I’ve actually gotten a little bit of work done on the layout. After what seemed an enormous amount of fiddling I finally got the sand tower arranged so that locomotives will fit between the hoses, so I permanently attached that. Then I filled in with a bit of lightweight spackle and painted the ground with a burnt sienna. In retrospect that color is a bit too dark and red, but I was going for a wet red clay… I think I need just a bit lighter and more tan next time. Add some fine turf in a mix of green and yellow, and things start looking like something. Next up, here, I need to permanently install the fuel tank and add some piping, and then do something to make the road look decent. I’m going to have to paint it darker, and then add some striping (again), as the tape I was using didn’t work.
Over on the other end of the layout, I’ve installed the road and the first grade crossing. I’ve got a lot of work to do to make this look right… I didn’t count on the grade crossing being narrower than my chosen road width, and I made a mess of the road when putting spackle around the edges to blend the grade… but I’ve got the basics in place, and with some work I can make it look like something.
Again, with the burnt sienna paint and some fine turf ground cover, this begins to look like something. I need to fill in some holes, add some gravel and stuff on the steeper slopes, and continue to add detail… I’ll have to trim the road back a bit and add a gravel shoulder, and blend it into the grade crossing better.
After I took the photo, I went back with the lightweight spackle and began filling and blending in the grade on the upper hill… very soon the Woodland Scenics Risers should begin to disappear.
Finally, I also began adding ballast to the main line across the front. This is Arizona Rock & Mineral rock ballast – real crushed rock! – and is very interesting to work with. It lays very nicely and has a very fine consistency and a wonderful color blend. I’m glad that Fifer Hobby carries this in single bags, as it’s quite expensive if bought direct from the manufacturer. I like the way the mainline color (grey, right) differentiates nicely from the yard ballast (brown, left)… should help guest operators see more quickly which tracks are which.
One thing I did notice is that it’s easier to be sloppy with the cork roadbed with Woodland Scenics (crushed walnut shells) ballast. as it’s a bit more forgiving when trying to form a nice slope on the ballast. With the AZR&M ballast, I’m going back and cutting a slope into the cork instead of leaving it messy. This is a good Best Practice anyway, so it’s not so bad, and is fairly easy with a sharp razor blade.