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Gravel vs ballast

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Gravel vs ballast
Posted by hbgatsf on Sunday, April 18, 2021 8:01 AM

I need something to represent limestone that is ready to be fed into a blast furnace.

On another board I saw where someone used WS buff ballast.  WS also has buff gravel.

What's the difference between these products?

Rick

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Sunday, April 18, 2021 8:19 AM

We have a large limestone cooker near here. Natural limestone is generally grey and turns lighter when crushed and ready to cook.

Buff might be a bit too brown to model the real stuff. Your locale may have brown tinted limestone but try and find a pile of crushed stuff befire you decide on colour.  

https://lafargeexshaw.ca/about-lafarge-exshaw/

From the highway the general appearance of this plant is quite white, very light grey and very little brown. There are brown tones in the rock faces in the  adjacent quarry but I'm pretty sure that's included rock that is not limestone itself. Across the valley is a large ridge type Mountain that is dark grey limestone (attractive enough to be quarried and marketed for local landscaping as Rundle Rock named for the mountain). When crushed this is dark grey but much lighter grey wherever the stone is crushed. 

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Posted by hbgatsf on Sunday, April 18, 2021 9:03 AM

Thanks.  WS has grey in ballast and gravel also.  Are they just the same product labeled differently?

Rick

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, April 18, 2021 9:07 AM

hbgatsf
On another board I saw where someone used WS buff ballast.  WS also has buff gravel. What's the difference between these products?

I looked at the images, and I see no difference. It looks like fine gravel and coarse ballast are the same. Hopefully someone that has both products can fill us in with true details.

Limestone gravel varies in size more than ballast. Limestone gravel is sorted from sizes less than 1/2" to more than 2". It matters for what it will be used for.

Down here, limestone is nearly pure white.

-Kevin

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, April 18, 2021 9:46 AM

hbgatsf

I need something to represent limestone that is ready to be fed into a blast furnace.

On another board I saw where someone used WS buff ballast.   

You can also buy small bags of pulverized or crushed limestone.

Rich

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, April 18, 2021 9:48 AM

I know nothing of blast furnaces.

Would the limestone fed into it need to be precisely sized, washed, and dried? Or, would any mixed batch of limestone left-overs be acceptable?

-Kevin

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, April 18, 2021 12:01 PM

This is limestone ballast given to me by a friend in Ohio...

...screened from a load of gravel for his driveway.

I often bought limestone gravel here in Ontario  (there are several quarries within a 15 minute drive from here), but they no longer sell direct to the public.  My usual source suggested that I go to a nearby lumber yard, where the have 50lb. bags of pre-screened limestone, meant for setting paving stones, flagstone, etc.

I put it through a succession of seives to get a suitable size for HO scale ballast, the last one being a spatter guard (meant for covering a frying pan to prevent making a mess on the stovetop).

Here's the stuff which I got locally...

The size of the crushed limestone used for steelmaking can vary in diameter from 1" to 6", although a chart for more specific use shows .125" for sintering, 2"-4" for a blast furnace, and 4"-8" for an open hearth furnace. 

In HO scale, 1" is about .011".

Wayne

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, April 18, 2021 12:28 PM

doctorwayne

This is limestone ballast given to me by a friend in Ohio...

...screened from a load of gravel for his driveway.

I often bought limestone gravel here in Ontario  (there are several quarries within a 15 minute drive from here), but they no longer sell direct to the public.  My usual source suggested that I go to a nearby lumber yard, where the have 50lb. bags of pre-screened limestone, meant for setting paving stones, flagstone, etc.

I put it through a succession of seives to get a suitable size for HO scale ballast, the last one being a spatter guard (meant for covering a frying pan to prevent making a mess on the stovetop).

Here's the stuff which I got locally...

The size of the crushed limestone used for steelmaking can vary in diameter from 1" to 6", although a chart for more specific use shows .125" for sintering, 2"-4" for a blast furnace, and 4"-8" for an open hearth furnace. 

In HO scale, 1" is about .011".

Wayne

 

YesYesYes

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Sunday, April 18, 2021 12:57 PM

Sorry, didn't notice the blast furnace reference. The input to both a quicklime plant and a blast furnace should be similar: raw greyish white granular rubble of variable sizes. Ballast needs to be of fairly uniform crushed size because of the way it is to work.  Ballast shouldn't compact whereas gravel mix will due to particulate size variance. Limestone conveyors could care less and since both the blast furnace and quick lime plant both cook the raw limestone. 

