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Pete,

This is how I do ballasting: http://www.mrol.com.au/ballasting.aspx

Graham Plowman

QUOTE (hoarp001 @ 3 Sep 2007, 01:03) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi,

Before I started to scene the main layout, i decided to do a mock section of track. Its a bit of MDF with a straight bit and a curve of track, and a hill side. I mounted the track down on 1/8th cork and pinned it down. I managed to get the middle of the track looking brilliant, but then I did one of the sides and the excess ballast flowed over the top of the rail and screwed up the middle! Very annoying.

After about an hour I managed to get it all looking pretty good, but when i sprayed it with the water, then water and glue the spray blew some of the balast away and ruined it!

Any tips for me? Any instructional videos I could watch?
Thanks very much,

Pete.
 

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QUOTE (Nozomi @ 5 Sep 2007, 08:12) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I still like the wallpaper paste and ballast miixture method.Never was keen on using white glue mixture and eyedropper method.
...
I have tried the white glue method but found that it dries rock hard.
This makes it difficult for one to change ones mind regards re-tracklaying etc.
I am not sure if it would soften after wetting or not.The white glue they sell here is waterproof.

Bryan,

The reason why the white glue method dries rock hard is probably because you're not using the right material and probably because you are using it 'neat'.
First of all, there are a number of different types of 'white glue'. Generally, here in Australia and the UK, we call it 'PVA'. Most are sold as 'woodworkers' glue and some are for indoor use while others are sold for outdoor use and are waterproof.

If you use these products 'neat' you will find they will set rock hard.
The method I described at http://www.mrol.com.au/ballasting.aspx involves diluting the PVA glue 1 part glue to 3 or 4 parts water. I also mix in some washing up liquid. The washing up liquid has the effect of breaking surface tension so that the watered glue soaks in. Because it is also an impurity to the glue, it also stops the glue setting rock hard.
I find that when this sets hard, I can dig it out with a screwdriver and it has a 'rubbery' kind of strength to it - a bit like digging up Evo Stick.

I'm not in favour of the wallpaper paste approach because it sends not to soak in very well if added on top. Even when mixed in, it still dries transparent and makes the ballast look like it has been flooded and waterlogged!

I think the main issue with ballasting is that people see it as a necessary 'evil' and look for production-line-type methods which enable them to rush the job, usually giving a 'rushed' appearance afterwards. My own view is that the diluted PVA method gives best results and it is the method used by most professional modellers even though some use variations on application methods. Once you get the hang of it, you can do it reasonably quickly.

In summary: choose the right type of PVA, dilute it, mix in washing up liquid and you won't have any problems and it doesn't go rock hard.

Graham Plowman
 

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Bryan,

QUOTE (Nozomi @ 5 Sep 2007, 12:40) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Graham,

Thank you for your helpfull notes.

It is PVA here also and have followed methods written.There are many brands/types here,some are yellow. I would never use it 'neat' for obvious reasons.

I remember yellow versions when I lived in the UK. Can't say I've seen them here in Australia, but then I haven't looked for them. The key is that you do need to be selective about which type you use. I use 'Selleys Aquadere'. Haven't found interior vs exterior versions to make much difference.

QUOTE (Nozomi @ 5 Sep 2007, 12:40) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>My ballasting does not look waterlogged however.Misting it didn't seem a problem.Our house interior humidity is generally low here is,in fact some people have humidifiers to increace it,therefore it dries very quiclky.

You're lucky! Most people's layouts I have seen done using this method usually look like a sludge with ballast mixed into it!

QUOTE (Nozomi @ 5 Sep 2007, 12:40) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Removing ballast is a simple task,just dampen it.
Requiring a screwdriver to dig it out seems like a daunting,messy task if you have a lot to remove.

Personally, I think the issue of removing ballast is made out to be a bigger problem than it actually is - a bit like chicken and egg - if you don't do it, you don't have to pull it up but without it, a layout is just a train set. The problem is, most people don't plan their layouts and consequently get themselves into situations where ballast digging becomes necessary.
I'd be warey of of a method which is susceptible to humidity. Here in Australia, we can get extremes of humidity. Anything which is sensitive to moisture in the air can be a real problem. Maybe not a problem where you are, but it can be a big problem here!
I'd be worried that your method wouldn't hold the ballast down firmly and that bits would chip off.
Although I indicated a screwdriver would remove my ballast, the ballast itself is relatively 'rubbery' due to the glue. It only needs a small scredriver and you dig it in and twist. It doesn't need extreme physical effort. It's no more messy than any other ballast removing method.
If one has a lot to remove, then I'd question the planning (or lack of it).

QUOTE (Nozomi @ 5 Sep 2007, 12:40) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Ballasting is a necessary evil as you say.

Most people consider it as such. That it not my view. To me, it is part of the overall scenics necessary to achieve a reallistic looking outcome - a bit like art.

Graham Plowman
 

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QUOTE QUOTE(hoarp001 @ 4 Sep 2007, 22:29)
Hi,

Its not the setting the ballast that I find hard, its arranging it all to look nice and neat. I know in reality its not perfect, but it just looks odd unless its really straight.
Although i have found a way of making this abit easier... I went to B and Q and bought a .7m long brushed draught exclduer. Im sure you know the type, its just a long continuous brush. I used this to sweep a line of ballast up to the track and get a nice straight edge. After that I used a little brush to get it in between the sleeprs etc. I have a 6 inch bit setting now so hoepfuly it will look ok..

Thanks.

I think this is a good example of the 'rushing' I mentioned in a previous message. People consider ballasting a necessary 'evil' and look for ways to speed up the process, often by using tools which are like sledge hammers to put a pin in ir far too big for the job.

The bottom line is that if you want ballast to look good, you have to use one of the traditional methods and take the TIME and CARE doing it. If you rush it, you won't get the results you're looking for.

