Sleepers And Timbers - What Is Your Preference?

Discussion in 'Permanent Way' started by Dog Star, 25 January 2012.

  1. 3 LINK

    3 LINK Western Thunderer

    Hi Graham,

    I have been toying around with some wooden sleepers and have settled on Colron dark oak for my main sleeper colour, but there is something that is bugging me that I hope you can give me an answer to.

    Say for instance that I have now laid my track, stained the sleepers and have also laid my ballast.
    But I intend to weather the ballast with some " brake dust and rail grime " either in enamel or acrylic applied with an air brush, but how am I going to be able to protect the sleepers from taking on a general grime colour :confused: ?


  2. 3 LINK

    3 LINK Western Thunderer

    Sorry John, you've lost me there ?

  3. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    This is a question to which I have no easy answer...

    I mix the ballast to be as close as possible to the final colour / texture... and stain the wood to be as close as possible etc., etc., ... and paint chairs, before use, to be (you can guess etc.)... so that the rails / chairs / sleepers /ballast are as near final condition as possible. Any subsequent weathering is done by dry-brushing - not by spraying.

    The work on Hartley Hill started with natural colour for the walnut and without ballast because that is what John requested. As time has gone on the view has changed such that on John's next visit we shall be "colouring" all of the sleepers / timbers which have been laid irrespective of whether or not rails and chairs have been laid. There is a pretty good chance that ballast shall be added at the same time (certainly before adding the rails). In order that we can change direction for HH John has been experimenting with stains / inks (see his thread "Hartley Hill from the other side of the fence) and I think that some experiments have been done with ballast.

    regards, Graham
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  4. eastsidepilot

    eastsidepilot Western Thunderer

    Definatly dry brushing mate, airbrushing is fine for general colouring and weathering but when it comes down to the detail then the good old brush can't be beaten:thumbs:

    3 LINK likes this.
  5. 3 LINK

    3 LINK Western Thunderer

    What I was thinking of trying is a diluted acrylic wash and apply it in the same fashion as we do with our pva/ballast technique, because when it's well diluted hopefully it should seep down the sides of the sleepers without affecting their colour (maybe) .

  6. Easterner

    Easterner Active Member

    Sorry to bump up an old thread, but I thought it would be a good idea to visit a older similar thread and ask a similar question, opposed to starting a new one.

    In the not to near future I will be looking to delve into 7mm track building with chairs and either plastic or plywood sleepers, I have a small stock of C&L Standard 3 Bolts and Slide chairs but am yet to purchase any sleepers, rail or crossing/specialist chairs.

    I'm thinking the next purchase will be from "Off The Rails" on Shapeways, with probably a 1:6 crossing assembly chairs and some check rail chairs.

    I am still currently a little stumped however, with who to purchase the rail and sleepers off, C&L obviously seems like the most obvious route for the rail and there 10" & 12" 300mm laser cut sleeper lengths, however I realise that there are still other out fits who stock similar products such as Slaters, at a fraction of C&L's price. Again, Slaters stock Code 125 rail at a fraction of the price, all though it presumably it has a lower Nickel content, which I presume will make quite a difference in terms or maintenance and appearance?

    I have no problem paying C&L prices, however, I was just wondering if you get what you pay for or if there was little difference between these two suppliers products, or indeed any other suppliers I may have missed out.

    I just thought I'd ask the question on here to see what other people have used and recommended before researching and dabbling to much further :)

    It would also be interesting to hear peoples take on the pros and cons of plastic and wooden sleepers
  7. Heritagebob

    Heritagebob Member

    I can only speak about my personal experience with C&L 3mm ply sleepers. Be mindful that there could be some variation in the thickness of the sleepers from one individual packet to the next which could cause a few problems when making up and joining lengths of track. Fortunately I'm not making a big layout so went over to their plastic sleepers which are fine for what I need.
  8. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    This is a very subjective question and one for which you may wish to try a few examples. I have been building S7 track for at least ten years and have provided track to several WTers over the years hence my preferences reflect what I have found to work reliably over that time. Ply or plastic - no brainer for me in that plywood sleepers can be stained / painted to look like weathered timber and to show a grain just like the real thing; the plastic sleepers fail to convince (me) in regard to grain. What is the clincher for me is that Butanone has minimal impact on the stability of plywood sleepers... whereas I did find that plastic sleepers tended to curl up in the area of the chair/sleeper bond and I suspect that this is a consequence of the action of Butanone on the polymer.

