so as well. Thanks for the help!
     
  2. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    While not operational, this abandoned track was done with Silfor tufts
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    No ballast. Lots of fairly light brown paint on the ties, to look like rotting wood--and maybe some gray. Some minor kinks in the track, which is easier to do with flex track. Also spread the ties out and make many of them crooked, also easier to do with flex track. And build up the ground around it so the ties are nearly submerged and the rails are close to the mud.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2016
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  4. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Above all remember that you are working in 1:160 scale so let the defects be subtle. Don't go overboard on track kinks or dips, etc. N scale trucks do not have the suspension that the prototype does so track defects have to be minimal. You want the track to look like bad track but you want trains to be able to run on the track and not derail.
     
  5. CarlH

    CarlH TrainBoard Member

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    I think it will be difficult to get the track to not be level, because with the prototype the weight of rails and ties causes them to sag along with sags in the ground. N scale track can support its own weight across a 4 inch gap with no sagging, even with nothing underneath the ties. Perhaps you could mount flex track directly on a board, and then cut, remove, or otherwise vandalize 3 out of every 4 ties, and get the ties themselves to look uneven. If you cut out the ties carefully, exactly at the inside of the rails, you could put very thin spacers underneath them and glue them back in place, and introduce some disorder in their heights and alignments. Disclaimer: I have not tried this myself, and I don't know if it would look goofy to see messed up ties with the rails being perfectly straight.
     
  6. pmpexpress

    pmpexpress TrainBoard Member

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    Really like this scene.

    Can you show us any more of the layout or module that it is a part of?
     
  7. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Most of the photos for the San Felipe FreeMoN module can be found here, within my SVFMN Station Module album http://www.trainboard.com/highball/index.php?media/albums/svfmn-station-module.1377/&page=3

    There are other photos in my Silicon Valley FreeMoN Station thread (see my signature), but the links to this album got disrupted last year when TB changed software.

    My favorite picture is this Photoshopped one, where I put a photo I took of the Panamint Mountains (the west "wall" of Death Valley) behind the module
    [​IMG]

    Now to return the thread to its original purpose (and lots of good suggestions, above)
     
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  8. HOexplorer

    HOexplorer TrainBoard Supporter

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    Not quite N scale. But this photo may come in handy for you. Jim

    [​IMG]
     
  9. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    That's just seriously impressive.

    I meant to mention that black rail. Rail with no shine really helps.

    How did you do that crabgrass?
     
  10. CraigN

    CraigN TrainBoard Supporter

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    This is a beautiful photo !!
    An awesome job of modeling !!
     
  11. CraigN

    CraigN TrainBoard Supporter

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    Another wonderful job of modeling !
     
  12. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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  13. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    These dead end spurs are a blast to work with. You can do all kinds of things with them including adding a run around track at the end so you can switch out various industries as served by your railroad. Remember if you have a run around track you can spot freight cars anywhere you want.

    Stop in to see John Acosta's You Tube, The Gulf & Pacific Railroad to see how he handles adding in various weeds in and aroound the tracks. An old paint brush can work wonders.

    I need to add here John's layout is HO Scale, but the same tricks he uses will work in N Scale.

    Here is a video that will get you there although the subject at hand is Operations Night.



    You'll catch the BVMR's in action. Nothing like a switch job to get things started.
    I get to play switchman and conductor while Steve is the hog head.
    John, is behind the camera and his role is Supervisor and Dispatcher.


    Here's John's You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm22rGLX1EsK12V1CrckhJQ

    I knew I'd find it if I kept looking.

     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2016
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  14. HOexplorer

    HOexplorer TrainBoard Supporter

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    Tulsan, I guess you meant my photo? Anyway, I paint my track with rail brown/rust paint, sides and top. This way the top can look not used. I do run a car across the rails to smooth out the paint though. As for the crabgrass, I'm assuming your speaking about the tufts of grass. These come from a company called S E. I don't think I'm allowed to give the name. All the rest are basically WS products.

    Here is the deal: Many modelers don't use enough scenery material. Whether expense or simply not knowing what real scenery looks like may be issues. My first rule is multiple layers of scenery material. When I think I'm finished, I add another layer. Jim

    You may want to check this site out. http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/...ing-the-Pinacle-Creek-Mining-amp-Timber-Co-RR

    It tells everything I know about modeling. It is free, unlike 'how to' magazines and almost 600,000 views in less than 7 years so there must be some good stuff there.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2016
  15. Josta

    Josta TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thanks, Rick! We need to take a new video of our Operations Nights, and show the world how much we've improved since that one was taken 3-1/2 years ago....amazing!

