Ballasting turnouts

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Nomad, Sep 25, 2007.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Hello all :wave:

    Got a question to ask.
    How do you keep the points from sticking when your ballasting turnouts? I am ready to ballast my yard tracks and that is the mian thing I am concerned about.

  2. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    Very important to keep the glue out of the points of the turnouts. Cover the area around the points of the turnouts with some masking tape. When you flood the ballast with the dilute white glue or your dilute matte medium, don't pour any in the area around the points. The glue will automatically "wick" into the ballast around the points.

    Guaranteed, however, that your points will be glued. Spray on some alchohol onto the stuck points and let the alchohol soak in. Then gently move the points. Take some Q-tips, some kleenex on the end of a small slotted screwdriver and wipe the residue from around the point rails. Move the points back and forth several times, continuously wiping the ties/wipers with Q-tips and kleenex. Keep the spray bottle of alchohol handly as you will probably have to repeat this process several times.

    Bob M.
  3. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Thanks Bob. Good advice.

  4. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    When ballasting turnouts, it's helpful to paint the roadbed, especially in the area of the points, a colour similar to that of your ballast. That way, you can keep the ballast application fairly thin between the ties over which the points move, and the barer spots will not be noticeable. You may fill the ballast level with the tops of the ties, if you wish, but definitely no higher. I prefer about half the height of the tie or so. For the rest of the turnout, apply ballast as you would on any track. Use a small screwdriver or knife blade to clean any stray ballast out of flangeways. Now, lightly grasping the ferrule of the 1/2" brush that you used to spread the ballast, lay the handle across the rails and lightly and rapidly tap it as you move along the rails. This will cause any ballast lying on the tops of ties or rail flanges to bounce into place between the ties. Using some plastic compatible oil, spread it on the tops of all ties over which the point rails move: you don't have to cover the entire tie top, just the section over which the points travel. Flip the points back and forth several times to ensure that everything is properly coated, then park the points in mid-throw, so that they touch neither stock rail. Now spray the entire area with "wet" water, then apply your 50/50 mixture of white glue. I use a dropper-style of bottle, which allows precise placement of the glue, but with a greater capacity than an eye-dropper. Try to be neat around the points, but don't skimp on the glue any more that you would elsewhere. Now, get lost for a day or two until the glue dries.
    If you're very lucky, your switchpoints will move as if nothing has changed. More likely, they won't move - don't force them. Usually, a little back-and-forth finger pressure, applied to each point rail separately, will free things up. Apply the pressure over the entire length of the moveable rail, too. When things begin to move, you may have to repeat this operation as the points move towards each of the stock rails, as there may be some glue build-up on the tie tops, despite the application of oil.
    That's about all there is to it. Many switches (turnouts) have darker ballast around them, as the moveable parts (the points and the ties under them, too) are greased liberally. I used cinder ballast around most of the points in this photo, but I'll eventually go back and apply some additional weathering, too.

  5. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Doctorwayne, thanks for the advice. That tip about taping the rails will really help, since I am having problems getting the ballast off the ties. I had allready painted my table top ( no roadbed in the yard or sidings ) so no problem there.

  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Take your plastic compatible oil that you would use to lube locomotive wheels and put a drop on top of the ties that the points slide over and work the points a couple of times before you ballast. The points will wipe the oil over the ties throughout their normal arc. That section of the ties will now be impervious to the glue that you use for ballast, and the points won't stick. Just be careful to use a small drop. You only want the oil on top of the ties, not down between the ties.
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Russ, thanks for the answer. I actually combined both methods, the tape and the oil, and so far I have had only one turnout stick. And all I had to do there was move the throwbar a few times by hand and it was fine.

  8. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    I soak the area(and I mean SOAK) with alcohol with a spray bottle after the ballast has been spread out on the turnout. Then apply the glue/water mixture. I don't know how it worked, but it did, Since I did the first one, I've done everyone that way since with no problems.
  9. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    I think what others have said pretty much rings true. Do your best to keep the ballast and glue out of the moving parts, but be prepared to clean many of them out. The biggest issues I have had are with electrical contact with the points. Sometimes, a jumper wire to the points is eventually needed.

    One tip I have heard for N-scale but never tried - put tape on the back of the turnout before laying it. Then ballast, and the tape will hold the ballast between the ties. I am not sure what type of tape works best, but this method would probably require ballasting somewhat soon after tracklaying (before the tape looses its stickiness)

  10. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Eightyeightyfan, thanks I will keep that trick in mind.
    Kevin, That tape trick sounds interesting, but like you say, you would have to ballast real soon. I like to test the track thourghly before I ballast, so that's out.

  11. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Loren, I am happy to report that I ballasted my first turn-out last night. This morning, the points slid easily back and forth! So, I didn't turn the thing into a gooey mess. After while I will put the vacuum to it and see if the ballast actually stuck...
  12. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    I vacuumed mine and the ballast stuck just fine.

  13. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Doctoyrwayne, I used your idea of tapping the track and it works great:thumb:. Thank You !

  14. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    You're most welcome, Loren, but I can't take credit for the idea. I read about it in a magazine, most likely RMC.


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