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Ballast - Preferred Gluing Techniques

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, February 23, 2020 8:03 AM

mbinsewi

Just thought I'd pass this on, for applying the glue mixture, I also use a syringe, I have a couple of different sizes, it kind of speeds things up a little over an eye dropper, for bigger areas.

Ballast away!

Mike. 

Interesting!

Thanks, Mike.

Rich

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, February 23, 2020 7:53 AM

Just thought I'd pass this on, for applying the glue mixture, I also use a syringe, I have a couple of different sizes, it kind of speeds things up a little over an eye dropper, for bigger areas.

Ballast away!

Mike.

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, February 23, 2020 4:53 AM

SeeYou190
 
mlehman
I know some feel matte medium too costly, but it's advantages, mainly that it's impervious to water once set, are worth it to me. If you shop around or use the weekly single item discount coupon that is often available at retailers, the pain is considerably lessened. 

Which brand of Matte Medium available at the big retailers that offer 40% off coupons do you prefer?

I have tried Aleen's Mod Podge Matte with poor results.

Help is appreciated.

-Kevin 

Even without a coupon, you can get a gallon of high quality matte medium from Blick Art Supply for $53.

https://www.dickblick.com/items/00618-3219/

Liquiutex is an excellent product which I use exclusively for ballasting.

Rich

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, February 23, 2020 12:59 AM

mlehman
I know some feel matte medium too costly, but it's advantages, mainly that it's impervious to water once set, are worth it to me. If you shop around or use the weekly single item discount coupon that is often available at retailers, the pain is considerably lessened.

Which brand of Matte Medium available at the big retailers that offer 40% off coupons do you prefer?

I have tried Aleen's Mod Podge Matte with poor results.

Help is appreciated.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, February 23, 2020 12:30 AM

mlehman

Hey Rich.

4:1 may be a little thin IMO, but if everything stays stuck on the test section, then it works so go for it.

I know some feel matte medium too costly, but it's advantages, mainly that it's impervious to water once set, are worth it to me. If you shop around or use the weekly single item discount coupon that is often available at retailers, the pain is considerably lessened. 

Thanks, Mike. The 4:ratio is working well, so no problems there. I do prefer matte medium over white glue for ballasting for the reasons that you mentioned. I am using a water/white glue mix for the ground cover.

Rich

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Posted by mlehman on Friday, February 21, 2020 11:45 AM

Hey Rich.

4:1 may be a little thin IMO, but if everything stays stuck on the test section, then it works so go for it.

I know some feel matte medium too costly, but it's advantages, mainly that it's impervious to water once set, are worth it to me. If you shop around or use the weekly single item discount coupon that is often available at retailers, the pain is considerably lessened.

And it's not like you're filling the gas tank with the stuff, I probably used around 2 gallons for all the ballast and scenery on my layout, which is on the largish side of mdeium sized.

Good luck with things, be cautious as you develop your techniques and skills and even the big jobs like this are over soon enough as you pick up speed.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, February 21, 2020 4:51 AM

Mike, thanks for your reply.

I have started the ballasting work on my layout, beginning with a 9 foot stretch of double mainline on a somewhat isolated part of my layout.

I am using Scenic Express #40 ballast which I mist with 70% isopropyl alcohol, followed by a 4:1 water:matte medium mix applied with an eye dropper. So far, so good. One reason that I stuck with matte medium is that I happened to have an unopened gallon of the stuff on hand.

Rich

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Posted by mlehman on Friday, February 21, 2020 12:42 AM

I use both WS and real rock ballast, mainly AZ Rock & Mineral. I wet it with 90% alcohol, which minimizes the amount of water that needs to evaporate.

I use matter medium as the bonding agent. When dry, it doesn't soften with just water, which helps when doing other scenery around the same area with water-based formulas. If I do need to change it, misting with the 90% softens it reliably.

I do use a eye dropper for bonding more delicate areas. But for most of my ballast, I mist it with 90%, then mist it - yes, mist it - carefully with matte medium diluted with equal amounts of water. I tape over the bridles of the points so they don't get misted. I use a paper towel wrapped wood block to wipe the rails off, misting the towel so it's damp with alcohol. Then you need to clean your mister out so the matte medium doesn't gum things up.

Here's a pic of part of the layout, with the bridles taped over. Here's I'm ready to spray paint the track and rail, mainly turnouts, because I typically use WS weathered track. This will be followed by ballasting. Basically, I finsihed this up in one afternoon.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 10:17 AM

doctorwayne

And, just to brighten your day and show you that my comment is not meant to be mean-spririted....

