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Do you paint the cork before putting down the ballast?

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Do you paint the cork before putting down the ballast?
Posted by nealknows on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 1:08 PM

Hello everyone,

Not sure if this has been asked or discussed. If it has, sorry for the repetitiveness.

I'm building a layout in our vacation place and I wanted to know if others paint the cork roadbed prior to putting down ballast, or just paint the cork and leave it as is? My home layout I put down the cork and after years of resistance, I'm adding ballast to the tracks. It's not my forte', and Im not a fan of this task. I have some friends come over that enjoy doing this.

Any comments would be greatly appreciated. 

Thanks to all who reply!

Neal

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Posted by owen w in california on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 2:22 PM

Hi Neal:  If the track is already down, then I wouldn't bother (I didn't do mine, but I wish I had). If the track is not down, painting the cork either a color that generally matches your ballast or another dark color, will give the layout a more finished look, and will improve the look of turnouts, where you will only ballast minimally and carefully.  Of course, if you plan on weathering the track and ties, you could expand that effort to fully paint the cork too. Joel

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Posted by agrasyuk on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 2:47 PM

Agreed with Oven w.

Regards

Anton.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 2:59 PM

Maybe under the points it makes sense, but I did that, then decided to go with a lighter colored balast.  Everywhere else it's going to be sealed by whatever you use to glue your ballast with.

If you sand off the sharp corners on the outside edge, you will be much less likely to see any cork and you will actually use less ballast.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

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Posted by Deane Johnson on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 3:46 PM

Interesting question Neal asks.  I'm nearing the cork stage and hadn't thought about the color.  The additional issue that was raised above concerning painting it too dark and later using a lighter ballast needs some thought also.

So, any comments on color of paint selected would be a welcome addition to the thread.

I have sprayed my Homasote overall with Krylon Camaflouge Brown simply so that any small area that lacks scenery in the future will have sort of an earthy color rather than Homasote grey.  I wonder if that color would be good for the cork?  I weather my ties and rails with Modelflex Rail Brown.

 

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Posted by michaelrose55 on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 4:04 PM

Doesn't matter what I use as roadbed, I always paint it so it has about the same color as the ballast. Closes the pores of the roadbed so the glue doesn't get sucked up and hides the roadbed if there's a hole in the ballast somewhere.

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Posted by Track fiddler on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 4:19 PM

Huh, I never even thought about this before. They sell Granite Fleck Paints in a rattle can in quite a few color variations. I can imagine cork might look really good coated with this product under the track, in between the time you finally get to the painstaking step of ballasting. Well you definitely got my cogs turning hereIndifferent

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Posted by BATMAN on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 4:40 PM

I didn't and wish I had. Go darker than what your ballast will be and you won't notice if you get a bald spot. Going lighter the bald spot will rear its ugly head.

It is the same with landscaping in general on the layout, start with a lack of colour or go as dark as you can. 

After the fact,Tongue Tied I started watching some modeling experts on FB, You-Tube and some other sites including a few movie industry model makers and this was the one thing they seem to agree on. Start dark and work towards the light.

Brent

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Posted by BNSF UP and others modeler on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 6:37 PM

If you are going to ballast it, why paint at all?

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Posted by Carolina Northern on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 6:42 PM

I've heard of people using "stone" flecked type paint, but never seen it.

I lay my cork, using caulk to stick it down. Sand it smooth. Do not skip this step. It makes a much nicer track laying experience.

 

I then paint the cork with craft type paint a gray close to my ballast color.

Finally put down the track using a thin coat of gray caulk. Makes it look acceptable to my eye until I'm happy with it and start to ballast. Puts the ballasting off for a while.

 

YMMV.

 

Don

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Posted by Eastrail11 on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 6:46 PM

BNSF UP and others modeler

If you are going to ballast it, why paint at all?

 

Because if you miss a spot while ballasting, it will not be as noticable than if it is a bright color like cork. I use foam because of the weather here would destroy cork within the year, and if a hurricane were to hit, the entire trackbed would be destroyed!!! Laugh ( I bring this up because foam is generally black so it would not need to be painted) 

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Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 7:09 PM

My roadbed, Midwest cork in most places, gets painted when I paint the track after it has been installed, feeders wired and checked for gauge and smooth operation and install the "missing" ties at the track joints.

 Track_paint1 by Edmund, on Flickr

 

Then everything gets light coats of various primers and the Camo-Earth brown making sure I have the sides of the rail covered. Then I use a very light dusting of gray, from straight above as to avoid getting any on the sides of the rail, in random places. This takes the "edge" off and gives the look of Sun bleaching just a bit.

 

 Track_paint by Edmund, on Flickr

Once the paint has dried to the touch but before it has completely cured I clean off the tops of the rails with a felt pad and a little naptha (Zippo lighter fluid) then buff the rail heads a little more.

Then the ballasting process can begin. Personally, I enjoy ballasting very much. This is the stage when the trackwork "comes alive".

Below I have the ballast spread but not glued yet. Less ballast is much preferable than too much.

 IMG_8280_fix by Edmund, on Flickr

 IMG_8287_fix by Edmund, on Flickr

You can see that I missed a few pieces of ballast sticking to the side of the rail. I try to avoid this as much as possible. In this particular scene I'm depicting an "end-of-siding" where a former double-track crossover has been reduced to single track.

