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Where Does Mainline Ballast End and Yard Ballast Begin?

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Where Does Mainline Ballast End and Yard Ballast Begin?
Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 3:10 PM

Pretty straightforward question. My mainline track(s) descend to grade level to reach yards. I use thin cork sheets to transition from road bed to plywood surface. I am specifically interested in where the mainline ballast ends as the track(s) off the mainline transition into the grade level yards.

I am including some photos of these transition areas.

The following photo shows the transition of mainline tracks into the passenger station lead tracks. I have ended the mainline ballast where the transition cork sheets end at grade level.

 P1020345.jpg

The next two photos show the mainline transitioning into the coach yard and freight yard.

P1020346.jpg

P1020347.jpg

The last photo shows the entry and exit tracks into and out of the engine servicing facility. You can see the cork transition sheets descending to grade level.

P1020348.jpg

Any suggestions or insights would be most appreciated.

Rich

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Posted by wrench567 on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 4:41 PM

Rich

 I worked in the Collinwood yard on the East side of Cleveland. I can tell you first hand that there was no ballast. If there were it was sunk in the mud decades earlier. There were many broken pallets to try to keep your boots from sinking in the muck.

 What I have done was paint the yards first and sparsely sprinkle some mainline ballast in with a lot of sand in my case due to the railroad being on the south shore of Massachusetts.

   Pete.

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 5:00 PM

I should have mentioned that while I used HO scale ballast for the mainlines, my plan is to use N scale ballast for the yards, so the yard ballast, as I refer to it, will be a very fine grade.

So, really, my question is, where does the mainline ballast end?

Rich

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Posted by selector on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 7:01 PM

I would use a thin layer of plaster to build up between tracks, and if you're bold, between the rails of tracks.  I'd tint the plaster with Burnt Umber.  Then I'd liberally sprinkle the top of the groomed plaster, while its still setting up, with N Scale 'cinders'.

Rich, how about where the speed changes from yard to open/main.  A train is obliged to enter the yard-proper at a reduced and strict speed limit, I believe.  At that point, little is needed in high ballast and finely leveled tracks that you'd have to have on the main.  Once you're near the arrival/departure, and heading toward ladders, it would all be mud 'n crud.

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Posted by xdford on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 7:52 PM

The link to the following shows the Albury in Australia rail yard entrance where you can see a transition from mainline ballast to a much finer ballast in the track to the right which was throughout the yard by the time it reached the station area.

https://www.nswrail.net/locations/photo.php?name=NSW:Albury:16

Further down that line, the following link shows the appearance of the yard 

http://www.robx1.net/b501_525/b504_30.jpg

The transition would not be so much from one scale ballast to a smaller scale one (unless you are going from O to N) but from an HO scale ballast to a grout to represent what was in that yard.  

Hope this helps

Cheers from Australia

Trevor

 

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Posted by wp8thsub on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 8:14 PM

The ballast transition varies greatly by location.  I've selected yards familiar to me for examples.

Above is UP's yard in Riverdale, UT http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1599230 .  There are two main tracks near the top in this view, and a third is the track nearest the bottom.  Where an edge can be seen, especially toward the right side of the image, it isn't particularly distinct.  Also note the variations in ballast color within the yard, and the amount of spilled lading and locomotive sand.

The main tracks are near the center of this view of the old SP yard a couple miles away from UP's above (there's another smaller yard off to the right) http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=5223042.  Again note the lack of an abrupt transition between ballast types, and the variety of ballast in use on the yard tracks.  There's ballast that looks to have received little attention for years, adjacent to brand new ballast that was just dumped in place.

Last is the D&RGW yard at Provo, UT http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2512839.  More of the same.  Here there's an unpaved access road between tracks that further blurs to distinction between ballast types.

I've seen too many layouts where the modeler tried to create a hard edge where mainline and yard ballast meet.  There are a few spots in these photos where the transition is sharper than others, but it varies within a short distance and becomes less so.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 10:35 PM

All my "yards" are staging yards, so none of the track is ballasted and the rails and ties aren't painted, either.

Where tracks leave the mainline at servicing areas or to access industries, the ballast generally ends once the rails leave the mainline, as in the photos below...

