Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Herc Driver, Feb 8, 2006.

  1. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Ok, I tried to ballast my Bachmann EZ track and had so-so results.

    I increased the amount of glue by adding a drop or so of carpenters glue which held the ballast more effectively on the plastic sides.

    Now I've realized that I really need to improve the ballasting job to make it more prototypical. Does anyone have a good NMRA standard for the cross sectional ballast dimension? And while we're at do you get ballast you don't need on top of the ties, off those ties. I've been trying everything from my finger to an xacto knife with ok results. What is your ballasting technique to remove the unwanted from the track. The look that I wanted is what I see around my area, track that Norfolk Southern maintains. The ballast is neatly up to the top of the tie but rarely over or on top of the tie itself between the rails. Outside of the rails, the ballast is evenly displaced up to the top of the tie running the tie's full length, then slopes down. I don't have a lot of track to do, but want it to look good. I plan on painting the ties and rails when the ballasting job is over (as some techniques have you do) for the finished look. But how do you get the unwanted ballast removed easily?
  2. 2-8-2

    2-8-2 Member

    The following is my two cents, for what it's worth. I've never done ballast myself, so everything here is just what I've picked up from reading:

    Use a soft stiffness, long bristled paintbrush to brush away unwanted ballast from between the rails. Most sources I've read suggest that purchasing a ballast spreader is money well spent, as it glides along the rails and evenly dispenses the ballast.

    On a side note, I would think it would've been a lot easier to paint the ties before putting ballast on.
  3. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    2-8-2...You're right, it probably would have been easier to paint before ballasting. Just one more in a long line of "wish I knew A before I did B" with this layout. At first, I wasn't too concerned about the trackage, but as I've gotten a bit more educated on this hobby and my kids have shown more interest, I've really appreciated all the hard work others have spent detailing their tracks and scenery, and would like to do the same.

    Besides, this is my first layout. I figure, go ahead, make all those rookie mistakes and work the kinks out on this layout. Then, just maybe, I won't repeat them on some future layout. At least, that's what I keep telling myself.
  4. jkinosh

    jkinosh Member

    When I balasted the track on my first and current layout, I only have a 16" section of track balastes so far, I wasn't going to weather my track, as this is just so I could get some trains running. I used cork roadbed and the Life-like track that came with teh set I bought.

    I used a 1/4" artist brush and brushed some white "tacky" craft glue along the siges of the cork roadbed, then, using a small cantainer, I sprinkled the balast between the tracks and on the sides of the roadbed. Next, I used a cheap 1" chip brush, the cheap ones from the Home center, eg. Lowes, Home Depot, to brush the balast to the thickness that I wanted between my track, in my case I brushed it to the poing where I could see the tops and a little of the sided on the ties. Next I sprayed the balast with '"Wet" water, I used a small spray bottle that helt about 2 cups of water, to the water I added 2 drops of clear dish washing liquid, and a cap full of rubbing alcohol. This makes the water flow a little better between the balast. And Finally, I used a bottle that had a little eye-dropper to put some glue down, I use Elmers school glue thined about 50/50 with water and a drop or 2 of dish washing liquid, I may have actually made the glue a little thinner, as I don't think it was flowing the way I wanted to to. Again the Dish washing liquid helps, the Water in the first part and the glue in the second part, flow between the balast.

    Now that the Balast is dry, I can barely even chip it off if I wanted to.

    I also made up a sample piece that I put the cork raodbed down, and just coated it with Craft Glue, then stuck a small scrap of track, about 5", into the glue and balasted, the trick to this was doing the entire thing while the glue was still wet. I then added a few drops of the thinned glue to it to held all the balast in place. Once this piece dried, Just to see how strond it was I tried prying it up, and ended up breaking the ties on the sample track before the track would even seperate from the readbed and balast.

    Right now I am in the process of building my first mountain, and am really happy with the way it is turning out so far. I will try to post some pictures if I get time.

    Hope this helps.

    Jacob :wave:

    I hope this helps.
  5. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Thank you all...

    I have ballasted this track three times now...I used the normal technique of 70% isopropyl alcohol then dishwasher liquid mixed the glue. I had the ballast placed exactly where I wanted it and used an old medicine syringe (no needle, it's the free kind you get at pharmacies for kid's medicines) to place each drop where I wanted. The glue imediately soaked into the ballast and didn't lay on top. Now that it is all dry, it's set up like concrete - which is good since I don't want it to easily come off and get into the engine motors/wheel sets. I'm just wondering what techniques people use to get some ballast off places (like the top of the ties) where I don't want it to be. I've been using a knife, flat head screwdriver, and my finger to pry the stuff off. I was just hoping there was an easier and more controlled way to remove the excess or unwanted ballast.

    And one last question for those who are not mathmatically challanged as I am...what is the specified width that ballast is usually poured (from one side to the other as a cross-sectional dimension)?

    Thanks once again to all...this is the best place I know for answers and opinions! I'm glad there's so many smart train people out there that offer help.
  6. Wyomingite

    Wyomingite Member

    Warm water in a spray bottle will clean your ballast off your track.

    Ron :wave:
  7. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I'm going to try the warm water, sparingly of course, and see what happens to remove what I don't want. Thanks for the tip!
  8. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    I use a eye dropper and warm water. Works great for me.
  9. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Great ideas...thanks very much.

    I just completed the ballast work and now have the whole night to let it dry and see the final results. The scratchin' and removin' begins tomorrow.

Share This Page