Colouring Sleepers

Discuss the prototype and how to model it.
Jeremy Good
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:36 pm

Colouring Sleepers

Postby Jeremy Good » Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:26 pm

Having decided to adopt ply sleepers for my layout project rather than the plastic ones I have used for my test track I was looking for some guidance on colouring the sleepers.

I've tried a couple of wood stains/dyes but being acrylic rather than spirit based products they don't seem to give the same finish as the older products.

Has anyone found a decent, readily available product for staining the sleepers or are there any alternative methods I should consider?

Thanks

Jeremy

nigelcliffe
Posts: 462
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:31 am

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby nigelcliffe » Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:40 pm

My friend in the borders, building a large EM layout using plastic chairs, is using Walnut sleepers. He tried a lot of different types before making the decision. Bought in long lengths of appropriate cross-section from model boat building suppliers, which he chops on a little chopping tool to length. He found they gave the best colour for his track and ballasting methods.

David Knight
Posts: 592
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 6:02 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby David Knight » Fri Nov 30, 2018 8:22 pm

Minwax Jacobean Oak stain works for me with the society’s ply sleepers. The only catch being I don’t know if you can get Minwax in the UK, that said Mr Rice does mention a “Colron Dark Jacobean Oak”. Incidentally, the new format for the sleepers in laser cut strips makes the job much easier from the bundles of days gone by.

Cheers,

David

Jeremy Good
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:36 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby Jeremy Good » Fri Nov 30, 2018 8:42 pm

David

Thanks. I've been trying the Colron Jacobean Dark Oak but I can only get it as a dye and that doesn't seem to be too effective. I've got another batch soaking overnight and I'll see if that works any better than the previous attempt. I've also got another batch in a Sadolin stain as well. I'm not sure Minwax is available in the UK except via Amazon (delivery in January).

There have been one or two comments about using Indian Ink which I'll try and see how that works out.

Nigel, the walnut sounds like a good idea but I have already got stocks of the plywood sleepers. Maybe for the next layout...

Jeremy

martin goodall
Posts: 896
Joined: Fri Oct 02, 2009 6:20 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby martin goodall » Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:14 pm

I have never been in favour of wood dyes, as they produce too dark a colour - fine for brand new sleepers newly laid on a main line, but on a branch line something much lighter (basically very light grey, with only the slightest hint of a very light brown).

The best way of reproducing this is by painting the sleepers with enamels (such as Humbrol), suitably thinned with turps and keeping the colour very light.

It is better to err on the side of the colour being too light and also very well thinned. A second application can be made later if this proves to be too light, but wait until its dry, and look at it under your normal layout lighting before you make up your mind.

It is much easier to darken colours that are too light than it is to lighten colours that are too dark.

User avatar
Jol Wilkinson
Posts: 720
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 7:39 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby Jol Wilkinson » Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:36 pm

Colron spirit based dyes work well in my experience. Painted on it doesn't darken the timber too much as the dye soaks in readily. Soaking the sleepers gives a much darker result.

User avatar
stephenfreeman
Posts: 62
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 9:13 am

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby stephenfreeman » Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:54 pm

Ronseal black ash fence paint for me. You can vary the intensity between brand new and faded grey.
Stephen Freeman
Bespoke Finescale Trackwork and Semaphore Signals 7mm to 4mm scales
https://www.tracknsignals.co.uk

User avatar
David Thorpe
Posts: 744
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:13 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby David Thorpe » Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:33 pm

I've used Colron spirit based dyes, thinned with white spirit to lighten them. I was very pleased with the results at first but I'm now I'm not sure that thinning was a good idea as the colour seems to have faded, perhaps just a bit too much (or there again they might now be just right for my backwater branch line - so much depends on the light in which they're being viewed). But if I hadn't thinned they'd have been too dark.

DT

User avatar
Guy Rixon
Posts: 538
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:40 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby Guy Rixon » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:51 am

What's wrong with well-thinned paint? Spirit-based acrylic paint sounds like it would do the same job as the wood dye and can more easily be mixed to vary the colour.

User avatar
Tim V
Posts: 2135
Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:40 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby Tim V » Sat Dec 01, 2018 11:29 am

I dyed mine with Colron dark oak ( I think), about 25 years ago, it was quite dark when new, but faded to a lighter grey.
Tim V

User avatar
steamraiser
Posts: 347
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:49 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby steamraiser » Sat Dec 01, 2018 12:03 pm

Colour spirit felt pens from Hobbycraft worked well for me.
I used a brown and a silver grey. Neat and no mess.
Coloured the ply sleepers after sticking down but before adding chairs and rail.

Gordon A

Jeremy Good
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:36 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby Jeremy Good » Sat Dec 01, 2018 12:45 pm

Thanks for the various suggestions.

I tried another batch in the Colron last night but it isn't really doing the job. Have subsequently discovered that Colron don't make the spirit based version any more and their current product is Colron Refined Wood Dye which doesn't seem to have the same penetrating qualities.

I have been doing some experiments with Indian inks as well but am beginning to think it'll be better to paint/stain once in situ so I can vary according to where the sleepers sit on the layout. The coloured spirt pens sound like an interesting idea.

Thanks again.

Jeremy

User avatar
Paul Townsend
Posts: 658
Joined: Mon Sep 14, 2009 6:09 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby Paul Townsend » Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:22 pm

Having been saddened to find Colron spirit wood dye no longer is available, I tried various acrylics and didn't like any.

Liberon spirit dye range is an acceptable replacement. Dunking for a few minutes is enough.

