Metal in ballast

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by mttank, Dec 4, 2006.

  1. mttank

    mttank New Member

    I purchased some ballast from Arizona Rock & Mineral and was half way done with ballasting the yard when I discovered that it contains a large amount of metal. More than 50% in fact. I was shocked. This is a product designed for model railroad use. I have been carefull about demagnetizing and sand or dirt I use but never thought I would have to check store bought ballast. Question is, What now? It doesn't seem to create any shorts but I'm concerned that my engines will pick up stay granulars that break free. Who else has run into this?
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Did you contact Arizona Rock and Mineral about this problem? They might have had a quality control issue with a recent batch of material. I think I would run a vaccuum over the track to pick up any loose particles. It also might be a good idea to take a Kaddee uncoupler magnet and run it over the rails like a brite boy to see if any magnetic particles stick to the magnet. Finally, I think i would "seal" the ballast by spraying on a coat of Elmer's glue dilutted 50% with water to make sure any loose pieces of ballast are glued down good. After everything dries, just clean the rail tops with a brite boy to get that layer of glue off the rails. If you have any switches in the section you have ballasted, put a drop of oil on the ties that the points slide over and a drop of oil on the hinge points so the points will not be glued.
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I went through a load of ballast with a amgnet and came up with a few vials of magnetic stuff. The worry is not shorts but stuff being sucked up by motors and getting in the works.
    I would go over the tracks after all is glued down with one of the big Kadee under-the-tracks magnets.
  4. mttank

    mttank New Member

    It's worst than I thought. After testing the ballast I found that more than 90% of the ballast sticks to the magnet. The ballast is #1222 Yard Mix from Arizona Rock & Mineral. After the first glueing I rubbed well and vacumed then ran the magnet around and still picked up a few granulars. No matter how clean I think I vacume I still pick up some each time. Even if I glue some more I don't think I can say for sure that no more ballast will be loosened up. I realy don't want to rip it all up and start over.

  5. mttank

    mttank New Member

    Here is a pic of the completed yard. Tell me I don't have to rip it up.

    Attached Files:

  6. fsm1000

    fsm1000 Member

    What I do is use a magnet but you know that already.

    NEXT I would suggest that you use a powerful vaccuum and suck up as much lose stuff as you can, then reballast the holes with the stuff you check with a magnet.
    THEN reglue that sucker good.
    I have made the same mistake and that is what I did to solve the problem and it worked for me.

    Either that or do a redo. :( But I don't think you need to to be honest.

    Hope that answers your worry. :)
  7. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    I would be concerned about this. I would rip up the track and remove the ballast. What yopu have is created a hug resistor. You can actually create a load acoss the rails. What is a load? It would be like adding another locomotive or more to the train. It can also over heat your throttle control because you are drawing more current. I'm sorry for giving you some bad news.:cry:

  8. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    90% of the ballast? That is unacceptable. Like throwing 90% of the money you spent on the ballast in the trash. you can try rewetting the ballast and then sucking it up once the glue softens.

  9. mttank

    mttank New Member

    I contacted Arizona Rock and Mineral and they were quick to respond. They basically said don't worry about it. They have run trains over that track ballast that was not even glued down without problems. Been selling that stuff for17 years. They did not deny that the ballast has metal particles.

    I would have to imagine over 17 years there are many modelers out there that have used this stuff. Let me here from you.

    So now my big question is how susceptible are the engines. Do they really pick up metal particles? and can they ruin engines? I haven't been running trains long enough to know for sure, just what I hear.
  10. tracman165

    tracman165 New Member

    A few years ago I read an article in one of the train magazines and they
    suggested that everything be glued down with that 50/50 mixture like
    russ suggests. I run the O stuff. It sort of stuck in my mind wheather it
    be grass, sand or ballast. I put down a layer of glue first, then spray
    with 50/50, then vacumn and then fill in the bare spots. Its alot of
    trouble, but it'll save an engine.
  11. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    An electric motor is an electro magnetic armature running inside a permanent magnet field. I would not want to have any lose particles of material that might be magnetic laying aroud my track. I'm glad to hear of this. Arizona Rock makes the most realistic ballast for Santa Fe modelers, but I think I will be using Woodland Scenics in the future. I'm not at all comfortable with a company that knows their product contains metal particles that can be magnetised and then says it is not a problem. As far as I'm concerned it is a BIG problem. All it would take is one piece of ballast to get into the works to cause premature wear at the very least. I would vaccuum the track, add more glue, and keep working on it until nothing comes loose before I ran trains on it.
  12. zedob

    zedob Member

    Wow, that's almost like one of the engine oil makers saying that they know that their product has sand in it, but don't worry about that, it won't hurt your engine.

    I guess it doesn't matter until people's equipment starts smoking.
  13. fsm1000

    fsm1000 Member

    Magnets attract ferous metals. Magnets are in model trains. You do the math.

    Personally, if I was rich then what the heck. Buy a new loco every time one goes bye bye from metal damage in the motors grinding away at the armatures etc.
    Otherwise wellll.
    Your choice really.
    But I would sift it with a magnet till my hand hurt.
    I would also reglue everything you ALREADY have down a couple of time 'just to be sure'.
    Anyone who has lost an engine to metal dust will tell you it is not pretty.

    Let the glue dry 2 or 3 days then vaccuum. Reglue and repeat.

    Anyhow, for what it is worth that is my opinion on the subject. [and appears to be others as well].

    I hope it helps. :)

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