Nightmare on ballast street!

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by vilefileman, Mar 23, 2005.

  1. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Be careful with Robin (Mathyro) there Robt. What he doesn't tell you in that he's got a bunch of N scale gnomes that do his switchpoints when they're not cranking out cereal box buildings for him. Great work on those points, Robin.:thumb:
  2. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    LOL Bob, I wish!!!! Robt. It is a good idea to put ground cover down first whether it be sand, grass or whatever, then put the ballast on. You can add some grass/sand after as it can be seen in the prototype world. I used Woodland Scenics ballast. Its is a mix of medium cinders, medium gray, light gray along with some of my N gauge ballast that is much finer.
  3. robt46

    robt46 Member

    Thanks Bob, yeah I'll keep my eye on him. Do you think he pays those gnomes. Hehe. We should get in touch with em. Get them to Unionize. That would teach him.
  4. robt46

    robt46 Member

    Robin, Geez as soon as I posted that I said "You Dummy,(I call myself that all the time.) I sez, Of course you put the ground cover down first. Then the ballast. Phew! I'll tell ya ,My mind is like a steel trap. Robt.
  5. rcline

    rcline Member

    After reading what all the pros had to say above and learning a great deal, I decided
    not to say anything about how I do it, --- because I "Don't" ----- Brenda does it instead, she says I'm no good!!!! What Brenda does is, uses different sizes of brushes and puts down white glue first, then sprinkles the ballast out, pats it down, after drying, (now get this part), she slips an old stocking of hers over the vacuum cleaner hose and sucks up what is still not glued down. Pulls the stocking
    out of the hose and pours the left over back into her bottle. Works good for her
    and I don't get told to stop messing things up!!!! LOL LOL
  6. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Wow Randy, you are very lucky to have Brenda in your life.
  7. KCS

    KCS Member

    Wow it's been a good while sense I've posted. I recently discovered that tooth brush's suck when I found a new type of brush. I never thought about it untill it just happened to dawn on me. If you can get your hand's on a bottle of "Gojo" hand cleaner with a little blue plasic/rubber brush with it. This thing I swear up and down work's better than any brush around if your in a hurry. I like it because for one the brissle's on the bottom are semi soft and even when you use it in a "kiwk" manner it still does a very nice job. You can do the whole track at once instead of having to do the out side and then the inside then the out side again. Just brush it back and forth untill you have it like you want it then mist until just soaked then add the 50/50 mix. I have never had more fun laying ballast than I do now because of this little brush. Oh on another note that alot of people miss. After everything is done and the ballast has sat over night to dry take a flat head screw driver or something of the nature and break off any access ballast that is stuck to the side of the rial so it doesn't interfear with the flange's. This part I think is the most time consuming of the whole process but is worth it when your done.
  8. KLund1

    KLund1 New Member


    Great thread. I have learned a lot about how to put down ballast. What store did you get the Gojo brush? I saw a picture of it, and it looks like it will do the job well. But I can't find it at Target, Walmat, etc.
    Another question: I see that many people use Alchoal as a wetting agent. How much track should you wet at one time before you put down the 50/50 white glue solution? Also, what happens it you over spray the alchoal solution over a section that was just glued down(as you move down the track)?
  9. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Welcome to The Gauge :wave: I usually wet down about a 2' section at a time. The suurounding scenery will get wet, that's OK, just don't disturb it 'til it redries.
  10. toolman

    toolman Member

    I am also at the pointto lay down ballast, but first I made up a practice section of track on 2 x 4 scrape stud piece. I haven't decided yet on what my ballast going to look like so I made samples and also trying different techniques. I found that a small paint brush causes the ballast to move around too much for me, so I used a dental pick tool can use atooth pick or a paper clip and seemed to move the ballast with out the rest going all over the place.
  11. KCS

