HO Scale Brass & Iron Foundry Official Forum Build



  • Pappy said:

    I have a problem with Scenery on my dioramas and found a helpful tool.
    I play a lot of PC games and found the textures colors on some of these games are so realistic. One Game I am currently focused on for this build is Red Dead Redemption 2. It's a western game that has a lot of detail on Ties and Tracks and ballast and many other Scenery ideas for color and plants...etc.

    Brett, Ken, Mario and many others here are the best and value their expertise.

    Just wanted to throw this idea out there to others to help if needed.

    Pappy :)

    Playing that game too Pappy. Loving it.
  • Ken, Not much I could add to all the superlatives this build has garnered. Just wonderful in all respects. I am getting close to starting the diorama ( installing track and planting strutures) and have been studying your build from the beginning of my effort. Your artistry and craftsmanship is nonpareil. Micro Enginerring sold precut HOn3 ties, and had some but used them all as sleepers on the layout. What size strip wood do you use to cut the ties and what spacing did you use? FastTracks has template which might be helpful.

  • Hey Jim, responded in your message board...
    Thanks so much for the thoughts and support.
  • edited October 2021
    Thank you ...this was the information I was looking for. At one point considered leaving the rail out of the diorama and installing it adjacent to rail on my layout, but decided to go the full size 14" x 11". As a base I am using an Ampersand cradled Gessobord from Dick Blick. I have used this hard board without the cradle as a base for smaller scenes. I think this will work well... you might check these out. Blick: Item #:14911-1115. They make many sizes.

    Have you built the Deer Creek Mine? I am starting this next. Might have a question or two here as well. It appears that technical accuracy is critical.
    Finally learning from making errors along the way on these great kits that it really pays to read the manual a couple of times through before starting, at least to know what is coming in following steps that may affect the present step.
    Have a good day,
    James Kendig

    On Sun, Oct 10, 2021 at 8:33 AM SierraWest wrote:
    KKarns sent you a message

    Hi Jim. Nice hearing from you and getting an update on your Morton's build. It is such a nice kit, look forward to seeing what you do with it! I also appreciate the kind words and support.

    Regarding your track questions. I went through many options when deciding on how I was going to do my track. I decided on using HOn3 rail spacing with Code 55 light rail. Most narrow gauge railroads did not use tie plates so I don't either. Keep in mind my track work is for dioramas and not for working trains...with some extra work of course it could be. To up the detail of the track, I make my own rail joiners and simulated track spikes.

    With respect to the wood I use for the ties. Most of the pre-cut ties I have tried are just a bit too "chunky" for my taste. Narrow gauge needs to be a bit more "delicate" appearing if that makes any sense. I get mine from NorthEastern Scale Lumber item number 040STR332. This is their dimensional stripwood in 24" lengths. I cut my ties to 1 inch widths. The height of the ties is shallower than prototypical ties but when glued down and some "dirt" added they give the appearance of well settled ties. In other words, they don't stick up too high since narrow gauge rarely if ever used raised ballast. I space my ties roughly 1/4" on center. I just layout the line and spacing with a pencil on the diorama base and glue the ties down with wood glue.

    Hope that helps Jim, and don't hesitate to rattle my cage regarding anything else that comes to mind as your work through your project.

    All the best,


  • Ken, Thanks again for your inciteful commentary...I think I responded earlier in a post.
    I am well along with adding the structures and details to the diorama base ( Pattern shop, repair shop an tempering shed), but have held off on the track. First to decide if I would hand lay ( a novel task for me) or use code 55 flex. Decided to hand lay and followed your suggestion regarding wood size which purchased from Northeastern. Unable to find a good tutorial on the subject and have spent time looking over what Fast Tracks has to offer.

    I know how I am going to color, weather and lay the ties, but a little uncertain about best way to line up and put down the rail. If you could share your methods that would be very helpful. Did you glue or spike the rail? How do you line up the second rail? Rail gauges? Microengineering three leg type or other?

    Thanks...looking forward to your thoughts which as usual will resolve the dilemma.
  • Good grief Jim, so sorry I missed this post and inquiry! Did not flag me...

    I glue my rail down directly on the foam board for situations where I'm not using ties like the tempering shed small section. If I'm doing ties, I glue those down directly on the foam then glue the rails to the ties. All my rail spikes are just for detail and not actual spikes just spike heads.

    I use a three point HOn3 gauge to space the rail. I have a piece of thin wood that I have since cut to the exact width of the HOn3 rail spacing to make things easier and quicker when gluing my rail down.


    Here is a picture of all three types of track detailing I use in one shot. This is from my recently completed Eureka Springs build.

    This spur track has ties that are first glued to the foam base. I then glue down the rail to the ties. This is followed by the dirt and aggregate detail. This spur track has some that the "dirt" completely covers the ties and some ties showing through. This would be typical of a less used and weathered spur track. The side track at the top of the picture is just the rail glued to the foam base (no ties). Only thing different is the lack of spike heads on the spur track...I didn't bother here as not many ties are showing.


    Here is a shot of track from Eureka Springs showing both rail spike heads and rail joiners.

    Again Jim, sorry I didn't respond right away...
  • Let me know if you have any more questions Jim and appreciate the note.
  • Ken, This is very helpful. The commentary and photos confirm my ideas. Biggest take away, is your coloration of the ties... just perfect for old deteriorated and bleached out narrow gauge industrial siding. Light grey to zero. I have a HOn3 jig from Fast Tracks they call Tierack to layout the ties and am using 0.040 x 3/32 lumber as suggested. I am also using the Microengineering 3 legged gauges. Regarding your wood spacer, thats a great idea. I have straight Ribbon Rails used in laying flex track that might serve that purpose.
    Thanks again, for sharing your valuable know how.

  • You bet Jim, anytime.
  • Ok, Ok, remind us with these new shots just how much my track word sucks. Hah! What a treat to see and "hear" the way you treat your track. Like all things you bring "extra" to the game!
  • Thanks much Brett. I developed my style of track detailing by pouring over and studying the SWSM manuals and your detailed description and photos. I still remember you stating to effect "I love the look of weathered, code 55, narrow gauge light rail". I now use that exclusively on all my builds ever since!
  • Ken, Assume you weathered the rail before it was laid. I have Microengineering weathering mix and am planning on using it. It will be messy and tedious unless I can find a 15" long container. I don't think they offer weathered rail separately. Off topic, but see this item on eBay:125004729875. HO Twin Mills diorama 8.5' x 3.5 ', asking $15,900.
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