MODELING: Trackwork 2.0

It is 1962 and scheduled freight 674 is rolling through Woodinville, WA. Douglas Leach took this shot preserving classic diesels with their original paint scheme.


I am continuing the construction of a P48 #7 turnout.  This post will cover the addition of ballast, switch hardware and rail.

I like to use Right O’Way products for tie, tie plates, switch castings and rail on my layout.  Jay Criswell is the go-to supplier in 1/4″ scale for a wide range products.

The ballast I used is a natural stone harvested from the former Northern Pacific right of way in the Seattle area.  A friend shipped me a flat rate box of a few shovels full of local stuff.  My method is to apply the ballast dry and worked with a soft brush and my fingers.  That was followed with spray of distilled water with a drop or two a wetting agent.  I used carpenter’s glue cut with water (50%) applied with an eye dropper.  The picture above shows what it looks like when it is drying.  The ties end up with a layer of dust from the ballast which becomes attached to the top surface.


I like to prepaint the rail after attaching rail braces.  My “go-to” paint for this is Rust-Oleum Camouflage Earth Brown in a rattle can.  Prior to paint, I attach power leads to the bottom of the rail including the frog.   The process of building the turnout started with the location of the point of the frog and the straight rail.  I use a steel straight edge to ensure rail is straight while spiking the initial points along the rail. Once the initial points are spiked I continue to add tie plates and spiking the rail in place.


Building the turnout is not rocket science but it does take time and patience.  However, I am rethinking my layout to reduce the number of turnouts required.  Have to consider my age and likelihood of finishing something.


After a lot of spikes and tie plates you will end up something like this.  The gopher hole adjacent to the frog casting will be filled with some modeling clay and ballast.  I need to touch up the spikes and weather the track.


The next step is to install it on the layout along with the Tam Valley servo and the Frog Juicer.

Happy New Year




6 thoughts on “MODELING: Trackwork 2.0

  1. Gene, I too use Right’o Way switch parts. One thing that I realized recently is that if I use canopy glue to glue the rail etc first, the spiking and therefore the whole switch build goes a lot faster. It’s quicker and easier to get things in gauge with the glue first and not have to constantly check as one spikes.
    Maynard Stowe

  2. The availability of cast turnout components has made construction very simple compared to my first turnout build build back in 1959 or so. The level of detail is a bonus.

    Happy New Year! May 2021 be a great year for.layout construction.

  3. Love the tie plates. You Proto 48 guys get to have all the fun. Will be interested to see IF the turnout integrated into layout.

  4. Gene, I have the decals for the F Units, shown at the top of this edition. Really think they’d make a nice looking string. Just never had nerve enough to try them out. Was the photographer Rick’s dad?

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