Ballast question

My club has recently constructed a fairly large portable HO layout, and now we have lots of track to ballast! Does anyone have any experience with how
much track can typically be ballasted with a pound of ballast? We are trying to estimate how much to order. Thanks Jeff
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Depends upon what th materrial is. A ppund of rock ballast won't go anywhe ner as far aas a pound of walnut ballast. Get a bit and see how it looks to you and how far it goes. Calculate accordingly and remembeer that you can be off by 100% eveen then. Besides, future work will also need more ballast anyway.
-- Bob May
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wrote:

Most ballast is overscale.
I use Arizona Rock company HO ballast in O scale. The pieces are the right size and shape.
If you look at the prototype the pieces are perhaps 2-3 inches long by an inch by an inch with with points and sharp edges.
If you use Woodland Scenics crushed walnut shells these start off round and also swell when you add the diluted glue.
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On Thu, 1 Oct 2009 09:08:25 -0400, "Jeff Stanton"

Jeff,
The last time I had a bazillion miles of scale ballasting to do I purchased two spinning blade type coffee grinders and a bag of turkey grit. Grinding the grit to scale sized pieces in the grinder cup was a 2 second job and the stuff went down like silk through a jig we made for the job. Buying scale ballast was way too expensive and at the time, turkey grit was about $4.00 for a bag of about 25 pounds. -- Ray
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Last time I tried grinding cork pieces into ballast my wife grumbled about the state of her kitchen whizz! My local quarry has acres of "fines" which is totally useless to them. I asked for a bucketful and they offered to deliver a truckload or two. Suitable sieves can be quickly made out of loose fabric. Pantihose stockings give the right sort of ballast size for old-time layouts. Perhaps fly-screen wire mesh would do for HO modern? The rest goes as filler for my garden railway.
Greg.P. NZ
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Hi,
Jeff Stanton wrote:

What I am considering for quite a while: is there any model railroad car to dump ballast along the track while being pushed (driven) over it? Neither do I mind modifying a car (or partially building one) nor do I mind running it as "MOW car" when I'm done ballasting. But I would want a tutorial for the modification/building as I'm currently quite busy and out of creativity ;-)
Ciao...
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On Tue, 20 Oct 2009 17:15:34 +0200, Bernhard Agthe wrote:

The chances of that working without derailing over stray grains of ballast are pretty slim. There are various plastic tubes to slide along the rails, but notning beats a small spoon or scoop and a small foam paintbrush.
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On 10/20/2009 8:33 AM Steve Caple spake thus:

>

True, but that gets me to thinkin' (dangerous, I know): how about if a guy were to build a ballasting car that discharged the ballast somehow *behind* the car, so no interference with the wheels? Maybe with chutes to spread the ballast evenly between and on either side of the rails. Or is this just too ridiculous?
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On Tue, 20 Oct 2009 10:47:38 -0700, David Nebenzahl wrote:

Got it in one. I mean, you're going to have to go back and check for stray grains, adjust the profile, and finally mist it and glue it down, so if anything running a special car seems a waste of trucks (since the car would probaly not look any more prototypcal than, say, a Lionel missile launcher car, and thus useless otherwise). Better, in my mind, would be a ballast dispenser with some effective flow control with a wide range of settings, and perhaps even adjustable profiling wings. But it wouldn't be cheap, and I'm not sure it could beat any number of other simple and ad hoc ways of dispensing and spreading the ballast.
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Some of the old Ulrich cast metal hopper cars had operating bottom doors. It might take some trial and error to make something workable. Then you have to find some, of course.
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On 10/20/2009 12:39 PM Rick Jones spake thus:

>

>>

Yabbut, then you're back to the same problem of the car derailing when its hind wheels run over ballast grains.
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In case you're interested, LORAM (MOW company) has some photos and videos of MOW equipment designed to maintain prototypical railroad ballast.
http://loram.com/Services/Default.aspx?id $4
Puckdropper
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On 20 Oct 2009 20:03:23 GMT, Puckdropper wrote:

Nice reference - thanks.
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Hi,
Puckdropper wrote: (MOW ballasting train)

That's actually quite close to what I was thinking of - a set of two or three cars, heavily modified for the purpose, with extra handrails and pipes added and painted yellow. If it looks "technical" enough, you can run this as MOW train and most people will accept it ;-)
Well, my idea was revolving about a tank car with a small hole in the bottom and a hatch on top, that could be filled with distilled water or alcohol to pre-mist the track (probably run it again before glueing down the ballast). The second car would be a modified hopper that dumps ballast on the track and beside the track, with some kind of "plow" to push the ballast of the rail tops.
Well, I tried to "open" the bottom hatches of a hopper car, but that does not work out because the small grains of ballast will actually bind - and not flow freely. But the idea with a behind-the-car-dump might work, because one could use the complete width of the hopper - you only have to make sure it doesn't drop all at once ;-) Now I do need two bogies, a few couplers and an old tank car ;-) Plus some material to build the thing with ;-) Oh, but I don't have the time right now :-( I'll keep considering it and I'll report when I finally get it to work ;-)
Ciao...
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wrote:

I would tend to build a hopper within a gondola or box-car with a clip-on roof. That way you could make the slot width and the slope variable so that you could find a suitable discharge rate before finalizing it all. It seems to me that a typical US hopper is intended to dump it's load quickly. I would think in terms of a vertically moving blade to open/close the slot, but I wouldn't expect to get a perfect flow rate. Definitely spread it dry and mist after!
Perhaps more useful in ballasting would be a wagon/car with brushes to move the ballast so that the height and profile were reasonably constant. That might need to be a finger powered vehicle so that it doesn't ride over ballast accumulations.
Allowing the brain to wander further, what about a part way profiling board mounted behind the ballast hopper and ahead of the trailing truck. Perhaps it could be pivoted so that it controlled the opening of the hopper.
Greg.P.
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Hi,
Greg.Procter wrote:

That does sound reasonable ;-)

Well, with the end-unloading solution my concern is rather that it would dump all in one place and have nothing left then... Probably some kind of "unloading belt"? Driven by a thumb-wheel or such?