I'll be doing some of the industrial sidings on the upper level using only real dirt and static grass.

Wayne

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 10:43 PM

doctorwayne

All my "yards" are staging yards, so none of the track is ballasted and the rails and ties aren't painted, either.

Where tracks leave the mainline at servicing areas or to access industries, the ballast generally ends once the rails leave the mainline, as in the photos below...

Yeah, that is the conclusion that I am coming to as well. In other words, don't extend the mainline ballast onto the divergent side of the turnout that is leaving the mainline except to the extent that it is needed to maintain a line of ballast parallel to the straight through route of the turnout.

Rich

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Posted by wp8thsub on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 11:01 PM

Flickr is finally behaving again so I can post layout photos.

Lakeview Service 1

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

At the east end of my Lakeview yard, the mainline ballast blends with the rest somewhere around the turnouts.  The transition occurs within the crossover into the yard in the foreground, and farther down the industry spur behind it.

West Lakeview Ballast

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

On the west end, it again blends within a crossover.  Note the ballast here is of a different color and texture than what's on the east end, and there are at least three types within the yard.

JC Trees 3

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

At my Junction City yard, the main and yard ballast sort of mix with each other for some distance.  Some of the yard tracks have a brownish color, while others have been more recently maintained with a medium gray.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 11:45 PM

Great photos and great work, Rob. I took a look at a lot of photos on your Flickr account to get even more ideas for yard ballasting. Your choice of colors is outstanding!

Rich

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 8:28 AM

Nice photo's Rob.  BTW, what turnouts are you using in the top two photos?

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by wrench567 on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 8:45 AM

Rich

The safety factor would come into play. Places with foot traffic would be cleared of tripping hazards, meaning no rocks. If the diverging switches were hand thrown then a clear path would be needed. Asphalt and concrete in yards are the modern day norms. Steam days cinder and ash around walking paths were common. Slag from the steel mills also could be found. Mills would give it away on a come and take it deal. My uncle who worked at USS used a small front shovel to load cars (hopper, gons, and even flats.) For the railroads to haul away. Back in the sixties my garage floor and driveway was cinder. Just don't fall on it. The stuff really cut you up good. Then again the dirt road was spayed with that pungent oil two or more times a year. No wonder we all have cancer now.

     Pete

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Posted by wp8thsub on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 3:54 PM

riogrande5761
BTW, what turnouts are you using in the top two photos?

The #8 crossovers are Walthers/Shinohara, while the visible #6 is Micro Engineering.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 6:08 PM

wrench567

Rich

The safety factor would come into play. Places with foot traffic would be cleared of tripping hazards, meaning no rocks. If the diverging switches were hand thrown then a clear path would be needed. Asphalt and concrete in yards are the modern day norms. Steam days cinder and ash around walking paths were common. Slag from the steel mills also could be found. Mills would give it away on a come and take it deal. My uncle who worked at USS used a small front shovel to load cars (hopper, gons, and even flats.) For the railroads to haul away. Back in the sixties my garage floor and driveway was cinder. Just don't fall on it. The stuff really cut you up good. Then again the dirt road was spayed with that pungent oil two or more times a year. No wonder we all have cancer now.

     Pete

 

Pete, thanks for those comments. Helpful and very interesting.

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, May 28, 2020 5:38 AM

wp8thsub

Flickr is finally behaving again so I can post layout photos.

Lakeview Service 1

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

 

At the east end of my Lakeview yard, the mainline ballast blends with the rest somewhere around the turnouts.  The transition occurs within the crossover into the yard in the foreground, and farther down the industry spur behind it.

Rob, what ballast material did you use for that lighter area?

Rich

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Posted by John-NYBW on Thursday, May 28, 2020 6:56 AM

selector

I would use a thin layer of plaster to build up between tracks, and if you're bold, between the rails of tracks.  I'd tint the plaster with Burnt Umber.  Then I'd liberally sprinkle the top of the groomed plaster, while its still setting up, with N Scale 'cinders'.

