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Ballasting the station

Richard T


Finally the groundwork and platforms are in place, and I can proceed with ballasting the track.


The ballast is a mixture of excellent scale granite chips and fish tank gravel; the latter is rather colourful, but it will all be coloured dark grey so I hope that the two will blend. I inadvertently mixed a handful of larger fish tank gravel into the mix, so there are some 3"–4" pieces here and there. Altogether I have 8 kg of gravel to hand...


The method I am using is similar to smaller scales: spread the gravel between the sleepers, tidy with a brush (and tweezers) and then spray with a diluted PVA mix, as already tested in the cutting corner.




This is the start of the new ballast; coloured and glued ballast to the left demonstrates the difference. I carefully poured gravel between the rails and along the outside edge. This is a peculiarly satisfying task which cannot be rushed.




A good start: loosely-brushed ballast along the station loop, the mine spur turnout and the stonemason siding. The ballast here is granite to the left, changing to fish tank gravel towards the right; even without colouring it is looking pretty good.




Another view of the loop and stonemason siding. The siding track will be overgrown, but I want to fill earth into the gravel and then grass it over, rather than omit the gravel altogether.




The fish-tank gravel has rather more light-coloured stone than I would have liked: I would have been better off staying with the granite chips. Nonetheless, it is commonplace in the Highlands to use river stone where possible. I decided to mix some smaller stone into the station ballast, prior to later grassing some of the track. Here I have started mixing some Woodlands Scenics medium and coarse gravel along the track: dark brown, medium brown and cinders.




I started with the goods siding; the turntable pit stands out here as rather bare.




The stonemason siding is buried deeper than the rest of the station in fine gravel.




The coloured gravels contrast strongly with the white river stone; this will be toned down later.




I also added fine gravel to the mine spur; the areas to the sides of the track will be grassed.




The dry ballast complete along the station.




The dry ballast complete at the station entrance.




The track in front of the still-incomplete passenger platform. I am quite pleased with the mix of finer gravel to represent older ballast which has sunk into the earth a little.




Detail of the goods shed end of the station.




I used medium cinders and brown gravel to cover the wooden base of the turntable pit; weeds will come later.




I sprayed the ballast with Woodlands Scenics glue, to which I had added black and burnt sienna ink, to tone down the stone and also to give the sleepers a more “creosoted” look. The effect is instant and pleasing.


Before spraying the glue onto the ballast I oiled the tie plates of the turnouts, as well as the planed faces of the points themselves, and the stretcher bars, to prevent the glue from fixing them in place. After applying the glue I carefully cleaned up the moving parts using cotton buds; the mechanisms do not appear to have suffered, although a couple are a little stiff. Once everything is completely dry I shall clean the affected areas using a fibreglass brush to restore easy movement.




The station loop once the ballast has been toned down and glued. The glue is still not completely dry, hence the sheen on the rails; if this remains I shall finish with a spray of matt medium.




The station entrance after glueing and toning the ballast. It’s coming together.


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