OK, thanks ;-)

On one railroad they used hoppers and an old tie just pushed by the trailing truck to spread the ballast (off the rails, anyway). That's as far as I remember...

Well, if you get the brushes rotating ;-) But I guess it would be rather difficult to fit the drive and the brushes in an N-Scale wagon and still have a bit of power in that drive ;-) But then you could combine that wagon with the vacuuming wagon for track-cleaning later on ;-) That does sound even better than automating the (one-time) ballasting ;-)

Hmm... another good one ;-) Now what about pneumatic or hydraulic control of that ;-) But then again, this is probably a bit too flimsy in N-Scale ;-)
Thanks for the input!
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wrote:

No-one here has ever called me that before =8^)))

I'd give up on the "end-unloading" - it's never going to look like anything railway like.
"Unloading belt" - hmmm, a flat plate/surface with a vibrator (cell phone vibrator motor) would work much the same and be achievable in N scale. Imagine a very shallow angle hopper with a slot dropping on to the flat plate. The ballast wouldn't move from the hopper without the vibration and the plate would throw it off the edges. (add sides so it only goes fore and aft)

That's much the idea! too little ballast several times around would be much better than too much ballast once! ;-)

Check out Dapol (UK) and (I think Kato Japan) They have an N gauge vacuum cleaner/sweeper/rail polisher all in one wagon. The reviews are excellent.

Hydraulic pump/reciever/valves/hoses/couplers ... could be fun! To be honest I'd go slightly less high-tech and use screw and nut adjusters. I was imagining plasticard profiles glued on, like a snow plough or even a ballast plough! A decent chunk of lead inside the wagon would give it reasonable stability, although it might require several locos to push it.

Greg.P.
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To help with the fun, make it compatible of ballasting turrnouts! A conveyor belt to regulate the ballast would be a good idea as you can control the amount of ballast by its height on the conveyor as well as its width. I'd be more trying to make a car that I could push along the track rather than someeething that would be put in a train and pulled/pushed along..
-- Bob May
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Hi Bob, if you were to use a ballast spreading car to ballast a turnout you'd go over part of it twice! In particular the points and tiebar area. After 35 years of HO ballasting I still avoid putting any ballast between the sleepers where the tiebar is and between the points and stock rails. (I often use Peco turnouts which have a sliding contact there)
One either builds a car with a set ballast slot and moves it at a rate to suit, or a variable ballast slot to cope with variable car speed. HO ballast (or N) generally has a minimum rate at which it will flow smoothly, or from the other end of the telescope, a minimum slot size. I seem to remember from Physics 101 that balls/marbles require a slot 3 times their diameter to flow smoothly without hanging up.

they will always get hung up.

once, they occassionally line up precisely and jamb for a short period. Of course marbles are nice and round, ballast is intended to be all corners.
Greg.P.
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Hi,
Greg.Procter wrote:

Aw, come on, you're ruining all the fun ;-)
Honestly, the problem occured to me. That's why I suggested the pneumatic or hydraulic control - you could just detect the turnout automatically and shut off the ballast at the precise moment ;-) Of course you'd need to detect station platforms, signal posts and tunnels and adjust the rate of flow accordingly - should I use bar-codes for the purpose? But how do I hide the bar-codes after ballasting?
;-)

Especially for the turnouts, it would be better if there was a way to switch off the ballast flow completely...

...
That's why I found the "end unloading" such a nice idea - basically you drop the ballast "over the edge"...
But then you'd need a conveyor belt and I haven't figured out how to drive it.
The sloped bottom with a mini-vibrator attached would probably work quite well, so let's go with that design ;-) To achieve some sensible loading capacity it would probably best to use the space between the bogies for the loading area, but dump the ballast near the bogie to handle curves. Now we'd have a design like this
I I I IV I---\ /------IB ___ \ /------ ___ o-o o-o TRACKTRACKTRACKTRACKTRACK
with o-o being a bogie and VB being the vibrating thingy. It does need some external power supply, but since shutting off the power means no ballast, that is possible (for the DCC guys, just put the decoder in another wagon or use the loco decoder ;-) Don't forget to add a small plow to the bogie to clear the track ;-)
OK, lets suppose this works, so the next wagon would be the "ballast brusher" - in contrast to the track cleaning cars available I'd want the brushes to rotate vertically - perpendicular to the tracks. Let's assume I could put the motor and the brush in a wagon, with an air duct to allow the attachment of a vacuuming car, I'd again need a separate power source... Again easy for the DCC guys but since I run analog, I can't use track power. But a maintenance train with two "Power cars" would look cool, provided they have enough orange paint applied to them ;-)
Cool, keep thinking!
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