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Taking a casting of track.


Henry Arthur Readford
May 23, 2011
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When it comes to collecting tracks there are two main methods they are photography and castings, there is another I like not often talked about anymore and that is sketching it but I also believe one of the first two methods should be done along with it. Photography has its bennifits being quick, clean, simple and ability to capture long sections of tracks. Photo should always include a form of measurment, either ruler or a common object to compare size. It however has its negatives too that being it requires oblique lighting and it often does not show the all the details of the track including depth and fine details.
Castings give reliable records recording all the details and even be used to reproduce the track when and if required. Problems are time consuming ,requires equipment and not suitable to large sections of tracks.

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First of all let me say sorry about the pics I did want to try doing a Video but I did have time restraints and my normal denal casting powder got ruined in the resent rains, the other thing is being by myself plaster was an issue using the camera on regular basis.
Above you can see the basics i used which were mixing container, water ,paper clips, measuring vessel . Plaster of Paris , some paddle pop sticks and below some cardboad. i usually use dental casting and strips of plastic for the walls of casting instead of cardboard.
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Above you can see the simple molds I made from cardboard with paper clips securing the joins. With the first pic I simple pressed the walls into the sand as it was on fairly level ground giving it go good seal so palster would not run or move it as I poured it into the mold. The second as it was not level you can see i built the sand around the mold so I could keep the depth and not disturb the print.
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Now what is not show in pics is I poured the larger casting first and in two pours I did this for two reasons first being I did not want the plaster pouring over the downhill wall and it also gave the chance to re-enforce the plaster with some twigs. As you can see I did not fill the mold completely but did get all the track this was simply because of the slope of ground.
The second was poured in one go and plaster was level. Also do not pour the plaster directly into the print pour to the side and over a paddle pop stick this will help not destroy the print.
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Above is a pic of the castings in the back of my car with sand still attached , this is because the cast was not fully set and did not want to destroy any detail. I followed the directions on pack of plaster it said 15 min drying time of course that was wrong after 45min I removed the cardboard and allowed a further 10 min of drying, by this time the casts were firm and inital setting complete. I used a spade to lift the cast from sand then carefully carried them to the car.
So that is it so far I have removed the majority of sand but due to bad lighting can't get pics, I still have to clean them properly but the casts need to dry for at least 24hrs before I start scapping them.

A little more info from my point of view many people say clean the track from debris before casting, I don't with exception of debris that has fallen into it after the print has been made. I do these because the debris that was there when track was made is in most cases is what interests me in the track firstly. These casts I done today are from the same animal within 1.2m of each other from the same set of track. I will show more info on these in another section but simply it shows the difference one may see as they track something. I will also post the casting pics when I get the chance to photo and finish cleaning them
I hope this helps if any questions please ask I may have over looked some simple proces that can clear things up.
These tracks were nothing special but did provide me with a chance to show the differences in the same set of tracks in short distance, they were new good quality but not perfect.
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