    There is a potential gotcha with plywood sleepers. My preference for sleepers is the Exactoscale product which uses 1.6mm Birch ply... the C&L web-site suggests that this product is no longer to feature in their catalogue, the alternative being a thicker, circa 3mm, ply. My experience with the current C&L ply sleepers is that there is variation in the thickness and that variation can be of concern when building S7 track. I have found the current C&L sleepers to be between 2.8 and 3.2mm in thickness and that variation leads to dips in the rail and/or chair-to-sleeper joints which break after the track has been built.

    As of today - Slater's price for 0-gauge BH rail is substantially cheaper than the equivalent from C&L, so much so that I obtained a sample of the Slater's product to check for compatibility with C&L rail and chairs. You may wish to do the same... and note that C&L rail has a cross-section which is different to the jaw shape / dimensions of some of the C&L chair range. In spite of what the Slater's web site says about the rail, you can have the rail in 1 yard lengths if you collect from a show.

    If you do wish to go down the route of Shapeways' products then please consider asking for advice as to compatibility between the printed chairs and readily available rail.
    Last edited: 11 February 2017
    Willy likes this.
  9. farnetti

    farnetti Western Thunderer

    Graham, have you used the S7 walnut sleepers, if so how do they compare with plywood?

  10. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    I have used the walnut sleepers which are available from the S7 stores - the Exactoscale / C&L chairs were fixed to the sleepers with Butanone (as per my preference for ABS chairs on Birch plywood sleepers), the ABS-walnut bond is not as strong as the ABS-ply bond and that has given problems with chairs coming loose and track going out of gauge.
    Last edited: 12 February 2017
    farnetti likes this.
  11. eastsidepilot

    eastsidepilot Western Thunderer

    I agree with Graham, real timber or plywood sleepers are far better than plastic, apart from the advantages of bonding chairs to sleeper as high lighted by Graham they look far more realistic once stained and weathered.

    Dave Rayners "Off The Rails" products are superb but I would seek his advice on which adhesive to use with timber sleepers.
    Dog Star likes this.
  12. Osgood

    Osgood Western Thunderer

    I guess as a result of your (and others) representations, C&L will have tried - unsuccessfully - to secure a supply of consistent thickness ply?

    What about turning the problem around and laying the track onto a surface which can accommodate any variation?
    I would have thought that a glue laid in a layer of 0.4mm could cope?
    Not that the use of Copydex excites me - having spent a few hours removing some complex S7 track which had been bonded to cork :headbang:
  13. borgrail

    borgrail New Member

    Just a short note to say that Intentio now does laser cut plywood timbering in 3mm thickness. I don't have any connection except as a satisfied customer.
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  14. BrushType4

    BrushType4 Western Thunderer

  15. Muddysblues

    Muddysblues Active Member

    I can highly recommend Intentio's timbers, they certainly give a brilliant effect of wooden sleepers ..... because they are made of wood :thumbs:

    No connection with Intentio apart from being a customer & holding 500,000 shares within the company ;)

    BrushType4 likes this.
  16. Michael D

    Michael D Member

    Hope no one minds me bringing this thread back, I’m just experimenting with different type of wooden sleepers, walnut,ply and mahogany.
    Just wondered what people’s experiences are of gluing plastic chairs to these woods I’ve no experience of using walnut before ......Does abs glue like or dislike any of the woods longterm?

  17. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    The answers to your questions are in this thread, mostly on page three, for example:-

    My experience with ply versus plastic...


    My experience with walnut sleepers...

    In my post dealing with ply versus plastic I have described the position with regard to the ply sleepers from C&L, I have two concerns here:-

    1/ the variation in the thickness / width of the "nominal" 3mm thick sleeper, see this comment from the C&L website;

    2/ the mis-guided view about the desirability of stocking 1.6mm thick ply... some of us started with Exactoscale sleepers and those were always 1.6mm so that is were the demand for "matching" sleepers originates.

    As far as I know these concerns still exist.

    I prefer the thinner plywood as that means less ballast is required to achieve the look of a main / secondary route. If you think that such is worth the candle then talk to David White of Slater's Plastikard for he has stocks of the thinner ply sleepers and strips for turnout timber.

    regards, Graham
    daifly likes this.
  18. Michael D

    Michael D Member

    Thanks Graham,
    It does concern me long term if theres a weaker joint formed with the walnut sleepers, I guess its the oily nature of the wood???...
    Incidentally, I put in an order to Intentio on the 14th and haven't heard anything, I cant find any contact email address on the website, could someone point me in the right direction please?
    Thanks Michael
  19. lankytank

    lankytank Western Thunderer

    Michael, If you go up to message #54 on this thread, I believe you can talk to directly to the man.. :thumbs:

    adrian and Michael D like this.