Many modellers these days think the only way to achieve anything is by throwing money at it. This may suit them but I cannot afford to buy expensive materials, especially not for scenery on a layout the size of the FCPyF!
There is a wonderful pet supplies shop in Wheelock where I frequently purchase various grades of fine sand and grit, which are perfect for ballast and ground cover, at a fraction of the price asked for similar materials at model shops. Going even further to save money I have been collecting ashes from the fireplace at my local pub to use on the scenery at Cumbre, primarily to give texture to the rock face behind the line but also for ground cover on the track itself.
NEVER throw ANYTHING away!
The Andean narrow gauge railways I’ve watched on YouTube mainly seem to have the track bedded into soil rather than ballasted. This may be the way they were built or it may be a result of rainwater washing loose earth onto the line. Either way it is quite a distinctive look and, in my opinion, an essential feature to have on the FCPyF.
The photo below shows how the track is blended into the scenery. The train is heading down grade at Cumbre with the disused San Pedro Branch visible above the loco while the line to Centrales via Rio Paleta curves away to the right below it. The line in the foreground leads to Cuarto de Pulgada.
This is still work in progress and I’m hoping the ash will dry paler, if it doesn’t I may need to use a rattle-can to dust it with lighter coloured paint. With a small, portable, layout I would create the rock face by tipping the layout over so that the area being worked on is flat and gravity would hold stuff in place while glue and paint dried. I can’t do that at Cumbre because this section of the FCPyF is being built in situ so the rock effect is achieved by blowing fine ash onto wet paint, unfortunately this is not a very accurate method of application and the dust flies in all directions. Power station fly ash has got nothing on the stuff from the Midland Inn’s grate!
In the meantime, I’ve been doing a small repair job on work’s van while it’s parked outside (one of the rails used for carrying clean laundry on coat hangers had become loose). I don’t normally like leaving the front door of the garage open but while I was out on the drive I have had both front and back doors open, getting a good breeze through to get rid of must of the airborne ash.