Successful ballasting

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Alan Bickley, Jan 5, 2004.

  1. Alan Bickley

    Alan Bickley Member

    Does anyone on the forum have any quick, easy, and effective methods of applying ballast to trackwork? I tried putting ballast on a layer of PVA glue but it ended up being messy, and didn't cover the trackbed effectively. Any Ideas?:confused:
  2. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    I use wet glue made of white glue and 70% rubbing alcohol from Walmart. Mix about 1 part glue to 10 parts alcohol. I then wet the ballast down and wait a day for it to dry. Sets like concrete. I use it to glue down flock, ground foam, almost everything but buildings. DASH
  3. Mastiffdog

    Mastiffdog Member

    I am not an expert, however, from what I have read and tried, this is one way to achieve good results:

    1. Do not place any glue or adhesives on the roadbed or track.

    2. Lightly sprinkle your ballast from a cup, just a small amount at a time. You can always add, but it is difficult to take away.

    3. Use a small brush (flat edge type) to position the ballast. Make sure the ballast is off the tops of the rails and positioned exactly where you want it.

    4. Take a mist sprayer pump bottle that sprays a gentle amount of "wet water" (water and a drop or two of liquid detergent) on the ballast. Do not aim the sprayer at the ballast, let the light mist "rain" on the ballast.

    5. Mix some matte medium (white glue that dries flat) with water at a 1:1 ratio, then use an eyedropper to "flood" the glue in between the rails. Don't be afraid to use alot of glue here. The glue will permeate all of the ballast, between and outside the rails.

    6. Allow to dry overnight. It should be rock solid the next day.

    The most important aspect of this process is to wet the ballast (#4), other wise you will obtain a cake-like ballast, where the surface is glued, but the ballast underneath is loose.

    Be especially careful around the turnouts and take your time, you do not want to have any ballast interferring with the mechanisms.

    Everyone has their own methods and glue formulas. Some modelers like to use alchohol rather than wet water. My method is one of many ways to do it.

    I would strongly recommend searching this topic on the forums, as much has been written on this popular topic. Additionally, there are many scenery books available that can provide you with a wealth of knowledge.

  4. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Before it dries I take an old truck, after ballast is down and glued, and run it back and forth on the rails by hand, pressing down very firmly. This ensures there's no ballast where t'ain't allowed. Also flip the turnouts back and forth periodically as the mix is drying. It's just takes a minute and is a heck of a lot easier than unbalasting later!
  5. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Dog's got the basics, though everybody's got a favorite glue/wetting agent formula. Mine for years used detergent, now alcohol is my forte'. Like Jon-monon, I use an old freight car truck, one of the old ones with deep flanges, to clear any stray ballast. Find a good mister for wetting, you'll jostle the ballast a bit in the beginning, but you'll quickly get the hang of it. Wet it good but don't soak it and use enough glue without puddling. You'll do fine, have at it. For you know it, you'll be teaching newcomers like you been doing it for years.
  6. Alan Bickley

    Alan Bickley Member

    You live and learn. Whilst reading a copy of "Model Rail" last night, I found this tip submitted by a Francis Merrit:
    "Ballasting track: I've had a lot of trouble keeping the track free of stray bits of ballast, and once inadvertantly glued in place, they are a bit of a problem.
    I've found that two standard drinking straws, slit lengthways, can easily be fed onto the length of track being ballasted,kept in place while the ballast and glue are applied, then slid along to the next length of rail. They sit quite nicely over the rail, protecting it from clumsy ballasting."
    Seek and ye shall find, as my Dad often says! I'll definately give this method a try.
    :D :thumb:
  7. billk

    billk Active Member

    Cool tip, Alan!! :thumb:
  8. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    If you use a drop of Labelle plastic compatible oil on switch points and ON TOP OF the ties the switch points slide on, you will get ballast in your turnouts without gluing the turnouts.
  9. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Just tried this for the first time last week and it works like a champ:thumb: .

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