Big Problem

Discussion in 'Photos & Videos' started by Kevinkrey, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    I was begining to balast my track tonight, and it was already going pretty bad, when I heard a pop, crack, pop, like a joint breaking, I didnt notice till a moment later, but about a 6" section of my track has buckled sideways. I was using a alcohol water mix as the model railroader article I was following says. Could that have broke the glue joint between my track and cork? I was using regular elmers glu all whithe glue.
  2. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Yep...That done it. wall1 I've seen several people here suggest that using white glue is OK...Apparently not.

    That's why I use latex caulk to glue my track to the cork roadbed....:mrgreen:
  3. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    The MR article said to do this so when you vacum up the excess ballsat it will be glued all the way to the bottom, but why vacum it up, seems like a waste to me, but guess I just wont be able to, beause I have over 100" of track glued down that way.

    Thanks for the answer, not as big of a proble as I thought ( I thought my benchwork "jumped" and came off some 3" tall shims).
  4. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    I tried gluing the ballast without alcohol first, and the scenic cement just sat there on teh surface, the track didnt pop up along most of the area I had used alcohol, do I think if i go VERY lightly on it it will work, any other suggestions?
  5. PWRR-2207

    PWRR-2207 Rogue Islander


    Something else must have been amiss in that loose section as I used Elmer's on 120 feet of track-to-cork ("Carpenter's Wood Glue" though) and pure Elmer's "Glue-All Multi-Purpose Glue" smeared on the roadbed banks to hold the ballast back. All of that track-cork-ballast was mist sprayed to the point of saturation with a 50/50 mix of Rubbing Alcohol-to-Scenic Cement mixture once it was placed like I wanted it. Nothing ever came loose including several sections that sat for a day or two before I had time to mist...

    Was that section of cork attached to plywood? Maybe the wood or cork expanded from the moisture...

    PS: I had no desire to vacuum up and then try to clean and sort ballast so I did 16-18" sections at a time. The 2" variance in section length was from how well I controlled the flow of ballast onto the track such that any extra was pushed to the ends to get the right height of ballast between the ties. The short average section length was because I can only push those stinking little bb's around for so long before I need to find something that is actually relaxing to do :mrgreen:
  6. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    It did not happen everywhere, so maybe I will try another small section and go LIGHT on the alohol, I had been sparying it with a small surenge so I could get it right where I wanted. I think I might have gone to heavy.

    PWRR- like you ssaid about the glue on cork sides, MR says that also, and they spray it with alcohol also, so maybe I was putting too much on. They also say to use 70% and I had 50% alcohol, could that make the difference?
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Elmer's white glue is water soluable. So if you soak it after it dries, you can soften it, and it will come loose.

    Steamhead and PWRR-2207 both used waterproof-when-dry methods - caulking and Carpenters Glue, respectively. So when they laid the ballast, the track did not come loose.

    There is no real practical difference between 50% and 70% isopropyl alcohol. THe balance is usually distilled water, so the 50% has more water in it, but they should perform the same, more or less. The alcohol "wetting" stage should only use enough to get the ballast wet so the glue mixture will flow through it, rather than over it.

    Lastly, if you put a nylon stocking over the end of the vacuum hose, and let it extend a little inside the nozzle, you can trap and reuse the loose ballast when cleaning up. ;)

  8. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Howcum you folks are glueing the track in place? Most flex track has holes in some of the ties so that you can spike it in place, which works fine if you're using cork roadbed or no roadbed. Once you do the ballasting, you can remove the nails if you find their appearance objectionable. I generally leave 'em in place, as the only time I notice them is in photos. :oops:;) White or yellow glue may hold your track in place, but it only does so because you've applied enough glue to "trap" the ties from moving laterally: I daresay that if you were to lift the free end of a piece of track, it would pull up quite easily, as white glue will not bond to plastic, since the plastic will not absorb it. Mind you, there's certainly no reason you can't use it to hold your track in place, but it's merely a duplication of the method of hold track in place by ballasting, but of course, without the ballast. ;):-D:-D

    I recently applied some trackside ground cover to an area of my layout adjacent to some previously ballasted track. The ballast all along one side of the closest rail, and even some between the rails, was covered, as in "not visible", with the white glue/water mix - there was no movement of the track and no softening of the existing ballast, although I obviously didn't bother poking at it to test. :rolleyes::p:-D The photo below is not the area in question, although it is nearby. There was even more glue than shown here, as the track was at the bottom of a fairly long and steep hill, and excess glue continued to make its way down the slope.

