Log Car Bark Debris

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Log Car Bark Debris -

New role for garden mulch! …

This is a project that can make anyone look like a master detailer, and is almost impossible to mess up.

Flatcars converted to haul logs accumulate bark and splinters on theirdecks, and the amount builds up overtime. Trains hauling logs move at moderate speeds, so the debris may shake off the sides but tends to stay along the cars’ center line. These cars were an eBay find and are destined for log trains on the Columbia,Cascade & Western 1979-era club layout. They won’t be used in interchange traffic, and haven’t been re-stenciled yet with CCW reporting marks.

Some of the model flats are Athearn and others appear to be either Walthers or old Train-Miniature flats. The mixture of styles is typical of old equipment converted to new uses.

They arrived on the property with Details West 235-171 PC&F log bunks installed and only needed a little touch-up painting, and the addition of yellow warning bands on the tops of the stakes.To meet club operating standards,steel weights were replaced with lead sheet to bring the car weights up to 3.5 ounces. Kadee 148 couplers and Intermountain 33” wheelsets were installed.

The list of materials is simple: bark dust mulch from the garden center, Elmer’s Glue, water, dish washing liquid, and paper towels. Take a couple of scoops of bark mulchfrom the bag and sift it through a coarse strainer. I used one with holes 5/16” in diameter, originally intended for draining cooked pasta. Toss the pieces that won’t pass through this strainer back into the mulch bag.

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Using a finer strainer (about 1/16” wire mesh works well), sift the material down to a fine powder. I filled a couple of 16 oz. cottage cheese containers about halfway, one with bark powder and one with the minus-5/16”bits. This was far more material than needed to do eight cars. Letting the bark dry out for a day or so makes it easier to apply. With your fingertips, grab a couple of pinches of the dust and sift them lightly over the top of the flatcar, concentrating on the center of the car, and up against the log bunks.

 

step1-bark

1: Loose bits of dried bark mulch dust are sprinkled over the log flat’s deck before glue is applied. The flat in the background shows a bit too much Elmer’s, but the excess will be soaked up with the edge of a paper towel. The process can be messy, so work over a surface that’s either disposable or easy to clean

Fix the dust in place with drops of a 30:70 mixture of glue and water, mixed with a couple drops of cheap dish washing liquid. The detergent helps the glue spread out on the car and  absorb into the bark fibers. An eyedropper helps to control the amount of glue dripped onto the debris. Use only enough to soak the bark. The next step is to take a couple of pinches of the larger bark debris bits and sprinkle them over the top of the bark dust, to replicate strips of bark and small branches. The glue mixture should draw up into the larger pieces, but if it doesn’t, apply another half-drop of glue.

step2-bark

 

2: Sifting in two stages produces fine bark dust (left) and coarse debris,used to form two layers of trash on the flatcar’s deck. If the material is allowed to dry, it will absorb more of the glue mixture.

 

step3-bark

 

3: The finished product shows the generous amounts of debris that can be found on log cars. A few bits have been “coaxed” to sit up on the log bunks to give a little variety.

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Once the debris has absorbed the glue, check for puddles and use the edge of a paper towel to soak up the excess. If you don’t, the glue will leave shiny patches. Maybe you want puddles on the decks of your log cars, maybe you don’t. Then, leave the cars in a safe place for a day or two while the glue dries. When this is done, check the debris for loose spots. Either apply more glue, or gently shake the excess debris back into the containers. When you’re satisfied with the cars’ appearance, mist them with a light coat of clear flat finish to dull any shiny spots and help to fix the debris in place. I used Krylon #1311 Matte Finish, which dries quickly and comes with a good spray tip on the can.

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Anything Model Train Related Is Expensive!  Find Out The 7 Costly Mistakes That Model Train Enthusiasts Make That Cost You a Fortune!

 

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