Hand Laid Track Attempt – Part I


I stole away to the train room this afternoon (not really, just sounds more dramatic that way). I started just spending some time weathering and distressing ties with my Xacto #11. I had heard of doing this before, but usually in bigger scales. A recent post by Hunter Hughson (Weather Ties – Test Shots) provided some good motivation to try it myself.

Basically I just took my #11 to ties in different ways to add cracks, gouges, etc. Then I painted them with a paint marker (it’s what I had on hand, but Hunter has another blog post on using acrylics that I want to try in the future). Here are some examples:


These are in pretty tough shape…

I did this for quite a while building up my supply.

Ties on right are weathered but not yet stained

Ties on right are weathered but not yet stained

Eventually I had enough to glue some down, my original plan was to hand lay just the bits leading up to the trestle and use the flex that came with the trestle kit. However, it occurred to me that my pieces of rail are 18″ and this whole module is only 18 inches and that it would be a lot easier to make sure the track is properly lined up across all three sections so my plan now is to run the rail all the way across.

I used un-weathered ties to work out spacing:


Trippy… this was a bit mesmerizing in person

Then I used some masking tape to hold them in formation:


With them still taped I carefully removed the un-weathered ties to glue down:

I didn't stain the button of the ties so I wouldn't accidently put a weathered face down.. and you won't ever see it anyway

I didn’t stain the button of the ties so I wouldn’t accidentally put a weathered face down.. and you won’t ever see it anyway

I used some wood glue because it’s what I had on hand, it’s a little slow drying but makes a pretty good bond in the long run:

Looks kind of like frosting

Looks kind of like frosting

With the ties still on the masking tape I put them down properly spaced and lined up:


The glue ended up being a bit thicker than I had intended but ballast will end up covering it up anyway. Since the wood glue is such a slow dry I ended up leaving the tape on while the glue dries. Next time I’ll do the other side and then start spiking on either end. Once I get the supports and scenic structure in for the trestle I’ll spike down ties to the trestle as well. It’ll be a squeeze but if I can make it work the operational benefits of having no joints will pay off in the long run. If that doesn’t work I’ll just have to cut the rails to drop in the trestle.

Trestle Me This, Part II


I was able to get a little bit of work on my trestle project, I started by working on staining the timbers. I hadn’t found a stain for it but it occurred to me that the treated timbers are basically the same color as railroad ties. I happened to have a couple of tie colored paint markers so I painted them up.

Then I put the guard timbers on the track, the kit came with a piece of Micro Engineering flex track so this was as simple as cutting the plastic “timbers” to fit and gluing them down. I’m showing it here with my Walthers SW1 that will become ILSX320


Next up I started putting the trestle bents on the stringers, I had trouble with them staying straight so I used a piece of bamboo to stabilize them.


With all the trestle bents in place and the track across it, I won’t fasten the track down until it’s installed so it’s easier to align.


Posed with the SW1


Trestle me this!


I picked up a project to work on this last week while I was off work, but never actually got around to it until today.




It’s the Blair Line Standard Timber Trestle, it is for the mini module inspired by a picture on railpictures.net, I initially describe it here: https://bestsnowman.wordpress.com/2011/12/24/new-module-raging-river/

I also managed to pick up a Walthers SW1 that would make an easy repaint into Soo (really ILSX) 320 to accompany the trestle. For now I’m building the parts with the intention of staining the pieces before final assembly. I also need to work on the structural supports for the trestle on the module benchwork.

In the meantime I do leave my readers with a question, the instructions for the kits say they need to be stained but do not give any ideas. What type of stain should I use for a realistic look? If you have any suggestions drop me an email or leave a comment.

New Module: Raging River


I started a new module this morning I’m calling Raging River (yes it’s a tad tongue-in-cheek). It was inspired by a picture I found on railpictures.net:

Photo taken by and Copyright Louis Becker. Photo used with permission

The locomotive in the picture is actually the first diesel recieved by the Soo Line in 1939, an EMD SW1. This isn’t a museum piece, it’s actually in use by ILSX for revenue service!

Since this is such a small bridge I’ve decided to build it as a mini-mo module, this decision was in part influenced by the fact that I had enough birch leftover from CR23 to do a mini-mo. It is 8.5 inches wide and 18 inches long, the actual bridge will be about eight inches of that.

The structure is very rigid being hardwood and using plenty of screws. I haven’t puttied up the screw holes yet so what you see are the holes generated by my Kreg jig. I decided on using a good solid support for the approach track and will use lighter weight materials for the scenic ground. The outer frame only dips about an inch and a half right now, I may increase that depending on how the bridge components look in the space. That is also why there is not yet any support for the bridge supports as I have yet to decided on what I’m using and what dimensions they will require.

Click here to see more posts related to this project