Rich, how about where the speed changes from yard to open/main.  A train is obliged to enter the yard-proper at a reduced and strict speed limit, I believe.  At that point, little is needed in high ballast and finely leveled tracks that you'd have to have on the main.  Once you're near the arrival/departure, and heading toward ladders, it would all be mud 'n crud.

 

This gets to a question I've been meaning to ask for some time. When the mainline tracks pass through the yard, either on one side or down the middle if there are ladders on either side, are trains restricted to yard speed limits, or can they pass through without slowing down?

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, May 28, 2020 7:44 AM

John-NYBW
 

This gets to a question I've been meaning to ask for some time. When the mainline tracks base through the yard, either on one side or down the middle if there are ladders on either side, are trains restricted to yard speed limits, or can they pass through without slowing down? 

Good question, gonna be interested in the answer. May require a separate thread to get the attention of the prototype experts.

Rich

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, May 28, 2020 1:28 PM

wp8thsub
 
riogrande5761
BTW, what turnouts are you using in the top two photos? 

 

The #8 crossovers are Walthers/Shinohara, while the visible #6 is Micro Engineering.

Thanks Rob,  the #8 crossover does look like a frog formed of stock rail which is consistant with  Walthers/Shinohara.  Micro have a cast frog if I recall.

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, May 28, 2020 1:50 PM

In some (many?) cases, the mainline tracks go around the yard, not through it, so I would think it wouldn't be unusual for the mainline to be ballasted while the yard tracks are just dirt and such.

Not sure if this link to Google Maps will work, but if it does, the two tracks nearest Highway 10/61 are the joint BNSF-CP mainline tracks, which go around their railyards to the north and west along the tracks. You can see the mainline appears to have gray rock ballast while the yard tracks (this is the old Milwaukee Road hump yard) don't.

https://www.google.com/maps/search/cp+rail+near+Saint+Paul,+MN/@44.9315108,-93.0260899,128m/data=!3m1!1e3

Stix
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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, May 28, 2020 4:25 PM

wjstix

In some (many?) cases, the mainline tracks go around the yard, not through it, so I would think it wouldn't be unusual for the mainline to be ballasted while the yard tracks are just dirt and such.

Not sure if this link to Google Maps will work, but if it does, the two tracks nearest Highway 10/61 are the joint BNSF-CP mainline tracks, which go around their railyards to the north and west along the tracks. You can see the mainline appears to have gray rock ballast while the yard tracks (this is the old Milwaukee Road hump yard) don't.

https://www.google.com/maps/search/cp+rail+near+Saint+Paul,+MN/@44.9315108,-93.0260899,128m/data=!3m1!1e3 

Color photos taken from the ground are so much better than aerial Google Images. I have tried to look at railroad yards around Chicago on Google Images and everything looks white and light gray.

Rich

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Posted by wp8thsub on Thursday, May 28, 2020 6:11 PM

richhotrain
Rob, what ballast material did you use for that lighter area?

Fine sand.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, May 28, 2020 7:49 PM

wp8thsub
 
richhotrain
Rob, what ballast material did you use for that lighter area? 

Fine sand. 

It looks great, Rob. I wouldn't mind capturing that look.

Rich

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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, May 28, 2020 8:50 PM

selector
Rich, how about where the speed changes from yard to open/main.  A train is obliged to enter the yard-proper at a reduced and strict speed limit, I believe.

John-NYBW
This gets to a question I've been meaning to ask for some time. When the mainline tracks pass through the yard, either on one side or down the middle if there are ladders on either side, are trains restricted to yard speed limits, or can they pass through without slowing down?

 

It depends on the railroad in question, and how they worded Rule 93 from the Standard Code of Operating Rules.

The applicable portion of Rule 93 from the WP, "Second and inferior class, extra trains, and engines must move within yard limits at yard speed."

Notice what isn't mentioned.  First Class trains are not required to move at yard speed.  

That being said, a yard isnt a good place to run at track speed.  Typically, speed restrictions for the main track will be found in the special instructions found in the employee time table.  

I dont have the Rule book from BM or PT, but I do have the ETTs.

