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2. Ballast off




Progress. I’ve started from the bridge end of the layout and roughly a third of the track is now stuck down, including 6 of the 8 points. I’m happy with my wire-in-tube point control, I’m waiting for some more glue gun sticks to tidy up around the slide witches. No idea why I didn’t group all the switches In this section together... hindsight is 20/20, but perhaps this will make them easier to disguise in amongst the foreground scenery.  Since there are no decouplers to be installed here (more on that later), I’ve let excitememt get the better of me, cracked out the wet water, pipettes and PVA and started ballasting.




For those that don’t know, wet water is in fact normal water with a drop or two of fairy liquid added to it (other dish detergent brands are available). This reduces the surface tension of the water droplets when sprayed over the loose ballast, and allows the water to seep down, around and under the stones and track.  A 50/50 PVA and water mix is then dropped/dribbled/splurged over the pre-moistened ballast, and seeps everywhere it needs to get to stick it all down nicely.  The PVA sets rock hard, some prefer to use other glue so the finished ballast is more springy and can be worked on later, but I’m not fussed. Plus PVA is super cheap. Noice.


I’ve gone for a mixture of Woodhand Scenics ballasts, sourced from two model shops on eBay; medium grade “light gray” for newer, cleaner sections and fine grade “gray blend” for older dirty stuff.


I wrapped my steel rule with cling film and taped it to the end of the board to get a flat edge to ballast up to, which I think worked well. I’ve managed to remove some paint from the sleepers when chipping off rogue stones after the glue has dried, so for my second round I used a tooth pick to do this while everything was still wet. Much better.


What do we think of the ballast on sleepers on the main line? Inspired by a photo of the West Somerset Railway, but no idea why it’s there... is it new ballast waiting to be spread or tamped down?







I’m pretty pleased with the results, I plan on weathering it down later to make it look more grimy. The rusty rails are too red in places, so a tin of Humbrol No. 29 enamel is in the post for me to try Instead of the No. 62 I have been using, though I do like the latter for super rusty bits such as disused sidings, trackside debris, etc.


Concrete and Couplings.


Two things have brought track laying to a halt for now:


Firstly, the spray plastic primer wasn’t a match for Humbrol 72 Khaki Grey which I like for painting concrete sleepers.  I’m contemplating whether or not to brush paint 4 meters of flexitrack or take the plunge on an airbrush... The latter would take nearly £100 from the railway budget pot, so I’m leaning towards brushing by hand. I don’t need to be as fussy as I have been with the inside faces of the sleepers as the ballast covers it, so perhaps it wont be as bad as I think. Brush painting is quite satisfying too... but airbrushing is a new skill to learn! Choices choices.


Secondly, I’ve decided to buy Kadee magnetic couplings as I feel I’ve outgrown tensionlock and don’t want the “Giant hand” descending to decouple locos. I have a small amount of rolling stock and I can afford £30 worth couplings to convert the lot, but the official Kadee decouplers are all a bit dear considering I need at least 6.


So, after some research on this forum and others, I’ve bought a bag of 3mmø x 12mm neodymium magnets from First4Magnets.co.uk - really cheap, easy to install and from the videos I’ve seen they seem to work well... I’ll do some tests once they arrive and see how it goes!


Signalling is another consideration, I think I’d like to keep it mechanical, perhaps with my wire in tube... but one that can wait for now. I’m also going to attempt to move two points with one slide switch for the platform run-around crossover. Fun and games ahead!

Edited by GWL

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That's a nice little project going on there. Very neat ballasting too and I've think you've got it spot on!


Best regards and stay safe,




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