I didn't take any of your comments to be mean-spirited. But, posting photos of Bertrams, which you know I lust for, was beyond mean-spirited. I will now press the Report Abuse button.  Crying

Rich

P.S. Your track looks dusty. Better get out the Shop Vac!

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 9:36 AM

Hey, Rich, we have a pretty good idea of your age, so don't tell me that your environment is dust-free - when there's old people around, they shed dust - it's all part of their disintegration process.  You might mitigate it somewhat if you bathed in matte medium, though, but make sure you don't then go rolling in loose ballast on the layout room floor.

And, just to brighten your day and show you that my comment is not meant to be mean-spririted....

Wayne

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 5:15 AM

doctorwayne

Leon failed to mention it, but when I clean track every couple of years, I use only my shop vac - gluing the ballast between the rails saves a lot of work on cleaning day.

Wayne 

Shop Vac???   Huh?

We don't need no stinkin' shop vac.   Super Angry

P.S. Hey, Leon, I don't know what kind of hovel you live in, but where I live, my  layout is situated in a totally dust-free environment.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, February 17, 2020 7:07 PM

Leon failed to mention it, but when I clean track every couple of years, I use only my shop vac - gluing the ballast between the rails saves a lot of work on cleaning day.

Wayne

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, February 16, 2020 4:21 PM

doctorwayne
Rich, I had my brother-in-law, Leon,  write-up this advice to help you out:

Blah, Blah, Blah

Hey, Leon, I got news for you. I joined the Marc Magnus School of Ballasting and decided not to put down the matte medium mix inside the ties. So, on my double mainline, I am only applying the glue mix to the ballast slopes outside the ties and in the space between the double mainline tracks. That way, if i ever want to re-use the flextrack, cleaning it off should be a lot easier like your brother-in-law Wayne described - - ya know, flex it a few times, then pass it between your thumb and fingers, and the ballast will fall right off.   Smile, Wink & Grin

Rich

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, February 16, 2020 12:44 PM

 I tried matte medium for a small section on my old layout - stuck the same as white glue, didn't sound any different (and this was cork over extruded foam), and the talc in the matte medium (where the 'matte' comes from) left residue on the ties when it dried. 

 About the only other thing I used that matte medium for was to paint a thin layer over the labels I printed with my label printer and applied to my test/programming track - I marked off in half inch incremembts from the one end the recommended NMRA weights and so to seal the label and protect it I gave it a couple light coats of the matte medium I had on hand. 

 For ballasting - I just went back to white glue. Cheaper and I didn't notice any excessive shiny coating, and the sound level was no different. I do think the sound issue was related to using alcohol to dilute the glue - the leftover that dried in the cup I mixed it in never got hard like plain white glue, it was a bit rubbery like caulk. 

                                --Randy

 


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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, February 16, 2020 12:32 PM

richhotrain
...Let me try this again.

Rich, I had my brother-in-law, Leon,  write-up this advice to help you out:

"Well now, son, what we have here is a failure to communicate. 

If ya keep tryin' the same stuff agin and agin, yer gonna get yer same results, and it pains me to no end to see ya makin' the same mistakes and gettin' the same results...in fact, now ya got me usin' alkyhaul more'n I should, too, and it ain't on no flex track.

When you use yer matte medium, yer ballast gets itself matted, so she ain't a-gunna come off proper-like.
Whatcha wanna do is save yer dough and use yer white glue - she'll stick jest as good when ya glue 'er down, but if'n ya wanna pull up yer track, why she'll come off slick as yer whistle.

Here's some pitchers what I took when I pulled-up summa my track.

This one shows a switch in a not-too-good place for what I needed...

...this here's the one that needed to be took-out...

...an' here it is tooken out...a ya can see, there ain't no ballast stickin' to 'er...

...it was pretty easy to clean up the rest o' the mess, too...

...I then put the switch back inta the new spot, and the whole shebang's back in business...

  "

Leon Hoffentoth, fer my brother-in-law Wayne

 

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, February 16, 2020 4:48 AM

doctorwayne
 
richhotrain
....trying to remove the ballast from the flextrack was extremely time consuming and difficult.... 

I've found that once the track has been lifted, all you need to do is flex it a few times, then pass it between your thumb and fingers, and most of the ballast will fall right off.  If that doesn't get everything, a few not-too-vigourous passes with an old-time scrub brush should make quick work of any cling-ons.