A specific case I found was from Portland Terminal Company Time Table No. 45, dated September 25, 1938.  The maximum speed between Tower 1 (south end of Rigby Yard) and the Fore River Bridge was 40mph.  

Here is the 1924 map of Rigby: 

http://www.upward-concepts.com/rail/rigbyl.gif

Tower one is to the left (South) the Fore River is to the right (North) off of the map.   As you can see, the mains split right down the middle of the yard.

In this case, the track structure requirements would be similar for that of a mainline.  

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, May 29, 2020 5:54 AM

richhotrain
 
doctorwayne

All my "yards" are staging yards, so none of the track is ballasted and the rails and ties aren't painted, either.

Where tracks leave the mainline at servicing areas or to access industries, the ballast generally ends once the rails leave the mainline, as in the photos below... 

Yeah, that is the conclusion that I am coming to as well. In other words, don't extend the mainline ballast onto the divergent side of the turnout that is leaving the mainline except to the extent that it is needed to maintain a line of ballast parallel to the straight through route of the turnout. 

Rich 

I have finally decided on the demarcation line between the mainlines and the yards, pretty much as Wayne has suggested. I will simply keep the mainline ballast running parallel through the straight route of the turnout that leads off the mainline into the yard and then place yard ballast right up against that demarcation line so as to appear gradual rather than a stark dividing line.

Now, I need to settle on the color of the yard ballast. 

My mainlines are a 50-50 blend of Scenic Express #40 light gray/dark gray which I really like because it gives the mainlines a darker rather than a lighter look.

For the yard color and texture, I had initially tried a Woodland Scenics Fine Dark Brown with some Woodland Scenics Fine Cinders mixed in, a 3 to 1 brown to black blend. But, now, it may be too dark for my liking.  I am also considering a blend of Woodland Scenics Gray and Buff. I like it, but I am wondering if it looks realistic.

If you look at the 2nd photo on page 13 of this PDF with the coaling tower, I really would like to capture that look.

https://mrv.trains.com/-/media/Files/PDF/Marketing/Freight%20Yard%20Design.pdf

Or, this, which looks to be mostly gray if you blow up the photo by clicking on it.

https://mrr.trains.com/how-to/track-planning-operation/2020/01/basics-of-car-cards-and-waybills-for-model-railroad-operation-part-3

Or even this although it may be too bland for my liking.

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/m/mrr-layouts/2289263.aspx

Any thoughts on all of this?

Rich

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Posted by Pruitt on Friday, May 29, 2020 1:02 PM

My rule:

Mainline ballast ends and yard ballast begins wherever you run out of one or the other.

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, May 29, 2020 1:33 PM

Pruitt

My rule:

Mainline ballast ends and yard ballast begins wherever you run out of one or the other. 

I agree with that statement and, quite frankly, who wouldn't agree? But the execution is more difficult than the definition. I suppose it is similar to pornography as assessed by a Supreme Court Justice who once said, "I cannot define it, but I know it when I see it". I cannot pinpoint where the mainline ballast ends and the yard ballast begins, but I will know it when I see it.

Rich

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Posted by kasskaboose on Friday, May 29, 2020 1:52 PM

I like that approach also.  Can some hard have a way that defines the two areas?  Perhaps it depends on location, era, etc.

Not to hijack the thread, but does the color in the yard depend on the timeframe of the layout?

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, May 29, 2020 2:01 PM

kasskaboose

does the color in the yard depend on the timeframe of the layout? 

I am sure that it does but it also depends upon the owner railroad.

Rich

 

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Posted by wp8thsub on Friday, May 29, 2020 6:12 PM

kasskaboose
...does the color in the yard depend on the timeframe of the layout?

To some extent it does.  Steam era yards often used cinder ballast and had a different color and texture compared to yards today.  Some photos show a nearly uniform dark gray from finely textured cinders.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by SBX on Saturday, May 30, 2020 4:57 AM

So where does this leave me. I have a 5' x 10" switching layout and was going to ballast with WS grey ballast. Should I replace that with WS brown ballast? See the image.

 

Long Haired David
A.K.A. David Pennington
main man on the Sunset and North Eastern R.R.
http://www.gmrblog.co.uk
from the UK

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