Blue Metal ballast

 
  Markfresh Junior Train Controller

Hi I've been looking at some of the local tracks around the area , and the ballast looks like blue Metal ballast , I think that's what you call it , kind of the color of stones you mix with concrete or see on driveways,
Does anyone make this color ballast ?
And also can anyone recommend and Aussie types of ballast , I've heard about Chucks ballast , but can't seem to find it .
Thanks
Mark

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  a6et Minister for Railways

Hi I've been looking at some of the local tracks around the area , and the ballast looks like blue Metal ballast , I think that's what you call it , kind of the color of stones you mix with concrete or see on driveways,
Does anyone make this color ballast ?
And also can anyone recommend and Aussie types of ballast , I've heard about Chucks ballast , but can't seem to find it .
Thanks
Mark
Markfresh
Not sure but think Chucks has closed. There is another person selling ballast but not sure of his name, was at the Brickpit last weekend.

If you are up to a bit of work, you can go to landscape supplies and buy bags of quarter-minus, check the colours, some are dark grey, some light and others more a mix of different colours, not dissimilar to the ballast from Martins Creek.  When home sift through a large kitchen sift/strainer, you need to do it in batches, what doesn't go through toss it or use in other work around the yard.

It now depends on how fine you want the ballast, keep in mind that railway ballast is nominally between 50-100mm is size, for steam era you would go for the smaller size and modern the larger.With that in mind consider that HO is 3.5mm for 25mm approx, so large ballast may look oversize.

Using two different smaller strainers, the smallest being a tea strainer, and they can be purchased cheaply in the cheapo shops in pack of 3 for around $5.00, strain them through and pick what you like, I got a lot of very fine dust like from this method, and used it for yard areas between each road, and in station areas and the like as they were all trodden down small ballast and Bombo dust, which is pretty well the next size up from the quarter minus.

Using PVA glues, secure the ballast needs to be watered down or it will leave a waxy look to things, even so the watered down PVA can also tend to darken the ballast as well.
  Markfresh Junior Train Controller

Ok cheers I'll have a look at the landscape supplier
  c3526blue Deputy Commissioner

Location: in the cuckoos nest
Hi Mark,

As far as I know Chucks Ballast has not closed.  I have seen him and his stall at some recent exhibitions.  The most recent one I could find evidence of his attendance was at Liverpool on early October last year.  I have recollection of him and Matt's Ballast attending the same exhibition earlier this year, possibly at Kaleen.

Matt's Ballast Supply is a newer entrant to this field.  They do not appear to have a website (using Google).  As a6et said they were at the Epping exhibition last weekend.

The link to Chuck's website is still available including contact details.  http://www.chucksballast.com.au/Contact_Us/contact_us.html

Both of these suppliers source their product from actual quarries so you can get some real ballast from a real quarry to lay on your track as would have been supplied to the prototype section of railway.  As an example Bombo ballast (blue metal) has been used in the southern parts of NSW, such as the Illawarra.  Another quarry is Marulan (a grey mix), as used on the Main South, although Chuck's haven't listed this one for some time.

Hobby shops usually carry stock from both/either supplier.  For example Australian Modeller has both available on their store website.
https://www.australianmodeller.com.au/collections/chucks-ballast

I really admire someone making their own ballast from first principles as above by a6et, well done.  It is far easier to get some RTR from either of these two suppliers.  That is, of course, ignoring the supplies of Woodland Scenics, Kibri. and others, which are not Aussie made.

Happy gravelling,

John
  a6et Minister for Railways

Hi Mark,

As far as I know Chucks Ballast has not closed.  I have seen him and his stall at some recent exhibitions.  The most recent one I could find evidence of his attendance was at Liverpool on early October last year.  I have recollection of him and Matt's Ballast attending the same exhibition earlier this year, possibly at Kaleen.

Matt's Ballast Supply is a newer entrant to this field.  They do not appear to have a website (using Google).  As a6et said they were at the Epping exhibition last weekend.

The link to Chuck's website is still available including contact details.  http://www.chucksballast.com.au/Contact_Us/contact_us.html

Both of these suppliers source their product from actual quarries so you can get some real ballast from a real quarry to lay on your track as would have been supplied to the prototype section of railway.  As an example Bombo ballast (blue metal) has been used in the southern parts of NSW, such as the Illawarra.  Another quarry is Marulan (a grey mix), as used on the Main South, although Chuck's haven't listed this one for some time.

