Posted by: aj427 | August 11, 2015

Bowling Street Goods – Ballasting

Painting of the track work and the top parts of the coal drops has begun. A task I really wasn’t looking forward to doing however, was ballasting. My previous attempts in the past had resulted in a mess. I’d tried the traditional brush ballast into place then soak with glue route as well as the brush on glue and sprinkle on ballast method. This was no exception – at least to start with.

My first mode of attack was the paint on glue (Copydex) and then sprinkle on method. I found it difficult to get the glue where it was needed and not where it wasn’t needed. Also it was tedious beyond compare. Fortunately, once dry the latex can easily be pulled up along with the ballast. This was duly done and back to square one.

I went back to the traditional method next. The scale depth Exactoscale sleepers helped here, allowing a good space for the grains to sit and not be brushed away too easily as seems to happen with the standard C&L sleepers. I’m going for a fairly compacted ash ballast effect here as it’s a goods yard and I’ve used a random mix of Woodland Scenics fine and medium Cinders. There is a tendency when brushing/tamping for the ballast to sit and build up beneath the rails which is something I wanted to avoid as I wanted to preserve the daylight beneath the bullhead rails. After some trial and error I found it best to work with small quantities, larger grains first, building up gradually over a few inches at a time and then adding the smaller grains last. This avoided the build up. So far so good (and I was actually finding it quite therapeutic). Now for the glue.

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I’d heard good report of folks using Klear (or other acrylic based floor polish/varnish equivalent) but I was concerned with the long term durability. With a little experimenting, a mix of Klear and PVA was chosen, about the consistency of milk. After spray misting the ballast with a water/IPA mix the Klear mixture was applied from a syringe working along the edges and then between the sleepers. At this consistency it dribbles out just with gravity and has practically no surface tension. A drop or two between each sleeper is sufficient and the mixture soaks through easily without dragging the ballast with it. I found the drying time to be quite quick and adjacent areas could be tackled safely and cleaning up of stray ballast could be undertaken after around an hour. I would imagine that complete drying would be a few hours so I would recommend leaving overnight to be fully dry. I found for larger areas, a second application of the Klear mix may be prudent. This should be applied only once the first application is fully dry.

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Also making an appearance here are the recently weathered ex-PO wagons. These have been finished off with powders to give some variation. Just couplings to do on these now. I think I’m going to go back to the Sprat & Winkle type for this and future projects – 3-link look great but are just too fiddly for my liking.

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