On Monday evening I completed the mainline. Last weekend afforded a lot of time to slog through the remaining ~50 feet of track, and so slog I did, strategically dropping in a few switches for passing sidings along the way. By Sunday evening about five feet of track remained to be laid, which was rather quickly knocked out the next night once the kids were in bed.
Laying flex track is one of those things that I perceive as a big hassle and so I put it off. For every piece I have to swap glasses for protective goggles, use the Dremel cutoff wheel to cut the rails to size, swap goggles for glasses, file the cut rails, remove a few ties, and finally attach rail joiners. Then, once it’s all done I step back and think, “Well that wasn’t that bad.” Repeat.
With the mainline completed I was obligated to run a few trains to test out the track, which went well, but strangely it didn’t feel as great as I had hoped. Perhaps because it’s still just a train running on plywood?
Or, perhaps more critically, it’s just a mainline. With exception of staging, there are no sidings, no spurs, no nothing. So all the train can do is run in a loop. It’s time to get some scenery going.
On that note, I have made two very small steps toward scenery, both visible in the photos accompanying this post:
- I put down a base coat of brown paint on much of the plywood. While it sort of makes the ground look like a muddy, flat wasteland, I think it’s better than bare plywood.
- I sprayed a short section of track with Rust-Oleum Camouflage Earth Brown, let the paint sit for a couple minutes, and then wiped off the top of the rails. The result is very basic track weathering. The tops of the rails are gleaming (as they should be), the sides of the rails look rusty, and the ties no longer have a plastic-y sheen. The one surprise I had was that it turned out to be more difficult to photograph than I expected.
Taking this layout beyond mainline-on-plywood (the fabled Plywood Pacific) is my next hurdle. I think the next logical step in this direction is to pick a town and develop a plan for its industries and sidings. Lots of decisions to be made – should be easy!