First Ballasting Photos

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Play-Doh, Jun 11, 2006.

  1. Play-Doh

    Play-Doh Member

    Well, here is an update on progress on my layout. Ive begun ballasting...its tedious but so far the results have been excellent. (this is my first attempt) Any comments or criticism is totally welcome. (Sorry for the fuzzy pics again, im getting a digital soon)



    EDIT: Here is a WAY better pic, and yes, Im gonna get that little bit of ballst of the ties.

  2. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Looks good to me, everythings covered and it looks even.
  3. announce1 looking good
  4. Art67

    Art67 Member

    Play-Doh, Looks good for a first attempt, however, You will be much happier with the end result if you paint your track before ballasting. Now is the time to do it before you progress too far with the ballast. This includes painting the ties and the track itself. You should consult pictures of the area you are trying to model, but a good mix is painting the ties grayish brown, and then highlighting them by dry brushing with a slightly lighter color such as pure gray etc. Then paint your rails a rusty brownish color, let dry and then clean the tops of the rails with a bright boy. It goes pretty fast and you will be amazed at how much better your track will look. Painting the rails will also make the rail itself appear smaller which will greatly improve realism. Remember-ties are not black, and rails are not shiny {except the tops on well used rail}. Doing this before ballasting is MUCH easier. Your track looks good, just thought I would offer these suggestions. Have fun, and feel free to ask if you have any questions. Good luck.

  5. Play-Doh

    Play-Doh Member

    Hmm...hadnt thought about painting rail quite yet...or at all actually! Good advice! (that I will take!)
  6. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    Get a real fine paint brush. you'll be there forever, but if you have a steady hand you won't hurt the ballast.
  7. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Stuart is right about painting before ballasting. I don't usually paint the ties (mine are brown) but painting the rail will make a noticeable difference. I use a good quality 1/2" brush and Polly Scale water-based paint straight from the bottle. Don't worry about being too neat. After doing about 10' or 12' of track, I wipe the top of the rails with a dry rag: a couple of passes will remove all traces of paint without having to use any solvent. Let the paint harden for a day or two before ballasting. Your ballasting job looks pretty good, especially for a first try. To avoid ending up with ballast stuck to the tie tops, try this: after you have spread the ballast along the track and arranged it with a soft brush, but before you apply the wetting agent or the glue, grasp the ferrule of the brush loosely between your thumb and forefinger, laying the handle across the rail tops, then, as you move along the rails, tap the brush handle with the fingers of your other hand. The stray pieces of ballast will "magically" disappear from the tie tops.

  8. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    You learn as you go along.
  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I wouldn't worry about removing the ballast that is on top of the ties - unless it interferes with the wheel flanges and operations. I saw a section of track last week near Montreal that was completely buried in ballast up to the railhead. The flanges had crushed some of it out of the way, but the ties were not visible at all...

  10. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    You might brush of the ties and sort of sweep the stuff to wards the track with a small brush to make it neat and even. You want a clean edge.
  11. Miles

    Miles New Member

    yea i have seen that too, and ya might see it allot all over later on:)
  12. Relic

    Relic Member

    I'm sorry but this drives me NUTS!
    I can't understand why so many people get bent about a few bits of ballast on the ties, have you never walked the track before or do they have someone sweep the ties in your area? Lighten up. And my two cents on the colour of ties/ballast/rails is
    ties are kinda washed out gray (except new ones that nobody thinks to put in)
    ballast is well ballast coloured except for the dark gray strip down the middle (that used to be decorated with toilet paped etc back in the steam/early deisel days)
    I've yet to see brown (rusty) rails on a main line. They are kinda a greasy dark gray colour.
    these observations come from living a stones throw from the Cn main (we used to have a long passing siding and a short dead end with a ramp for loading lumber but they tore those out twenty five years ago)
    All I'm sayin' with this rant is nothin' is cast in stone.If I hadda follow rules in this game I'd quit.
  13. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Regarding ballast on ties, I've seen perfectly clean right of way, and so much ballast you don't see the ties. But generally speaking, a large percentage of the tracks I've walked have their ties nearly free of ballast. And in ballasting our model track, I think the reason so many talk about how to keep ballast off the ties is that the model track looks messy, as if the reason the ballast is there is not to accurately model track, but because the workmanship is messy. It takes a fair amount of effort to keep the tie tops clear, so if there is ballast on the ties, it appears you were lazy. If we want to actually model prototype track, we could model sections which were recently reballasted, the ballast would be a different color, or at least not weathred as the old ballast is. Often, the ties would be buried in these areas, depending on the profitablity of the road in question. A lot of track I've walked has the ballast a couple inches below the tie tops. Easy to remember due to having to walk from tie top to tie top, adjusting my stride constantly. Tie spacing is not even in most cases! Tho most modeled efforts I've seen in changing tie spacing are too drastic, my own included. I've found it easy to keep tie tops clear (mostly!) by adding little enough ballast to cover the roadbed, but not fill up to the tie tops. Then any on the tie tops is simply brushed (I use my finger) between ties, where there is sufficient capacity left to hold it.

    A detail which is neat is old spikes laying on the ties or ballast. When replaced, I guess the track crews just left old spikes there on the right of way. I will have to check as I don't recall who it is that makes scale spikes, they are nearly invisable to my poor eyes! But they have square shanks and are actual scale spikes. A few of these in prominent areas, all rusted up, is a nice effect.

    My ballasting sequence, for what it's worth, all variations are valid and what ever works for you is right:

    Lay track, make sure it operates well. Paint ties. Ballast. I add india ink to alcohol and spray a fine mist on the ballast as a prewet. This weathers the ballast nicely. Then I glue using diluted white glue, using the glue container to simply apply the glue/water mixture.
    I go back and paint the rails last, after doing any cleanup the ballast requires. For up front track I add the joint bars, or fishplates, whatever the bars which join the rails together are called. In these spots I don't use rail joiners, I have a feed on every rail piece. Saw a notch in the railhead every scale 39' and install one of those bars. I actually measure 6" rather than 39 scale feet. That works well with 36" long lengths of rail. Then I paint the rail sides with a fine brush, (only the side I can see) check photos of the track you wish to model for appropriate colors.
  14. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    Looks good but I have a suggestion also. Do other track side scenery first and ballast last. If you drop Grass on ballast it is hard to get up and looks bad. If you drop ballast in grass unless it in the front yard of a house usually it is oh well. I just find it easier and neater to ballast last.

Share This Page