Ballast-Scenery Conflicting Info

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Gary S., Sep 16, 2007.

  1. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Those photos are worse than I thought, they don't show anything. I'll do some more ballast and post some closer shots later this week.

    Edit: Wayne, when putting on the thinned glue, it should be running out of the ballast pretty heavily?
  2. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    I think its looking pretty good Gary, lets see how it turns out when it drys, most of the time the glue and water change the color to more darker weathered look which looks great. At least thats what happend to me when I did this on my photo diorama.

    I applied the glue heavly also when doing my photo diorama, it worked well and the ballast is very secure, I was able to run a vacum over it without sucking up hardly anything at all. With the excess that runs out of spots, I used a foam brush and soaked up the exess glue/water mixture so it didnt leave a giant puddle when it dried lol
  3. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Gary, if you've sprayed suffient wetting agent on the area, either "wet" water or water/alcohol mix, the diluted glue should be absorbed into the ballast very readily. When the ballast started to float onto the ties, a shot or two of wetting agent probably would've rectified the situation. Because the glue is absorbed so readily, when it begins to run out at the lower edges it usually means that you've got it well-saturated. The glue will continue to pool for some time after you stop applying it, too, but don't worry about it. Throw a little ground foam into it, give it a shot of wetting agent, and it'll eventually dry and you'll have your groundcover already started. ;) I find that the hardest part of ballasting is waiting for the glue to dry: I had some pools that, even with ground foam dumped in, took almost a week to dry.
    From what I can see in your photos, it looks fine to me. I do have one suggestion, though. If your camera allows it, use the option for fluorescent lights: this will correct the colour imbalance caused by almost all fluorescents, and give you more of a natural colour, which will also help to show the details.

    Edit: I forgot that your layout is on foam. It's unlikely to soak up the excess glue like plaster does,:rolleyes: so either use some ground foam, or mop up the excess, as Josh suggests.

  4. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Wayne, I used a 50/50 mix of alcohol/water for wetting. I put it on til it ran out the bottom, then I put on the thinned glue til it ran out also. I guess I am doing it right. I mopped up the excess with paper towels.

    I'm anxious to get back on the ballasting, but that will have to wait for Thursday evening, and then this weekend I'll go crazy on it!
  5. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    Looks like you could use some greenery, try this for excellent results!

    Making Grass Clumps from Faux Fur

    I'm so sick of WS "grass" I could cry, when are people going to realize it doesn't look like grass, but just green clumpy foam?
  6. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    The fake fur does look good. I may track some down this afternoon. I couldn't find the page that showed how to dye it, though.
  7. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Once I've positioned the ballast nicely in place, exactly how I want it, I thoroughly soak it with rubbing alcohol using a dropper. Once that's done, then I apply the 50/50 water/white glue mix. The rubbing alcohol totally stops the ballast and glue from moving or pouring away. I read about this in a book published by MR.

    I've also been told that water and dish detergent will work equally well but I've had such success with the rubbing alcohol that I haven't tried that yet!

  8. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    RIO, you use a 50/50 mixture for your thinned glue? I may be thinning it too much. I was more like 5 parts water to 1 part glue. Any thoughts, anyone?

    I am using a 50/50 mix of alcohol and water for the wetting agent.
  9. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Gary, you have way to much dilution in the glue. It is possible there is not enough glue to hold the ballast once it dries. I would stay with a 50/50 mix.

  10. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    With a glue mix that dilute, I don't know if you'll get the hold you need when all the water has evaporated. It is also likely to flow all over the place, contributing to the "run out" you got.

    I apply isopropyl alcohol form the dollar store (it's about a 50% solution, so no further dilution is required) using an eydropper just until everything looks wet.

    Then I put down a 50/50 mix of glue or matte medium (like matte Modge Podge) and water. It flows wherever the alcohol went. You should liberally soak the area, but not so much that it runs all over.

    If you have kept the alcohol application to just what/where is necessary, the glue/water should more or less stop when it gets to a point that is not "primed" with the alcohol. This is why I use an eydropper, rather than just spraying everything.

    Your photos of work to date look good. I don't see anything wrong. The depth of ballast is your preference, so I wouldn't call it wrong ;)

    Hope that helps.