Wayne 

LaughLaughLaughLaughLaugh

Sorry, Wayne, I could not resist. I do believe that you have not had the distinct pleasure of trying to remove Woodland Scenics Medium ballast from flextrack that has been glued with a 50/50 mix of matte medium and water.

Let me try this again.

LaughLaughLaughLaughLaugh

Rich

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Posted by doctorwayne on Saturday, February 15, 2020 9:12 PM

richhotrain
....trying to remove the ballast from the flextrack was extremely time consuming and difficult....

I've found that once the track has been lifted, all you need to do is flex it a few times, then pass it between your thumb and fingers, and most of the ballast will fall right off.  If that doesn't get everything, a few not-too-vigourous passes with an old-time scrub brush should make quick work of any cling-ons.

Wayne

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, February 15, 2020 12:54 PM

doctorwayne
 
richhotrain
....The average weight of the Woodland Scenics Medium ballast was 11.5 grams, compared to the average weight of the Scenic Express #40 ballast which was 23.0 grams. In other words, the real rock ballast weighs twice as much as the crushed walnut ballast.... 

Better beef-up your benchwork, Rich. 

richhotrain
....I plan to avoid putting glue between the ties. It is a bear trying to remove ballast glued with matte medium when it is done between the ties. 

 

Why would you want to remove the ballast?  If you needed to remove ballast, use diluted white glue when installing it, which will soften when sprayed with "wet" water.

I find it difficult to understand why folks want to complicate one of the simplest operations of model railroading.

Wayne 

Rest assured, Wayne, that benchwork isn't going anywhere.

Why would I want to remove the ballast from the flextrack? Because I was building a new layout and I had hoped to re-use the flex track. If you spray isopropyl alcohol over the ballasted track, it comes up easy enough, but trying to remove the ballast from the flextrack was extremely time consuming and difficult.

Why not just leave the ballast on the flextrack? Because I grew to hate the look of it. For whatever the reason, it had yellowed and it appeared oversized relative to the prototype.

Rich

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Posted by doctorwayne on Saturday, February 15, 2020 12:34 PM

richhotrain
....The average weight of the Woodland Scenics Medium ballast was 11.5 grams, compared to the average weight of the Scenic Express #40 ballast which was 23.0 grams. In other words, the real rock ballast weighs twice as much as the crushed walnut ballast....

Better beef-up your benchwork, Rich.

richhotrain
....I plan to avoid putting glue between the ties. It is a bear trying to remove ballast glued with matte medium when it is done between the ties.

Why would you want to remove the ballast?  If you needed to remove ballast, use diluted white glue when installing it, which will soften when sprayed with "wet" water.

I find it difficult to understand why folks want to complicate one of the simplest operations of model railroading.

Wayne

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, February 15, 2020 11:19 AM

rrinker

 Well, now we know!

FWIW, I never had an issue with the light WS ballast floating away when I tried to add wetting agent or glue. 

When I first used WS ballast, it did float. But, once I started using alcohol as a wetting agent, the floating ended.

Rich

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, February 15, 2020 9:36 AM

 Well, now we know!

FWIW, I never had an issue with the light WS ballast floating away when I tried to add wetting agent or glue.

                                           --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 richhotrain on Saturday, February 15, 2020 9:14 AM

richhotrain
  

OK, I took a teaspoon full of Scenic Express #40 Dark Gray Ballast and soaked it in a bowl of 70% isopropyl alcohol overnight (8 hours). Just removed the ballast from the bowl of alcohol and, as expected, the wet ballast is now really dark gray, almost black. 

I will let it air dry so that the alcohol evaporates and then report back with the results. The bowl of alcohol is clear so it does not appear that the ballast is soluble in isopropyl alcohol. Stayed tuned.

Rich 

3 1/2 hours later, the ballast is dry and it looks just like the dark gray ballast in the bottle. So, no change as a result of wetting the Scenic Express ballast with 70% isopropyl alcohol.

By the way, I did another experiment this morning. I got to thinking about the weight of Woodland Scenics Medium ballast (crushed walnut shells) compared to the weight of Scenic Express #40 real rock ballast. For purposes of my experiment, I used a level tablespoon of ballast measured in grams on a small scale. I weighed each product several times to account for variations in the number of grains.

The average weight of the Woodland Scenics Medium ballast was 11.5 grams, compared to the average weight of the Scenic Express #40 ballast which was 23.0 grams. In other words, the real rock ballast weighs twice as much as the crushed walnut ballast.

