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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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Hi Graham

You commented on neatness: I agree - when we do it, even if we are careful, there will be a slight tendency to be less than perfect - this is enough to emulate "lack of perfection" on the prototype, without making it messy on purpose!

Also: and more to the point....

You said: "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"

*** Yep, doing it well = time spent being careful & fussy!

I'm very interested that you made that observation re time taken - I'd always considered my preferred way to be slower, but in fact on that basis, the "ballast first then glue" takes you about the same as it takes me to do ballasting with my "paint the glue first, add the ballast" method - the difference only really being I do lots of small disconnected places then go back and fill the gaps, with each 6" section taking perhaps 5 minutes.

I guess it simply shows the very valid point you made "Ballasting should be done carefully, and careful ballasting takes time no matter how you try to do it".

I've found that if its tackled in short sessions between other tasks its not onerous - there's always many other jobs on the layout that can be done as the glue dries, and lots of small ballasting sessions are quite tolerable compared to trying to do it in one marathon effort!

Incidentally, given that your method and mine differ but give similar results, it occurs to me that I should say why I like my way. Neither is "better" but each of us has his own preferences!!
(1) Absolutely no glue on visible ballast = No change in ballast colour (coating with glue always affects textrue and visible surface)
(2) Having retained the original natural matt surface, dry brushing of powders for later weathering is to me more straightforward
(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.
(4) With Bullhead, Its easier to preserve the gap between rail bottom and ballast.
(5) No tendency at all to create a sounding board - there is no negative change to the sound level after ballasting

Re the article - Asprington Road continues to look great!!

Richard
 

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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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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 :)

(and I agree 110% that the oft quoted 2:1 is way too thick, as up to 10:1 actually still works, depending on glue quality!!

You said:
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.

*** Again, 110% in agreement on all three!

Something I intend to try next time I lay flatbottom rail based track is to pre-lay everything using long pins through oversized holes, cut off the heads and leave them long. not my idea, but I've seen it work and it works really well!

Then

(1) lift the track
(2) pre-paint full strength glue over the whole ballast area, re-laying the track over the glue,, using the pins as registration.
(3) add ballast and pat down, then weight it until its dry
(4) vacuum up excess and remove pins
(5) fill pin holes with a dab of precoloured filler & touch up sleepers

Finally:
(1) I'm starting to prefer latex carpet glue OR Artists matte medium to PVA / white Glue - much more flexible. Latex is cheap, Matte Meium is a bit exxy though
(2) I've also used Meths instead of dishwashing liquid with great success - it encourages quicker evaporation and is at least as good a wetting agent... but it does smell a little as it evaporates:-(

Richard
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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Hi, I have taken some better pics

I have also airbrushed some oil onto the sleepers which I think looks particularly good. took me three hours to get all the gloss out of the airbrush though


picture

Let me know what you think,

Pete.
 

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QUOTE (dbclass50 @ 5 Sep 2007, 20:45) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I have what is probably the easiest method of all - I get BRITHO to do it !

That's given me an idea for a career...look out for a bright pink van on the motorway with "Goedel & Glue GmbH - Purveyors of Besleepered Ballasting Services to the Discerning Modeller" on the side...


Goedel von Glue
 

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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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QUOTE (hoarp001 @ 5 Sep 2007, 17:47) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi, I have taken some better pics
Let me know what you think,

I think it looks good - but my pc didn't like the picture size.

QUOTE (dbclass50 @ 5 Sep 2007, 20:45) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I have what is probably the easiest method of all - I get BRITHO to do it !


Hmm..............................

QUOTE (goedel @ 5 Sep 2007, 21:09) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
That's given me an idea for a career...look out for a bright pink van on the motorway with "Goedel & Glue GmbH - Purveyors of Besleepered Ballasting Services to the Discerning Modeller" on the side...


That will have to be a franchise - I already registered the idea. Oh and the vans will have to be silver with a blue stripe.


Regards
 
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