Re: Ballast

Hi Joe, this is a matter of your modelled prototype and your preferences. Generally, today's ballast is more consistant than in earlier eras. Medium ballast is a little coarse for a first grade mainline today, but looks right. Medium and fine mixed would suit the end of the steam era. Fine would suit 1900-1920. Up to the 1950s, ballast would probably be obtained locally so the colour would match the local rock/reiver bed.
Joe Goodrich wrote:
Reply to
Gregory Procter
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Someone who remembers the steam days suggested scale fist size would look about right. He suggested looking at a scale HO figure and use it's fist as a guide.
Reply to
Dale Kramer
If the average prototype ballast rock is about 2.5" in diameter, then (65mm), then HO scale ballast should average about .03" (about 1/32") or .75mm. Woodland Scenics medium ballast is just about that size. Its "fine" grade is significantly smaller than that.
I've tried both, and the "fine" size makes too smooth an appearance in my view and the medium is just right.
Ed.
in article snipped-for-privacy@corp.supernews.com, Bruce Stull at snipped-for-privacy@cableone.net wrote on 7/14/03 1:08 AM:
Reply to
Edward A. Oates
I am going to use woodland scenic ballast on my HO scale layout and was wondering what size I should use. I am torn between using the fine and medium ballast. I am open for opinions or experiences from others. I use code 100 track and cork for my roadbed. ----------------------------------------------------
Great Northern Sand & Gravel Co. has a scale size chart for ballast:
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Great Northern Sand & Gravel Co.:
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Reply to
Bill
Most prototype ballast is smaller than that.
Prototype ballast is usually specified by an AREMA size: such as #3, #4, #4A, #5. ALL of the stones are smaller than 2.5" in diameter in these grades -- not just the average size. #3, #4 and #4A are common mainline sizes and most of the pieces are about 1½" to ¾" across. #5 is often used in yards and most pieces fall in the 1" to ½" size range.
Of course, railroads will often take local supplies into consideration when specifying ballast sizes.
Reply to
Mark Mathu
You (and everyone else) should not be using Woodland Scenic walnut shells. They stink. Well, unless you want to rip it all up in 6 months -- I guess it's good for temporary use.
Real rock ballast, prototypical colors, many sizes:
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Ptooey
P.S. Modern prototype hard rock ballast is 2"-3" pieces. But some roads used klinker, cinders, sand, dirt, limestone, etc. It's a question not only of size but of material, color, vintage, and use of the trackwork. Is it a 100 mph mainline, or a 10 mph running track?
Joe Goodrich wrote: > I am going to use woodland scenic ballast on my HO scale layout and was > wondering what size I should use. I am torn between using the fine and > medium ballast. I am open for opinions or experiences from others. I use > code 100 track and cork for my roadbed.
Reply to
Achmed Ptooey
Dale,
Unless your hands are very small, an adult fist is much too large. Someone else posted that 2.5" is the largest size. That sounds about right. I have been in yards where taconite balls were used as ballast. They are about 1/2" in diameter. In Hollidaysburg PA, where the PRR repaired cars, the ballast was cinders. You actually sink into it several inches when walking about the yard...
Ptooey
Dale Kramer wrote:
> Someone who remembers the steam days suggested scale fist size would look > about right. He suggested looking at a scale HO figure and use it's fist as > a guide.
Reply to
Achmed Ptooey
Bill, that's pretty good. I hadn't heard of these guys before. It looks like a 24/40 mix is perfect for HO mainline ballast...
Ptooey
Bill wrote:
> Great Northern Sand & Gravel Co. has a scale size chart for ballast: >
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Reply to
Achmed Ptooey
Most modern ballast is what they call 3" modified (approx. 2 1/2" to 4" crushed stone) and my product 1624 would be about the right size range. See the size chart at -
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Older ballast (excavated, installed and maintained by humans with shovels) to about the end of WWII would have been 'pitrun gravel' and somewhat smaller. I have photos of some old track ballast at -
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which appears to be a heavily silted sandy gravel. Easy to dig and shovel but not very well drained. In the earliest days of railroads the embankment was simply material scraped out of the ditches and piled along the alignment. These first embankments were eventually covered with gravel excavated from nearby pits and finally (1950's on) with crushed stone. Modern machines can work easily with the larger coarse material (try to manually dig 2" crushed stone with a shovel!!!) and it provides better drainage away from the ties.
I prefer the slightly larger materials because it gives model trackwork a coarse texture and avoids the muddy look of smaller materials....but each of us has a different opinion.
Ian Mathers Great Northern Sand & Gravel Company
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Reply to
Ian G. Mathers
Can you expand on why "they stink?"
Reply to
Mark Mathu
I don't like them either. They swell as you spray them with diluted white glue, change colour and have a tendency to float. When you have set up the ballast exactly how you want it, only for these things to happen, you end up with something that looks horrible.
I prefer Arizona Rock Company ballast. It's the right rock, crushed and graded. Which means sharp-looking edges like the real thing.
Remember that a typical ballast chunk is maybe 2 to 3 inches long by maybe an inch by an inch.
The crushed wallnut shells are too round, like large pebbles.
The scale sizes sold for most ballasts are also too large, so use the next scale down.
Also mix other colours into the one you use. Eg in real life limestone grey isn't the uniform colour that comes out of the packet. Mix in some lighter and darker colours and it looks a lot better.
Reply to
Christopher A. Lee
A lot of people don't like them, but you know, I've been using woodland scenics' ballasts for about 20 years, (ever since they first came out, I switched from Campbell and John's Lab) and NEVER had any of the problems everyone else seems to encounter.
Don
Reply to
Trainman
Here is a side-by-side comparison on several ballast types.
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On the left (to about the 8' mark on the scale rule) is Great Northern Sand & Gravel Company
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#LMS2440, Crushed Stone White Silica HO 1" to 2 1/2".
In the middle (from about 8' to 11' on the scale rule) is Scale Reproductions
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Chicago & Northwestern [sic] Limestone Ballast.
On the right is Woodland Scenics
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Gray Medium Ballast.
Reply to
Mark Mathu
ballast for HO tracks< IMHO it might be too hard and thereby might cause more noise than normal. I don't even like to use white glue because of the hardness factor and noise created by harder materials. I like to use matt medium because it is a little rubbery!
Reply to
Jon Miller
There are some grouts in a tube which are actually a soft plastic material. Must be full of plasticizers and other chemical soups. It doesnt really harden, so it is flexible.
Most grouts are mixed with water into an easily worked plaster.
Jim Stewart
Reply to
Jim Stewart
And interesting concept... I've never read a report on someone trying to use this. There was a report a while back about using sand-colored dry ceramic tile grout mixed 1:3 with ballast to help "glue" it into place. I wonder if the "slipform" will need a little petroleum jelly or something to keep the grout from sticking to it as you use it?
Please report back on your test!
Reply to
Mark Mathu

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