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How To Construct A Good Base For Your Landscape, Part 2

In the previous installment I showed you how to construct a base using plaster cloth and newspaper. Now the time has come to lay the track.

Laying Track

To lay the track I use Woodland Scenics Track-Bed (Woodland Scenics #ST1474). I already test fitted the Track-Bed pieces in the previous article, so I just glue them onto the dry plaster cloth.


Woodland Scenics Foam Tack Glue holds the Track-Bed in place

I use Woodland Scenics Foam Tack Glue (Woodland Scenics #ST1444) for this. The glue dries very quickly, so I can get on to actually laying the track. You do not need a lot of glue, even a small amount will hold the track bed in place just fine. You will have to experiment on what works for you.


I spread the glue using  spreader.

While the Track-Bed dries I hold it in place using t-pins (or Foam Nails). I find these nails suitable for everything, so I like to keep them around when doing all sorts of landscaping or benchwork.


T-pins are great for holding everything in place.

When the foam glue is dry, it is time to actually lay the track. For this diorama I chose a piece of track with concrete sleepers. I wanted a somewhat modern look for my diorama. The track is fitted onto the Track-Bed and glued in place with the foam glue.


Foam Glue can also be used to hold the track in place. While the glue dries, I use t-pins to hold everything down.

For this part I used way to much glue. The track does not need that much glue at all. Lesson learned for the next time.

Colouring

While the foam glue is drying, I colour the plaster in a brownish earth like colour. I use Woodland Scenics Earth Undercoat (Woodland Scenics #C1229) for this part. The Earth Undercoat is a pigment, and not an actual paint. Other manufacturers (e.g. NOCH) sells colours in spray cans and paint bottles. I have not tried those yet (I will for my next project).


Pigments give a nice matt earth like colour.

I like the idea of pigments because they colour the plaster in a very natural way. In this case "natually" means uneven.

I also colour the rails using a Woodland Scenics Track Painter (Woodland Scenics #TT4581). The colour is "Rusty Rail".


A painted rail adds great realism to your layout.

If you have not painted your rails, I really think you should try it. A painted rail adds great realism to your layout, and with the a track painter it is dead easy.

Track painters come from various different manufacturers, so you will just have to find one that works for you. Woodland Scenics also provide a track painter for steel rail (Woodland Scenics #TT4580), but I like the rusty colour better.

Tip! For wooden track you can also get a "weathered tie" colour (Woodland Scenics #TT4582).

Ballasting

Ballasting is actually quite easy. The code to great looking ballast is patience, and "less is more". You can always add ballast, but it can be tricky to take off if you add too much.

For this little diorama I use NOCH dark gray ballast (NOCH #09633). In the real world, ballast comes in all sorts of colours (even pink!) so you can go with whatever colour you like, you can even mix them for added realism.

I start with the ballast between the sleepers. I think this is the hardest part. I try not to have ballast running higher than the top of the sleepers, since you almost never see this in real life.


I use a plastic spoon to scatter the ballast.

I scatter the ballast using a plastic spoon, just a little ballast at the time. The NOCH ballast is very fine and easy to work with.

Tip! You can get the ballast of the sleepers and from inside the rails easily by tapping the rails with the spoon or a wooden stick. The ballast will jump right off.

To glue the ballast in place, I use Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement (Woodland Scenics #S191). The great thing about Scenic Cement is that it comes with a built in wetting agent, so you do not need to thin it or to use alcohol or what else I have seen people do. The Scenic Cement will flow right into the ballast. You have added enough when the white glue shines up through the ballast. Don't worry, it will dry to a clear matt finish.

When adding ballast to the sides of the track, I first add a little bit of glue and sprinkle ballast on it. This is to help keep the final ballast in place when adding it later. It altso makes it easier to create a fine slope.


I spread the glue in a thin layer.

I used Woodland Scenics Scenic Glue (Woodland Scenic #S190) for the sides, but you can also use NOCH Grass Glue (NOCH #61130) or some standard white glue from the hardware store.

I then sprinkle ballast the same way I did in the previous step.

When I have a nice even slope, I glue the ballast in place using Scenic Cement, just I did in the previous step.

Tip! When working with ballast, I always work in small manageable areas at a time. This makes it a lot easier, and you can stop your work and take a break if you feel like it.

Gluing tip: NOCH also produces a ballast glue that works similar to Scenic Cement. It comes in a nice applicator bottle. The bottle can be re-filled. The bottle is NOCH #61134 and a refill is #91360). The product is called "Schotter-Kleber" in German.

"Why don't you just thin some white glue and save your money?", you might ask. The reason being that thinned white glue is just what the name implies. When you thin a glue, you effectively reduces its ability to actually glue. The water in the glue will need to vaporize for the glue to set. This takes forever (in my case normally 24 hours). The glues from NOCH and Woodland Scenics are formulated in a special way that makes them very thin, but still manages to dry fairly quickly. The Scenic Cement is dry to the touch within 6 to 8 hours. I value this over the money saved.

Now, everything needs to dry and so I can get on to adding the landscape.

If you have not tried ballasting before, I really recommend that you try it out. It is fun and add great realism to your layout!

Happy modelling!