Gravel Glue

24093 views
66 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • From: North Coastal San Diego
  • 883 posts
Posted by Greg Elmassian on Tuesday, July 04, 2017 1:33 PM
I'll share my early experiences. When I first got into garden RR, the "wisdom" was to secure the track so it would not move. Seems logical, like other scales, right? As more and more people relayed their experience, it became clear that trying to glue or screw track to ANYTHING would eventually rip the ties from the base and/or the rails. Eventually people have learned to free float the track in ballast. Now, about 10 years later, this is the current wisdom, and you will notice it parallels the real thing. Now, another thing that sounded right but did not work was putting a base under switches. Since people have the most derailments under switches, it only seemed logical to put a large flat board or surface under the switch, to keep the switch flat and level. I did this with cement board (Hardibacker) and it was fine just laying there. But then I ballasted the track.. and the track over time rose up by itself. I eventually figured out that the expansion and contraction of the track and ties, allowed, or almost forced, the ballast to work underneath the track. Think about it, if you were moving ballast under the track, the track has ony one way to go for least resistance, and that is up. Even though you have gravity, it's nothing against rocks moving back and forth under the ties. I found that if I put a board under a switch and ballasted it, I got at least (approximately) three "thicknesses" of ballast... at that point, I considered screwing the track to the board to stop ballast from working under it, but realized that would also be a losing battle trying to lock the track from expansion and contraction. Bottom line, the action of heating and cooling will often make the track "rise" up out of the ballast. You can just accept this movement and reballast, or you can work it back down. I hit mine with a hose nozzle set on a sharp stream... that sort of washes it out a bit under the track... then I stomp it down where needed, and then lift and brush the ballast back over the rails. The wet ballast seems to move a bit more freely too. Greg

Visit my site: http://www.elmassian.com - lots of tips on locos, rolling stock and more.

 Click here for Greg's web site

 

  • Member since
    February, 2004
  • From: North, San Diego Co., CA
  • 3,092 posts
Posted by ttrigg on Tuesday, July 04, 2017 9:21 AM

JDow

  I am in process of redoing a lot of the landscaping around the track

I missed this bit in the first read (and second). You may well be on your way to solving the problem. As you remove the older plants and pull out the roots from under the track, walk on the rails to force the roadbed and your subroadbed back into it's original position. I would suggest saving time and money, keep your original subroadbed in place. It was well designed and well built, keep it. Focus your efforts into root management.

Tom Trigg

  • Member since
    February, 2004
  • From: North, San Diego Co., CA
  • 3,092 posts
Posted by ttrigg on Tuesday, July 04, 2017 6:52 AM

Ah, more info, I love that. 

Your roadbed construction technique sounds as if you did everything correct and you have a very solid foundation for the rails. 

You may have what I call "mature garden syndrome". As plants mature the fine hair sized 'feeler roots' they send out as young plants 2 to 6 inches below ground level grow to 1/2 inch diameter or larger. As the roots grow in diameter they push up the ground level in that spot while the neighboring area subsides a bit. In my case the wife brough home what we called 'elephant ear plant'. It started with about 5 leaves about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide. As the plant matured over the next eight years those leaves grew to nearly 4 ft long and 3 ft wide. I began to notice that the track ends of my 4 track stub end yard were sticking out of the ground by about half an inch. Several buildings had started to tilt. In a string of 4 houses, the center two had tilted up where the 'floor plate' edges were nearly an inch higher than the rest. Then she found that there were some fine roots reaching over the edge of the Koi pond and into the water. Following those 'drinking roots' about half inch below the soil (under two inches of crushed rock over garden fabrick) I found a 2 inch 'trunk root'. Following this trunk root back (and all its branches, it had found over half of the sprinkler heads in the garden) to the elephant ear plant. We dug a narrow trench between the plant and the railroad about two ft deep and cut all the roots. Then following a gardening trick my dad did in the 1960's I went to a 'pottery craft shop' in Vista and picked up 4 one gallon earthen ware jugs (think mooshine jugs) I carved a half inch hole in the top side of the jugs and had them greenware fired. The gal said if I didn't glaze them they would leak. I told her that was the idea. I dug the jugs in on the opposite side from the trench we had dug and hooked up the jugs with PVC pipe. I cut the sprinkler pipe and rerouted it through the jugs glueing the pipe to the jugs with a quick druing tar. Water in through the side hole, as the jug fills with water it flows out the top into the side of the next jug and so on until the last jug returns to the main line to water the roses. Now the elephant ear plant has all the water it can use and the leaves are 6 to 8 ft long and 4+ ft wide and the railroad is root free. The trench, we filled it with several bags of 'quickcrete'.

