More ballasting Q's

Discussion in 'Photos & Videos' started by Kevinkrey, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    I tried to ballast a small portion of the layout. I got the ballast on just right, ad cleared it from the ties and rail sides. I put on a mist of water/detergent and then tried to drop on some scenic cement with a spray bottle, and the drops covered the ties with glue. I know it was a squirt bottle doing the job of an eye dropper, so would an eye dropper work better, am I using too much, would it be better to mist the glue on with the squirt bottle from a foot or so away? Whats not working for me here? If an eye dropper is what I should use, where can I find them?
  2. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi...I use a squeeze bottle with a long tube that's pinched at the end (kinda like the ones used in labs...), and I've also used a bottle like the ones used for eye drops. The glue is supposed to cover everything (including the ties), so when it drains, it'll get to the sides of your ballast. Be sure the ballast is nice and wet so the glue will run into it and glue it all the way through. It'll look like you've made a mess...but once it dries you'll have some nice solid ballast. Don't try to mist the'll get it over everything else, and not enough where you want it.
  3. jesso

    jesso Member

    A club member showed me how to do this. Get the ballast where you want it. Then using a pointed tip bottle filled with alcohol and water and very little detergent, run the point along the inside of the rail watching the liquid drain down the slope of the outside ballast, make sure it reaches to the end of the ballast, then go back using another pointed tip bottle and do the same with a water-glue mixture, watch the glue spread down. It worked really well and he had some of the neatest ballasting that I have seen on a layout.
  4. abutt

    abutt Member

    Although it is time consuming, the eye dropper (available at any drug store) is the only way to go. If you mix the white glue (Woodland Scenics) 50/50 with softened water (a few drops of liqued detergent) and drop it on between the ties and the outside ballast, it will soak right in and dry over you plenty of time to wipe down the rails and, with one finger in a cloth, the tops of the ties, you'll be home free.
    One of my favorite jobs. Good luck.:thumb:
  5. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    As I mentioned, the pointed tip squeeze bottle works very well for me, and it goes a lot faster. If you wet the ballast really well, you shouldn't have much (if any) floating around-which invariably winds on top of the ties. I don't mess with it until it's well dried, and then pop off the little ballast that may have founed its way to the ties.
  6. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    yeah, one of those chemistry wash bottles would be ideal. I've always used an old elmer's glue bottle with success.

  7. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    It sounds like you didn't get the ballast wet enough when you sprayed it with the glue... if it's beading up on top of the ties and ballast, it means you didn't soak the ballast well enough first.

    The glue should run off the ties and soak into the ballast between them.
  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I have a hair-spray bottle that puts a fine mist of alcohol over the track area. Then I use an eyedropper to drop the glue in between the ties. Spraying the glue will get it on the rails where you don't want it. Also, putting the glue on without wetting (wet water also works for some people) tends to make the ballast ball up and assume other unrealistic positions.
  9. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    Im with Allan, although its time consuming, the eye dropper is what i use and prefer :thumb: :mrgreen:
  10. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I use this plastic dropper bottle (I don't recall where I got it) which works like an eyedropper. Its greater capacity requires less frequent refills, though, and with a large jug of pre-mixed glue/water handy, it makes quick work of ballasting or scenic ground cover.

    As noted previously, the key to either ballasting or applying ground cover is to thoroughly pre-wet the area with "wet" water. I use a few drops of dish detergent, but you can also use a water/alcohol mixture. Unless you've got wooden structures in the vicinity, the water will do no permanent damage - some areas on my layout, where the scenic material has been applied very thickly, have taken up to a week to dry completely.
    Proper wetting will also make the job go much more quickly, as the glue mixture will spread readily through the wet scenic material.

  11. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    Well I am the guy that does everything wrong. But I get good results you guys have seen my pics If not go to and look around. I use a garden sprayer for the wet water ( detergent & water) then after a good soaking. I can see the water running on the board. I use a turkey baster for the glue. I don't know the water glue % mix, I just get a container put glue in it and add water stirring it as I go. When it gets thin enough to look right( probably 70% water or more). I soak the ballast good. I am not much on this % stuff. My grandson has a 4 wheeler here that I mix fuel for, I have no mosquito problems. Any way,it works for me. I do all my scenery this way. I also do about 5 feet of track at a time.
  12. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    Well I would like to get some eye droppers, as it sounds like they have a few uses. But where can I get them. LHS? So I soak the area with a water/drops of detergent then use my scenic cement which should also be diluted with a good bit of water?
  13. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    As abutt mentioned, eyedroppers should be available at any drugstore.
    I'd use ordinary white glue, as described below, rather than scenic cement: they're more-or-less the same, except that the white glue is cheaper.