Then I detail the scene with joint bars and a few lengths of rail to give the impression of the track recently being taken out of service. Sometimes I'll further "weather" the ties and ballast using an airbrush and apply some grease and grime stains.

I haven't got to it yet in this section but I'll use several of the Testor's paint pens in earth and tie colors and highlight individual ties to give the look of some ties being recently replaced.

 IMG_7802 by Edmund, on Flickr

 Track_joint1 by Edmund, on Flickr

 Track_joint by Edmund, on Flickr

Have Fun! Ed

 

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Posted by Doughless on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 8:50 PM

Fleck paint from a rattle can is thick and hard to work with.  It doesn't scrape off easily, and stinks way worse than regular rattle can paint, IMO.  I'd avoid it.

Brush painting with regular house paint would be the easiest and less messy way to go.

- Douglas

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 9:15 PM

I got some used cork that was destined for the dumpster when a nearby club tore out their layout, and it was painted (likely because nobody there enjoyed ballasting).  It was still useable, but it seems to me to be a waste of time, money, and effort if you plan on adding ballast later.

Personally, I find ballasting not onerous at all, and it and painting rails are the two model railroading tasks that will give you the most bang for your buck. 

Those tasks alone, once done, can elevate a trainset to layout status, in my opinion.  Scenery and nicer trains are just window dressing after that.

I've done a how-to which you can see HERE.

Wayne

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Posted by BNSF UP and others modeler on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 9:34 PM

I have never really had a problem with missing spots in my ballasting...Image result for skeptical emoji

They don't have a skeptical emicon...

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, October 09, 2018 10:31 PM

BNSF UP and others modeler
I have never really had a problem with missing spots in my ballasting...

Same here, but if I did, it's a simple job to redo.

Wayne

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Posted by carl425 on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 10:59 AM

gmpullman
My roadbed, Midwest cork in most places, gets painted when I paint the track after it has been installed, feeders wired and checked for gauge and smooth operation. Then I install the "missing" ties at the track joints.

+1 (except that I prefer Homasote roadbed over cork)

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Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 11:16 AM

Except for experimenting with flecked spray paint on the roadbed under turnouts (an experiment I did not repeat) I have never painted my cork roadbed.  Never felt the need. 

I have painted homasote subroadbed (also shellacked it) as per articles in Model Railroader about controlling expansion and contraction and warping of homasote and will say this: first, painting/shellacking, while it "works," essentially comes at the cost of homasote's sound-deadening qualities and suspect the same is true for cork roadbed.  Second, shellacking and/or painting homasote makes it much less easy to drive a brad or spike or pin into homasote using just your fingers or a pliers (which is one of the nice features of working with homasote), and again, I suspect the same is true of painting cork roadbed.

Dave Nelson

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Posted by kasskaboose on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 11:37 AM

I didn't on the 1st layout and not sure about doing it on the 2nd.  It never was a thought until you mention it.  Do I need to lift up track to pain or am I ok after the track is down but before ballasting?  How many coats are sufficient?

Thanks!

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Posted by nealknows on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 11:44 AM

Thanks to all who replied. My first layout here in NJ I didn't paint and I'm doing ballast along with some help. At my vacation place, more than likely I'll paint the ballast. Maybe, down the road, if I can find some volunteers to help, I will ballast the tracks. 

One thing I saw is that someone mentioned sanding the esge of the cork to give it a better look. I like that idea. 

Any volunteers for South Florida? Food included and I'm a mean grillmaster, LOL!

Neal

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Posted by gmpullman on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 2:49 PM

nealknows
One thing I saw is that someone mentioned sanding the esge of the cork to give it a better look. I like that idea.

That process is almost a necessity as the beveled cut always leaves a ridge. Not only for a better look but when ballasting, that ridge is difficult to hide. I use a Stanly Surform rasp for this job.

 stanley-surform by Edmund, on Flickr

Then use a Stanley Surform plane to level-off the high spots before laying track:

 stanley-planes by Edmund, on Flickr

At least this is what works for me.

Thank you, Ed

 

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Posted by nealknows on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 3:52 PM

Thanks Ed! I'll go check them out...

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Posted by SouthPenn on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 4:36 PM

I don't paint the cork. Seems like a waste of time if you are going to ballast your track and cover it.

South Penn
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Posted by wp8thsub on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 6:11 PM

I paint the track, and in the process the roadbed under it gets painted too.

I airbrushed this track, so there wasn't much overspray.

Here's the same area after ballasting.  The roadbed is no longer visible.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, October 11, 2018 6:40 AM

Yes, and use a dark color to emphasize the shadows.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, October 11, 2018 11:56 AM

I followed one of Rob Spanglers methods; in that case I used a rattle can of Rustoleum camoflage brown and sprayed the track and cork from a a few different angles to make sure there weren't unpainted surfaces.

I painted it at this stage so its covered:

Other side not painted yet:

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by joe323 on Thursday, October 11, 2018 12:22 PM

I did not paint the cork except for some black under the turnout frogs, which i did not ballast.

Joe Staten Island West 

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Posted by michaelrose55 on Thursday, October 11, 2018 1:21 PM

I just started painting roadbed today:

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, October 11, 2018 2:15 PM

I've never seen roadbed like that before, what is it?

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by michaelrose55 on Thursday, October 11, 2018 2:24 PM

I make my own. It's lasercut taskboard. This way I have precision whe I lay track.

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