A friend solved his garden upheaval problem slightly differently. He picked up some 4 inch ABS (the balck PVC), both straight pipe and drainage pipe. The one with all the holes. He dug an 18 inch deep trench through the centerline of his garden with branches to the major mature plants. The pipe connects to an 18 inch secton of the drainage pipe (wrapped with two layers of garden fabrick) at each plant. The branch lines are capped at the ends. At each end of this system the pipe turns up and reaches 4~6 inches above ground with a threaded cap. (The caps prevent small wildlife from getting in the system.) Once a week removes the caps and uses his garden hose to fill the system with water (sometimes he also adds fertilizer to the water). This tends to keep the roots in tact. 

You mentioned a concrete 'curb' as a subroadbed. Do not use untreated rebar. The concrete will wick moisture from the ground and the rebar will begin to rust and cause fracturing over time as the rust expands. Keep your sections 4~6 ft in length with expansion joints else the concrete will break due to temp expansion/contraction. That should serve well for 6~10 years before you notice any upheaval. A similar, and easier method would be using regular 'red bricks' on edge. You should do fine for 4~6 years before upheaval is noticable. Working with 2 red bricks to solve the upheave is much simpler than a 6 ft length of concrete.

If I understand your situation correctly, your problem is not so much as a track problem, but rather a root control issue. I would be interested in hearing your soloution to the issue.

Tom Trigg

  • Member since
    July, 2017
  • 2 posts
Posted by JDow on Monday, July 03, 2017 8:59 PM

Thanks for the advice.  I do not have any actual base to the track.  I trenched the place about 3'' and put some edging designed to keep pavers in place to keep the ballast in place.  Filled the trench, which had the edging on the side and the base of the edging on the bottom (lots of cutouts on the bottom as part of the design of the edging) and put the track on top and then put more ballast to fill in around the ties.  I was pretty diligent with tamping it all down.  The ballast is a rock that I got from KRC but it is possible the rock did not have the needed sharp edges.  

That was about 10-12 years ago and since we are gone a lot the trains only run when the grandchildren visit.  I find that each time I have to add more ballast because the rails and ties are above the ballast.  I tried jiggling sideways to push it back down but it just pops up again.  I read that someone uses a concrete base with what they felt was good success.  I am in process of redoing a lot of the landscaping around the track and replacing a lot of the plastic tie sections because many of the lips that hold the track in place have deteriorated and the track does not keep the proper interrail distance.  While doing all this I thought I could improve the base and ballast to prevent the continual rising up of the track.  Sorry for such a long explanation.

  • Member since
    February, 2004
  • From: North, San Diego Co., CA
  • 3,092 posts
Posted by ttrigg on Monday, July 03, 2017 7:37 PM

JDow
Do you attache the track in any way except the ballast?
 

 
I use mother nature's adheasive to attach rails to garden, gravity. Fee floating rails will tend to smooth themselves out in most cases.

Tom Trigg

  • Member since
    February, 2004
  • From: North, San Diego Co., CA
  • 3,092 posts
Posted by ttrigg on Monday, July 03, 2017 7:27 PM

JDow
Hi Tom, I live in North San Diego County. Tried ballast method (but no stabilizer) but track seems to always elevate out of ballast requiring more, and more, and more. What am I doing wrong? Do you attache the track in any way except the ballast?
 

JD
Going to need a bit more info. What is you track on top of? Greg talked about wood roadbed. Let's begin with my theory, ballast is 80% decoration and 20% functional. Besides looking good the only real function of ballast is to fill the void between the bottom of the ties and the roadbed. Here in North San Diego our soil is mostly clay with decomposing green waste debris. As the green matter decomposes the soil will subside leaving the rails 'hanging in mid air'. 
 
Back to the base question: What do your rails sit atop? Wood? Wood will warp buckel and twist over time causing a miriade of track alignment problems.
 
PVC? Much the same as wood but much, MUCH slower.
 
Brick? Some folks use bricks on edge as a sub roadbed. As the soil subsides it will appear that the bricks will lift up from the soil. A real problem where folks suffer a ground freeze thaw every year.
 
Trench with crushed rock fill? In my case I found that the crushed rock was migrating through the dirt away from the sub roadbed causing the track to sink below the dirt. Re-trenching with a garden fabric liner for the crushed rock worked well, until the soil around it subsided and the roadbed seemed to rise out of the ground.
 
Soil subsidense is an issue for all of us who run trains in the garden. Rebalasting the rails every spring seems to be a natural part of garden railroading. Just as is the issue of pulling weeds and removing wildlife deposits.
 