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, February 15, 2020 9:06 AM

Marc_Magnus

I use, in N scale, a eyes dropper, but never put glue between the ties, just along outside the rail, capilarity move the glue everywhere; enough glue is when the ballast is milky; capilarity work well when the ballast is well and deeply wetted.

Marc, thanks for that detailed description of your gluing method. Like you, I plan to avoid putting glue between the ties. It is a bear trying to remove ballast glued with matte medium when it is done between the ties.

Rich

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Posted by Marc_Magnus on Saturday, February 15, 2020 8:26 AM

45 years of use

 

I started to ballast with the usual white glue water mix and water with a wet agent like detergent

Never had any troubles

As time was passing I have used some matte medium when articles about it appeared but was not especialy impressed by it.

Now I still use 50/50 white glue mix with distilled water; the glue is a white express drying glue.

Wetting agent is 70% isopropil alcool with distilled water, I use 90% alcool brand but I mix it with some water, but also methanol with 30% water, it work as fine as isopropyl alcool but it's cheaper

Woodland Scenic ballast need to be wetted correctly and heavily to be well glued.

I use, in N scale, a eyes dropper, but never put glue between the ties, just along outside the rail, capilarity move the glue everywhere; enough glue is when the ballast is milky; capilarity work well when the ballast is well and deeply wetted.

Express drying white glue is dry in around 15 hours and allow to work along without any stress to disturb something; even if it's labeled express glue, complete drying time is around a good day.

When you need to remove track I wet the whole area with hot water; hot enough to not put your fingers in.

For scenery I use a ratio of 40/60 glue and distilled water, same wetting agent as ballast

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, February 15, 2020 5:38 AM

wp8thsub
 
rrinker
Only other thing I really saw is that for their own branded stuff, it says it is sealed so that it doesn't darken when matte medium is applied. So just what do they apply to the ballast? Is it soluable in isopropyl?  

I can attest to the fact that it doesn't change coloration or dissolve with alcohol.  Alcohol just didn't soak in very well. 

OK, I took a teaspoon full of Scenic Express #40 Dark Gray Ballast and soaked it in a bowl of 70% isopropyl alcohol overnight (8 hours). Just removed the ballast from the bowl of alcohol and, as expected, the wet ballast is now really dark gray, almost black.

I will let it air dry so that the alcohol evaporates and then report back with the results. The bowl of alcohol is clear so it does not appear that the ballast is soluble in isopropyl alcohol. Stayed tuned.

Rich

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Posted by wp8thsub on Friday, February 14, 2020 6:08 PM

riogrande5761
What Rob mentioned earlier was assuredly real rock ballast.  I'm sure he can tell the difference between rock ballast and crushed walnut ballast.

  You never know, Jim. Sometimes I ain't too sharp.  Smile, Wink & Grin  The ballast I'm using is real rock though.  At least it tastes like it...Dunce

Rob Spangler

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Posted by wp8thsub on Friday, February 14, 2020 6:03 PM

rrinker
Only other thing I really saw is that for their own branded stuff, it says it is sealed so that it doesn't darken when matte medium is applied. So just what do they apply to the ballast? Is it soluable in isopropyl? 

I can attest to the fact that it doesn't change coloration or dissolve with alcohol.  Alcohol just didn't soak in very well.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by wp8thsub on Friday, February 14, 2020 6:01 PM

richhotrain
What bothers me most is Ed's comment that Scenic Express has recently changed suppliers and that the recent stuff does have some kind of dye or coating on it. So, am I and others relying on outdated information about the quality of Scenic Express ballast?

All of the Scenic Express ballast I've used is the replacement product for the Smith & Sons material (i.e. I am using the current product - and the trial containers I had were probably the first of it available).  

It's a real rock material that has been dyed for ballast use, as far as I know.  Every recommendation I have made for Scenic Express ballast is for the current stuff (real rock with coloration added).  I initially came across the Scenic Express branded ballast when looking for Smith & Sons, only to find out it was no longer available.  I tried the new stuff and immediately liked it.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, February 14, 2020 5:13 PM

rrinker

Easy enough to test if you have some of the ballast on hand. Pour a little alcohol in a cup, and add a little of the ballast. Let it soak for several hours, overnight even, then dry it off. COmpare to ballast fresh out of the jug. If it had an alcohol reactive dye on it, the stuff that soaked in the alcohol is going to look a lot different. 

rrinker

Only other thing I really saw is that for their own branded stuff, it says it is sealed so that it doesn't darken when matte medium is applied. So just what do they apply to the ballast? Is it soluable in isopropyl?                                          

OK, I will give that a try.

Rich

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