Atlas Code 55 track makes a big difference when you want to achieve a more realistic looking scale track. The smaller rail height and finer detail is a welcome change. However the rails and plastic ties needs some paint to help bring the colors in line and knock down all that shine. I use PollyScale Roof Brown and spray everything with an airbrush. You need to make sure you keep the airbrush perpendicular to the rails so that you hit the spikes head on and get equal paint cover around each spike. Otherwise if you hit it at an angle, you’ll end up with shiny rail showing. Also, with flex trak, one of the rails slides in the ties so you need to paint the rail after you have glued it down to the layout. If you try and paint it first and then flex/bend the track around a curve, the non-painted nickel plated rail will be exposed behind the spikes and you’ll spend time touching up a ton of little spots. Before the paint completely hardens, I take a small block of wood scrap and scrape the paint off of the tops of the rails. I also run the wood block down each rail at a 45 degree angle so that the paint is removed evenly on the edges, otherwise you get little jagged paint edges where the paint rail head meet that looks like crap in photos.
So from this:
After letting everything dry over night I like to then take a small brush and a plastic lid and mix up a slightly darker and slightly lighter version of the Roof Brown and paint individual ties here and there contrasting colors. While subtle, it helps add a little variation to the ties. I mix 50/50 Roof Brown and Grimey Black for the dark and 60/40 Roof Brown and Milwaukee Road Grey (you can use whatever lighter color to mix that you choose) for the lighter shade.
This gives you an idea of the subtle variations all becoming part of the scene:
Finally I ran a switcher back and forth over the track slowly to check for any dirty or dead spots.
Next up in Part 6 are turnout controls and wiring. Meanwhile if you have any questions, comments or ideas on this story, click on the green button below to go to our discussion forums.
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