Peco Code 83 track has been used throughout on Lawley Street. Code 83 is designed with the American modeller in mind and in my humble opinion, really looks the part. Code 83 is a little more fragile than Code 75 and 100 due to the finely moulded chairs and a little more care is needed when handling and laying. I have used a mixture of electro and insulfrog turnouts, as I already had both to hand. My preference is for No.6 radius turnouts, but 2 No.5s have been used on Lawley Street. Again, these were already on hand and I decided to build the layout on a budget.
I began by playing around with a few different track plans, basically laying turnouts and flexitrack in various configurations until I found something I liked, looked right and met my industry requirements. The track is laid on Woodland Scenics HO track bed. This comes in several different sizes. The track bed is glued directly to the base board using Woodland Scenics Foam Tack Glue – this is a slow curing glue that allows readjustment of the track bed and track.
These are the tools I use to to make clean accurate cuts on the flexi-track – Zuron track cutters and a flat jewellers file. A dremel with a cutting disc can also be used.
The Peco fishplates can be a little loose – to ensure good electrical conductivity, carefully squeeze each end of the fishplate to make it a tight fit. Each siding/road has an electrical feed, the feed comes from wires soldered to the bottom of fishplates. The fishplate has to be ‘polished’ using fine wet & dry or a fibreglass pen before the solder will take. The soldered fishplates give a neat, invisible look.
Once the track plan has been decided, the track can start to be laid. I started by laying the ‘kick-back’ which leads to the first turnout. Depending on the turnout control, a hole will need to be drilled in order to ‘flick’ the turnout through the blade hole. I marked the position of the hole into the track bed and drilled a 10mm hole.
Next, I laid a bead of Foam Tack Glue and pressed the track directly onto it. Any adjustments can be made to ensure the track lines up correctly.
I did this in a couple of stages, but on a layout this size, the track can be laid in a couple of hours with good results.
Nothing special here, I just used a rattle can of Railmatch Sleeper Grime. The key here is not to rush and allow the paint to dry between coats. I sprayed outside on a warm June day. If spraying inside, ensure there is plenty of ventilation and use a painters spray mask.
Spray from the side rather than from above, this way the track sides are coated evenly.
The finished article – now comes the boring part -cleaning the track.
My track cleaning tools: The small piece of wood is used to initially clean off the paint, it is best to do this when the paint is still slightly soft. Next comes a Hornby track rubber, followed by a softer Roco track rubber. The brush is used to clean out the resulting debris.
A slight adjustment by adding a short length of rail to the Team Track, along with a Peco bumping post. Undergrowth is now also starting to appear.
The finished scene.
Ballasting is carried out using traditional methods, although rather than using traditional watered down PVA glue, I have tried a product called Matt Medium. This product comes concentrated or in ready prepared form. A pipette is used to carefully soak the laid ballast. Ballast comes from a variety of sources, but real stone products are used in a subtle variation of colours. I have tried a slightly different approach to weeds and ground scrub – this is laid directly to the track bed before ballasting. This gives the appearance of the weeds growing from the ballast as opposed to being ‘plonked’ on top of the ballast.
Ballast brushed carefully between the sleepers. Tapping the top of the rail helps the ballast settle evenly and fall from the side of the rails. The ballast ‘shoulder’ is built up, while the larger areas between sidings is left shallower.
Ballasting completed and weathered. The final weathering is with a mix of Sleeper grime and Brake Dust over general areas, with a dirty Black over areas where a locomotive may stand for some time. Both colours applied with an air-brush.