10.16.2008

more dip than a cocktail party

Well, not anymore. With judicious assistance, I finally managed to remove the pronounced dip at one end of the S scale module. Several possible approaches were considered before undertaking the work.
1) lever the extruded styrofoam "bedrock" up from below <- brute force and stupidity
2) hack into the structure sideways at the base of the ballast slope and jam in some shim material <- messy and imprecise
3) strip the rail off the affected area, stack new ties on top of the old, and carefully sand level. <- least destructive and easiest to verify results.

Ultimately choice #3 was pursued. About 2'4" of rail was removed and new sugar-pine ties were glued on with full strength Weld Bond adhesive to fill the depressed area. The opportunity was taken to re-align the rails slightly to eliminate a drunken wander in the main line. 50 grit paper was Super 77 spray adhered to one side of a 4" wide, 2' long, flat plank. 150 grit paper was likewise stuck to the other side of the plank.

The glue was allowed a long cure time before the ties were attacked with the 50 grit until nearly down to the original tie height at both ends. Sanding strokes were made perpendicular to the right-of-way to limit stress on the small gluing surface areas. Frequent checks were made to ensure that the new ties were not getting a crown or being tapered towards one side or the other. Once the old tie colour started to show through the thin skin left by the new ties at the extreme ends of the fill area the 150 grit side was used to clean up and de-fuzz the surfaces.



You can see how pronounced the dip was close to the module end by the rapid increase in fill-in tie thickness. Next the ties were stained with Floquil's "Tie Brown". What remains is the careful replacement of the rails to ensure they meet up with the previously marked positions at the end of the module, and the re-application of ballast around the new ties. A quick trip under the module with a soldering iron will re-attach the buss feeders, and re-testing will be done well in advance of the Christmas Train Show.

Why did the dip appear? Based on the sunken appearance of the ballast along the centreline of the ROW, I can only assume that the eye-dropper application of thinned adhesive was too agressive and the Tentest subroaded contracted as it dried up. This pulled the cork and ties downwards immediately after the end of the trapezoidal pine profile block at the end of the module (which remained flat & level).

Near the siding end of the split-rail fence, a copse of evergreens has sprung up. Short lengths of styrene tubing have been glued into the foam base to ensure rapid installation and removal of the trees for transport. There are twelve MountainView Depot conifers which are a far better looking and more consistently produced than anything I can manufacture.

Here's a product shot from the MountainView Depot gallery:



I'll need more of these, in various sizes, to add depth and texture to the rest of the module. In addition, a good number of flowering shrubs and low scrub will have to be applied to balance the scene.

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