Hard water vs wet water

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Dansco, Nov 30, 2007.

  1. Dansco

    Dansco Member

    Hard water wins!
    FYI (Im new to ballasting)

    I couldn't get my well water to become "wet enough" to soak into the fine ballast using dish soap. Thanks to this forum I found out that I could use rubbing alcohol (cheap dolor store 50% solution) directly. This worked like a charm! It soaks in instantly! And the glue (50% again) flowed like, funny enough, like water :)

    I also got the tip of using old contact lens solution bottles to apply the alcohol and glue (My wife and daughter wear contacts) rather than spraying the world.. a lot less mess this way.

    Thanks to the Gauge again!
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Ummm... doesn't that mean that wet water wins? ;) :D

    I use the 50% isopropyl solution too - that's the way it comes from the dollar store. I usually put it on with an eyedropper, but the contact solution bottle is a good suggestion. As long as you don't put it in your eye...! :)

  3. Dansco

    Dansco Member

    Hum... :rolleyes: I think, that because the hard water was never able to get "wet" the hard water wins.. but Im a glass half empty type :twisted:

    ...and about the getting it in your eye! Yikes, I just recalled, sitting here at work, that I never "labeled" it!, Hopefully my wife wont be in the train room and need to wash some dust out of her eye and grab the Alcohol! :cry:

  4. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    Methyl Hydrate (isopropyl alchohol) is available in gallon jugs at your local building supply store in the paint department. Cost is about $5.00.

    In one spray bottle, I mix up a 10% solution of matte medium, methyl hydrate, and a couple of drops of liquid dish soap. In another spray bottle, I fill another spray bottle with methyl hydrate.

    I mix up my scenicking materials, whether it's ballast or ground foam in small cardboard or styrofoam coffee cups. When applying the materials, hold the coffee cup in one hand and tap the back of your hand with a 1" paint brush. This controls the placement and distribution of the materials.

    Don't try to apply all of the scenicking material in one go. It's a layering process. I layer on the scenicking material (whether it's ballast, ground foam, etc), brush the ballast into place with a 1" brush. When I'm satisfied with the look, I mist the material with the matte medium mixture. Then I mist the matte medium and the scenery with straight methyl hydrate until it is almost flooded. Let it dry for 24 hours.

    The next day, apply the next layer of scenicking material and repeat the process.

    Keep the matte medium out of the points of the turnouts. It's very easy to cover the points and any other sensitive work with cardboard "tents" made out of index cards folded in half. If the turnouts do stick, spray with methyl hydrate, let it sit for 5 minutes, and then clean out both sides of the points with a Q-tip. The matte medium is also on the ties that the points slide on. This may require several applications of methy hydrate and Q-tips

    The idea here is to layer on your scenicking materials going from fine to coarse and saving the ballasting to last. In the same way that an artist stands back from their easel to see what they have created, frequently stand back and try to visualize the look that you want to create on the piece of layout you are creating.

    Don't rush things. You have lots of time. Take photos of the kind of scenes you would like to create using nature as your model - rock outcroppings, trees, fields, grass, etc. The idea here is to try and mimic the colours. Frequently we use scenicking materials that are too dark (eg dark greens), too solid (dark green covers the whole area. A small piece of nature is a kaleidescope of colours - different greens, different yellows, hints of orange and red. As my sense of colours isn't good, I get my artist wife to mix up the greens for me - lots of medium green, a hint of dark green, and a bit more of light green. Fine foam first, followed by medium ground foam, followed by clumps of coarse foam strategically placed. Leave a bit of the ground uncovered on the sides of embankments (painted light grey with drybrushed streaks of dark grey, light brown and dark brown).

    The end result is really tremendous!

    Bob M.
  5. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Methyl hydrate is also useful as a paint stripper for styrene, although many of the newer paints are untouched by it.
    It's also a very dangerous chemical, as it is readily absorbed through the skin, or, being very volatile, the vapour, through the eyes, with the result being liver or kidney damage. Use in a well ventilated area, with eye protection and rubber or plastic gloves if you're handling it, as in paint stripping.

  6. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    That's because of how soap works.

    Modern "soap"...none of which is technically soap anymore...they are all detergent...and I call the all soap!...consists primarily of surfactants and zeolites. The surfactants have one end which loves water and one end that hates water...causing them be able to grab oil with one end and water at the other end. The bubbles are formed by the hydophobic ends attempting to get as far from the water as possible.

    Hardness breaks down the surfactants causing them to stop working and be washed down the drain. The harder a water it is, the faster this happens. This is why softened water is usually used for washing. If water has no hardness...you'll never get the soap off!

    Zeolites are an unbelievable material...(the good ones) mesoporous are relatively new...that are sorbants. A tiny piece of zeolite on your fingertip can have more surface area than a football stadium. These adsorb some of the water's hardness to allow the soap to be worked into a lather before breaking down.

    That's why the wet water didn't work. Using distilled water, bottled water, or softened water would fix it.
  7. Chartiers

    Chartiers Still plays with trains

    I like my track and ballasting to be rock hard so when I run a vacuum across the top of the rails to remove dust and stray scenery material, I want the ballast to stay in place.

    First, I like the real rock ballast from Arizona Rock or Smith & Son. I wet it with a spray of Isopropyl Alcohol and then use an eyedropper to apply Woodland Scenics' scenic cement full strength from the bottle. It dries pretty hard.

    My opinion only off course, there are many ways to do anything - no one way is best.

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