After a quite long hiatus, we had our first layout meeting in a while. We worked like crazy from 2PM to 11PM. My first task was to ballast tracks from Avenue D'Estimauville up to an non descript point past the bridge.
I used several time of dirt, sifted gravel and sand to represent different type of soil and ballast. I didn't want to get a uniform look because track in that area is mildly overgrown and not manucured at all.
|Ballast prior to gluing|
For the time in my life, I decided to place the ballast using a large paint brush... the kind you use to paint your wall at home. It made a huge difference. I no longer consider ballasting a ominous task. With a wide brush, your control is perfect, no grain stay on ties and the application and fast and even.
The longest part was wetting the ballast with alcohol and gluing it down. I used diluted white glue. Works fine for this purpose. Many recommend matte medium, which probably does a good job too, but I have a galon of PVC.
I also mixed a little bit of white tile grout into the mix to make the ballast looks lighter. I stopped half way, but I'll probably use this trick next time I'm using real dirt. Real dirt has an annoying tendency to darken a look when glued down. It looks wet. That can be great to represent wet soil near gullies and pond, but for some application, this look ain't right. Next time, I'll mix white grout with dirt when I'll need lighter soil.
After a few hours, I run a few trains over the track. I love how a ballasted track makes weathered locomotives and rolling stock really pop up on photos.
|Before ballast was glued down|
By the way, next time I paint my track, I'll make the ties color a bit paler to get a more realistic weathered look.