    Here's a couple of "bad track" shots from the Gulf & Pacific Railroad.

    John

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    In the Johnstown branch line the tank car track is on a slope, we use the "weeds" between the rails to hold the cars in place. They are cut just high enough to engage the axles of the tank car.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2016
  16. txronharris

    txronharris TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for all the replies and man, those pics are all like what I'm looking for. I'll follow up on the suggestions and I appreciate all the advice. I can only hope my results are even close to what was posted.
    John, that black and white pic of the G&PR with the bent up track--how was that done? And Jim that track in the weeds is exceptional.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  17. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    It was likely done with two pair of needle nose pliers.

    Do NOT get carried away. A little bend goes a long way. Bend it a tiny bit and that's a whole lot, for this purpose. Remember how metal fatigue works--it doesn't break when you bend it, it breaks when you straighten it back out.

    More than a tiny bend will also break one rail or the other out of its ties.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2016
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  18. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    This has probably already been covered in the linked videos I did not take the time to watch, but I will throw it out anyway.

    This is my plan, which I have not yet implemented, to do what you are asking about. First, I will start with code 55 flex track if I want to run an engine on it, but may use code 40 where I can just shove cars down it. Where it is abandoned, I will definitely use code 40. Before laying the track, I will cut the plastic ribs under the rails that join the ties together so that the ties can be respaced unevenly. Some will be slanted a bit, but not so much that track gauge is affected. Cutting off the "spike head" to make one rail loose on one end of a single tie will allow it to be slanted without affecting gauge, but adjacent ties need to be doing their gauging job. Because most ties will be loose, I will need to use a track guage to make sure that a whole group of ties don't get pushed off at an angle to the rails and narrow the gauge, else I will get derailments. I plan to make shallow dips by lighly sanding the undersides of ties in sections, then gluing the track down with some sort of glue or caulk with a weight on the rail until the glue hardens. I will do that sanding before I loosen-up any ties for spacing/slanting. I will not use cork roadbed, although I may use a layer of cork to deaden sound. The idea is to make the track look poorly graded/drained, rahter than raised above grade like the mainline. "Ballast" will be dirty gravel or just dirt (that has covered the gravel because of the poor drainage/maintenance). The dirt with gravel ballat will cover the ties completely in some patches. Weeds will be a combination of static grass and tiny bits of ground foam, sprinkled VERY unevenly. Where track is abandoned, the folliage can be high and lush and even obscure the rails in places, but where cars will use the track, some care needs to be exercised for the flangeways, or the model folliage will become actual derailers. So, in used areas, the folliage will have to be kept fairly sparse and light between the rails so that there are not conspicuous flangeways through it that say "MODEL" to the viewer. And, of course, the rails need to be painted to look rusty and the ties need to be painted to look like old wood. Because flex track comes with various tie colors from various manufacturers, each will need to be weathered/aged in whatever way makes the look right. "Right" is best understood by going out and looking at real railroad sidings to understand what colors are there and how they flow together due to spatteing and streaking of rust, oil, and dirt.

    I don't expect to be pefect in my first attempts at this, so I am going to practice on some areas that I can rip-out and redo, or maybe even on a spare piece of track laid on a spare board over and ovr until I like the result.

    Please post some pictures of your efforts and results.
     
  19. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Cutting the ribs that keep ties evenly spaced is definitely a good plan. Cutting the clips or 'spikes' that hold the rails to the ties is usually completely unnecessary. That plastic is soft enough that the ties can be skewed a little bit without that. If you skew the ties enough to have a measurable effect on the rail spacing, you're overdoing it and it won't look realistic.

    I genenerally sand the cork roadbed down to form the transition from elevated mainline track to ground-level spurs. Then I scoop up and save the cork 'sawdust' that creates, and often glue it down between and around the ties of the siding and put the ground cover on that. Mixed with glue, it doesn't make as good a sound deadener as mounting the track up on the cork. But it ain't bad.
     
  20. CarlH

    CarlH TrainBoard Member

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    This has been a really cool thread. I have really enjoyed seeing some great modeling done, on a topic that merits more attention.
     
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