Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hostage to a Sleeper Cell

Just a brief update. I have been laying sleepers like a fiend. The benefits of having smaller modules (1.2m x 0.6m) is that they can be easily dragged out and worked on as individual sections. Therefore, I typically drag out a section to the lounge room every ‘other’ evening and lay some sleepers. In this way, I never miss my favourite TV shows (obviously an important aspect of every modeller’s life), nor a minute with my wife (she told me to write this).

The sleepers (Kappler and Micro Engineering sugar pine from the USA) are affixed using PVA glue. After a light sand to get them all the same height, everything is given a white undercoat (heavily thinned), and then a base colour is added of Tamiya FX-1 (Flat Black) and FX-52 (Flat Earth) (thanks Darren This is done in a relatively ‘patchy’ way, so as to replicate the prototype. They will receive another filter of red-brown, followed by some random dry brushing of white to gain the ‘grey effect’, so often observed in aged wood. Until then, I have plenty of more sleepers to lay. One at a time...


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ballasting the Way God Intended: Quick, Easy, and Effective

Some of you may have heard many modellers (of all kinds) using ‘Johnsons Klear’ floor polish for various uses, including (but not confined to):

• Preparing surface for decals (used by the model aircraft fraternity).
• Improving clarity in windows (particularly aircraft model canopies).
• Ballasting track.

While I’m yet to use it for windows and decals, my main interest is in ballasting. I contacted Jim Smith Write (of P4 New Street fame) as I knew that he loves it – as do many other modellers. See here for a photo or two featuring ballasting using the ‘Klear method’ on Jim’s layout:

The product and its ‘cousins’ have many different names, which vary from one country to the next. And some lines have also been discontinued. In short, I found it all very confusing. I then came across this web page that runs through all the different uses (there are many) and the names and places to source the product, including Australia:

With this in mind, I went to Bunnings, and there on the shelf was Pascoe’s Long Life floor polish, as suggested in the link above. I purchased a small bottle and took it home to try. Wow! I can now understand why everyone raves about it as a brilliant ballasting agent.

The big attractions to this product are;
• It has very low viscosity, so the capillary action in the ballasting grains is truly amazing, and therefore requires relatively small amounts of liquid.
• The super low viscosity also means that is won’t ‘float’ fine ballast away (as I can attest to, when using very fine sand in my test last night).
• It’s odourless.
• Dries fast (in about two hours or so)
• It sets very hard.
• It’s cheap.

If one was to spray it on (pump bottle or airbrush) then apparently it may result in a shine (it is, after all, a polish). However, I have read that this is simply overcome by a blast of your favourite matte finish. All this said, I used an eye dropper, which resulted in absolutely no ‘shine’.

And it is so easy to use; pour on and position the ballast, gently release the liquid (neat) beside the track with an eye dropper and let the capillary action do the rest. A few hours later you’re ready to weather the track.

I’d strongly recommend that you have a go. And I haven’t even thought about its other alleged uses...