Heat expansion/contraction of the rails is another issue to overcome. This is a real issue for very long straight runs. In short runs the curves will tend to slide a bit allowing the track to expand/shrink as needed. I had a 280 ft straight as an arrow run that did all kinds of strange things with the alignment. One year I re-laid the track with some 'offsets'. A 10 ft section of 'flex track' with small curves I moved the track centerline 4 inches to one side and 50 ft later brought the rails back into the original center line. These 4 'curves' slid sideways a bit but the track remained smooth and even.
 
Hope this gives a bit of help. If not, fill in the info gaps and we can posibly give a bit more help.

Tom Trigg

  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • From: North Coastal San Diego
  • 883 posts
Posted by Greg Elmassian on Monday, July 03, 2017 3:58 PM

I hope you did notice you replied to a 6 year old thread. Good news is Tom is still here. Normally instead of dredging up an old thread, a new thread is in order.

In your case you are asking a different question. Do you have some base under the track, and the ballast seems to grow? That is normal if you are trying to keep a board under the track. No way to stop it.

Also, over time, you will find the expansion and contraction will slowly work the track upwards too. Stomp it down every so often or pull some ballast out with a thin stick under the ties.

Greg (Carlsbad)

Visit my site: http://www.elmassian.com - lots of tips on locos, rolling stock and more.

 Click here for Greg's web site

 

  • Member since
    July, 2017
  • 2 posts
Posted by JDow on Sunday, July 02, 2017 10:57 PM
Hi Tom, I live in North San Diego County. Tried ballast method (but no stabilizer) but track seems to always elevate out of ballast requiring more, and more, and more. What am I doing wrong? Do you attache the track in any way except the ballast?
  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: S.Easton , Mass.
  • 591 posts
Posted by smcgill on Thursday, September 22, 2011 7:16 PM

Not happy with the stablizer.Crying

Washed a way except under the tyes!

The TyteBond III worked ok, now I'm trying portland cement added to the stone dust.

Oh well it is some thing to do on the layout.

Sean

Mischief

  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: US
  • 1,386 posts
Posted by fiatfan on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 9:16 PM

mgilger

Well I have good news, and bad news.

We have had a lot "Lot" of rain in the last several weeks since I posted the two previous post. The bad news is that the Concrete bonder is no longer effective. The roadbed (Chicken Grit) that it was used, shows no sign that the Concrete bonder was even applied.  The good news is the Titebond III roadbed is still as hard as it was when I applied it. It's very hard to the touch, almost like a light cememt coating was holding everything togeather. Not so much I could walk on it, but I'm sure if my dog or cat stepped on it, they would not dent it. A freind has indicated that UV might effect it, so I will have to monitor it's condition through the summer to see if this is going to be a long term fix, or not.

So far, so good and I'm about ready to apply some more to different area's.

I have searched all the local stores trying to find it in a gallon jug. The only place that seems to stock it is at Lowes. Home Depot and ACE only stock the TBII, not the III.

More later......

Mark

Hi, Mark.

I'm just getting to the ballasting phase and am wondering if you have a further update on the TBIII.

 

Tom

Life is simple - eat, drink, play with trains!

Go Big Red!

PA&ERR "If you think you are doing something stupid, you're probably right!"

  • Member since
    January, 2005
  • From: Near Akron Ohio
  • 163 posts
Posted by mgilger on Friday, May 21, 2010 10:07 PM

Well I have good news, and bad news.

We have had a lot "Lot" of rain in the last several weeks since I posted the two previous post. The bad news is that the Concrete bonder is no longer effective. The roadbed (Chicken Grit) that it was used, shows no sign that the Concrete bonder was even applied.  The good news is the Titebond III roadbed is still as hard as it was when I applied it. It's very hard to the touch, almost like a light cememt coating was holding everything togeather. Not so much I could walk on it, but I'm sure if my dog or cat stepped on it, they would not dent it. A freind has indicated that UV might effect it, so I will have to monitor it's condition through the summer to see if this is going to be a long term fix, or not.

So far, so good and I'm about ready to apply some more to different area's.

I have searched all the local stores trying to find it in a gallon jug. The only place that seems to stock it is at Lowes. Home Depot and ACE only stock the TBII, not the III.

More later......

Mark

M. Gilger - President and Chief Engineer MM&G web

Web Site: http://mmg-garden-rr.webs.com/

  • Member since
    March, 2001
  • From: US
  • 81 posts
Posted by dmikee on Wednesday, May 12, 2010 9:32 PM

Possibly a cheaper solution: buy polymer sand in 60 lb sack for about $20 at Home Depot. Mix it with your selected ballast material. When done ballasting, just wet it gently with a sprinkler mist. It will naturally harden and bind the ballast material but will still break up under tension and track movement. It is commonly used as the primary underlay for paving stones.

