Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Painting the Subroadbed, Roadbed, and Track

416 views
9 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    September, 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 16,567 posts
Painting the Subroadbed, Roadbed, and Track
Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, November 11, 2017 6:08 AM

If I lay track on cork roadbed, placed on top of plywood subroadbed, is it best to spray everything.... the track, roadbed, and plywood subroadbed? Or, just paint the track?

That seems to make sense, but I wonder what others do. In the past, I have laid track on foam roadbed and never bothered to paint any of it, so I am curious about this phase of layout building.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    February, 2005
  • 475 posts
Posted by davidmurray on Saturday, November 11, 2017 9:00 AM

If I were starting a new layout I would lay the cork.  Then brush paint the plywood a dirt colour of your choice.  Then brush paint the cork a colour close to your chosen ballast colour.

After laying track and wiring, then the rails can be rusted with a fine brush  Selected ties could be brushed with various degrees of weathering.

This and ballasting can wait until you are sure the track plan does what you want.

Not all cork needs to be done before track laying starts.

Dave

 

David Murray from Oshawa, Ontario Canada
  • Member since
    December, 2008
  • From: In the heart of Georgia
  • 2,245 posts
Posted by Doughless on Saturday, November 11, 2017 1:15 PM

I first brush paint the subroadbed a flat green along the right of way (or dirt or cinder color), leaving a bare path where the roadbed will be caulked to the plywood.  I then lay the roadbed and paint mainly the beveled sides a flat gray latex.  If it gets thick where the corner of the bevel meets the ply, thats okay because (latex) paint behaves similar to (latex) caulk. 

I get some of the gray on the green, but that's okay.  In the real world, nothing is a perfect line where the ballast and weeds meet.

The flat paint soaks in and didn't seem to bother the adhesion of the ballast glue mixture whenever you get to that point.  Use flat paint in moderation over anything with a sheen.  It soaks in better, sticks better, and other things stick to it better.  You're only looking to color the ply and the roadbed, not protect it from the elements.

  • Member since
    September, 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 16,567 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, November 11, 2017 4:46 PM

Thanks, guys.

Never having painted rail, I just assumed that the most common approach was to spray everything at once, rail, roadbed and subroadbed, and all one color. I like the idea of painting the subroadbed (the plywood surface) first, then laying the cork and painting it the color of the eventual ballast, then lay down rail and hand brush paint it.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    November, 2013
  • From: Ledyard, CT
  • 1,853 posts
Posted by BMMECNYC on Saturday, November 11, 2017 5:18 PM

Rattle can of rustoleum camoflauge brown.   I stole the idea from Ken Patterson on youtube.  Looks great when done, hides the feeder wires pretty well.  YMMV

I painted the subroadbed after the roadbed was in place.  I picked a "dirt color" from the local homedepot, and got the cheapest indoor flat latex paint (low voc).  I also used the latex paint to adhere the base coat of ground foam on a section.  This is actually seems to work pretty well, and saves a whole step of putting down a layer of white glue (the paint becomes the glue).

The poor guy at the paint counter was trying to sell me the expensive stuff, and couldnt fathom why I wanted the cheapest paint possible...until I explained why...

richhotrain
Never having painted rail, I just assumed that the most common approach was to spray everything at once, rail, roadbed and subroadbed, and all one color. I like the idea of painting the subroadbed (the plywood surface) first, then laying the cork and painting it the color of the eventual ballast, then lay down rail and hand brush paint it.

IMO

Hand painting the rail is a huge pain, and takes a really long time. (Ive done this).  Painting the ballast has little to no benefit, since you are covering it with ballast.  

Most recently when I handlaid some code 100 track, I rattlecanned my recycled flex track with the rustoleum paint, then stripped the liquid nails filled ties off and spiked the rail down.  

Rule 108: In case of doubt or uncertainty, the safe course must be taken.
  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
  • 4,905 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Saturday, November 11, 2017 5:43 PM

What bmmecnyc said.  Hand brushing paint?  To much unnecessary work when a can of Rustoleum will do quite nicely.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Contrarian's contrarian
  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • From: Maryland
  • 6,470 posts
Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, November 11, 2017 5:43 PM

richhotrain

If I lay track on cork roadbed, placed on top of plywood subroadbed, is it best to spray everything.... the track, roadbed, and plywood subroadbed? Or, just paint the track?

