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Ballast glue formula?

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Ballast glue formula?
Posted by hon30critter on Monday, June 04, 2018 3:41 PM

Hi folks:

What ratio do you use for glue/water/alcohol (or other formula) for gluing down ballast?

Thanks

Dave

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Posted by wvg_ca on Monday, June 04, 2018 4:23 PM

my favourite is 1/3 of each, water, 70% alcohol, glue ...

for glue I use Dap latex for better sound absobtion, quieter than white glue

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, June 04, 2018 4:29 PM

I use ordinary white glue with tap water, usually somewhere around 40% glue and 60% water, although it doesn't appear that the ratio needs to be too precise.

Some folks who have especially hard water seem to prefer alcohol (I like it, too, but much prefer mine in a glass), but a better and much cheaper option would be distilled water from the supermarket.

After you've distributed and groomed the dry ballast, use a good-quality sprayer that allows you to mist the ballast with "wet" water (water with a few drops of dish detergent added).  Once the ballast has been dampened,you can then spray it more directly without scattering ballast all over the place.  In my opinion, wetting of the ballast is crucial to getting a good strong bond, and you'll do better to over-wet rather than under-wet.  The wet water should appear at the base of deep ballast, seeping out and indicating that the material has been wetted completely through.

Allow the ballast to dry completely before attempting to clean the rails - where ballast or sub-ballast is especially deep, this may take several days - I'm sure that you'll have other things to keep busy with while that occurs.

To avoid gluing turnouts in one set route, apply a little plastic compatible oil to the tops of the ties over which the points move, then move the points back and forth a few times to distribute the oil.  Position the points at mid-throw, blocking them with bits of styrene, if necessary.

Here's my sequence for ballasting, in this case with real limestone, but the procedure is pretty much the same for Woodland Scenics ballast.

Ballast added by tapping the paper cup while moving it along the track...

...ballast groomed (drag the brush with the handle close to the track, rather than using a painting or sweeping motion...gives much better control, especially with the lighter WS ballast)

...ballast wetted thoroughly...

...beginning application of the diluted glue....

Be generous with the wet water and the glue, too...

...you can always throw some ground foam over the excess, getting a head start on your scenery

Track cleaned and back in-service...

Wayne

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, June 04, 2018 5:11 PM

 Here we have very hard water. No amount of the "drop of soap" and water method has EVER worked. Even using part water. SO I just use 70% alcohol (yes, I know, that's 30% water - but it's not local tap water) and glue, no additional water. I have a misting spray bottle to apply 70% alcohol first to wet down the ballast, then dribble on glue/alcohol. I never really measured how much of each I add, enough to make it pretty runny. Something else I noticed making a mixture of just glue and alcohol, it had a decent shelf life, a couple of days at least if you have a way of capping the container. ANd when I did mix up some in a paper cup to try it the first time, when it did dry, it was flexible, not hard like pure white glue gets. That's why I never bothered paying extra for matte medium. 

                           --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Monday, June 04, 2018 5:19 PM

You can also buy 50% isopropyl alcohol instead of the usual 70%. Still a little stronger than the 35% alcohol from the resulting three-way mix, but well within the ballpark.

If the tap water in your area is extremely hard, you can buy a one-gallon jug of distilled water for about a dollar. Should last a pretty long while in modeling use.

Robert 

LINK to SNSR Blog


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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, June 04, 2018 5:25 PM

Thanks everyone for your answers.

Wayne, your ballast looks great! Thanks for the detailed tutorial.

Dave

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, June 04, 2018 5:36 PM

 Yeah, distilled wtaer is probbaly cheaper, but it still needs a flow agent. I found with just alcohol and glue, it always soaks completely into the ballast and never puddles on top. Even wicks UP quite well - I tried sort of Cody Grivnoo's way of applying the glue along the outside edges first to get the shoulder glued down and when doing that, i found it soaking up quite well into the centr of the track as well, almost didn;t need to make another pass dripping some on down the middle. 

 I know people have tried everything from dish soap to things like Photo Flo as wetting agents. 70% alcohol is fairly cheap, under $1 a pint, so I'll spend far more on the glue than the alcohol. 

                                  --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by j. c. on Monday, June 04, 2018 5:42 PM

50 to 60% water 49  to59% glue 1% 96 proof alcohol.

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Posted by gmpullman on Monday, June 04, 2018 6:18 PM

rrinker
Here we have very hard water.

My well water is more rock than liquid!

I always keep a few gallons of distilled water in my hobby workshop. A local discount grocery store sells it for about 80¢ a gallon. I never use tap water when mixing paints, decal work, prep-washing of models or ballast thinning.

Cheap insurance.

Regards, Ed

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Posted by jjdamnit on Monday, June 04, 2018 6:38 PM

Hello all,

Check out this thread:

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/t/258968.aspx

I still use this method with amazing results.

