Ballast help

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Dad&Son RR, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. Dad&Son RR

    Dad&Son RR New Member

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    Selecting ballast for my track bed , fine, medium, coarse, which one is best ? help please.
  2. Wyomingite

    Wyomingite Member

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    • Hi
    • Myself I use the fine.
    Ron:wave: :wave:
  3. webmaster

    webmaster Member

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    To be honest, I think it's one of those things that is down to personal choice.

    Buy a small bag of each and try them all without fixing it in place & what ever you don't use on the track, you can use for car loads.

    **TIP**
    Once you have laid ballast or other scenic scatter material, to save money & reclaim the material that has not stuck, get a pair of old ladies stockings (the fine mesh type) & stretch them over the long shaft on your hoover. Turn the hoover on & the scatter material collects in the stocking, hold the stocking/hoover over your container & switch it off & the material will just fall back in to your container.
  4. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

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    I take it by the forum you posted in that you are modeling in N scale...?
    I would always go with the fine grade of ballast for N scale, simply for the sake of appearance...The coarser grades of ballast can look like boulders next to N scale track & euipment...
  5. Meiriongwril

    Meiriongwril Member

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    Great tip - for US readers 'hoover' is what we Brits call a vacuum (I guess y'all had guessed that anyways...):D

    **TIP**
    Once you have laid ballast or other scenic scatter material, to save money & reclaim the material that has not stuck, get a pair of old ladies stockings (the fine mesh type) & stretch them over the long shaft on your hoover. Turn the hoover on & the scatter material collects in the stocking, hold the stocking/hoover over your container & switch it off & the material will just fall back in to your container.[/quote]
  6. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

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    While not scale accurate, I used medium for ballast. I use fine for gravel roads and parking lots so it doesn't look the same. I don't think the medium looks 'too big' but fine would be closer to reality.
    But hey, I use code 80 rail too. tooth1
  7. KATY

    KATY Member

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    Well, I have to say I used "fine" on most of my N scale track and then tried a small section with "medium" and I just thought it looked so much better. True it is over scale but the fine just seemed to smooth out so much while the medium just looked more like ballast to my eye anyway. As someone else said, try each and see what looks good to you.

    Jack
  8. wannabe-nscaler

    wannabe-nscaler New Member

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    OK, my first question. It ties in with this thread. How do I lay this stuff down? I've heard people say use an empty contact lens solution container and put in a 50/50 mix of water and white glue. Is this true? How much do I apply? How will I know when I've put enough on the ballast? Also, before you all get too invloved, I'm on a budget...I'm using scoopable kitty liter for my ballast!!!
  9. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

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    I use the Elmer's glue bottles, with the 50/50 mix and a drop of Dawn detergent. I also bought a gallon jug of Elmers. Real economical when doing a lot of ballasting. The mix is also good for scenery.
    Just puddle the mix down, between the rails and outsde the rails, til it covers the ballast. Its a good idea to spray the ballast with alcohol first. I soak turnouts that have been ballasted with alcohol. This prevents the points from locking up when the ballast dries.
    I have a question about using kitty litter, maybe someone who's used it can tell me...Doesn't the kitty litter absorb the glue?
  10. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

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    This is a little "how-to" I did a couple of years ago when I was building an N scale layout...

    BALLASTING TRACK ON THE POOR FORK RR
    I thought I'd do a little step-by-step of the method I use to do the track ballast on my N scale layout...
    I ballast the track after I've done the surrounding scenery...the track has been covered with masking tape, so when the tape is removed, there is a small unscenicked area on either side of the track...
    [​IMG]
    For this project, I'm using Woodland Scenics Fine Gray ballast...
    I spread the balast with a small paper cup, squeezing the top to form a spout...I por thwe ballast down the middle of the track...I work in small sections, ballasting about 12" of track at a time...
    [​IMG]
    Next, I take a soft brush, & gently brush the ballastoff the tietops between the rails. The eexcess ballast will spil over onto the outsides of the track...I keep adding small amounts of ballast, & repeating this until it looks right to me...now the ballast looks OK like this, but it's still a little too "new" looking for me...the next step will take care of that...
    [​IMG]
    Next, I wet the ballast, but instead of using the traditional "wet water" method, I use a black wash of alcohol & india ink... This "dirties down" the ballast, & (IMHO), blends in better with the surrounding scenery...the wash needs to be 'flowed' on, not sprayed...an eyedropper would work well for this...I use a small bottle that contained a free sampl of liquid detergent...
    [​IMG]
    Next, I flow on a 50/50 mixture of white glue & water out of an old glue bottle...
    [​IMG]
    And here's the finished result...
    [​IMG]
  11. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

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    :thumb:
    I add a step here by lightly brushing between the rails with a light brush and using the vacuum with a computer vacuum nozzle to remove anything that did not stick or that got moved out of place during the application of the "glue-water" mix.

    Nice tutorial, Drew.
  12. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

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    Yeah, you're right about that, David...nothing's better than having a shop vac with a set of those micro nozzles! :thumb:

    To expand a little on the subject of ballast, here's some more from the construction of my N scale Poor Fork RR...(this was all part of a construction thread here at The Gauge back in 2003, but was lost in a server crash we had here...I still have parts of it saved on my hard drive)

    You can improve the realism of a layout, & create more visual interest by using different types of ballast on different types of track...
    Here are three examples of what I mean on my N scale Poor Fork RR...
    The first is the mainline, which is ballasted with WS Fine Gray ballast...I used the alcohol/India ink wash as a wetting agent...
    [​IMG]
    The tracks at the Matheson Mine were ballasted with WS Fine Cinders, & real coal, which I crushed up with a hammer...The black wash was used as a wetting agent here also...
    [​IMG]
    On the siding in Glasgow Jct, I just used sifted dirt...this siding runsd along the back side of the town, & serves businesses there...I used "wet water" to bond this, since I didn't wish to alter the color of the dirt...
    [​IMG]
  13. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

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    :thumb: Excellent treatment and detail of the work, Drew. Great photos also. I like the varied ballasts that you used. Did you do any blending on the transitions from one to the other or did you just end one and start another?

    BTW that "real dirt" section is impressive. It adds a feel of being right there at trackside along with the switchman.
  14. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

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    Thanks David! :)
    Yes, there was some "blending" in/nrear the switches leading into the sidings from the main line...My thinking at the time was that the main line switches would've been maintained by RR crews, whereas the sidings received little/no maintenence...

    I don't kow if I can find any photos or not...I'll see...the layout has been torn down...