    KCS Member

    I don't know what to say. I've never had problems with ballast even when I first started. I'm in the process of making a hopper train that does this for me anyway. These hopper's have operating dump door's under the car's that I have glued homemade magnetic metal strips to. The strip's run across the door's so when hit by a magnet it pull's them open releasing the car's contents. The idea is pretty much based on the prototype. The locomotive's slowly pull the car's down he track as they unload ballast onto the track. I'm still working on how to control how far the door's open. On the truck's I have installed very tiny piece's of very flexible styrene on .10 bass rod that sits maybe about the thickness of one of those black mark line's on a ruler to knock off any ballast on the rail top's and flange guard's small enough to clear enough space for the flange's if it's being over laid to rail top level. Each car is also equip with a small brush under each truck to brush off the top's of the ties for a nice clean realistic look. The brush's are designed to be removed from the car's-trucks whenever they are not being used to do any actual ballast laying. So far from doing test drop's everything work's like a champ except the brush's. When they go by they prick up little piece's of ballast and eject them everywhere on the layout including the floor. I'm trying to work on a guard to help solve this problem. I love them even though I only have two of them but a train of about 15-20 would work on a layout nicely. Oh I forgot to mention how the door's are opened. Kadee make's those handly little uncoupling tool's with two magnet's on either side of the frame with a handle to uncouple car's, well this is based on the same principle except opening hopper bay door's instead. These magnet's are permanently attached to each car. I'm not sure how I will send the electricity to the magnet's yet because only one car need's to be dumped at a time and I can't run it off track power plus I can't run them on circuit other wise all the car's will dump at the same time.
  12. cpr_boy

    cpr_boy Member

    12 years ago I had a tough time balasting my HO layout. Here's what I did this time with my new N scale layout.

    1.Pour the balast over the track using an empty film canaster. Using a brush, I spread the balast evenly across the track

    2. Saturated the balast using a mix of 6oz water and a few drops of dish soap. I used an eye dropper for this. The soap/water solution acts to break the surface tension of the ballast for when you apply the cement later.

    3. Apply Woodland Scenics Cement using another eye dropper. Don't worry about the odd washout (balast running down the sides). You can fix this later when it dries.

    Hope you have success and don't be in a rush to finish. Do small sections at a time

    Good luck
  13. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

    Thats a great idea and I thought of something that might go along with that. Say you happen to spill a sizeable amoung of ballast in a grassy field near where you were working. You've scooped most of it up but you still have some left over. What says you can't use the stocking/sock to reclaim that ballast too. Or maybe a little bit of ballast gets out of hand near the recently been ballasted area and you dont want the liquid overspill to permanently secure it to the scenery. Perhaps you could take that sock over the vaccum and vaccum it up before you apply the alcohol/waterglue mix. (I'll have to try this after i get back from the desert in a couple weeks)

    Now my ballasting experiences....

    It has been mentioned before to take a screwdriver and scrape the inside of the rails to ensure the flangeways are clear. I have used a toothpick while the glue is still a little wet.

    I also spend a lot of time shaping the ballast to get it just right before I apply the alcohol then glue. I do this mainly because it is N scale and after ballasting N scale track, HO appeared so much easier when observing it being done at the club.
  14. Bill-nb

    Bill-nb New Member

    Hi, How do you keep the glue off of the tracks, or do you have to? I have a combination of brass and nickle, and am a little leary of spraying glue on them.... I haven't started the ballast thing yet.. but am about ready.. Thanks for any help..
  15. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

    It doesn't matter if the glue gets on the tracks. What I usually do is take a scrap piece of wood and run it along the rails after it dries. Then I take a track cleaner to get the rest of it and shine it up a bit more.
  16. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Ballasting is one of those jobs that, when you're doing it for the first time and you see all that diluted glue everywhere and sopping wet just know you screwed it all up and ruined everything. Step back, let it dry out and soon you'll be sayin', "Wow, I'm good :thumb: :D " Then pull out your Bright Boy track cleaning block or a good pen eraser, run it over the rails and move on to the next section.

    Hey, Jake... :wave: back from your business trip? ;) See ya at the club Tuesday.
  17. Bill-nb

    Bill-nb New Member

    Thanks Guys.. I will give itr a shot.. appreciate the info and encouragement...
  18. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

    Yup I sure am. Got back thursday evening. Feels good to be home. See ya Tuesday

Share This Page