Hobby shops usually carry stock from both/either supplier.  For example Australian Modeller has both available on their store website.
https://www.australianmodeller.com.au/collections/chucks-ballast

I really admire someone making their own ballast from first principles as above by a6et, well done.  It is far easier to get some RTR from either of these two suppliers.  That is, of course, ignoring the supplies of Woodland Scenics, Kibri. and others, which are not Aussie made.

Happy gravelling,

John
c3526blue
John, thanks for the confirmation with Chucks.

Making your own ballast is not hard, I actually forgot to put in the first screening is to use a cheap common kitchen colander, the types used to strain noodles and Spaghetti, they have larger holes and it really takes out the larger bits of blue metal.

Some of the quarries no longer allow people into them, I would think its something to do with safety and the like, I will ask a friend if Marulan still operates although its likely from the new quarries to the south of the old site.

The thing is though, if you have a larger layout, while the work required in doing your own screening is that it works out much cheaper, I purchased 2 20Kg bags from 2 different landscape depots, both with different gradings and colours, I have enough left over to finish my layout after its located and cost me around $30.00, much cheaper than the commercial bags. Some nurseries will also sell you a quantity of the minors for a modest price and you scoop it yourself, that way you can get into the lower levels of the pile that has the small stuff and dust in it, you get a big more that's more suitable for the layout that way.
  Markfresh Junior Train Controller

I actually have some blue Metal in a pile that was on the driveway that I raked/shoveled up , as it was about 3/4 inch I disregarded it .
I had a look again this morning ,and there may be enough dust to be feasible .
It is currently wet due to the rain here but I might have a go at sieving it .
It is full of dirt though but I imagine as I sieve it I could hose it out .

If only I had a mini ballast crusher Smile
  railmod Chief Train Controller

...

If only I had a mini ballast crusher Smile
Markfresh
Many years ago whilst on site at a quarry for my previous employer they had a mini crusher, so after I finished work for the day I scooted off to the nearest railway siding (a dead end branch), gathered a heap of ballast & proceed to use the crusher for the next few hours - couldn't hear anything for a while afterwards as it was very noisy, but I now have a 4 lit. container of ballast Smile
  Markfresh Junior Train Controller

Very jealous that's awesome
  yogibarnes Locomotive Fireman

You don't even have to go to a quarry, unless you need its specific colour.  
Get a bucket of sand from any fresh water river bed and sift it to size.  You will find it will "flow" onto your track easier than sharp edged quarry fines.  After setting on your track, colour with watered down acrylic paint brushed on.  Not too much though or the water will soften thePVA glue you used to set the ballast.
  comtrain Chief Commissioner

Location: Near Albury Wodonga
You don't even have to go to a quarry, unless you need its specific colour.  
Get a bucket of sand from any fresh water river bed and sift it to size.  You will find it will "flow" onto your track easier than sharp edged quarry fines.  After setting on your track, colour with watered down acrylic paint brushed on.  Not too much though or the water will soften thePVA glue you used to set the ballast.
yogibarnes
Creek sand is an awesome idea!
Also at Glenrowan Quarry, I am told, they cut up the pink stone into tiles with a water cooled saw. I wonder how the mud under the machine would look, dried out and sifted.
Also how sand collected from the bottom of the nearby creek would look if sifted as you suggest Smile My stone was dried in a microwave in a plastic dish before sifting. See my latest blog entry
Cheers
Rod
  sm-at-eden Station Master

Matt's Ballast email:- "mattsballast@hotmail.com".  

(Knew there was a reason for picking up that printed piece of business card-sized paper)

Cheers,

Gary
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Go to a sand and metal supplier and take a couple of buckets with you and have a look at the different sands etc they have. Ask nicely even if you get a few weird looks when you tell them why you only need a bucket full of stuff or two. Be prepared though to make some kind of payment though for it!

Bluemetal as used in house foundations to build it up off, of ground level makes a nice ballast. You have to sieve the larger particles out of it though and what is left you can then sieve down to smaller sizes. I start with a flour sieve I bought one especially for this do not use the bosses good one under any circumstances. And after getting all the large bits out which can be then placed in a container to use as debris at the bottom of cliffs etc. What you then have left in a container can then be sieved again using an old stocking, depending on what scale you use you then either use the sieved out larger stuff or the finer stuff that went through the sieve.