Blast furnaces produce slag which is dark coloured compared to the output of a cement plant which will tend towards whiter shades. 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Sunday, April 18, 2021 4:53 PM

Much ballast is gravel, the: title of topic

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Sunday, April 18, 2021 7:56 PM

riogrande5761

Much ballast is gravel, the: title of topic

 

 

Sure but it isn't pit run and it isn't road crush. Railroad ballast is screened and blended to railroad engineering specifications. 

What most people mean by gravel is a rough blend referred to as road crush up here. Totally different stuff. 

Crushed limestone for a blast furnace (some blast furnaces actually use quicklime which is crushed limestone burnt in a kiln to produce calcium oxide from basically calcium carbonate) or a cement plant will be crushed but not screened. More like read crush than ballast. 

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Posted by hbgatsf on Sunday, April 18, 2021 9:52 PM

riogrande5761

Much ballast is gravel, the: title of topic

 

Which brings us back to one of my earlier questions - is there any difference between the two WS products?  I have never seen the WS gravel in a hobby shop to be able to compare.

Rick

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Posted by cx500 on Sunday, April 18, 2021 11:32 PM

Lastspikemike

 

riogrande5761

Much ballast is gravel, the: title of topi 

Sure but it isn't pit run and it isn't road crush. Railroad ballast is screened and blended to railroad engineering specifications. 

What most people mean by gravel is a rough blend referred to as road crush up here. Totally different stuff. 

.........

Main line ballast today is generally crushed rock, with definite engineering specifications.  If that is what you are modeling, fine.  Any new track construction today will also normally use crushed rock, even for spurs, but that was not the historic practice.

In older times, many lines were ballasted with pit run gravel from some relatively local pit.  It provided adequate drainage and served quite well with the lighter axle loads of the day, jointed rail and routine maintenance.  It was cheaper than going to the effort of getting crushed rock (often a major concern).  

For example, in 1984 CN's main line through Biggar (Saskatchewan) had CWR and rock ballast.  The less busy CPR main line beside it still had gravel ballast and jointed rail, even though trains were often hauled by trios of SD40-2s.  (It has since been upgraded.)

John

 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, April 19, 2021 3:50 AM

hbgatsf
I need something to represent limestone that is ready to be fed into a blast furnace.

I'm not sure what I've missed, but a 50lb. bag of limestone screenings is a heck of a lot cheaper than a jug of Woodland Scenics ballast.
You didn't mention whether the limestone is going to be in a heap somewhere, or in a some open hoppers, on the way to a steel maker.

If it's destined for the blast furnace, the usual practice is that it's stored in a very large heap (a 4'x8' layout wouldn't accommodate an HO scale version of the heaps with which I'm familiar) which comes to the plant in lakeboats and the stuff going into the furnace would be in the stockhouse, along with the coke and the iron ore or pellets...about all you'll see of it there is in the skips heading up to the top of the furnace...

hbgatsf
On another board I saw where someone used WS buff ballast. WS also has buff gravel. What's the difference between these products?

I've not seen WS gravel in any colour, only WS ballast.

Here's buff ballast, used, obviously, as ballast...

It doesn't look to me, at least, all that similar to the limestone ballast I showed previously.
Here's WS gray ballast...

...and as you can see, I also used it as gravel.  In my opinion, its colour is somewhat closer to the colour of the real limestone which I showed earlier.

The prototype sizes which I mentioned earlier, along with the photos, should be sufficient for you to decide which size and colour is most suitable for your requirements.

Wayne

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, April 19, 2021 6:55 AM

Lastspikemike
Lastspikemike wrote the following post 10 hours ago: riogrande5761 Much ballast is gravel, the: title of topic     Sure but it isn't pit run and it isn't road crush. Railroad ballast is screened and blended to railroad engineering specifications. 

Sure but if it looks the same on a model RR, then it may mainly be a "head trip", which is a frequent think here.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, April 19, 2021 8:22 AM

Lastspikemike
What most people mean by gravel is a rough blend referred to as road crush up here. Totally different stuff. 

When anyone I know thinks of gravel, we think of the expensive decorative gravel used for landscaping around our homes. Everything else is just rocks.

"Road Crush" sounds like an uninformed everyman's term. The rock used for road building needs to meet one of many very specific DOT designations. None of it is generic "crush", and all of it is expensive.

-Kevin

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, April 19, 2021 8:41 AM

Does it really matter, the terminology that is?  ConfusedConfused

Rich

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Posted by Track fiddler on Monday, April 19, 2021 8:46 AM

The aggregate size matters for different scales.

I don't think I'm going to spend any money on ballast when I get to it.  Instead I think I'm going to ramshackle Judy's colander and cooking sifters while she's at workMischiefPirate  One needs a little lithium and minerals that is found in substrate in their diet anyway.  A little less after a good rinse.