  • Member since
    January, 2005
  • From: Near Akron Ohio
  • 163 posts
Posted by mgilger on Tuesday, May 04, 2010 11:00 PM
I have done some testing with Tightbond III glue.  This time around I mixed it with an equal part water and tinted it with black hobby type water based paint until it was a dark charcoal color. I then put it in a good quality spray bottle and sprayed a liberal amount on my roadbed. After about 2 hours it had completely hardened. I tested it against the Concrete Bonder brand I referenced above. The TitetBond III mixer was the hand down winner. Both product created a hard surface, but the concrete bonder was much easier to break through. The above test was done in an area of maybe 2 feet, just for testing. I plan on picking up a gallon jug at my local ACE hardware store and do a test on a much larger scale. I'm feeling good with the results I've seen so far.

Regards,

Mark

M. Gilger - President and Chief Engineer MM&G web

Web Site: http://mmg-garden-rr.webs.com/

  • Member since
    January, 2005
  • From: Near Akron Ohio
  • 163 posts
Posted by mgilger on Friday, April 30, 2010 10:38 PM

 

Home Depot or Lowes sells several different brands. They come in a 1 gallon jug. I did up a 50/50 mix with water to hold the ballast on a new addition and it seems to be doing a good job. It's hard to the touch, but if you exert a little pressure, it will break apart. It's gone through several very heavy rain storms and not a stone out of place.

 At my Home Depot, it was about $12 a gallon.

Mark

 

M. Gilger - President and Chief Engineer MM&G web

Web Site: http://mmg-garden-rr.webs.com/

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: S.Easton , Mass.
  • 591 posts
Posted by smcgill on Friday, April 30, 2010 4:08 PM

 Mixing it in 10 lb batches with 1 oz of stablizer

I mix it @ .34oz to 1lb   exmp.  22lbs = 7.48oz of stablizer.

Sean

Mischief

  • Member since
    October, 2005
  • From: S. Carolina Up-country
  • 279 posts
Posted by jhsimpson62 on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 5:52 AM

Thanks Trigg. I have decided to hold off on the second loop of track till returning from a trip north in June. I'll bring back some crusher fines from up there and try it. They have much less dust and more stone. Never have been crazy with what is available down here. Meanwhile I'll watch how the section finished works out with time. Jack

  • Member since
    February, 2004
  • From: North, San Diego Co., CA
  • 3,092 posts
Posted by ttrigg on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 10:24 PM

Jack: I’ve never had this problem you describe. Yes I had some "dusting" as I applied the crusher fines, but that disappeared as I "watered-in" the ballast. I’ve not experienced any "after installation" dusting. If I had to guess, I would say you used too much "Stabilizer". Then again that is just a guess. I’ve never seen or heard of the Stabilizer weeping up the rail to contaminate the wheel sets. As far as "tamping" goes, what I’ve done is take a small palm sander with cardboard and old towel in place of the sandpaper. This vibrates the rails – ties – ballast into place. Sometimes I don’t even do that, just sprinkle the fines into place and wet down.

jhsimpson62
thanks for reminder of continuing the discussion on this forum. Jack.

Sorry if I said it wrong, I don’t mind the e-mail, but using the "PM" system here allows for a "linked" back and forth discussion. Since the gray hair has moved from the top of the head to the inside the brain, I need a (not so) gentle reminder of what we are talking about.

 

Tom Trigg

  • Member since
    October, 2005
  • From: S. Carolina Up-country
  • 279 posts
Posted by jhsimpson62 on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 7:02 AM

I have finally started reballasting my track using the "Stablizer" received in September. Mixing it in 10 lb batches with 1 oz of stablizer. First thing I noticed was after completing a section, I hadn't allowed for the sticky residue which coated the rails. This didn't conduct electricty and coated the wheels of the engines. Cleaned off with a scotch brite and water. Next section I wiped the rail after watering in which eliminated the problem. Real suprise was when after a hard rain, The residue build up was back again and had to cleaned off. Contacted manufactorer and confirmed the mixture ratio of 15 lbs to 1 ton. Seems to think cause maybe either, Too much dust not enough aggregate, not enough water to completely set the stablizer, or not compactedd enough "after watering in". Outer loop is completed so will try compacting after watering when starting the inner loop. Trigg, thanks for reminder of continuing the discussion on this forum. Jack.

