The painting is finished (other than doing some weathering on ballasted areas). I even tried to go back over with some rust brown on rails with ballast under them. It worked....sort of. I quickly found areas that weren't glued well when the ballast blew all over the place. It didn't happen often, but when it did it made a mess.
I also bought a nice 1/2" piece of Owens Corning pink foam board at THD. It will be easy to cut and build up the yard areas. I had them chunk it into three pieces so I could get it into the back seat of my car. The pieces don't have to be continuous so dividing it up won't matter.
I'll be able to insert my structures into the foam to raise them at ground level. An example of this is the control tower (Model Tech Inc.) that I built on a piece of foam core.
What should I use to coat the foam before putting on ground cover?
I bought more Woodlands Scenics Scenery Cement (2 bottles), and a container of black ballast to mix with the other to start concocting the ground cover for the yard.
Since I've been running through the Woodlands Scenics Scenery Cement like it was water — water that cost over 8 bucks a bottle that is — I decided to ask my local hobby shop owner if there was a better deal if I ordered in bulk. Too bad that Costco doesn't sell Woodland Scenics products. He came in in the mid 6s which worked for me and I bought 10 bottles. Even after the ballasting is done, I will still need lots of this stuff for general ground cover gluing, and there's a lot of ground to cover.
When all is said and done, ballasting alone will run well over $200. Most people never mention how much it actually costs to build a big railroad. It's probably like owning a yacht. "If you have to ask how much it costs, you probably can't afford it." But, I am interested in understanding what kind of investment is necessary to bring a big pike to completion. It costs a LOT! The big costs: lumber, track, roadbed, wiring, are understandable, but the scenery stuff nickels and dimes you to death and will probably match the cost of the major chunks. Hopefully, it's spread over many months so it's easier to budget.