The first sifting experiment I will try will be class 5 road underlayment as I know where there's a free plentiful supply.  I know where there's some good gravel pits around here that has different color piles of fine gravel.  The two that don't have No Trespassing signs.  My daughter's go Agate hunting with me at these pits as they're closed on Saturday and Sunday.  

In using natural stone, perhaps it may be a good idea to run a powerful magnet over the refined gravel prior to use or over the track after the ballast glue dries just in case.

 

 

 

TF

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Posted by Track fiddler on Monday, April 19, 2021 9:28 AM

Post Hog!

 

I remember Brother uses kitty litter for his ballast on his Subway layout up in the big attic of the Monastery.  Him just let gravity hold it down.  I wonder if him used the fragrant stuff?

I miss that guy and his Roar! around here.  Maybe I can lure him to this thread as it would be interesting to hear of his kitty litter ballasting techniques.

Some rare cuts of fresh wildebeest ought to do the trick.  That last one may be a little well done for him

 

 

 

TF

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Monday, April 19, 2021 1:41 PM

richhotrain

Does it really matter, the terminology that is?  ConfusedConfused

Rich

 

Not one bit, especially since WS stuff isn't rock to begin with.

At 1/87 hardly anyone will notice.

But the layout owner will....

Alyth Yard

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Monday, April 19, 2021 1:46 PM

 

SeeYou190

 

 
Lastspikemike
What most people mean by gravel is a rough blend referred to as road crush up here. Totally different stuff. 

 

When anyone I know thinks of gravel, we think of the expensive decorative gravel used for landscaping around our homes. Everything else is just rocks.

"Road Crush" sounds like an uninformed everyman's term. The rock used for road building needs to meet one of many very specific DOT designations. None of it is generic "crush", and all of it is expensive.

-Kevin

 

Well, up here "gravel" means a gravel road (road crush) or a gravel pit (pit run). Neither one is "just rocks" because useful gravel has a high proportion of fines in the pit run, which are left in or added back for road crush. Concrete aggregate (and railroad ballast) would be just rocks. You don't want any fines in ballast and the concrete guys want to know exactly how much sand is in their mix. 

What you are  calling gravel is crushed and screened and sold by size as in pea, 1/2", 3/4" and so on. Percent passing the various screens dictates the nominal size.

Railroad ballast is generally crushed and screened for predictable engineering characteristics. Limestone for a blast furnace or lime plant will be rough crush, not screened for size. 

If WS " gravel" is what you and your locale is thinking of then there would be no appearance difference between the gravel product and the ballast product. Since there is an observable difference WS must think more like we do up here than you do down there. Woodland Scenics also sells Talus which would likely be exactly what the OP is looking for, in grey or buff.

Now we just need "most people" to chime in and we'll know if WS is describing their product line correctly. 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, April 19, 2021 8:56 PM

Lastspikemike
...Limestone for a blast furnace or lime plant will be rough crush, not screened for size....

Mike, you (and the OP) obviously missed the information in my first response, detailing the sizes of limestone for blast furnaces and steel-making.

Wayne

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Monday, April 19, 2021 9:02 PM

I didn't miss it, I try not to miss your posts. I apparently didn't read it properly which is an unusual oversight. I have now. The answers to the OP's questions are there as well as answers to unasked questions which needed to be asked.

Working on re-assembling our chopped up layout this weekend. Exploiting the opportunities presented by the necessities of re-aligning track and re-wiring the layout. Still a long, long way to get close to any of your photos. But I still find all your photos inspirational and motivational. Thanks for continuing to post. 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by hbgatsf on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 5:44 PM

doctorwayne

 

Mike, you (and the OP) obviously missed the information in my first response, detailing the sizes of limestone for blast furnaces and steel-making.

Wayne

 

I didn't miss your information.  It was irrelevant to the question I asked.  No other details about how I am going to use it matter.

I wanted to know the difference between the product Woodland Scenics lables as gravel and the product they label as ballast.  Apparantly nobody knows the answer to that so I will try to contact them.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 5:57 PM

I did note that WS suggests their gravel is intended to model gravel roads better. Than what they don't say. Gravel used to build roads has widely varying particle sizes but none larger than 3/4" typically. A significant proportion of road crush gravel will be fines, i.e. sand and dust. 

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-10/documents/2003_07_24_nps_gravelroads_sec3_0.pdf

 WS ballast is clearly more even sized particles as you might expect of prototypical ballast. There should be no fines in ballast. Real ballast is made from fractured rock, crushed and sieved for size. Maximum particle size  will be much larger than for gravel. More import for your purpose ballast size will not be smaller than 1/2"  which is totally different to gravel used for roads. 

