Calling ballast experts! Ballast advice needed!

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craigj1303
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Calling ballast experts! Ballast advice needed!

Postby craigj1303 » Fri Mar 20, 2015 12:27 pm

Hi All

I have just completed painting the track on my OO gauge double oval layout with sidings. I have painted the sleepers a "sleeper grime" colour and the rails a rusty colour. I think the next stage now is to lay some ballast down. I have been experimenting with various types by scattering loose ballast around the layout dry and seeing how it looks. I think I want to go for the granite grey type but I have some considerations I would like to seek some advice on before PVA'ing down permanently.

1. My baseboard is made up of 4 sections of 2x4ft plywood. Where the sections join there is the seal between boards where there are small gaps. What considerations do I have to take in to account here? I read somewhere it's a danger the PVA makes the join "puff up"?
2. Points - I have 10 of them on the layout, all with under board point motors wired up and operating. How can I protect the working points whilst ensuring the ballast around them looks consistent with the rest of the track?
3. Weathering - I like the granite grey ballast but it looks a little too "clean". I took a picture of a section of track near my home which is the same location I am modelling. What techniques can I use to weather the ballast after it's dried to make it look something like the image below?

IMG_0393.JPG
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Thanks All!

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End2end
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Re: Calling ballast experts! Ballast advice needed!

Postby End2end » Fri Mar 20, 2015 12:54 pm

A very quick rough and ready reply....
1. My baseboard is made up of 4 sections of 2x4ft plywood. Where the sections join there is the seal between boards where there are small gaps. What considerations do I have to take in to account here? I read somewhere it's a danger the PVA makes the join "puff up"?

Have you not sealed the baseboards first? I think this might solve the problem.
2. Points - I have 10 of them on the layout, all with under board point motors wired up and operating. How can I protect the working points whilst ensuring the ballast around them looks consistent with the rest of the track?

Do it by hand after the rest of the track had been completed, dried and tidied up, being careful to make sure the points move freely all the while.
3. Weathering - I like the granite grey ballast but it looks a little too "clean". I took a picture of a section of track near my home which is the same location I am modelling. What techniques can I use to weather the ballast after it's dried to make it look something like the image below?

Thin washes of black, built up until the desired result is achieved.
There will be other suggestions, like those from airbrush owners but I am not one of them.
Hope that helps
Thanks
End2end
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JohnN
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Re: Calling ballast experts! Ballast advice needed!

Postby JohnN » Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:48 pm

I airbrush Sleeper Grime to tone the ballast down and dirty it up once everything is ballasted. But if you don't have one, thin washes of it, or black like End2End suggested, should do the job.

craigj1303
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Re: Calling ballast experts! Ballast advice needed!

Postby craigj1303 » Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:55 pm

End2end wrote:A very quick rough and ready reply....
1. My baseboard is made up of 4 sections of 2x4ft plywood. Where the sections join there is the seal between boards where there are small gaps. What considerations do I have to take in to account here? I read somewhere it's a danger the PVA makes the join "puff up"?

Have you not sealed the baseboards first? I think this might solve the problem.


Can you confirm what you mean by "sealed the baseboards"? I have painted all 4 sections of plywood a grey colour on top, but that's it. Where each section of ply meet it's just plain wood. I tried to get them to meet as accurately as possible but inevitably there is a join line of a couple of mm gap in places. Is it worth trying to seal the cracks with a filler of some kind first?

2. Points - I have 10 of them on the layout, all with under board point motors wired up and operating. How can I protect the working points whilst ensuring the ballast around them looks consistent with the rest of the track?

End2end wrote:Do it by hand after the rest of the track had been completed, dried and tidied up, being careful to make sure the points move freely all the while.


OK, any tips for how best to protect the crucial areas and the motors underneath the board?

3. Weathering - I like the granite grey ballast but it looks a little too "clean". I took a picture of a section of track near my home which is the same location I am modelling. What techniques can I use to weather the ballast after it's dried to make it look something like the image below?


End2end wrote:Thin washes of black, built up until the desired result is achieved.


What kind of black paint is good to use? I presume a wash is a simple mix of paint and water? What ratio of water to paint would you use approx?

b308
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Re: Calling ballast experts! Ballast advice needed!

Postby b308 » Fri Mar 20, 2015 3:46 pm

I think he means using a sealant such as varnish to seal the top surface of the wood to prevent water getting in and causing the swelling you mention. Quite honestly I've never done it and never suffered from any sort of swelling of the baseboards. You shouldn't be smothering the track with runny glue, a 50/50 mix of PVA/water is enough and use just enough to soak the ballast. If the wood is swelling then you are using too much!

Paint is a personal thing, I've used enamel paints thinned with turps and it works fine though others no doubt use acrylic, it's what you are comfortable with.

