Ballasting Turnouts.

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by tetters, May 31, 2008.

  1. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Hey folks. It's been a while.

    I'm detailing my trackwork and was about to ballast some turnouts. I wonder if anyone can offer up some tricks to keep from glueing the points in place. I remember reading somewhere that a light application of oil prior to glueing is effective. Wonder if anyone else has tried this and what results were achieved.

  2. BudM

    BudM OldGuy


    Although I'm very new to model railroading, I tried this with success on my new layout. Using a toothpick, apply a very thin layer of Vaseline to the switchpoints and rails to prevent them from becoming glued together. The good thing about using Vaseline is, that it doesn't conduct electricity either so it workes well for this problem.

    Not too much now, just a light layer rubbed on with a toothpick works fine.

    Bud M.

  3. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Awesome! I try this and let you know how it works out.

    Thanks a bunch!
  4. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I got around this problem by buying some scenic matting. This basically resembles ballast but is actually a sheet of card-like material that you cut & place under the track.

    I try to place this matting under any points and problematic sections of track that often require repair. The effect is good and quite convincing -- in "small doses" it can pass itself off for ballast. Because these sections of track are not really ballasted, you can easily make track adjustments as well.

    You could practically "ballast" your entire layout this way, but the "cheating effect would probably become too obvious!

    It's made by Hornby -- I can provide more info if you're interested.

  5. DeckRoid

    DeckRoid Member

    I was scared stiff to use glue, so I just went thru the steps of ballasting without the glue. I had a heck of a time tapping and shaping, but once it was done, I didn't have an issue. The ballast sat there and didnt move.

    Of course, I forgot that I didn't glue it in when I took down my layout a couple of months ago. Yup. Ballast was flying all over as I was tearing up the track. I kept thinking, "what the heck? Where is all this coming from?"
  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I've used La Belle plastic compatible oil like their #104 on turnouts to keep the glue out of the points. I put 1 drop on the pivot point of each set of points and a small drop on each tie that the points slide over. I then operate the turnout by hand a few times to spread the oil over the top of the ties. When I've done that, I ballast in a normal manner, the glue does not stick the points together.
  7. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I use the same method as Russ, parking the points in the mid-throw position. Make sure to keep the ballast below the level of the tie tops in the area of the points, too.

  8. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    I was thinking that by applying the glue water solution to the ballast from the outsides instead of directly on top of the points would also help to keep the points from getting glued. You know, by allowing capillary actions to wick the glue into the ballast.
  9. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Either way, if you use "wet" water or alcohol to promote the capillary action, the glue/water mixture will also be drawn to the area of the points. The coating of oil will prevent it sticking. Some glue may dry in this area, but it won't be firmly bonded, and a little manual back-and-forth of the points will free them up easily.

  10. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Very true Doc. Thanks for the suggestions gents. The ballast has been in place for a couple of nights. I just need to whet it and glue it down.

    You will be happy to know as well DW that your method of "smacking" or tapping the rails with the metal side of the brush helps settle the ballast and knock most of it off the tops of the ties even when handlaid.

    I'll try and get around to the gluing part tonight.

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