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Ballast for sidings

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  • Member since
    April, 2010
  • 26 posts
Ballast for sidings
Posted by TooTall606 on Monday, October 08, 2018 10:43 AM

I have ballasted my main lines with Woodland Scenics medium grey blend, HO scale. I have some warehouse sidings along with two others that serve food product companies. I made up a mix of other ballasts, dirt etc to use around the warehouses and will add some weeds,etc. I am thinking the food companies grounds should be a little neater especaily because they have outdoor bulk unloading facilities. Would it look odd to add yet another type of ballast to the sidings at these locations? I had looked at the Arizona Rock & Mineral yard mix as an option.

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: US
  • 2,277 posts
Posted by wp8thsub on Monday, October 08, 2018 11:09 AM

It's not at all unusual to have multiple types of ballast in the same area.  I have industries where different ballast colors and textures are modeled, mostly using fine sand.


by wp8thsub, on Flickr


Milton Fuel 5

by wp8thsub, on Flickr


W Lakeview 5

by wp8thsub, on Flickr


Prototype photos are a big help for figuring this kind of thing out.  


by wp8thsub, on Flickr


Rob Spangler

  • Member since
    March, 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 9,955 posts
Posted by dknelson on Monday, October 08, 2018 11:34 AM

There are certainly sidings, and sometimes they are heavily used sidings, where the question isn't what kind of ballast was used but rather "ballast?  what ballast?"

Using a ballast that is visually different from the mainline is also entirely plausible and realistic.  In my experience I cannot say that sidings that serve food industries have per se better ballast than those that serve more plebian industries.  Sometimes it seems arbitary but other times it is more a function of when was the last time the siding needed attention, and why?  Sometimes a derailment or turning over a rail or a tight curve going out of gauge are reasons for attention for example - new ties and/or rail mean new ballast.  And if that work is done by a railroad contractor and not the railroad itself, there is no reason they'd use the same ballast source as the railroad itself.

Having said that, covered hoppers are among the cars that have gotten bigger and heavier in recent years, so perhaps a food based industry would have had its siding get new rail and thus new ballast just due to the cars it receives.

I agree - getting out with the camera and studying the prototype reveals all sorts of information.  I tend to take more trackside detail photos these days than train photos.

Dave Nelson



  • Member since
    November, 2007
  • From: California
  • 1,278 posts
Posted by HO-Velo on Monday, October 08, 2018 12:04 PM

Can't agree more with Rob about varying textures, size and color.  Photos of his superb work have been both an inspiration and guide to my own ballasting efforts, many thanks Rob.  

I'm a fan of the Arizona Rock & Mineral products, their rock powders make for a nice change of texture enhancement to ballasted areas.  Be aware that some of their products can become noticeably darker after wetting & gluing.

Regards,  Peter 

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • From: 10,430’ (3,179 m)
  • 966 posts
Posted by jjdamnit on Monday, October 08, 2018 1:03 PM

Hello all,

Another thought for the areas around the unloading siding of the food product companies- -rather than ballast have you considered modeling concrete platforms?

In food service preparation there is a concept known as "H.A.C.C.P."- -Hazard Analysis at Critical Control Points. The theory is to recognize stages along the food processing chain that could most likely introduce contaminants to the process.

This was developed by NASA to help keep astronauts food as safe as possible. The thought of an intestinal bug in space is not a pretty one!

Having concrete pads surrounding the unloading are of the commodities would help keep the area clean, well cleaner than ballast. 

Just another thought.

Hope this helps.

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

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