If you have realistic scenery on your model railroad, there is no question that Fastrack offers a big improvement in appearance over tubular rail. The raised roadbed, ballast and ties provide a good representation of real railroad track. You can take this a step further and soften the transition between the plastic base and your finished scenery with a very simple and fast technique.
Scale ballast is available in many sizes and colors from a variety of manufacturers. For our FasTrack Modules, I used a course, light grey ballast from Woodland Scenics. By applying a layer of this stone to the sides of your FasTrack roadbed, the tracks blend in seamlessly with the surrounding scenery.
To apply the ballast, first begin by rubbing the shoulders (sides) of the FasTrack with white glue. Apply a nice even layer and smooth it with your finger. You can also put a little glue along the platform itself at the base of the track. Avoid getting glue on the top of the roadbed.
Next, sprinkle on your ballast. Keep it close to the sides of the track and brush stray stones back into place with a stiff brush or your finger. Take your time and make sure everything is just the way you want it before adding the final coat of glue. Just do a few feet at a time (maybe less as you get started) so you don’t get hurried and sloppy.
When satisfied, gently spray the area with isopropyl alcohol. This will break the surface tension of the glue/water to come and allow it to soak through the entire scene.
Then set everything in place with a 50/50 mix of white glue and water. I’ve found the most effective way to apply this is to dribble it on from an old glue bottle. Give it a good soak – it will dry clear and solid as a rock.
I first thought I would have to finish the job by going back across the top of the track, carefully placing ballast between each of the ties. After seeing the results from just coating the sides, it became clear that the work for the top was probably not worth the effort. Unlike the relatively fast and simple shoulders, the top will require some more careful and precise placement. If you are using a ballast color that is more contrasting than the grey FasTrack, it may be more worth the effort.
The shoulders provide a perfect buffer and transition from the look of the FasTrack to the scenery around it. And from most viewing angles, the tops of the ties and roadbed are not highly visible anyway. It’s a fast and easy way to make a good thing even better!