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Tom Ward
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I'm just getting started laying track by hand on my On30 layout.
I'm using Fast Tracks for the switches but everything else will be hand laid.

I have several questions:

1)  Is it worth the effort to add wood grain to the upper surface of the ties?

2)  I was planning to stain all the ties before gluing them down.
I've seen some videos where the ties get glued down first and then stained,
but they were in HO scale and the ties were closer together.
Any thoughts?

3)  I'm using ME code 70 non-weathered rail.
Would it be best to paint the rail before spiking it down?

This is a dead rail layout, so wiring and power are not an issue.

- Tom


Michael M
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Tom,

On my layout (35n2) I started with flex track which I spray painted after tacking it down.
Now that I've starting handlaying and building my own switches I wait until the rails are down before staining the ties.
I kinda slop it on with an old paint brush.
Most of it will get buried in ballast or dirt anyway so I don't worry too much about it.
I use brass rail which tarnishes fairly quickly.

Bob does some great work with his ties and rails which I really admire.
Maybe he can share a few tips.





Tom Ward
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Michael - thanks for the info.

It looks like your technique works well.
Apparently it's worth the effort to weather the ties.
That looks really awesome and it does show.
How do you tarnish the rails?
BTW, your turnouts are very cool.

I just started yesterday and so far have scribed grain and sanded enough ties to do 10' of track and 3 turnouts.
I'll try your technique and see how it turns out.
I'm using my test/puzzle track to develop my hand laid skills before I take on the layout.

- Tom


Michael M
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Tom,

That's not mine.
Belongs to Bob R.
He does some fantastic work with his rails and ties.


Bob R
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Really quite simple.
I use balsa for ties as it is soft before finishing.
I scrape the full length of a strip of balsa and then cut into tie lengths.
I use an exacto to further distress the ends for splits etc.
I glue them down with white glue.
After the glue has set I paint them with artists acrylic raw umber.
Then dry brushed with white.
Rails are glued in place with Walthers Goo (contact cement).
I add spikes but mostly for appearance only.
Rail sides are painted with Model Master acrylic Rust.
Finally rails are dry brushed with raw sienna.
I find that after paint and ballast glue etc the balsa ties are plenty strong.





Tom Ward
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Bob,Thank you.

Your results are excellent!
I appreciate the info and will give it a try on mine.
I'm using sugar pine for my ties but they still show some detail without too much effort.
I really like the results you get with the X-acto blade on the ends.
Nice detail.
The stain and paint info is helpful too.

- Tom


Tom Ward
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OK, here's my plan.


I've got 4 curved, 4 wyes and 16 #5 straight turnouts built which is enough to get me up and running on the benchwork I've completed so far.


I'm scribing wood grain into all the wood ties, including about 300 ties for track in between the turnouts.
I'm scribing it using an old Xacto style saw blade for fine grain,
and then going back over it with a short section of hack saw blade to give some deeper grain.
After I scribe it I give everything a light sanding with 220 grit paper that's probably actually 800 grit,
because I've been using the same piece for about 2 years now.


With that done I place the ties in bags, separated by turnout style or plain cross ties.
I've mixed up a batch of fresh stain:
40 oz water, 4 tsp raw umber acrylic, 2 tsp burnt umber acrylic, 1 tsp black acrylic, 2 tsp black drawing ink that's water soluble.
I soak the ties for 24 hours, turning the pieces in each bag every few hours.
When I take them out I pour off the remaining stain back into my stain jug and can get many more uses from it.
My last batch lasted two years and would have been longer but it was getting kinda ripe.


I got this recipe from Rusty Stumps and it works great.
I've used it for all my models over the last few years and am really pleased with the aged effect for the wood.
Each piece has enough variety of color that it gives a very realistic appearance.
I think it'll work fine for the ties too.


With the ties weathered and stained I'll glue them down with Elmer's white glue and spike the rails down.
My roadbed is 1/2" Homasote and I'm using ME spikes.
I think I'll try the ME rail weathering solution.
I have some of their weathered rail on my turntable and that looks....... well, kinda weathered.


If I'm truly unhappy with my weathering job I'll just bury the ties a little deeper.


- Tom


Si.
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Hi Tom  :wave:


Sounds like a GREAT plan for the ties.  :old dude:

Is it working out ?  ???



I have all sorts of 'Artists' paints, in both oil, acrylic & watercolour.  [whack]



But I mainly habitually buy 'Humbrol' Enamel paints.

Probably got addicted to the fumes when I was 10 !  ;)



A recent 'top-tip' I got, for a NICE 'straight outta the pot' rusty-iron-raily type of colour ...

... strangely enough ...

... was the 'Humbrol' Enamel colour 'LEATHER', which is a kinda old looking brown/rust hue.



Saw it used on some seriously RUSTED steelworks wagons.

It looked really ... Erm ... Well ... RUSTY !  :P



The 'Humbrol' has really DENSE PIGMENT ...

... which can help stop the 'metal-shine' from showing through, even after just ONE coat.  :thumb:



:moose:



Si.


Tom Ward
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Si. - Thanks for the suggestion.

My track laying project has stalled out or maybe just slowed waaaaayyyyyyy down.

I've got all my ties stained.
I decided I was wasting my time with the fine saw blade and just used the hack saw blade for adding grain.
Much faster.
When I stained them the details disappeared which was a bit disappointing.

