Author Topic: Painting Track Advice  (Read 1032 times)

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kelleywpns

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Painting Track Advice
« on: June 20, 2013, 03:10:51 PM »
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Okay .. on my last layout (a n-scale hollow core door sized layout), after I painted and ballasted the track, I screwed up something in a major way.  I believe the upper-inside of the rails wasn't fully clean ... to the point where only one of my 6x diesels would operate reliably.  The only reliable runner was an Intermountain F7, nothing else (all others were Atlas 4-axle models) would run more than one trip around the layout.  This was after numerous cleanings (of track and wheels) and even an attempt at the "GLEAM" method.

On my current layout (an around the walls w/ peninsula 17x14 n-scale) I have the staging yard and modeled yard laid out and everything is working very well.  Before I go to the painting step (I intend to airbrush the track and rail with PollyScale Acrylic paint), is there any advice to try and avoid my mistake from the past?  I've read about putting a light coat of oil on the top of the rail before painting.  Is there a way to easily clean the upper-inner rail after painting?

Thanks for any help/advice you can throw my way.

Mike
Modeling the New Haven and Boston & Maine

robert3985

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Re: Painting Track Advice
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2013, 03:52:23 PM »
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I've been painting and weathering my rails for decades and I don't have any dirty track problems...at all. 

Here's how I do it:  After my track is down and fully tested, along with cosmetically where I want it (ties replaced, solder joints minimized, feeders properly disguised) I apply a thorough coat of Krylon Camo Ultra-flat Black to the sides and top.

I let that dry for a little while...like ten minutes or so until it sort of dry, then I use a Bright Boy to clean the tops of the rails.   I let it dry for another hour, then I test it electrically by running an engine on it and cleaning away any paint that may be inhibiting good electrical contact...this is usually done by just using the Bright Boy again, but if your closure points on your turnouts are powered only by contact with the adjacent stock rails, or if power to your sidings is provided by those closure points...make sure you tape them off before spraying...and hand paint them afterwards.  It can be a real PITA to clean them after they've been sprayed.

After the Krylon has dried, I apply a coat of the appropriate tie color by spraying from directly above the tracks, so that the full spray doesn't hit the sides of the rails, but gets the tops of the ties best, the sides of the ties too...and overspray tints the sides of the rails...so that they're not dead black...but now sort of a rusty gray.

This is a light coat of paint, and can be applied using a spray can or airbrush, so do the tops of the rails Bright Boy-ing again and test (always test).

After this, I go over several individual ties every six inches or so with different colors of "tie" brown for variety.  This goes fast, and adds a lot to the appearance.

Then I ballast my track with real rock ballast (I use Highball) that I've mixed to look like U.P. mainline ballast in Weber Canyon.

After the ballast is dry and I've picked the loose chunks off the sides of the rails and tops of the ties...and retouched those spots, I weather the ballast and rails/ties with my airbrush using blacks and reddish browns, to represent both the weed killer UP sprays on its mainlines (rusty red) or oil/cinders on the uphill grades.

Clean and test again

Although this sounds complicated, it isn't and goes quickly.

I have never had a problem with dirty track, and the Krylon is strong enough that it stays on Delrin ties and un-cleaned rail sides very well...and forms an excellent base for detail painting and weathering.

Only drawback is that it stinks.  Use a mask when applying.

Here's a shot at Echo Curve with track done using this method.



DKS

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Re: Painting Track Advice
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2013, 03:57:57 PM »
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I use a similar approach to Bob's, except that I use an airbrush to control over-spray. When cleaning the rail, pay a little extra attention to the inside top corner of the rail head. If you get the rails properly cleaned right after painting, it'll be a much easier job than waiting, as the paint will get harder to remove over time.

If you're using Atlas Code 55 track, beware that you can strip the plating off of the point rails and frogs with a Brite Boy. Best to use a rag moistened with 90% alcohol or some other solvent. (Alcohol will work on freshly-applied acrylics as well.)
« Last Edit: June 20, 2013, 04:02:15 PM by David K. Smith »
“Everyone leaves unfinished business. That's what dying is.” —Amos, The Expanse

MVW

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Re: Painting Track Advice
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2013, 04:21:12 PM »
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I've used the "thin film of oil" routine and have never had any problems with conductivity. I just clean the rail tops damn quick after painting. My usual "tool" is a strip of cotton sock wrapped around a wood shim. Dab a little 90% iso on the end and give the rail a quick scrubbing. Usually don't have to use much elbow grease.

Jim

nscaleSPF2

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Re: Painting Track Advice
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2013, 06:38:30 PM »
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kelleywpns,

Had exactly the same experience.  Solved it by wiping the tops of the rails with a soft rag dipped in odorless mineral spirits.  Process was suggested by Peteski in this thread https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=26904.0

Jim Hale
Jim Hale

Trying to re-create a part of south-central Pennsylvania in 1956, one small bit at a time.

u18b

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Re: Painting Track Advice
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2013, 07:28:53 PM »
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I confess, I go all out.

I spray the rails SIDES rail brown.  Over spray gets on the ties of course.

So I then go BACK and spray oily black and spray directly over the ties and rails.  And with slightly lower pressure.  Point is, the black generally only gets on the TOP surfaces (top of the ties, top of the rails), but does not bounce up (very much) back onto the sides of the rail.

Then clean everything off as people have said.

End result is rails that are rusty, and ties that are creosote.  2 different colors.
Ron Bearden
CSX N scale Archivist
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"All get what they want-- not all like what they get."  Aslan the Lion in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis.

robert3985

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Re: Painting Track Advice
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2013, 01:02:00 AM »
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If you're using Atlas Code 55 track, beware that you can strip the plating off of the point rails and frogs with a Brite Boy. Best to use a rag moistened with 90% alcohol or some other solvent. (Alcohol will work on freshly-applied acrylics as well.)

Good advice.  Since I don't use commercial turnouts, I was not aware of that problem with Atlas 55 turnouts.