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Thursday, 17 March 2016

Project 16 - Reusable Ballast

This is at least the fourth time I have recycled my model railway ballast. I am able to reuse it because of the fixing method I adopted.

The ballast is my own mix of granite chips and cork ground in an old coffee grinder, sieved through a fine mesh tea strainer to remove the dust and sieved again through a one millimetre mesh to create the ballast stones. To this is added ground, dry wallpaper paste. Once laid the ballast is sprayed with water containing a few drops of washing up liquid to reduce surface tension allowing the water to seep easily between the stones and hydrate the wallpaper paste.

The wallpaper paste gives is a weak bond that withstands light vacuuming of the ballast and allows the stones to be broken up for reuse by scraping with a small screwdriver.

Many modellers lay proprietary ballast, which is a uniform colour, and then spray paint it to weather the track bed. If you look at a real track bed the stones vary in colour from shades of grey to brown (on Southern track at least) and where the trains run can be quite dark due to muck and oil dropped by the passage of trains. My method of mixing grey granite and brown cork goes some way to mimicking the real track bed and between the sleepers I have included a high proportion of ground coal in the mix to represent mucky ballast.

To Part 13.

To Part 1.

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