Update:
I have had to replace the bench work and needed to remove this ballast over Woodland Scenics foam roadbed and 1-inch blue foam.
Using a solution of warm water and 90% Isopropyl alcohol sprayed over this mix it came up easily.
I harvested the used ballast by cleaning it under running water and allowing to air dry.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, June 04, 2018 6:57 PM

Hi jjdamnit:

Unfortunately one of the links in the thread that you referred to doesn't work for me (I'm not sure if it is referring to a specific product and/or a method applying glue), but I understand the concept of mixing a dry powdered glue with the ballast before putting it in place. Interesting option!

Thanks,

Dave

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, June 04, 2018 7:12 PM

STRATTON & GILLETTE roadbed and scenic glue formula:

.

4 ounces white glue

28 ounces water

3ml Kodak Photo-Flo wetting agent

.

Works perfect!

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by Mark R. on Monday, June 04, 2018 7:19 PM

I remember as a youngster, my Dad would mix powdered wood glue in with the ballast. He added enough so it was easily visible once the ballast / glue was shaken together. You could see the powder coating the ballast. The ballast was groomed to his liking. then just misted with water. The water activated the powdered glue and it bonded really well.

Unfortunately, I have no idea what the glue was (that was 50 years ago), but I'm sure there are still powdered wood wood glues out there.

Mark.

¡ uʍop ǝpısdn sı ǝɹnʇɐuƃıs ʎɯ 'dlǝɥ

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Posted by BNSF UP and others modeler on Monday, June 04, 2018 7:42 PM

You could also buy woodland scenics scenic cemet, however, don't believe them when they claim that it comes with wetting agents/ surface tension breakers.Hmm Whatever they put in there to make that claim doesn't work very well at all, so you will still need to wet the ballast with rubbing alcohol or diluted dish soap.

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Posted by jjdamnit on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 1:01 PM

Hello all,

hon30critter
Unfortunately one of the links in the thread that you referred to doesn't work for me...

Seems that all the Instant-Track-Tackit-Ballast-Adhesive links do not work. A Google search did not reveal a manufactures web site.  

But you can still get the DAP product from Amazon.

Hope this helps.

 

 

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by BigDaddy on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 5:02 PM

hon30critter
Unfortunately one of the links in the thread that you referred to doesn't work for me

I think that was my link, which refered to a specific product that is NLA.  I had not use the product so I have nothing to add about that.  

I have read in this forum that alcohol solutions dry faster.  I also recall that someone added water to a empty gallon of glue and successfully used that.  If you read it on the Internet, it must be true, right?

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by jjdamnit on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 6:13 PM

Hello all,

BigDaddy
I think that was my link...

Yes, you were definitely part of the conversation.

After reviewing the links in the thread I wonder if the "manufacturer" of Instant Track Tackit Ballast Adhesive was contacted by DAP or if people just figured out there was a cheaper source? Like I did.

For me it's still the best ballast method I've used.

Hope this helps.

 

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by Medina1128 on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 5:30 AM

I mix my diluted glue mixture 70/30 with a few drops of dishwashing detergent added to a gallon of distilled water. I use translucent condiment dispensers that diners use for applying. (They're cheap at WalMart). I drop a large fishing weight to the bottle to remix the glue mixture. It acts like a spray paint can rattle ball to remix the glue; the glue mixture tends to separate and settle, with the glue on the bottom.

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Posted by bearman on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 5:36 AM

I use 1:3/glue:water mixture with a couple of drops of liquid detergent.  Generally I mix up a batch then transfer as necessary to a smaller used white glue squeeze bottle. My ballast is an Arizona Rock & Mineral product, real rock like DocWayne's. 

I use 70% rubbing alcohol as a wetting agent and then drizzle the glue/water mixture with the squeeze bottle top set to allow as small a stream as possible when I apply it.  So far, similar to DocWayne.  However, for turnouts I found this gizmo

https://imgur.com/PGWZ3BB

at an art supply store.  It is a plastic squeeze bottle, maybe 2 ounce volume, with a metal nozzle about 2 mm diameter (manufacturer unknown by now) which allows you to apply one drop at a time to the ballast in between the ties of the turnout, and on either side of the points.  With this gizmo, I have never had an issue with gluing turnout hinges.  But, you need to be patient.  Total cost of the gizmo is less than 5$.

To prevent clogging the gizmo nozzle, just run some 90% rubbing alcohol through the gizmo a couple or three times, and run a map pin into the nozzle once or twice, and voila,  completely clean.  I don't know about anyone else, but I have found that art supply stores can be an invaluable source of items that are necessary to work on a layout.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 6:01 AM

Marlon and Bear:

More great ideas! Thanks.

Now the question is which method(s) to try. I think I will encourage the club to do a few tests before committing to one specific formula. Personally, I kind of like Randy's glue/alcohol mixture because I think it would soak in the best, and having the glue not set rock hard appeals to me too. Then there is Cody Grivno's method of gluing the outside edges of the ballast first. I will definitely get a couple of brushes like those that doctorwayne uses for spreading and levelling the ballast, and a couple of condiment dispenser style bottles too.

I had another look at the Homasote bevelling that we have done and I think the Homasote needs to be cut back further so that the slope of the Homasote lines up with the slope of the cork roadbed. Right now there is a bit of a step where the cork meets the Homasote. Fortunately, the Homasote seems to be fairly easy to cut with a sharp blade so making the adjustment shouldn't be too much of a problem.

