Looking for Advice on Track Ballast

I have put down cork roadbed and laid my tracks and now want to get on to applying ballast. I'm new at this and would appreciate any advice
about materials to use, methods for gluing down, etc. Are there "real world" materials that can be found and used or will I have to buy the stuff at the hobby shop? Also, I'm wondering about the glue. I see some advice here about mixing white glue and water 50/50 for different uses and wonder if that applies to ballast.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Wayne
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Take a look at the most recent Model Railroader magazines. Their coverage of this topic is like the Arkansas River, wide but not very deep. It should be good for a beginner.
There are natural sources of ballast available, but getting the stuff from the hobby shop is probably going to be more cost and time effective. A standard size bag goes a long way. The "shaker" buckets have quite a bit more, but it wasn't cheaper per ounce than the bags at my LHS.
Puckdropper
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Puckdropper wrote:

You must be lucky to have a reasonably priced LHS. I only have one local, and they are $13 for a bag of ballast that is about 1 handful - would probably be enough for about a foot of track. As a result I use what is locally called "crusher dust" - very finely crushed bluestone - and run it through a kitchen sieve to get the fine particles. Fortunately for me, the previous owner of my house put crusher dust down on the driveway, so I have a ready source of it. This works well for me too, since locally the railways use bluestone as ballast, and it is the local railways I'm modelling.

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This is what I normally get, the small bag ($3.99) usually goes around 20 linear feet, with ballast to the top of the ties.
http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/785-94 http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/785-81
I'm not sure about the large (24 oz) bag yet, I need more track to ballast first.
If your dealer charges more than Walthers, then by all means mail order the stuff!
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Puckdropper wrote:

Trouble is, I'm in Australia - so postage/freight costs would kill any savings. The price of the stuff here is horrendous - I'm not sure what the actual weight or volume of the small $13 bags is, but as I say - it is about one handful (not a double handed scoop, a single handed scoop). The bag it comes in would be about 1" high by 3" wide.

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Thank you all very much for the advice. I want to get started this weekend so will be trying your suggestions.
Wayne
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I have used only locally available materials including: finely sifted gravel "trailings" (old panty hose are a real asset), finely sifted sand, and, lately, finely sifted ground up old red clay pots - a little labor intensive, but neat granite looking ballast. Yeah, I know, all of the above can come out a bit "out of scale" but overall looks are good and you can't beat the cost. There's got to be some good available Australian materials available. Experiment off layout until you find something that works for you.
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wayne skriver:

Even the text is in danish, pictures are said to be worth more than a 1000 words: http://home6.inet.tele.dk/moppe/skaerv.html
The sand is "brake sand" from real trains.
Spred it out over the tracks, wipe it with a brush to get the correct outline and then spray (use a spraybottle) with 1/3 white "woodglue" (in danish called trlim - Erik correct me) and 2/3 water with at drop of "dish soap".
Clean the track and let the whole thing harden for a day.
Klaus
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Bill Carl has an excellent ballasting tutorial with pictures....
http://www.fcsme.org/bcarl/basic_scenery.htm
Good luck with your ballasting!
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad: http://www.billsrailroad.net Brief History of N Scale: http://www.billsrailroad.net/history/n-scale Bill's Store--Books, Trains, and Toys: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore Resources--Links to 1,200 sites: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-favorite-links
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On Thu, 19 Feb 2009 12:15:09 -0800, wayne wrote:

A lot of folks use Woodland Scenics ballast. It works, but it's made from crushed walnut shells and has a tendency to float when the fixative is applied if you're not careful. There's not much color choice either.
Arizona Rock and Mineral has real rock ballast in lots of different colors. I haven't yet used it myself, but I've heard a lot of good comments about it. Take a look at:
http://rrscenery.com/azrock3.html
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I agree with Larry. I used WS ballast on several layouts and always had a problem with floating. I blamed it on my impatience, but now I know it was the product. If I ever do another layout, I'd surely use real rock ballast.
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad: http://www.billsrailroad.net Brief History of N Scale: http://www.billsrailroad.net/history/n-scale Bill's Store--Books, Trains, and Toys: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore Resources--Links to 1,200 sites: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-favorite-links
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Floating ballast is a symptom of not using a wetting agent AKA liquid dish soap... before you glue ballast with 50/50 glue us an atomizer sprayer with water and a couple drops or liquid dish soap also use a couple of drops in the glueand water mix... it should suck the 50/50 mix like a sponge
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I like to wet the ballast with Rubbing (isopropyl) Alcohol before applying glue. The 70% stuff is fine, and a quart sized bottle will last longer than a small bag of ballast. The application is done with a Tester's pipette, which is basically a big one-piece eye dropper. It's gently squeezed out with the nozzle pointed at the ties or rails first.
I don't even bother with the wetting agent in the glue.
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Wayne, as far as the actual ballast goes, Arizona Rock & Mineral sells excellent quality ballast and ground-cover powders. They are very realistic and they look wonderful! They ship internationally.
Their website: http://www.rrscenery.com /
Peteski
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Depending on the size of your latout, you might want to get some very fine sifters from a new buddy in the sand business.
I coat the shoulders of the cork with straight white glue applier with a very small brush. I apply the ballast between the ties with a 35 mm film container. I then use one of those " all hairs cut on a slant" make up brush to even things out. I then WET the ballast with some water, india ink and soap mixture before using a "toni" hair style bottle of 30% white glue and 70% water with a few drops of soap.
When we get to the bottom 1/3rd of a gallon glue bottle, we mix a whole batch so we don't have to worry about stopping to "mix" in the middle of a project.
Beffore yopu start, practice on a section that is not on the layout.
All above posts offer good suggestions, take them all and find what works for you.
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I model in N scale, and it's been a long time since I last ballasted any track. However, I did basically what most people here suggested. I forget what ballast material I used, but probably Woodland Scenics.
One thing I would suggest is to avoid white glue and wood glue, as they tend to dry stiff or brittle or hard, with the result that cars rolling along the track make an out-of-scale amount of noise. (See previous discussions of roadbed and subroadbed.) Instead, try Aleene's Tacky Glue, which is kinda like white glue but dries less stiff. Better yet, try "matte medium", which dries to a fairly spongy consistency *and* has a matte finish so your ballast won't look all shiny. (These two are the ones with which I have some experience -- others have suggested some other non-white-glue materials that may be even better and/or cheaper.) Again, mix 1:1 or 1:2 with water and add a drop of detergent or equivalent.
Also, my brush of choice (again, for N scale) was a 1"-wide flat paint brush, of the sort used for interior house finish painting or staining.
Oh -- if you use natural materials from around the yard, beach, or gravel pit, as some have suggested, you might want to go through it (after sifting it down to size) with a magnet to remove any magnetic metal particles that could work loose and cause horrible engine failures later.
HTH
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