That seems to make sense, but I wonder what others do. In the past, I have laid track on foam roadbed and never bothered to paint any of it, so I am curious about this phase of layout building.

Rich

 

OK, first I don't use cork. Homasote or milled wood are my roadbed of choice. Homasote starts out grey, the color of my ballast.

Ever since starting to use Atlas code 83, and other track products with brown ties (most were black way back in the day), I don't fully paint the track, just "weather" it.

I do hand paint the sides of the rail.........

The neat and well cared for mainlines of the east in my era then just need some dulling down and blending together to look realistic.

Once again, I can't imagine using a spray can.....I own several air brushes......

Sheldon

    

  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
  • 4,905 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Saturday, November 11, 2017 5:50 PM

Oh I can imagine it.  I used Rustoeum camo brown on my last layout based in Rob Spanglers most excellent layout and recommendations.  The results speak for themselves when you see his layout photos and it doesnt get any better than that!

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Contrarian's contrarian
  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: 4610 Metre's North of the Fortyninth on the left coast of Canada
  • 4,602 posts
Posted by BATMAN on Saturday, November 11, 2017 5:57 PM

The best MRR painting "scenery" video I have seen said to start with an absence of colour. This was the best advice I've learned to date. It suggested you start with a flat black or dark brown, I chose a dark dirt brown. 

I put the cork down and painted all the foam brown. I didn't paint the cork gray to match the ballast at first but changed and started to paint the cork gray later on. This covers any spots the ballast may escape from over time, it will likely go unnoticed. The same with the brown, if someone brushes against the dirt, you are unlikely to notice that as well if you get a little bare spot. Getting a little brown on the cork or a little gray on the brown won't matter as it gets covered in the end with foliage or ballast.

Paint the track before you ballast. I use the rusty rails painter or airbrush as my mood dictates. I really like to use the rusty rail painter to add highlight colours to the ties. A little gray or black muck here or there looks great. The rusty rail painter is great for adding oil stains after the ballast is added as well. When I use the airbrush on the track I use a camo brown usually and then roll the rusty rails painter to add a slate colour here and there and then lightly roll on some rust on the spikes here and there.

I have been really happy with the results I had. 

A word of caution, A couple of years after I had painted all my foam brown, I put down my yard tracks and turnouts directly on the foam and held them in place with "T-Pins". Over time the latex paint reacted with the ties and the track is firmly in place being held by the paint. I did the same with some "temporary" sidings, and when I went to lift them up, the paint was stuck to the bottom of the ties and not the foam.

Good luck Rich.

 

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

https://www.youtube.com/user/BATTRAIN1

  • Member since
    December, 2008
  • From: In the heart of Georgia
  • 2,245 posts
Posted by Doughless on Saturday, November 11, 2017 8:52 PM

richhotrain

Thanks, guys.

Never having painted rail, I just assumed that the most common approach was to spray everything at once, rail, roadbed and subroadbed, and all one color. I like the idea of painting the subroadbed (the plywood surface) first, then laying the cork and painting it the color of the eventual ballast, then lay down rail and hand brush paint it.

Rich

 

As far as the plywood, I paint it green or brown before laying the roadbed, but it can be done anytime before laying the ground foam or dirt.

As far as rails, I've used rattle cans and brush paint in the past, but have settled on brush paint.  Rattle cans cause the basement to stink and you'll have a tougher time removing the paint from the tops of the rails since rattle can paint sticks very well.  

I use a big artists chisel brush to paint the rails and the ties at the same time, since the sides of the rails and the tops of the ties on the prototype tend to be the same crud color.  I nestle the brush long ways into the crease thats formed where the angle of the ties and rails meet.  You can move along quite quickly.   I'm not that precise with the application, since cheap dark brown latex paint wipes off the tops of the rail pretty well.  The the chisel brush never strays far when held into the crease anyway, so the paint pretty much goes where I want it.

I just mix the colors as I go using a palette and blend them further with the wet paint I just laid down.  I mix brown and black.  No need to have everything exactly "rail brown" all over the layout.

If you want that new rusty look, a fine artists brush can apply orange in places over what you've just painted, and stay on the sides of the rails.

Dried latex paint scrapes off of the tops of the rails quite easily with the edge of a credit card.  Something metal will scratch the rails.

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!
Popular on ModelRailroader.com
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
Find us on Facebook