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  • jbvb
    replied
    I bought HO Scale Yard Mix (1222), N Scale Cinders (103-1) and N Scale Basalt (115-1) ballast from Arizona Rock & Mineral. They are easy work with and have the colors I wanted. But each type also contains some particles that are attracted to a magnet. In the days of open-frame motors this was a big downside for natural materials, as motor magnets tended to lift things off the RoW and into the works. It may be less of an issue with can motors and die-cast bathtub-style frames these days. Still, I've swept everywhere I've used the AR&M material with my most powerful magnet, and will repeat any time the ballast is disturbed.

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  • BillMichaels
    replied
    Model Railroad Hobbyist had a neat little article about making a ballast spreading tool out of a cheap toothbrush. Cut the head off the toothbrush and super glue it across the handle. Use a brush with a rectangular head:



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  • Orionvp17
    replied
    Try a plastic picnic mayonnaise container. It's opaque, so you have an idea of how much you still have to work with, it won't break if it's dropped, and the long neck gives you pretty good control. The jar also works really well for scenery cement, whether white glue, matte medium or commercial preparations.

    Pete

    in Michigan

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  • jbvb
    replied
    I inherited a spice shaker (about 6 fl oz. volume) which I sometimes use, but more often I pour/shake out of the corner of a cut-off milk carton.

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  • clinchvalley
    replied
    I was spreading ballast this afternoon, using my old honey bottle. It is the best spreader I've found for me to use, so what do you use to spread ballast?



    Larry

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  • NBandS
    replied
    About the same as Don, but I prefer matte medium to the white glue. Arizona Rock & Mineral ballast is my favorite.

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  • shadetreekid
    replied
    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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  • Peterpools
    replied
    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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  • Rick
    replied
    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?

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  • Dutchman
    replied
    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.

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  • Harsco
    replied
    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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  • Peterpools
    replied
    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

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  • Allegheny_2_dash_6_dash_6_dash_6
    replied
    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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  • bluenose
    replied
    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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  • emccamey
    replied
    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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