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TonyMcGartland

When do I ballast my track?

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My track is laid and wired and running well. I have a list of jobs that need doing but can anyone suggest what order I do these. Don't want to run into trouble later.

 

Point Controls

Painting and weathering my rails

Ballasting

Laying dummy point control kits

 

Thanks

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Hi Tony

 

Just my tuppence assuming the track is laid on the cork trackbed shown in your earlier pics. But there is no right or wrong and others may have better and different techniques. Before ballasting though suggest you test push some of your rolling stock, the especially wide items, along platforms and loading bays to check for clearance. A lot easier to adjust before the track is ballasted. (i.e. some model steam loco cylinders can protrude more than expected and some coaching stock can have protruding steps - despite scale loading gauges not always 100% adhered to).

 

  1. Wire and test point motors and/or controls
  2. Ballast track (allowing flat surface runs for later dummy point control rodding, and protect moving parts of points from glue/paint) - allow 24hr to set
  3. Airbrush weather track and rails in one go (mask top of point blades). 7 passes of airbrush (1 each side of each rail = 4, plus ballast outside of each rail, one pass between rails over centre sleepers).
  4. Clean paint off rail tops and re-test point control work free of friction after ballast/painting
  5. Dummy point control kit

 

BTW, your rate of progress on the layout is impressive.

 

Noel

Edited by Noel

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My track is laid and wired and running well. I have a list of jobs that need doing but can anyone suggest what order I do these. Don't want to run into trouble later.

 

Point Controls

Painting and weathering my rails

Ballasting

Laying dummy point control kits

 

Thanks

 

Hi Tony,

 

When I'm building clients layouts I fit the point control after laying and wiring the track. Then I test everything. The next stage is to airbrush the track in sleeper grime, then fit the dummy point motors along with signals and Yard Lights as these look better ballasted in.

I also start basic scenery before I ballast such as plaster bandage as this can be very messy and difficult to remove from ballast.

Then ballast and I go over the track with the airbrush and lightly weather the ballast. If you weather the track after ballasting without painting the track first the ballast looks too dirty and typically ballast is quite clean unless it's a yard or siding.

 

Ultimately it's personal choice and rule 1 applies, it's your layout, your rules!

Edited by Dave

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Here's a few pics of a layout that I did for a client in the UK. Some areas have been weathered more than others such as the refuelling point.

 

2016-07-03 16.23.09.jpg

2016-07-03 16.20.08.jpg

2016-07-03 16.20.19.jpg

2016-07-03 16.20.38.jpg

2016-07-03 16.20.52.jpg

2016-07-03 16.21.15.jpg

2016-07-03 16.22.23.jpg

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I personally leave ballasting to the very end , after scenery etc. In fact I would suggest you have several months of running before ballasting. On a previous layout , I ballasted way too early in the build process and lived to regret it.

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I'm in no real hurry to ballast to be honest. I'd like to know what do I use to weather and paint my track, bearing in mind that I won't be air-brushing but painting by hand. Is there a specific paint on the market to achieve the same results as the pictures above?

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I'm in no real hurry to ballast to be honest. I'd like to know what do I use to weather and paint my track, bearing in mind that I won't be air-brushing but painting by hand. Is there a specific paint on the market to achieve the same results as the pictures above?

 

you could use a sequence of conventional spray can ( rattle can ) paints to achieve the same thing, Im no artist Im afraid, maybe other hear can used the spray can method, I suspect its very hard to achieve with brush ( or very tedious at least )

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I'm in no real hurry to ballast to be honest. I'd like to know what do I use to weather and paint my track, bearing in mind that I won't be air-brushing but painting by hand. Is there a specific paint on the market to achieve the same results as the pictures above?

 

Unfortunately spraying either from an airbrush or a spray can seems the most practical way to colour weather ballast. It would be impossible to brush ballast by hand. An airbrush gives you much more control and you should use less paint. An airbrush allows you to kill two birds with one stone, both colouring the rail sides and track ballast at the same time which is not really possible with an aerosol spray can because you have limited control over the nozzle or width of spray.

 

I'm no expert but having watched a load of youtubes of varying techniques by very experienced chappies, and then doing 8 experiments myself with various combinations of track bed, ballast and paint, personally found the airbrush was the quickest and easiest way to paint the track and ballast. I tried hand painting the rail sides with a brush and it was a total pain, also tried the woodland scenics track marker and it was a pain (i.e. hitting the chairs and missing rail sides at chairs).

 

Personally I found the 'rust' colours too strong looking and didn't blend well, but was surprised how well sleeper grime paint on the sleepers, rail sides and ballast blended so well. In fairness it depends on your era, nowadays ballast is much greyer and cleaner as it is constantly being maintained, but decades ago it seemed more weathered looking even on main lines.

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I weathered the track on my layout with Woodland Scenics weathering markers after it was tested. The markers come in a 3 pack but as Noel mentioned the rust colour appeared to strong so I used only the rail grime and sleeper grime. I have an airbrush but will do almost anything to avoid using it since I hate cleaning it! Woodland Scenics grey blend ballast was then applied after the ground cover was in place.

Edited by patrick

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I'm in no real hurry to ballast to be honest. I'd like to know what do I use to weather and paint my track, bearing in mind that I won't be air-brushing but painting by hand. Is there a specific paint on the market to achieve the same results as the pictures above?

 

Hi Tony, Painting by hand is fine, on my Campbell Riverside layout I used Humbrol rust enamel whish I diluted a bit with white spirit. The main thing to be aware of is to take care around the points especially where the switch blades make contact with he rails.

As others have said, make sure you are happy with all the electrics first before any ballasting or scenic work.

 

Regards, John

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