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Unusual Ballasting Technique

Bernard asks:

“I read where someone used mixed ballast with gelatin before wetting it down to hold the ballast in position. This is instead of spraying glue and water on the ballast. Has anyone done this and will it hold in place over many years?”

Comment (or view comments) below.

9 Responses to Unusual Ballasting Technique

  • Mike Berke says:

    Hi! Not heard of gelatin, but I have used powdered glue mixed in with ballast. when it was all int position, used an eyedropper with water to GENTLY wet it down. Need to be gentle so as not to move the ballast around. Almost all has stayed in place for more than 20 years.

  • Glenn says:

    I may be wrong but I believe gelatin is made from organic material, parts of animals. I doubt that is going to last for an extended period of time. Also, there are numerous living things and none living organisms that would enjoy devouring your layout. I actually hope I’m wrong. Glenn


    I recommend that you stay with this procedure. – –
    Apply your try ballast as you wish, tapping it down to get off the sleepers and the shoulders are desirable.

    Next thoroughly wet it down with a mix of isopropyl alcohol and water 50/50.

    Finally a blend 50/50 of pva glue, water and a few drips of dishwashing soap – not silicone based.

    If the need should arise to take your track up, wet it down with water and the pva will soften and you will be able to get a blade under it and gently lift it up. Otherwise you may end up scrapping your track.

  • George Moffatt says:

    Lay your ballast and level it with a small, soft paint brush.
    Then run a few box cars over the track to catch any lumps your eye or paint brush missed.
    CAREFULLY lay ballast using a teaspoon or other small dispenser.in and about your turnouts to make sure they all work smoothly
    FORGET you ever heard of gelatin.
    Mix any water-soluble glue (i.e., Elmers in US) with water in a 50-50 mix.
    If the mix is correct, it will FLOW easily, not sit there in globs
    Use an eye dropper to CAREFULLY flow the mix over the ballast (yeah, this is the tedious part).
    Don’t get any mix on your rails.
    Let dry over-night
    Gently vacuum the ballast to pick up any strays.

  • Morgan BIlbo says:

    Simply put. Stick to traditional ways.RoberS says it best. I had used only alcohol, not mixed with water. But either will work.

  • David Stokes says:

    WE in South Australia suffer from regular, rather horrifying mouse plagues. The gelatin idea sounds like a banquet for the little buggas. PVA is also on the menu, but not as popular.

  • Ralph says:

    I mix:
    1 part Elmer’s glue with 1 part isopropyl and 5 parts of water.
    Works fine on holding down ballast.

  • Bob says:

    The mouse problem is real. They are almost everywhere. They will eat various things to get the salt from your fingers left on the surface.They will also gnaw wood for bedding if the area is quiet for long periods.

  • Gene Jablonski says:

    There is a product called Ballast Magic that you mix with your ballast, apply the mixture and then wet. I’ve not used it but would like to hear from anyone that has.

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