Check out the various sizes of WS Talus which might be more what you're looking for. The prototype limestone stockpiles are unlikely to be of uniform particle size. Talus should have widely variable particle sizes from boulders to sand and dust.  

Talus comes in grey shades including "natural" whatever that may mean. It also comes in different sizes to allow you to mix and match to get the stockpile that looks right to you. 

Out of interest I googled limestone supply for steelmaking:

https://res.mdpi.com/d_attachment/metals/metals-08-00686/article_deploy/metals-08-00686.pdf

Particle size is important to efficient steel making and especially low or no fines in the raw crushed limestone. Particle size ranges from 5mm to 60 mm which is much more than gravel or ballast. 5mm is less than 1/4" but is not sand or dust sized. 60 mm is more than 2". So my guess is one or two of the Talus sizes are what you need.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by Doughless on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 6:54 PM

Just for the record, gravel stone tends to be gray and limestone tends to be buff.

Limestone color depends upon the "purity".  Southern Indiana is/was dotted with limestone quarries and is well known as having some of the most desirable limestone because of its color and evenness...no veins.  It was used to sheathe the Pentagon and the Empire State Building, so I'm told, as examples of its desirablity.  Those buildings are buff, not gray.

Perhaps the gray tinted stone is limestone that is of less desirability as a building material.  Gray limestone for gravel in hopper cars, buff limestone as cut slabs on flats and gons.  

So the answer is:  Limestone that is gray and veiny is scrap stone that gets used as ballast and industries that cook it.  Limestone that is more buff doesn't get chopped up, but there can always be a buff hue to any limestone.

I assume WS makes the gravel for the loads and the ballast for the railroad ROW, or, go with the product that is less buff as the hopper loads.

- Douglas

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 11:35 PM

Doughless
Southern Indiana is/was dotted with limestone quarries and is well known as having some of the most desirable limestone because of its color and evenness...no veins.

The Indiana limestone products are generally considered the absolute best. I have been told the stone mined from these quarries was often processed like marble. Sawn into slabs or blocks for construction because of its beauty.

Not like the yucky stuff we mine down here that is only good for crushing, washing, sorting, and selling by the cubic yard in small chunks.

-Kevin

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 6:17 AM

hbgatsf
 
doctorwayne 

Mike, you (and the OP) obviously missed the information in my first response, detailing the sizes of limestone for blast furnaces and steel-making.

Wayne 

I didn't miss your information.  It was irrelevant to the question I asked.  No other details about how I am going to use it matter.

I wanted to know the difference between the product Woodland Scenics lables as gravel and the product they label as ballast.  Apparantly nobody knows the answer to that so I will try to contact them. 

I think that your reply to Wayne could have been a little less abrupt. True, it was not an answer to your question, but that often occurs in forum discussion.

On another forum, I recently posted a technical question and received no replies. So, in an attempt to humorously post a light hearted reply, I wrote something like "It looks like I stumped the group with my question". It did not go over well.

My only point is, there is no good reason to alienate your audience.

Rich

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Posted by hbgatsf on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 6:54 AM

richhotrain

 

 
hbgatsf
 
doctorwayne 

Mike, you (and the OP) obviously missed the information in my first response, detailing the sizes of limestone for blast furnaces and steel-making.

Wayne 

I didn't miss your information.  It was irrelevant to the question I asked.  No other details about how I am going to use it matter.

I wanted to know the difference between the product Woodland Scenics lables as gravel and the product they label as ballast.  Apparantly nobody knows the answer to that so I will try to contact them. 

 

 

I think that your reply to Wayne could have been a little less abrupt. True, it was not an answer to your question, but that often occurs in forum discussion.

 

On another forum, I recently posted a technical question and received no replies. So, in an attempt to humorously post a light hearted reply, I wrote something like "It looks like I stumped the group with my question". It did not go over well.

My only point is, there is no good reason to alienate your audience.

Rich

 

Wayne stated that I missed his post. I didn't.

I wasn't trying to alienate anyone.  I was anoyed that this thread went off in a direction that was unrelated to what I was trying to learn.  I know a lot about steel making and didn't want to get into that here.  What is used to ballast track on the prototype isn't what I was looking for either.  I wanted to know the composition of the products Woodland Scenics puts in the containers.

Abrupt comes from responding via cell phone which I hate typing on.  I need to learn to only get into these discussions when I am on the computer.

Rick

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 7:09 AM

Amen to that. Even keying replies on a laptop can be perceived negatively by some.

I sometimes wish that I could avoid the written word when something said in person, one-on-one, is much better received by others.

Rich

Alton Junction

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