Dave

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Posted by bearman on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 6:12 AM

I do the beveled edges, and the outside of the rails, first by running a finger of undiluted white glue along it then add  the ballast groom it, wait a few minutes then apply the 70% alcohol.  If you want a nice straight line along the bottom of the ballast, then there are two techniques you can use as long as there is no scenery involved.  

The first is to tape some blue masking tape along the bottom, the second is to sacrifice some cork roadbed and tack it down with pins.  I use map pins about every inch or so.  After you apply the glue:water mixture some of it will seep under the tape or the cork.  Just wait about thirty minutes or so and you can easily remove the tape or the cork leaving a fairly clean line behind without tearing out the ballast on the dbeveled edge of the roadbed.  There may be a few places where some touch up may be needed but usually it is not a big deal.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 6:41 AM

Thanks for the additional advice Bear.

Dave

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Posted by bearman on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 7:19 AM

One more thing, Dave.  As far as the glue/water ratio, it is all over the place anywhere from 1:2 to 1:5.  This comes down to a personal preference thing.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 7:40 AM

bearman
One more thing, Dave.  As far as the glue/water ratio, it is all over the place anywhere from 1:2 to 1:5.  This comes down to a personal preference thing.

I think it really boils down to using a formula that will easily soak into all of the ballast, no matter how deep. I think that thinner is better (within reason). We have discovered several spots on our portable layout where only the top of the ballast was glued together despite copious quantities of diluted glue having been applied.

FWIW, I just ordered some 8 oz. condiment dispencer bottles from Amazon like the one that doctorwayne showed. Up until now we have been using a rather larger pressurized spray bottle. Getting just a dribble of glue out of it is very difficult, and too much pressure on the trigger washes the ballast away instantly.

Thanks again Bear.

Dave

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Posted by CNSF on Thursday, June 07, 2018 3:45 PM
If, like me, you've found that running a dehumidifier in your layout room helps minimize benchwork warping, track kinks, and electronic bugs, don't overlook it as a source of "free" distilled water!
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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, June 07, 2018 5:40 PM

hon30critter
....We have discovered several spots on our portable layout where only the top of the ballast was glued together despite copious quantities of diluted glue having been applied....

Those results are caused by insufficient pre-wetting, or, if you used alcohol as a wetting agent, it may have evapourated before you got around to adding the glue.  The water should be in quantities sufficient to penetrate completely through the ballast, enough so that it will seep from the lowest point.  When the glue is applied, it should also be in sufficient amounts to penetrate right to the bottom of the ballast, and like the water, collect alongside the right-of-way.

Wayne

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Posted by Bubbytrains on Thursday, June 07, 2018 6:50 PM

Mark R.

I remember as a youngster, my Dad would mix powdered wood glue in with the ballast. He added enough so it was easily visible once the ballast / glue was shaken together. You could see the powder coating the ballast. The ballast was groomed to his liking. then just misted with water. The water activated the powdered glue and it bonded really well.

Unfortunately, I have no idea what the glue was (that was 50 years ago), but I'm sure there are still powdered wood wood glues out there.

Mark.

 

Mark, my brother and I used that method circa 1980. The brand we used was called Weldwood. It worked well, and set up extremely hard!

Alan

Bubbytrains

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Posted by Bubbytrains on Thursday, June 07, 2018 6:58 PM

hon30critter

Hi folks:

What ratio do you use for glue/water/alcohol (or other formula) for gluing down ballast?

Thanks

Dave

 

I don't precisely measure out my proportions, but it's roughly 55-60% white or carpenters glue to 40-45% water, with a squirt of dishwashing soap added to break the tension. It has always worked perfectly despite the varying proportions. The important thing is to thoroughly soak it with water to avoid getting only a crust. 

Alan

Bubbytrains

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, June 07, 2018 8:57 PM

bearman
As far as the glue/water ratio, it is all over the place anywhere from 1:2 to 1:5. This comes down to a personal preference thing.

.

I have found using Mod Podge or Elmers White Glue are best thinner. Using glues thinned less than 3:1 with water, even with a wetting agent, makes the glue penetrate the scenery less.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, June 07, 2018 9:10 PM

doctorwayne
Those results are caused by insufficient pre-wetting, or, if you used alcohol as a wetting agent, it may have evapourated before you got around to adding the glue.  The water should be in quantities sufficient to penetrate completely through the ballast, enough so that it will seep from the lowest point.  When the glue is applied, it should also be in sufficient amounts to penetrate right to the bottom of the ballast, and like the water, collect alongside the right-of-way. Wayne

Yes, that is exactly what happened. I blame it on too many people with not enough experience working on the layout. The ballast glue question came up as a result of us having to rip up some track on our portable layout, but we are already discussing how to avoid the same thing happening when we start to ballast the new permanent layout. We will have to watch the work very carefully. Despite my lack of experience, the areas that I ballasted seem to be ok.

Dave

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