I spent a bit of time on my layout recently. I’ve been overwhelmed with the thought of applying scenery to the entire layout, so I decided to do it one area at a time. The first area I selected was the peninsula, home of the concrete grain elevator, so the first step was to paint the track.
Many people suggest painting it first before laying it, but I didn’t do that, so… paint-in-place it is. I bought a can of brown spray paint and went at it.
The first step is to mask off the switch points to avoid painting those. They are difficult to clean so a bit of tape will keep the paint off.
The next step is to paint! Of course you should do this in a well-ventilated area, if possible. I opened the window and door to the train room and didn’t do too much at one time. I held a piece of wood behind the track as I painted, and I used a drop cloth stapled to the edge of the layout to protect against underspray.
Once I was done, I tried to wipe the paint off the tops of the rails with a paper towel. Unfortunately it had dried enough by then that it would not wipe off… also the paper towel kept getting caught in the joints. Clearly I should spray, wipe, spray rather than do all the spraying then attempt to wipe.
That left cleaning the rail heads to a Bright Boy eraser.
You can see the paint on the rail head in the foreground. It was hard work to clean the track off!
CN ran a work train into the area to test the track once I had cleaned it.
Running a train through was very helpful as the locomotive’s sound cutting out told me where I missed a spot. A little work with the track eraser took out the little bits of paint that were left.
Once the inspection was done, the locomotive ran around the train and they departed.
Here’s a “before and after” photo showing how much better the track looks once painted.