Total cost most probably under $20 even if you have to buy the flour sieve to start with! Larger containers of bluemetal will get you more ballast though and get the finest that they have as well as it comes in several grades!
  Markfresh Junior Train Controller

Good stuff , thanks all
  Radioman Chief Train Controller

Hello All,

re ballast glue . Can i suggest that watered down PVA ( despite British Rail using it on a 12 inch to One foot line near Paddington ) is not ideal due to the resulting rock like formation.

I would suggest the use of watered down carpet glue , available from Bunnings , as this will dry to a flexible rubbery state which reduces noise and allows for temperature variation . It can also be lifted with the use of hot water in small doses if need be.

Glue needs to be sparingly used , and despite initial appearances to the contrary , it will hold the track in place.

Another consideration is to use a closed cell black foam sheet base for the track and ballast . This is available in sheet form from both Bunnings and Clarke Rubber .

If you use a plywood ( do not use MDF as it is susceptible to warping from your ballast glue ! ) you can put cork tiles on the plywood base , again available from Bunnings , and place the closed cell foam sheeting track underlay cut for your track base onto the cork. It can be held by either your ballast glue , thinned PVA or better still double sided carpet tape. This will last for years and allows for a future lifting if required.

If you do as i suggest above , you can pin your track and underlay to the cork , try it out , and adjust as necessary before final securing with double sided carpet tape. bear in mind that double sided carpet tape accommodates foot traffic on the carpet above it , the weight of your trains ( even if you model Gauge 1 ) will be lesser than the effects of pedestrian traffic on carpet , so it will hold , and it allows for lifting and recovery at some time in the future if need be .

For your consideration,

Best wishes and regards, Radioman .

PS / i do not , and never have , worked for either Bunnings or Clarke Rubber !
  Markfresh Junior Train Controller

Thanks radioman,
In regards to the carpet glue , what ratio to water is used, and is any particular Brand recommend
  Radioman Chief Train Controller

Thanks radioman,
In regards to the carpet glue , what ratio to water is used, and is any particular Brand recommend
Markfresh
Dear Mark and others ,

i have used the EFD Simply Glues by Rogue Manufacturing Ballast Glue which is runny like water . I have yet to use the carpet glue from Bunnings , but i understand both to be the same adhesive . I would go with the Selley's or other Australian made version purely because the local product is more likely to be consistent between batches.

The EFD Simply Glue product was applied with a cheap artists brush from the two dollar shop , and the residue washed out with water. This version is like white water and when i first used it i had serious doubts as to its adhesive properties . I pinned the track with milliners pins and brushed it over the sleepers , so the liquid went underneath by capillary action and dried within a few minutes , so despite initial appearances it worked remarkably well.

Therefore i suggest you decant some into a plastic container , i use single serve empty white plastic yoghurt containers , and if it is runny like water it will be ok , if it is thicker , then add a bit of water to achieve a runny liquid and try it on a short piece of track . This allows you to get the feel of the flow and to ensure that it will adhere as you expect. A little bit goes a long way.

Best wishes and regards, Radioman.
  sol Assistant Commissioner

Location: Evanston Gardens SA
My friends in South Aust use from Bunnings -  long Life self shining floor polish - dripped on with a eye dropper - no pre wetting required & it dries in about 2 hours holding ballast firmly.
  Radioman Chief Train Controller

My friends in South Aust use from Bunnings -  long Life self shining floor polish - dripped on with a eye dropper - no pre wetting required & it dries in about 2 hours holding ballast firmly.
sol
Dear Sol ,

how do you dissolve it if you wish to lift or alter the track layout please ? Not requiring pre wetting can be an advantage if your track is laid on canite ( sugar cane waste used for school notice boards and insulation , but very susceptible to water causing it to bubble up ) .

I suggested the rubbery carpet glue as it can be dissolved ( carefully ! ) with hot water ( as can indoor PVA or artist PVA , the outdoor PVA is water proof ) , allowing even hand built track to be moved or re used .

There are occasions where track lifting is required , so an ability to do so without causing irreparable damage to existing track is worth thinking about.

For your consideration,

Best wishes and regards, Radioman.

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