Model Railway Forum banner

Tip on Ballasting

1682 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Mumbles
Highly effective method.

Once you pour the ballast on to the rail do not use a brush to spread it. Brushes tend to act as catapults kicking the tiny particles around even on to places that you have already smoothed.

Instead use your forefinger (make sure its dry) to spread out, gently tapping. You will notice that the tapping and partially moving along as you do it, the ballast fully fills between the sleepers.

Next, perform the usual ritual, spraying, gluing etc.. Now if there are any tiny bits and pieces of ballast in unwanted places, like sleeper/traverser tops, use your forefinger again to pick does nasty critters. This time, since the ballast is wet , your forefinger tips will act like magnets and those pieces will stick on to it to get rid of very easily.

Hope this helps.

1 - 8 of 8 Posts
*** Spot on Erkut

I also do not pour it on - It is amazing how little ballast you need to add and using a part filled spoon each time, there is rarely excess that needs dealing with!

I use a soup spoon, tapping it a little to drop just a bit of ballast at a time, spread it with the same finger as you recommended and then tap the rails with the spoon quite lightly.... I tend to pick up most of the very few stray bits prior to spraying ... Using a damp finger tip....

I use one of those clear nozzles supplied with various tubes of sealant or no nails, unused of course. Most come with a screw cap and if you fill it, then put a bit of insulating tape over the larger open end it provides a nice dispenser. Make sure you don't cut too much off the thin end and all you have to do is hold between thumb and second finger and gently tap with your first finger - very much like tapping ash off a cigarette. It's very controllable and you can put it exactly where you want it, especially around points etc. To fill up simply undo the tape, scoop some more out of your storage container, put the tape back and away you go.

This might be slightly off the subject but once the ballast is spread how do you add colour, for instance an oil patch where a loco stops at a station - do you use paint or what?
Thanks for the tips guys I still have quite a bit of ballasting to do.

Kind regards

QUOTE (randolph @ 5 Mar 2009, 08:14) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>This might be slightly off the subject but once the ballast is spread how do you add colour, for instance an oil patch where a loco stops at a station - do you use paint or what?


Most people use airbrushing while I stick to good old brushes to do these effects.
Once you choose the color to use ( mine is always water based acrylics) dilute it with water or with thinners. The amount of dilution is critical here. Too little thinner/water, the paint will be coarse and you will not have the effect, it will merely paint the ballast. Too much,you won't see any effect.

Now once you have settled with the dilution, pick up a no:6 -8 brush and dip it into your paint and touch the region you want to change the color on the ballast. You will see that since the laid/glued up ballast is porous it will suck in the excess but leave a good amount of residue changing the color giving a very nice effect of your choice.

Hope this helps

See less See more
*** Mike - thats a good idea - thanks!

Re colouring, you can also use weathering powders... they actually stick quite well and can be brushed onto/into the ballast easily and in a very controlled manner... nice and matt too. If you use high quality weathering powders not chalks, a very gentle misting with a 50:50 water/meths mix after brushing will firm them into place and do like rain does... wash them naturally into crevices

I agree fore finger is the way to go with ballasting, accurate, neat and readily to hand! One thing I find it it's possible to get the ballast nice and neat to the top of the sleepers and packed down so it does not settle when pva mixture is added, I use a teet pipette for glueing. A few drops per sleeper sapce and then on the edges as needed

As for colouring detail, I tend to dry brush/brush on neat paint

here is a shot of some track painted with railmatch sleeper grime:

Good tips so far, I'm going to try washes of colour next time to see if the results are better than previous methods. I may also try airbrushing

See less See more
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.