Ballast Issues...

Discussion in 'Scratchin' & Bashin'' started by vanda32547, Mar 29, 2005.

  1. vanda32547

    vanda32547 Member

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    Morning all,

    In the past I have used Black Silica Sand (you often see this used in public ashtrays) as ballast for my tracks as well as laods for my coal cars. It works really well and used to be cheap. With my new layout I want to buy more but the smallest quantity I can find is a 25 pound bag which is way too much. :eek:

    Any ideas of where I might find smaller quantities of this stuff or something else I might use? Thanks for any input.

    Regards,
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

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    I have used fine black aquarium gravel with success - especially for the coal loads. Although ballast comes in all kinds of colours, I have yet to see bright pink... ;) Anyway, I get mine at the Dollar store in a 1 pound container.

    Andrew
  3. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

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    We had a wide vein of black sand running behind our house where we last lived. The sand would wash down from the north during heavy desert rains. I hauled a couple of buckets of it up the hill before I found out it was attracted to a magnet, big time. It wasn't conductive, but I was sure that any loose grains would have wound up stuck to my engines. Free is great, but not under those conditions. I'll check with our local dollar store, or even Wal-Mart's pet dept. might have something.
  4. Sir_Prize

    Sir_Prize Member

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    vanda32547- Since I'm on the other coast I'll see if any local stores that are over your side might have something.
    Also, You might try looking up the "something" & Sawgrass Model Club; they are
    in a building along the Tri-rail, right by or across from a Station. They might know
    local places that could have what you want.
  5. vanda32547

    vanda32547 Member

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    It's The Big Pine & Sawgrass Model Railroad Club and I am aware of them, however they are a far distance from me to become a member. Thanks for the info anyway.

    Regards,
  6. Sir_Prize

    Sir_Prize Member

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    Vanda- Wasn't thinking being a member, but just getting some tips.
    If they're a nice as I recall on my visit you'll get plenty of help.
    Then again, if it is to far for membeship it might be to far a visit, too.
  7. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

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    I would like to repeat Don's warning about magnetic particles! Black sand CAN contain iron oxide which is magnetic, but then again it might be completely free of that stuff (pure black quartz sand).

    I made this experience, too, and I even conducted an experiment with an old N scale loco which didn't run well anyway. So I loosely ballasted a piece of straight track and ran her back and forth - but not for very long. It was amazing what a few little granules did with the fine gears of that lokey. :eek: :eek: :eek:

    My advice: Take a small magnet with you when you buy that stuff (e.g. one of these colorful magnets for the fridge door). If it attracts sand particles then DON'T use this sand for ballasting active tracks. However it might be fine to use it beside the tracks in the scenery (roads?) or as 'coal' in an industrial setting.

    Ron
  8. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

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    My experience is if the ballast is propely glued in place and any excess vacuumed off then it doesnt matter if some of the ballast is magnetic.