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Track Laying

Ed asks:

“What is the best glue to put down your Ballast?”

8 Responses to Track Laying

  • David Stokes says:

    PVA , watered down by about half. Always soak your ballast with Iso alcohol, and use a fine misters or pipette to apply any media.

  • Hervey says:

    David is giving you pretty good advise. Make sure the ballast is thoroughly wet before applying the glue. You can use wet water if you are not comfortable using ISO alcohol. You want to break the surface tension so the glue gets down through all you ballast so as not to end up with a glued crust over loose ballast.


    Just completed a large N scale project and our glue was 1/4 pva or modge past and 3/4 water.

    We used Iso Alcohol to wet it down first.

  • Bob Dechaux says:

    If you are using Kato, be aware of the watered down glue seeping into the switch mechanism. Seal around the switch with clear silicone first.

  • phil johnson says:

    I like Emer’s white glue. I use two different mixtures: 50:50 glue/alcohol and a 75:25 glue/alcohol. The latter is for holding material in slopes. I found water and soap left residue on the rails. I also leave the ballast unglued.

  • Phillip Collins says:

    I have heard — haven’t tried it — that a rubber glue (as used to mend books) is better than PVA as it’s more flexible and tends to deaden sound.

    • David Stokes says:

      Is that the white stuff Charlie Bishop uses? Can’t remember the name because it’s not available here in Oz (to the best of my knowledge) Charlie swears by it.

  • Morgan Bilbo says:

    All above is good. I don’t tell you what to do, but only what I do: You can do this or not as you desire. I spread DAP Alex caulk very lightly all along the roadbed to glue down the track. This leaves a surface that covers the cork or anything under it. After that track is secured to the roadbed, it’s ready for ballast/the caulk is the adhesive. I then spread the ballast in the usual way. Using fingers, brushes and whatever to get the ballast where I want it. This takes the most time. When ready, I spray 70% alcohol. Some say add dish drops to the alcohol. I don’t. Your choice. But as stated, that breaks surface tension and gets the alcohol down deep into the ballast and don’t bead up. I do this about a foot at a time. But can do more than one track within that foot. Immediately before it dries/and remember alcohol dries faster than water. I then dribble the glue mix with a pipette or something that allows a slow drip/dribble. The mix I use is 1 part Mod Podge/flat or matte. Add up to 3 parts 70% alcohol. Mix thoroughly. This is a rather liquid mix. Much more so than a 50/50 mix. I like it runny like this so that the dribble from the pipette is easy to control. I let it flow generously so that it gets down through the ballast to the roadbed. Now – why the caulk? If you need to pry this track up for some reason, it is easier to use a putty knife and the track will pop up. I do not glue ballast on turnouts. I just leave it loose. Can get messy if you accidentally blow/or sneeze on the turnout. But if you do glue ballast on turnouts, be especially careful at the points. You could add a drop of oil to the points so that the glue don’t stick too bad. And a toothbrush will clear the points. This was lengthy, but should be pretty clear.

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