  11. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I could have sworn I read somewhere that the glue should be really really diluted with water. Okay, back to the drawing board. I'm glad I only did about 2 feet of track last night. I wonder if I can add more glue on top of what I already did?
  12. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I also add a few drops of dish detergent to my 50/50 white glue/water mix. This was also recommended in that MR book. The dish soap seems to act as another setting agent when the glue is applied. Rob
  13. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Gary, I have to agree with Loren and Andrew: the glue is thinned too much. 50/50, or thereabouts, works well, and you should be able to re-apply the thicker mix right over the parts that you've already done, although you may need to also re-apply some wetting agent - it'll depend somewhat on how much the first application has dried. Even with the thicker glue mixture, you're going to get some flowing out the lower end of the ballast, as by the time the mix gets down to the bottom, you've alread applied more at the top that will eventually flow through. Mop up the excess and don't worry about it - for ballasting, "too much" is preferrable to "not enough".

  14. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Oh man, am I glad that I have The Gauge and you guys! I would have done the whole dad-burned layout with my thin mix and the whole thing would have gotten sucked up in the vacuum!wall1

  15. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Actually, the vacuum doesn't have to be the "black hole" that you might think it to be. For vacuuming the layout (or the workshop, if you've lost a part or two), simply remove whatever tool you're using on the end of the vacuum's hose, stretch a piece of old (or new, if you're a bigshot ;)) pantyhose over the non-business end of the tool, then re-insert it into the hose. The panty hose will allow air to pass through, but will catch any loose (or lost) details that get sucked up. If you're looking for stuff that's been lost on the workshop floor, you'll periodically need to empty the collected hooverage (yuck!! :eek:) onto a sheet of newspaper to sift through for the goodies. If you're merely cleaning up ballast or ground foam after building scenery, this is a good way to collect the loose excess for re-use. You'll still need to empty the stockinged-tool occasionally, to maintain suction.
    In an earlier house, my workshop was in a former playroom (I sent the kids out to play in the street) ;):-D that had a shag carpet on the floor. Nice and comfy on the feet, but cleaning day was like a trip to the hobbyshop: I found stuff that I didn't even know I had lost!:p :-D

  16. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Gary, if you use the pantyhose trick, I reccomend you don't use the wifes new ones. You don't want to know what happens:eek:.
    If you want to apply more glue mixture to the old ballast, spray it and let it soak for a few minutes. This will soften the glue that's already there and the new stuff will penetrate better.

  17. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Loren, I checked on the ballast when I got home tonight, it seems to have set up pretty solid, so I think I am okay for that little two foot stretch.

    I did another two feet, with a thicker glue mixture, and it was actually easier. The overly-thinned glue I was using was causing the ballast to float up. The thicker glue seems to hold the ballast down as I dribble it on. Plus, the thicker glue justs looks like it is going to hold the ballast better, easing my mind.

    Now, at 2 feet per night, with around 200 feet of track, I'll be done in a few months!
  18. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Now, next question:

    Turn-outs. Any hints? Do you glue the ballast down between every tie except the space where the turnout throw is?

    I've read the books and articles in the mags, but they get very vague about the turn-outs = "be very careful at the turn-outs so you don't glue the mechanism together."

    Wipe the moving parts with oil? What else? The ballast around the moving parts doesn't get glued?
  19. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    Gary, I read in the October MR to apply the water/glue mix from the outsides of the track (both sides of the ties), that way you can be sure to not add too much of the mix and so the points wont get glued in place. I havnt tried this but it sounds like it would work well for these places
  20. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I solved this problem by buying some scenic matting made by Hornby (FYI, Hornby is a British model train company, and I'm really into British trains).

    This scenic matting resembles ballast -- in other words, it fakes it. So I put a layer of this matting under the points/turnout area and then only ballast lightly, trying to stay well away from the moving parts. In the end, it appears as if the area is ballasted but it really isn't.

    I can provide more info on Hornby's scenic matting but I'm sure the North American manufacturers sell something similar. Otherwise, you can order if from Hornby dealers in North America.

    Even when I ballast very lightly around the turnouts, I've still managed to let some glue seep into the turnout, which glued them in one position. :cry: This is a real pain but the best way to solve this is to keep applying running alcohol until they move freely once again.


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