Using the method I described on the MROL website, I can ballast one foot of both tracks of a twin track line in about an hour.

With regards to the 'perfect' appearance of prototype track, it depends on what era you are modelling. In UK steam days, 'length gangs' were responsible for the maintenence of specific lengths of track including the tidyness of ballast. With timber sleepers, it was necessary to ensure that they were not busried in ballast as this would cause rot and significantly reduce the lifetime of a sleeper. As a result, the appearance was normally very tidy.
In modern times, ballasting is done by machine and tamping, sleepers are concrete and 'length gangs' are no more. It doesn't matter whether concrete is burried in ballast, but the machinery usually ensures a tidy edge (know as a 'shoulder') to the ballast.

I find that the small flat brush shown in the pictures on http://www.mrol.com.au/ballasting.aspx is an ideal tool and enables me to do the job fairly quickly. The pictures show the results for themselves.

Graham Plowman
 

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Richard,

We are both pretty much in agreement. Just a few minor comments:

QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 5 Sep 2007, 13:40) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>(1) Absolutely no glue on visible ballast = No change in ballast colour (coating with glue always affects textrue and visible surface)

I don't have any glue visible either - it soaks in.

QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 5 Sep 2007, 13:40) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>(2) Having retained the original natural matt surface, dry brushing of powders for later weathering is to me more straightforward

Same here.

QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 5 Sep 2007, 13:40) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>(3) Practical reason: My C&L track base sleepers are quite thin compared to Peco, so... its hard to brush a thin layer with no gaps - therefore, glue before ballast makes its easier to get an even coat of ballast.

Agreed.

QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 5 Sep 2007, 13:40) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>(4) With Bullhead, Its easier to preserve the gap between rail bottom and ballast.

True.

QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 5 Sep 2007, 13:40) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>(5) No tendency at all to create a sounding board - there is no negative change to the sound level after ballasting

This is an interesting one - I should add, one that doesn't affect me!

My view on this is that there are a few factors which affect the 'sounding board' issue:

1/ The use of ballast which is glued rock hard
2/ As above fixed directly to baseboard surface with no track bed such as cork
3/ The use of track pins - they anchor track firmly to the baseboard such that all noise is directly transferred into the baseboard. Once track pins are in use, it doesn't matter what other noise mittigation is used (foam/cork/soft ballast etc), the pins will always transfer noise into the baseboard. The moral: don't use track pins - they look amaturish, spoil any chance of realism and they exagerate noise problems.

Graham Plowman
 

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Richard,

QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 5 Sep 2007, 23:02) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi Paul: You said - I don't have any glue visible either - it soaks in.

*** Accepted 100&, and thats clear from your photos... What I probably should have said is that even with very dilute glue, I noticed some slight change in colour of the ballast when the glue coats it - which it must do.

its very true that if you thin it enough the glue isn't actually visble as such, but the slight colour and texture shift is...to me at least :)

It really depends. I do have to be very selective with the ballast I use. You are quite right that some ballast products do change colour. In fact, some change more than others. The Chuck's ballast (Marulan) I am using does change colour when damp, but is restores its normal colour after a couple of days when the glue has dried.
I have had some products actually change colour - some limestones go green. Most products usually darken. Woodlands Scenics products are very good in that of all their products I have used, none have changed colour once dry.
Where there is a darkening effect, I compensate by using a lighter product in the first place.
At the end of the day, you have to modify your methods depending on the product you are using. I generally try to avoid products which change colour as they can be difficult to get the effect you want.

Graham Plowman
 

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QUOTE (hoarp001 @ 5 Sep 2007, 23:14) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi,

After reading some of your responses, I went to the chemist and got two eye dropper pipette things and my ballasting has improed a lot.

I did a little bit of trak properly, I aibrushed it brown, mounted it down ballasted it and grassed it on either side. Im goign to get some black paint for the airbrush to do the grease down the middle and some more weathering etc. The grass is also pretty bright at the moment, but then its the middle of summer at this 6 inch bit of track.



Let me know what you think.

Hoarp:

Just a few tips:

You might want to take a pair of tweezers or a tooth pick to the sleepers to remove all the stones sitting on the sleepers and in the rail web. This is quite quick to do and will make the result look a lot tidier

Oil/Grease generally only appears in track where trains are stationery, braking or starting of. Most other track is comparatively clean. If it isn't, it's probably in need of renewal anyway! Don't forget that steam locos dropped ash while stationary whereas diesels/electrics drop grease from their gear trains.

I note you've got grass directly adjacent to the ballast. While this did often happen on branch lines, on passenger main lines there was usually a drainage 'cess' (looks like a pathway) between the edge of the ballast and grass. You can see it in this picture of the real Dainton tunnel:

http://www.mrol.com.au/graphics/Dainton%20...el%20(Orig).jpg

and on my layout:

http://www.mrol.com.au/graphics/IMG_3102.jpg
http://www.mrol.com.au/Weathering5.aspx

Graham Plowman
 

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QUOTE (hoarp001 @ 6 Sep 2007, 10:35) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Thanks for the input Graham,

I will bear this in mind when I do the rest of it.

Did you see the other picture?

Hoarp,

Yes, I saw the other pic. It's certainly looking good, but I'd still take the stones off the sleepers.
The black is a little too dark for my liking. You might see it is a diesel yard, but I doubt you'd see that condition on a running line.

The best way to model colours etc is to get colour photos of the real thing. I find that modelling colours from memory is never right! Ian Allan do a superb range of 'xyz in colour' books for around GBP 15.00 each. They contain large numbers of colour pictures and are ideal for reference when modelling. I use them all the time and find them invaluable.

Hope this helps,

Graham Plowman
 
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