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  • #61
    Here is a little tip that has been working for me very well and may be worth a try for you.

    Ballasting, everyones favourite task, I came up with this method last week.

    My new weapons of choice an electric razor and the stiff brush it came with for cleaning.




    Spread the ballast as usual down the middle of the rails, (its best to use too little until you are able to guage how much is required). Level it off with a finger, two or three swipes with the razor cleaning brush should clear 95% of ballast from the ties..... now the fun part.




    Hold the razor on edge, turn it on and place it on one of the rails.... its a beautiful sight to see that ballast "dancing" off the ties and leveling off perfectly (yes I know proto ballast isnt always perfect). With a little practice you will find how to apply pressure in different directions making the ballast go where you want it, push it away from the vibrating rail, pull it towards you, shift it sideways......

    Hope this helps someone, quick and easy, I did 6' of track in around 20mins.

    Have fun & be safe

    Karl.

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    • #62
      quote:


      Originally posted by Cigarguy


      Bobby,

      I've never heard of anyone using the ground walnuts. Can you post a photo of it?


      Woodland Scenics Ballast is actually coloured ground walnut shells.

      Regards,

      Karl

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      • #63
        Hi Guys,

        A newbie here. I had a model railway as a kid (or more to the point my Dad had a railway when I was a kid) and am having a problem with ballast. Being severely limited to space I've started with a marshalling yard 2' x 8'. The track is laid on acoustic ceiling tile to reduce noise and have ballasted about 18" on three parallel lines. As material I used my driveway crushed stone sifted and run through with a magnet. As a bonding agent I used watered down white glue with a drop of dish soap. Application is with a small dropper bottle. Once dried the line is really loud, louder than if it was just laid on the floor. Any ideas anyone?

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        • #64
          Hi John,

          The accoustic ceiling tile isn't a stable enough material to absorb the vibration of the metalic peices on top of it. The crushed rock just accentuates the noise.

          The best thing would be to re-lay your trackwork on foam, homasote or plywood with cosrk or homabed on top. That will cure the problem.

          Scott

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          • #65
            Thanks for that Scott.

            Actually to start from the ground up, I have a 1 x 3 framework, 3/8 plywood, then the acoustic tile, then 1/8 foam (underlay from laminate flooring), then the track. From what you say though it seems like it's the stone. It was pretty quiet before I did that. But with other people using all kinds of different materials I thought I would have been safe with the stone. Ah well, we live and learn.

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            • #66
              quote:


              Originally posted by JohnM


              Thanks for that Scott.

              Actually to start from the ground up, I have a 1 x 3 framework, 3/8 plywood, then the acoustic tile, then 1/8 foam (underlay from laminate flooring), then the track. From what you say though it seems like it's the stone. It was pretty quiet before I did that. But with other people using all kinds of different materials I thought I would have been safe with the stone. Ah well, we live and learn.


              Hi John,

              Actually, from the standpoint of appearance, you're better off using real stone ballast. The stuff from Woodland Scenics is crushed pecan and almond shells that have been painted. As soon as you wet the stuff it starts to float. I prefer Highball Products ballast as it is real limestone. Maybe a little noisier than the WS stuff but easier to work with.

              Scott

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              • #67
                quote:


                Originally posted by JohnM


                . . . . . . From what you say though it seems like it's the stone. It was pretty quiet before I did that. But with other people using all kinds of different materials I thought I would have been safe with the stone. Ah well, we live and learn.


                John,
                From years of trackwork and ballasting, and hundreds of feet of main line at our club, the real culprit to sound is the glue for the ballast. Too many use thinned white glue and it hardens into a mass that transmits sound. Use thinned matt medium (WM Modge Podge works well and is fairly cheap). It holds as well as white glue, but still retains some flexibility that doesn't transmit the sound. Experiment some with the matt medium you choose - some brands require decanting so that the fine powder (talc) giving the matt is removed to avoid 'white out' when dried. Properly applied, it is absolutely transparent. (And working with real stone is the ONLY way to go, Arizona Rock and Mineral, Smith and Sons, Highball - if you can find it - all work great and have a variety of real stone ballast colors).