I painted the PC board ties on the turnouts to match the wood ties and they looked OK but not great.
I tried brushing on some black weathering pigment (Bragdons) and the grain came back and everything looked good.

I then painted the rails to match the ME weathered rails and decided I didn't like that.

I live about a half mile from the Florida East Coast Railway (Jacksonville to Miami).
So I eyeball the tracks several times per day.
They use concrete ties so that's not much help but the rails are rusted reddish brown, probably just like the color you suggested.

I dusted my rails with some of Bragdons dark rust and it looks perfect.
I think I'll hafta dust everything with flat clear before I try gluing down any ballast.

I have a question about the ties.
I stained mine brownish grey to show some light aging.
I'm assuming ties were not soaked in creosote back in the early 1900's.
Whadaya think?
Is that a safe guess?

- Tom





Michael M
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Well, I found an article about tie preservation:

http://pages.uindy.edu/~oaks/Articles/History.pdf


Seems that some form of preservation was used from almost the beginnings of railroading.

Still, I would think that it would depend largely on the individual railroad.

I don't believe most logging lines worried about tie preservation. 


Tom Ward
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Michael - Wow, thanks.

I still get amazed at the amount of information on the Internet.

"The 153,703,000 crossties purchased by U.S. railroads in 1907 amounted to 7.5% of this country’s output of forest products for the year.
Of all these ties, barely 1 in 8 was chemically treated to resist decay.
The remaining ties were expected to be removed and discarded within a decade."
This quote is from page 20.

Since I'm modeling 1920 (maybe) it's probably safe to say there would be no preservative on the ties.
They would have been set down probably ten years prior to that so maybe still in good condition but showing some age.
I'll go with that.

Thanks again for finding this.

- Tom


Michael M
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Tom,

I found a video of the Dolly Varden Mine train:  https://archive.org/details/dollyVardenMine

Not the best quality film, but if you look at the ties and bridge timbers they don't appear to be treated with any creosote.

Tom Ward
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Michael - what a cool video! 

To be able to go into a long abandoned mining area with everything just sitting there.
About 20 years ago I used to explore mining sites in Nevada with my brother-in-law. 
He told that when he was much younger he used to go to Bodie before it was made a park/historical site. 
Same kind of thing. 
I would love to experience that. 
This cool-man video really takes you along on an adventure. 

Thanks.

- Tom


Michael M
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Tom,

Been to Bodie many times. 
Always neat to walk those streets of a town that was built back in the 1870s. 
Even though it has become a tourist trap Virginia City is still a fun place to visit. 





This is a photo of one of the mines near Skidoo in Death Valley. 
Even though it's over 100 years old much is pretty well preserved. 
Nice aging on the wood. 
Notice the sparse vegetation at 5,700 foot elevation. 
Hot during the summer, and snow in the winter.


Ken C
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Tom

Some prototype hand laid track from El Salvadore and Peru, photos taken in 2000 & 2001, working 3 foot gauge trackage.

Ties vary from cast, narrow, standard and what ever works  :Crazy: .

Definitely not a tourist railway. 





Tom Ward
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Ken -

Looks like the bean counters are running that operation. 
Hard to believe that kind of operation still exists today.
 
My short line is looking at the long term expense and plans to replace the non-creosote ties just as soon as they rot away.

- Tom


Ken C
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Tom

The FCH&H trackage
in Peru was rebuilt to standard gauge in 2008, after 80-90 years as a 3 foot line.
Strangely enough it started as a standard gauge line, but somebody in government decided it should be rebuilt to 3 foot gauge.

The FCC&SA (Machu Picchu line) started as a 2 foot 6 inch gauge line and need to be widened to 3 foot gauge.
Not likely that it might be standard gauged as it requires 6 switchbacks and a couple of horseshoe curves,
to climb out of Cusco from the interchange yard with Perurail to finally leaving Cusco.


Tom Ward
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Ken - interesting stuff. 

I used to work with a guy from Peru who was always telling stories of home. 
That convinced me that I need to visit Peru some day. 
Well now I know fer sure...gotta go! 
Thanks for sharing.

- Tom


Steven B
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In speaking of ties, a number of western ng railways were built with redwood ties, naturally treated.  

Tom Ward
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Steven B -

Those redwood ties must have turned black instead of gray with all the tannin. 
Can't even imagine using redwood for ties today. 
Back in the 1980's I built a redwood patio cover right before the spotted owl thing shut down all the mills. 
After that the price skyrocketed.

Finally got around to laying some track. 
Ties are stained grayish brown with some raised grain added. 
Rail is rust on sides and polished on top.

- Tom





Steven B
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Hard to tell in the black and white photos.  ;)

Gray is the norm for redwood on the California Coast in the moisture of the fog on houses and decks. 
Bridges and trestles turn gray too.
 
There is (or was) a great example north of Fort Bragg, CA over Pudding Creek, is a nice warm shade of gray. 
In searching images it comes right up, so it must be still there.


Tom Ward
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Steven - You're right and I stand corrected.  I always kept my redwood stained and the tannin was a real problem while the wood was green.  If I had left it natural I'm sure it would have turned silvery-grey.  Thanks for the note.
- Tom


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