Rail for Slow Trains Down South

Lets talk rail size. What rail weight would a 30 inch gauge railroad use on their mainline, passing sidings, spurs etc? A valid question, especially since we are building a finescale model railroad. We want the “track” to be another important part of the whole model.

With that “given”, our next project has centered on rail. The kids quickly lost interest in this discussion, probably because the had no real world comparator. So what does one to look at when trying to figure out what size rail to use? The answer: rail height. My next quest was to then find a photograph of a 30 inch gauge railroad and somehow figure out the rail height. Thirty inch gauge is not a popular prototype in the United States. I could just base my rail height off of  3 foot gauge prototype, but I wondered if 30 inch gauge would use a lighter rail than even most of the 3 foot railroads in the United States.

So my journey started by looking through photographs of 30 inch lines in Brazil. One of my favorite 30 inch gauge railroads is the Estrada de Ferro Oeste de Minas (EFOM). Over the years I have managed to obtain quite a few photos from friends and also off the internet, so off to the photo library. I have a fair amount of photos of EFOM’s #21 and #22 (old number 47 and 48). These engines are very similar to Bachmann’s On30 outside frame 4-4-0. So my next step was to find some useful dimensions from these engines to gauge the height of the rail. The book “West of Minas Narrow Gauge” by Dr Paul E Waters has an abundant amount of information in its appendices. After a short search, I discovered that #’s21 and 22 lead  wheel are 501mm in diameter, about 20 inches (19 23/32 to be exact). As luck would have it, I had a photo of number 22 on the turntable. my best estimate is that the rail is about 3 1/2 inches tall. consulting the NMRA rail standards page, I determined that the rail is 40 pounds per yard or close to code 70.

Have a look and see what you think.

EFOM 22Photographer Unknown
EFOM 22
Photographer Unknown

Getting started: Painting the ties

A close up of the ties with a little bit of ballast in to see the end results
A close up of the ties with a little bit of ballast in to see the end results

The ties are glued down and distressed. Next step was to paint the ties. Yes, I said paint. Maggie and I used a variety of acrylic paints to paint the ties. We had watched Troels Kirk’s “Realistic Color for Railroad Modeling” DVD recently and instead of staining the ties, we thought we would give painting a try to see if we could get our end result with painting alone.  Maggie wanted to show me some of the “tricks” she had learned in her summer art class last summer, so she dabbed a few of the ties after I had thoroughly botched several. However, we got the knack of doing it after working with our paints, best mixed colors etc. Each tie was painted a little differently. Now granted, a lot of work on a large layout, but we are building one module at a time. Our biggest concern is to, as Maggie said, make sure the next section looks like this one!

View of the Forest end of the module. Road crossing in the middle.
View of the Forest end of the module. Road crossing in the middle.

After the paint dried, we went back over the ties with both brown and black chalks. I blended the chalks in using 200 grit sandpaper. We decided to use the chalks to blend all of the ties and tone down some of the brighter green we had lightly dabbed on the ties to represent moss etc. Maggie and I decided that this was real cool process compared to the stain a batch of ties process and the results were very realistic. See for yourself.

A view of the module from above
A view of the module from above
A view across the ties with the "raw" rail in place.
A view across the ties with the “raw” rail in place.