User avatar
steve howe
Posts: 442
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:16 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby steve howe » Sat Dec 01, 2018 6:22 pm

Lots of suggestions here :D just to add my twopenn'th I use ply sleepers, and most of the prototypes I favour feature old sleepers that have weathered in the elements. I use Indian Ink mixed about 1 : 3 with distilled water and a little isopropyl. Iain Rice describes this in his trackwork book. It dries to a nice silvery grey.

Well I think so anyway! :D

Steve

Andrew Ullyott
Posts: 139
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 2:31 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby Andrew Ullyott » Sat Dec 01, 2018 8:54 pm

I used Sepia Indian Ink and also Wilkinson dark Jacobean Oak wood dye. I settled on the latter as it was quicker. It’s water based and I used to dunk sleepers overnight in a jam jar. You have to clean/wipe each sleeper after you take them out and they take a couple of days to dry out fully. Worked for me on Cheddar.

User avatar
Martin Wynne
Posts: 764
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 4:27 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby Martin Wynne » Sun Dec 02, 2018 1:45 am

Jeremy Good wrote:Has anyone found a decent, readily available product for staining the sleepers or are there any alternative methods I should consider?

If waterproof ply, soak in cold tea. If not, rub with a damp used tea bag (or even a new one).

cheers,

Martin.
39 years developing Templot. And counting ...

martin goodall
Posts: 896
Joined: Fri Oct 02, 2009 6:20 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby martin goodall » Sun Dec 02, 2018 9:09 pm

steamraiser wrote:Colour spirit felt pens from Hobbycraft worked well for me.
I used a brown and a silver grey. Neat and no mess.
Coloured the ply sleepers after sticking down but before adding chairs and rail.

Gordon A


I have found in the past that the ink from colour spirit felt-tip pens can fade badly over time. As a result of this experience, I gave up using them and stuck to enamels instead.

(The application in question was not for colouring sleepers, but colouring the card edges of printed 'enamel' adverts. After a few years, the black had faded away almost completely, and the edges had to be re-touched with Matt black enamel.)

allanferguson
Posts: 338
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 6:27 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby allanferguson » Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:49 am

Some years ago, when I did these things commercially, I built a model, for sales purposes, of a small housing development. What I didn't expect was that the property agent put it on display in his front window. After 4-5 months in the sunshine there wasn't a vestige of colour about it -- all a very consistent grey. Most of the paints used were water based. I'm now much more conscious of the risk of paint or other colourants fading in some circumstances,

Allan F

Barry Davis
Posts: 34
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:49 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby Barry Davis » Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:51 am

Hi Jeremy,

Many years ago I purchased a litre of Charcoal colour Gold-X Linseed Oil Timber Stain. I have found that for me it gives the right amount of a weathered timber sleeper colour.
As brushes clean up with mineral turpentine, the turps can also be used to thin down the colour of the stain on the sleepers to a lighter faded grey.

Regards
Barry

FCA
Posts: 44
Joined: Wed Jul 23, 2008 2:49 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby FCA » Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:31 am

These days I use a combination of Indian inks and Humbrol matt grey/black enamels.
I believe it is important to consider the combination of the colour of the ballast used and the sleepers as this will have an impact of the perception of the track. Personally I would always advocate the use of light coloured ballast, which can always be toned down, rather than dark, which cannot.

I hope the difference between the 'old' sleepers in the headshunt and those on the 'main' are obvious in the attached pic of my (unfinished) layout.

Richard
Attachments
thumbnail_IMG_1582.jpg
thumbnail_IMG_1582.jpg (29.39 KiB) Viewed 619 times

Enigma
Posts: 189
Joined: Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:49 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby Enigma » Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:49 pm

Martin Wynne wrote:
Jeremy Good wrote:Has anyone found a decent, readily available product for staining the sleepers or are there any alternative methods I should consider?

If waterproof ply, soak in cold tea. If not, rub with a damp used tea bag (or even a new one).

cheers,

Martin.

I tried that on Saturday evening with a warm bag of PG Tips finest - and,sadly, nothing happened. However, as an prolific tea drinker, I have a plentiful supply of bags so do you have any tips on acheiving success Martin?

User avatar
Martin Wynne
Posts: 764
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 4:27 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby Martin Wynne » Mon Dec 03, 2018 2:16 pm

Enigma wrote:I tried that on Saturday evening with a warm bag of PG Tips finest - and,sadly, nothing happened. However, as an prolific tea drinker, I have a plentiful supply of bags so do you have any tips on achieving success Martin?

It's a long time since I last used the method. I used to put half a dozen tea bags in a jug, add boiling water, throw in a few hundred sleepers, and leave the whole lot overnight. Repeat with more or fewer tea bags, used or new, to get a collection of sleepers of varying shades.

But you need to test first that your plywood is waterproof for such long exposure (I used to saw my own). Nowadays many folks use limewood or basswood instead of ply, and I don't know how that responds to tea:

https://www.model-dockyard.com/acatalog/Lime.html

cheers,

Martin.
39 years developing Templot. And counting ...

Tony Wilkins
Posts: 266
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:57 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby Tony Wilkins » Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:00 pm

I have been using an old stock of Coltron spirit base wood dye. One part Jacobean dark oak and 2 parts walnut if I remember correctly. It is a long time since I mixed it for Green Street. Rather than dip the sleepers / timbers into a tray for a good soak, after the track was built, I have resorted to applying by brush as the large tray I used has long since vanished. What I do when this has all gone I am not sure. it will be noticed in some of the pictures in my Brimsdown thread that I have missed some of the edges.
Regards
Tony.

Andrew Ullyott
Posts: 139
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 2:31 pm

Re: Colouring Sleepers

Postby Andrew Ullyott » Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:46 pm

I've also used the dyes and washes from AK, which I bought from Hobby Holidays at an exhibition.
http://www.hobbyholidays.co.uk/products.php?cat=135


Return to “Track and Turnouts”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests