Hi all, Countless layout construction articles tell me that 'the ballast was soaked with a 50:50 mix of PVA and water with a few drops of washing-up liquid' But what is used to spray the mixture? I'm using ash for ballast, for that run-down light-railway look and have two different sprays, both of which spit the glue/water mix in great huge gobs, instead of a fine spray, which I'm fairly sure what's needed. So what should I use?

TIA, Del.

-- STOP PRESS - Microsoft buys Electrolux and finally manage to produce something that doesn't suck... To email me, you must remove YOURCLOTHES

Reply to
Del The Obscure
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Try a garden spray, has hand pump holds a couple of pints, dirt cheap if purchased on it its own or can be recycled if purchased full of some form of weed killer, insecticide, fungicide etc.

Works a treat - used it myself to damp down fine finish plaster, start with a mist setting and spray from a height and you won't disturb the surface.

Reply to
Chris Wilson

I'd be very wary of using something indoors that has contained any kind of pesticide. I bought one for the garden at around CDN$12 / £5.

Reply to

The washing-up liquid is put in the mix to remove the surface tension which causes the "great huge gobs". I just dribble mine on (3:1 - 4:1 mix) from an old PVA plastic bottle with a tapered spout with an approximately 2mm hole in the end. (no great huge globs :^)

Regards, Greg.P.

Reply to
Gregory Procter

I wet the ballast with a sprayer (garden centre type as mentioned elsewhere in the fred) then apply the mix from an old washing up bottle. I find that by wetting the ballast before i apply the glue/water/washing up liquid mix I can proceed at a fair old rate of knots.

mind you, i've never tried gluing ash...


Reply to

As the others have said. Don't spray the glue, just a 'wetting agent' so that the glue mixture doesn't collect in beads.

I heard about using matt acrylic varnish in place of PVA and have used it very successfully. I also water this down with about 25% water added and applied with a cheap syringe.

Best of luck

Reply to
David Smith


Your description suggests the glue/water mix aren't properly mixed as it should be completely liquid. I suggest you mix the stuff up in a container then pour it into the spray resevoir to avoid any undissolved lumps getting in.

Our club has purchased a Woodlands Scenics spray pump but I actually prefer recycled domestic cleaner spray pumps such as you get bath and kitchen surface, window, etc. cleaner in. These seem to give a finer mist.

We don't spray on the glue/water mix. We use the spray pump, with a little detergent added to plain water, to wet down the ballast. The glue/water mix is then applied using an eye dropper thingy. Wetting down the ballast in this way does two things: First it stops the ballast drifting away when the glue/water mix is applied. Secondly it helps ensure the glue/water mix flows throughout the ballast.

Reply to
Chris White

I also prefer the method of spraying on the wetting agent then applying the glue mix. I found that a recycled ladies hairspray bottle gives a very fine mist that doesn't disturb the ballast works best for me. I then dribble the glue/water mix onto the ballast useing a large syringe.

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I used a 20p syringe from my local chemist. Worked a treat but mustn't push too hard on the plunger or those 'blobs' will occur.

Reply to
Dave Potter

Do you soak the ballast right through with the water? I had problems with the ballast lifting and the glue/water not soaking in until it had spoilt the ballast I had laid, despite wetting first and mixing in a little washing up liquid. Perhaps I didn't use enough water?



Reply to
S.M. Jenkins

'Twas Wed, 29 Oct 2003 22:47:07 +0000, when mutley decided to declare:

Thanks for all those answers! It *seems* to have taken OK but I'll hoover off the loose stuff and maybe give it another go.


Reply to
Del The Obscure

"S.M. Jenkins" <

"Soak" is the key word. Soak the ballast with both "wet" water and the glue/water mix.

If you end up with a crust of hard ballast but with loose ballast underneath, then you haven't soaked the ballast enough.

-- Cheers Roger T.

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of the Great Eastern Railway

Reply to
Roger T.


I wouldn't say we soak the ballast so much as saturate it :-) I sometimes worry that the chipboard roadbed might swell and distort but that hasn't happened yet.

One side effect of spraying the ballast first is that the glue/water mix becomes a bit more diluted. Again there haven't been any apparent problems arising from this to date although I have sometimes given a second application of the glue/water mix once the first lot is dry.

In my experience only dry ballast lifts when the glue/water mix is applied. We used to use granite chippings to which the mix could be applied directly but when we switched to Woodlands Scenics ballast this proved to lightweight and we started wetting it with a spray.

If remedial work is required to ballast that's dislodged I've found this can be done using a wet implement (broad artists' brush, spatchula, etc.) provided the ballast itself is still very wet.

Reply to
Chris White

You can buy a large eye dropper thingie at the chemists (tube with rubber bulb on one end, spout on other end), I got one thats several times larger than the standard eye dropper and I find it very handy for ballasting but you may need to try a few shops to get a big one.

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