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                • #68
                  I think Ed has the right idea. Dilute glue seems to form a discrete mass of ballast, while the diluted matte medium coats the individual particles and glues them together where they touch. I find this works better with ground foam and other scenery materials as well. I also prefer to pre-wet with alcohol as it prevents the craters produced when applying "wet" glue. Whichever method you use, if the glue mix beads on the ballast or scenery, it either needs a bit more soap or pre-wetting of the material with alcohol. Otherwise the material will "float" on the surface of the glue and dry as a skin rather than penetrate the depth of your ballast/scenery material. This is more of a problem with smaller scales where the materials weight is insufficient to break the surface tension of the glue droplet.

                  Had not previously considered using tinted alcohol, sounds like a great idea!

                  On a previous N scale yard, I covered the plywood base with black roofing material and then laid the track. A light dusting of fine cinders was used to modify the color and reduce the coarse texture. It was still rough on the knuckles if one got a bit careless, but it was cheaper than straight ballast and very quiet to boot.

                  Charles

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                  • #69
                    Ok is it better to apply the alcohol with an eye dropper or a spray bottle? I presently use a spray bottle and have been using Woodland Scenics fine gray ballast. and it never fails I get the clumpkys every time. I take my time spreading and smoothing to the ballast and it looks great until I attempt to set it. On the ballast shoulders I just apply straight white glue with a small brush and mask off the area to be sceniced where I don't want the ballast. I spread on the glue peal up the tape and sprinkle on the ballast and let it dry at least 12 hours but most of the time 24

                    The shoulders look great but in between the rails ah not so good.

                    Any ideas? I think I have vacuumed up more ballast then I've left down

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                    • #70
                      I'll be switching over to High Ball Ballast this time around. while the WS ballast is sold everywhere (LHS) being so light, it tends to float up and sticks to the railweb when dry.

                      Peter

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        quote:


                        Originally posted by Peterpools


                        I'll be switching over to High Ball Ballast this time around. while the WS ballast is sold everywhere (LHS) being so light, it tends to float up and sticks to the railweb when dry.

                        Peter


                        Same here, Peter....while I like the WS appearance, the floating part is REALLY frustrating. There's nothing worse than meticulously ballasting a couple of feet of track, then watching it self-destruct when you apply the wetting agent. I switched to alcohol and use a very fine mister, yet the stuff STILL manages to float up and embed itself around the spike heads, which means additional time picking them off.

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                        • #72
                          Guys, I am sure that the High Ball product is great. However, I really have not had the problem with WS.

                          I do not use a mister. I use a plastic pipette from Model Power and spread the alcohol by holding the pipette over the ties between the rails and gently letting the alcohol ooze out. I keep adding the alcohol until I see it run out the ballast outside the rails. (I take 70% Isopropyl and cut it 50/50 with water.) I then come back with my diluted white glue and do the same thing.
                          Bruce

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                          • #73
                            I had the same experience with the floating WS ballast and decided to try the High Ball product.

                            Know what, it floated too. I guess because the pieces are so small it doesn't take much to lift them.

                            Misting on the wet water or alcohol laced water wasn't the problem. Applying the diluted glue/matt medium with an eyedropper was.

                            You have to make sure to get enough on the ballast to soak though to the bottom so all the ballast and not just the top layer is secure.

                            It's the glue that made the ballast float.

                            Anyone else have this same experience?
                            Follow along as my dog and I travel the country in our van.
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                            • #74
                              Bruce and Rick

                              Looks like I'll need to do a bit more testing. I just dread those rail clinging pieces of ballast.

                              Peter

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                              • #75
                                I'm using a tried and tested method from an old MR article.

                                1. put ballast in a paper cup, then pour ballast between the rails.

                                2. spread ballast with a soft foam brush. Apply more ballast on the roadbed shoulder if needed. use a small business card to make a neat edge.

                                3. wet ballast with a mix of two parts water and one part rubbing alcohol. the alcohol breaks the water's surface tension so it flows easier and penetrates the ballast.

                                4. dribble a 50:50 mix of white glue and water onto wet ballast. let the ballast sit undisturbed until dry. It usually takes 24 hours.

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