Track Ballasting 

Okay, the tracks are down and the layout and control panel is wired, so the next logical step is to ballast your tracks. I know, you want to get on with some scenery, but once this chore is out of the way, you will be ready to start scenery.

For those of you who have had a railroad before and have had to move a piece of track, how many times have you had to replace the length of track because you had ballasted it using PVA. White glue (50% Water and Glue.) Even a JCB would have had a hard job moving it.  I have on many occasions in the past looked around for some other easier way with less hassle should I require to move the track. So I sat and thought about it for a while, then came up with the idea of using heavy-duty wallpaper paste. Would it set hard enough? I thought. The only way was to try apiece out on a separate piece of track on a small piece of insulation board. – IT WORKED, and dried hard and I could still remove all the track pins afterwards. For those of you interested in using this method, here is the way I mixed up this gooey mess.

Mix up a little of the wallpaper paste and then add your desired track ballast into the wallpaper paste and mix it all up. The consistency should be that of thick porridge.

This method will only work if the ballast you use is of the very fine powder type, not the granules usually used for track ballasting with. I use light & dark browns made by "Jarvis" very similar to the green flocks made by "Woodland Scenics" in texture. (Scatter material)

Now the fun (er - Messy bit) begins. Dig out some ballast with your fingers, and spread it into the tracks

keep on spreading the ballast until the tops of the sleepers are visible again.  Next, run your fingers down either side of the rails both inside and out to clean off any access ballast. Clean the top of the tracks with a dry cloth. Now use on old toothbrush, running it inside and outside of the rails to clean it up a little. Finally, use a small piece of 600 wet/dry to clean off the tops of the rails so you can run trains later.

The next morning, after all the ballast is dry, once again run the wet/dry over the tracks and check to see if there is any odd bits of the ballast floating around.  

The next job is to paint the sides of the rails a rusty co lour; this gives the appearance of making the tracks smaller than they are, plus the added advantage of good-looking track. So there you have it. A well-maintained and good-looking main line track.  

Of course you can go ahead and ballast your tracks using the granules from "Woodland Scenics" and use white wood glue diluted 50/50 with water. If you want to use this method, then by all means go ahead, it works fine. Just put the ballast (dry) into the tracks (Do a small area at a time) and wet it down with a spray of water and a teaspoon full of washing up liquid. This is what's called as "WET WATER" Next with an eye dropper, flood the ballast with the 50/50 mix of white wood glue. Make sure you have not got any granules above the sleepers (ties) otherwise they will have to be removed to avoid any de-railments.  

 When your entire track is down and ready for use, you may want to know an easy way to keep your track and points clean. Here’s how.

Track Cleaning

Here are two very simple but effective solutions.

One is to buy a roller, the kind used to roll the seams on wallpaper. They are just over one inch wide, and have a diameter of an inch and a quarter. Buy two pieces of wood about one foot six inches long and an inch and a quarter wide by half inch thick. Using one of the wood lengths, tape it to the wallpaper roller. Now cut up some 6-inch lengths of jiffy cloth and strip them down to just over an inch wide and rap it around the roller. Sew the seams together and apply Isopropyl Alcohol to the cloth. Now roll the roller over the track and see just how much dirt and filth comes off the track onto the roller. The other piece of wood is used in this way. Cut a piece of 6OO grade wet & dry paper into a  6 inch by 1 inch piece, now fold it in half (rough side out) and the in half again. Now rap the piece of wet & dry over the end of the piece of wood and tape the end around the wood with masking tape, so as not to lose the wet & dry when in use. Just grab the wood and start cleaning those awkward tracks you couldn’t get at before without removing buildings.