    To ballast your track, I find that a small paper cup (such as those kitchen or bathroom Dixie cups) gives you great control over where the ballast goes. I usually move the cup along the centre of the track, tapping it as I go, to keep the ballast flowing. Less than you need is better than too much, although a soft 1/2" brush is useful for pushing around the excess or levelling what's in place. Then go back and do both roadbed shoulders in turn. Use the brush to level and re-arrange things as required, making sure to keep the ballast away from the throwbar area and the flangeways of the guardrails. To remove stray ballast from the tie tops, lightly grasp the metal ferrule of the brush between the thumb and forefingers of one hand, laying the handle across the rail tops, then, as you move the brush along the tracks, lightly and rapidly tap the brush handle with the fingers of your free hand. The stray ballast will "magically" bounce off the ties and into place between them.
    If you're also ballasting turnouts, make sure to keep the level of the ballast below the tops of the ties, and don't place any ballast between the ties surrounding the throw bar. To avoid gluing the points to the ties, place two drops of plastic-compatible oil atop each tie over which the point rails move, one next to each point rail, the flip the points back-and-forth several times to spread the oil. Parking the points in mid-throw will also help to ensure that they don't get glued to the stock rails, either.
    You can mist the contoured ballast using either water and alcohol, or water with a few drops of dish detergent added. Either should work. Use a sprayer that will allow you to spray a fine mist. To avoid having the force of the spray dislodge loose ballast all over the landscape, aim the first few spritzes upward, letting the droplets fall like rain. Once the surface has been wetted, you'll be able to spray it directly. Make sure to thoroughly wet the ballast right down to the base. Not doing so is probably the main reason that many people have trouble getting a decent-looking and durable ballasting job. To apply the glue/water mixture (white glue works just as well as matte medium and is way cheaper, especially if you buy it by the gallon. Those who claim that white glue dries shiny are not using sufficient wetting agent. The proportions should be about 50/50 water/glue, although a little heavier on the water will still work well) don't ruin a perfectly good spray bottle (and while doing so cover your rails and anything else nearby in glue, too). Instead, use a dropper. An eyedropper will work, but a plastic squeeze bottle with a small nozzle will be much faster. Simply move along the track, as quickly as necessary, allowing the glue mixture to drip onto the ballast (or ties - you won't see it once it dries). You should be able to see it being drawn into the ballast, due to the wetting agent. I usually do the area between the rails first, then the sides in turn. The glue mixture will spread throughout the ballast and down to the roadbed, so make sure to apply enough to allow this to occur. The result will be ballast bonded solidly in place, yet with the appearance of loose, individual pieces.

  14. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    I found the perfect applicator for ballast was an empty glue bottle... the 100 - 300 ml size. you can close the nozzle to keep the glue/water in in case you knock it over, and the tip is perfect for flowing the glue in between the rails.
  15. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Kevinkrey, for ballasting I use an eyedropper . I purchased it at my local drugstore.
    An eyedropper is useful too when measuring acrylic paints for mixing colors and measuring the volume of isopropyl alcohol for diluting.

    Using an old Elmer's glue bottle for ballasting sounds like a good idea too.
    I use pure isopropyl (rubbing ) alcohol to wet the ballast.

  16. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    I thought I posted this but don't see it. Maybe I failed to hit the post reply button? Any way, Kevin you'll be able to find eye droppers at Cub Foods pharmacies. They have them in packages of two.
  17. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    Good idea, Im not far from the Cub on Rice St. so Ill check there when IO go to Hub Hobby to pick up some stuff that I ordered.

    Also, I have a few spots on the layout where ballasting did not go as planned. What would be a a good way to remove the ballast that became glued to the ties and rails at these spots?
  18. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    soak it wit the water / detergent solution. give it some time to soak in. Elmers glue is water soluable.
  19. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    Well, Ive been doing some more work on the ballast, and I must say, Im getting much better, I could make a how to video with how easy it is!:thumb:

    Right now Im working on ballasting the yard, and its slow going because the area Im working on is about 10" wide, but Im only going at about 6-8" at a time.

    Les, wow, guess I need to use my head more, that was a very obvious answer, yet it never occoured to me.:rolleyes:

    If I wetted it to do that, would I need to reglue the whole area? Id imagine so.
  20. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    I quit using water as a wetting agent for my ballast...
    I use rubbing alcohol with a small amout of black ink in it...(a thin black wash)
    This kind of "kills two birds with one stone" if you not only works well as a wetting agent, but it also adds a little weathering to the ballast...a lot of times some of those light-colored commercial ballasts can use a good "dirtying-down"...
    As far as a dropper, an old glue bottle works just as well as an eye-dropper, & hold a lot more!

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