    If you soak you ballast/scenic materials thoroughly (see below) with wet water, and then apply your dilute glue/water mix generously, there'll be nothing left loose enough to be vacuumed up. :-D:-D

  9. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    So doctorwayne, you just let the ballast hold the track in place? Its too late for me to do that, and if I break the glue joint, the track "pops" out of place? Would it be worth it if I "spiked" the track with some nails, to hold it in place while I give it a good alcohol, than glue spray? i could paint the nail heads, and they would hardly be noticeable.
  10. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    What would happen If I didnt glue down the ballast, I mean that way I could reuse it on another layout. It can get expensive, and this layout will need alot, I might never need to buy it again.​
  11. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Well, on my track, the nails hold it in place, 'cause that's how I put the track down originally. I could go back and take all of the nails out, and the track should stay where it is, because the ballast will prevent it from moving laterally. In this photo, the nails are pretty obvious:

    And in this one, not so much so:

    I think that it would be possible to manually lift the track, although because the ballast (and glue) in most areas is level with the tie tops, it would be a bit more of a task. The white glue still isn't "gluing" the track in place, but the surrounding ballast, which is glued to the cork, helps hold the track in place through friction. I'm surprised that wetting the area would cause your track to pop loose, though, unless, when you originally "glued" it in place, you had to place weights on that section until the glue dried. If the track was laying there naturally before you glued it, even if the alcohol/water dissolved all of the glue, I can see no reason why the track should have moved.
    Did you previously have any problems with derailments or rough running through the area where the track popped loose? If so, there may have been a "kink" in the track just waiting for an opportunity to move, or, as I said, if you had to somehow hold that particular track in place while the original glue dried, then there is a track problem there that should be corrected while you have the opportunity. If none of the above is the case, then you could use a few nails to hold the tracks in place while you do the ballasting. I used Atlas track nails, and Peco and Model Power make similar nails. Most track has preformed holes every 6" or 8", although with some brands, they're visible only from the bottom, and require you to push a nail through from that side to open the hole completely. If no holes are visible, use a drill bit just slightly larger than the diameter of the nails that you intend to use, and space the holes accordingly. It's not necessary to place them all halfway between the rails, either, although most commercial track has them that way. Use pliers to push them into place, and don't push them right down to the tie tops - as close as you can get, but not so close that they squish the tie, which will then pull the rails out-of-gauge. You can paint them, let them "weather" on their own (most come pre-blackened), or pull them out after your ballast has completely dried.

    Ballast really isn't that expensive ;) : I think that I used only 4 or 5 cannisters of the Woodland Scenics ballast to do most of my layout, and I used it as fill in some areas, where it's over an inch deep. I also did roads and parking lots with it, too.
    If you don't glue the ballast in place, it will eventually work its way into your turnouts, loco mechanisms and who-knows-where, plus, when it comes time to vacuum your layout, (and that time eventually does come - it took over 15 years for my layout), but re-ballasting everything would've been too onerous a task, even though I do find it to be otherwise enjoyable work.

  12. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    There are alternatives to WS ballast if you are concerned about the cost, but they also have other "costs" as well.

    For example, i got a 50 lb bag of very fine aquarium gravel that looks very much like the granite (?) based ballast used on some tracks here in Ottawa. Cost me $5. But is is very heavy, I have to make sure there are no magnetic particles in it, I need to dry it before using, and did I mention it's heavy? ;)

    There are trade-offs with everything, but if you have more time than $, then you can find some alternatives.

  13. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    I guess cost isnt all that bad, right now, the new problem, is that when some of the track "popped up" it threw some ballast around, alot of it landing on the tie tops, where there was wet glue, and now, there is ballast glued to the tie tops, and its reallly hard to get off!
  14. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    I set my track in place with drywall compound. The ballast was piled loose then lightly wetted with alcohol. I then dripped on a 50/50 white glue/water mix. Suggestion, next time don't use white glue to secure your track in place. I did that once and had the same problem you're having.

Share This Page