Tuesday, September 5, 2017

More Ballasting Experimentation

Is this the real life, is this just fantasy?

I’m glad to report only 6 feet of main line and passing track remain to be ballasted in Villeneuve. Things go smoothly because sifted a lot of material to not run short on supplies.

I’m seriously really impressed by that ballast mix. The color is good. As for the habitual darkening caused by the gluing process, I’ll take care of that at a later step when fine tuning and weathering the roadbed. Once again, it's not a matter on simply gluing rocks, other steps are required to bring them to life.

This is why I ordered some DAP Weldwood Plastic Resin Glue has advocated by Lance Mindheim. According to Lance - which is generally a reliable source - this type of glue works particularly well powdery material and reduce greatly discoloration which is my main concern. As a matter of fact, I also find applying diluted glue with a spray bottle is always prone to produce a lot of mess and keeping the nozzle from clogging is a waste of time and efficiency. I'm curious to try it and see how it works.

You can see in these pictures a better look at the new tie colors. They really look like wood and they blend nicely with the ballast color. To be honest, if I were modelling an old time track, I would certainly use the same recipe but with more powdery ballast.

Oh, I’ve said it more than enough, but let me say it again: primer + oil paint is the way to go when painting tracks. Taking shortcuts don’t pay off and the additional masking is worth the effort. My professional career is all about keeping the balance between effort and effect. In this case, I see no reason to not do it. If you find the task too overwhelming, maybe it’s time to ask yourself if your layout is too big for your own sake!

With that said, I expect all tracks in Villeneuve to be ballasted by the end of September and, possibly, Avenue du Sous-bois pavement.

By the way, I'm seriously thinking about moving the modelled season in late fall. The reason is simple,  at that moment of year, a big deal of trees have lost their leaves but not all which can be useful when you need to hide stuff with vegetation. Also, most weeds are full grown and dead at that time of year which makes embankments and ditches look great. Once thing is sure, I'm not into the vibrant fall foliage and I prefer the subdued tones so trains can stand out. And, to be clear, many refenrece pictures I have of the area are from that specific time of the year, making it easy to replicate the details as they should be.

Edit: Of interest, Mike Cougill from OST Publishing, just released a very interesting article about track work, earth fill and ballast in what will be a series of two blog posts. Once again, Mike knows how to remind us how we often overlook what should be basic knowledge when planning and building a layout.


  1. From another track and ballast fanatic, it looks excellent.

    What's the spacing between your tracks there? I'm finding that I'm not really happy even with a 2" spacing, which is less than usually recommended for HO scale.

    1. Thanks for your kind comment Randy! It's only the beginning as more weathering will take place. I feel too many people overlook track while it is an essential part and one we are always looking at.

      I use 2" spacing for a practical reason: this yard sees a lot of traffic and fingers must have enough space to handle the cars. However, I agree with you it is far to be perfect. I once experimented with 1.75 inches and it did look better... and worked OK. I suspect someone could use that spacing when the conditions are met. Also, if I was doing an old time layout (19th or early 20th century), I would seriously take that in account since cars were narrower. That said, when I'll build my S scale Temiscouata layout, I will probably go fully prototype with track spacing.

      Have you experimented with spacing under 2" yet?