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End2end
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Re: Calling ballast experts! Ballast advice needed!

Postby End2end » Fri Mar 20, 2015 6:10 pm

I think "where" the layout is sited would be a contributing factor to swelling.
Although my layout will be in the house I wil err on the side of caution and give the base board a coat of black emulsion before I lay the track.
But that is just my personal preference.
"Ask 10 modellers" and all that.

As for paint
A wash is indeed paint thinned, either enamels with thinners or acrylics with water.
I prefer acrylics as it's tidier work and clean up for me.

Before painting anything try out your mix on a scrap piece.
In this case I would just stick some ballast to a peice of scrap card with enuff to give you a decent area to work with, say 3 inches by 3 inches.
I find that testing out the paint on the same material for what it will be used for pays dividends.

For the gap btween boards, would there be a possibility to see a picture to asses the problem more?
Thanks
End2end
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VerdevaleRailway
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Re: Calling ballast experts! Ballast advice needed!

Postby VerdevaleRailway » Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:20 pm

In my experience with ballasting, my first and so far only, I did get 'puffing up' on the join lines of the boards.

The method that I used directed that the ballast be misted with a wetting agent of 50/50 meths and water and to be "well and truly wet, not just damp". Out of a general household spray bottle this covered a far greater distance than just the track, so this got into the joints and swelling arose.

The base board had been painted, but the joints not. I used 3mm MDF for the base boards, so it is a LOT more susceptible to water absorption.

The easy way to have avoided this would have been to put masking tape over the joints first, then remove it afterwards. Obviously the piece under the track would stay.

(the MDF fixed itself, hot weather over summer dried it out and it resumed its shape, it only penetrated a few mm's either side of the joint, being 3 mm in this instance was an advantage, thicker MDF would not have gone flat so readily, but if I had been using thicker MDF, I would have used ply for the base.)

:) V.R.
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craigj1303
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Re: Calling ballast experts! Ballast advice needed!

Postby craigj1303 » Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:43 pm

Quite like the idea about the masking tape over the joints before spraying water solution V.M. I think i'll do that. In the meantime, as requested by end2end, here are some pics of the track where it runs over the 9mm plywood joins.

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carnehan
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Re: Calling ballast experts! Ballast advice needed!

Postby carnehan » Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:49 pm

craigj1303 wrote:Hi All

1. My baseboard is made up of 4 sections of 2x4ft plywood. Where the sections join there is the seal between boards where there are small gaps. What considerations do I have to take in to account here? I read somewhere it's a danger the PVA makes the join "puff up"?


Thanks All!


I have all my boards made using a similar method with plywood base. I have ballasted two of these boards completely using the standard PVA watered down solution and found no 'puffing' of the join ends. Just thought I'd pass on my personal experience.

Paul

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End2end
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Re: Calling ballast experts! Ballast advice needed!

Postby End2end » Fri Mar 20, 2015 10:06 pm

In pictures 4 & 5 I see a track pin on the left track that looks like its sitting in the gap. Are you sure that this is not what has caused the gap problem?
Thanks
End2end
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craigj1303
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Re: Calling ballast experts! Ballast advice needed!

Postby craigj1303 » Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:17 am

End2end wrote:In pictures 4 & 5 I see a track pin on the left track that looks like its sitting in the gap. Are you sure that this is not what has caused the gap problem?
Thanks
End2end


No, I can 100% confirm that gap was already there prior to the pin insertion :D . The boards join perfectly in some places, but in others there are slight join gaps. We are only talking 1-2mm though.

I think i'm gonna go for it, masking the board joins with masking tape

VerdevaleRailway
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Re: Calling ballast experts! Ballast advice needed!

Postby VerdevaleRailway » Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:33 am

carnehan wrote:
I have all my boards made using a similar method with plywood base. I have ballasted two of these boards completely using the standard PVA watered down solution and found no 'puffing' of the join ends. Just thought I'd pass on my personal experience.

Paul



Hi Paul, did you also apply a wetting agent?
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Re: Calling ballast experts! Ballast advice needed!

Postby clivef5915 » Sat Mar 21, 2015 7:59 am

A quick solution would be to press 'bluetack' into the joints. It's waterproof and won't stick the boards together. You won't know it's there once you've ballasted.
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carnehan
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Re: Calling ballast experts! Ballast advice needed!

Postby carnehan » Sat Mar 21, 2015 8:31 am

VerdevaleRailway wrote:

Hi Paul, did you also apply a wetting agent?


No, no wetting agent was applied. What's more, when I applied the first stage of ballast it was the middle of winter and it took about four days for it to dry completely with no evidence of moisture being absorbed in to the ply surface.

Paul

b308
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Re: Calling ballast experts! Ballast advice needed!

Postby b308 » Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:23 am

A bit of filler will hide those gaps ok.


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