  • Member since
    June, 2006
  • From: Oakley Ca
  • 1,407 posts
Posted by dwbeckett on Thursday, April 22, 2010 7:21 AM

No Not yet, still raining, still leveling, still reinstalling switchs, still back filling, still need money for everthing, still .........

Dave

The head is gray, hands don't work , back is weak, legs give out, eyes are gone, money go's and my wife still love's Me.

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: S.Easton , Mass.
  • 591 posts
Posted by smcgill on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 8:04 PM

O.K. Dave Whistling

 

As Marty would ask  (  Is it done yet? )

Sean

Mischief

  • Member since
    June, 2006
  • From: Oakley Ca
  • 1,407 posts
Posted by dwbeckett on Friday, March 26, 2010 11:51 AM

Not Yet seams to be a problem with money for my trains. that should clear up next mounth.

Dave

The head is gray, hands don't work , back is weak, legs give out, eyes are gone, money go's and my wife still love's Me.

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: S.Easton , Mass.
  • 591 posts
Posted by smcgill on Thursday, March 25, 2010 6:12 PM

 

Dave 

So have you got the " stuff " yet?

We want to know how you like it!

Sean

Mischief

  • Member since
    June, 2006
  • From: Oakley Ca
  • 1,407 posts
Posted by dwbeckett on Wednesday, March 17, 2010 1:14 PM

Thanks for extra info, I was concerened about product safty since I have bad lung's.

Dave

The head is gray, hands don't work , back is weak, legs give out, eyes are gone, money go's and my wife still love's Me.

  • Member since
    February, 2004
  • From: North, San Diego Co., CA
  • 3,092 posts
Posted by ttrigg on Tuesday, March 16, 2010 8:38 PM

Dave: On the few times I’ve needed to mix it myself, I fill the bucket about half way and put a plaster paddle on the old drill (think paint mixing tool on a drill but MUCH LARGER). After about 3 minutes everything is muxed up just fine.

Tom Trigg

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: S.Easton , Mass.
  • 591 posts
Posted by smcgill on Tuesday, March 16, 2010 4:16 PM

Dave

I put it an old joint compoud bucket.

When I mix it, I only use 1/2 the bucket.

I also just fill the bucket 1/2 way when weighting it.

I snap the lid closed , roll it, shake it.with the lid closed.

On another note : New England just got 8' to 9' of rain it a couple of days , and I had just installed some mix  and it is still there!! It was at the crest of a hill .

Cool!!  Good luck Dave!!

Sean

Mischief

  • Member since
    June, 2006
  • From: Oakley Ca
  • 1,407 posts
Posted by dwbeckett on Tuesday, March 16, 2010 3:40 PM

I found a distrubitor willing too ship ( USPS ) me 5lbs @ $3.50 lb plus postage. More then I need but way less then 10lb.

More Info on product:: its power the consistancy of flower. will not liquifi when mixed with water - can not mix with water and pour or spay on.  must be mixed with rock before wetting. USE A DUST MASK WHEN MIXING/USING . Seams as though this stuff will glue your lungs toghter IF you sniff the dust.

DaveTongue

The head is gray, hands don't work , back is weak, legs give out, eyes are gone, money go's and my wife still love's Me.

  • Member since
    June, 2006
  • From: Oakley Ca
  • 1,407 posts
Posted by dwbeckett on Saturday, March 13, 2010 6:14 PM

Thank's, Will call monday AM.Zzzzzzzzz

Dave

The head is gray, hands don't work , back is weak, legs give out, eyes are gone, money go's and my wife still love's Me.

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: S.Easton , Mass.
  • 591 posts
Posted by smcgill on Saturday, March 13, 2010 3:30 PM

Dave I found Tina to be very helpfull.

You could just calll!!    Whistling

"Stabilizer" as manufactured by Stabilizer Solutions, Inc., Phoenix, Arizona (1-800-336-2468)."

They can tell you who in you're area sells it.

Good luck.

Sean

Mischief

  • Member since
    June, 2006
  • From: Oakley Ca
  • 1,407 posts
Posted by dwbeckett on Saturday, March 13, 2010 1:31 PM

I  just came back from my local rock shop, No luck on Stablizer all they had was Polymetic stone @ $24 a fifty lb bag. It's a premix soooo I passed on that one. time to go farther out of my local area. I am keeping it in mined just in case I only do my track only need 2 bags.

Dave

The head is gray, hands don't work , back is weak, legs give out, eyes are gone, money go's and my wife still love's Me.

Search the Community

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Get the Garden Railways newsletter delivered to your inbox twice a month

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Garden Railways magazine. Please view our privacy policy