Saturday, 4 January 2014

Ballasting the White River Division

Not something I thought I would have to do when I purchased 4 bags of Highball cinder ballast. The body hammer and metal shaping block is being put to work as a rock crusher.
I always liked the finished look of Don Janes track work on his Green Mountain Division. He uses HO and N scale Highball cinder ballast. He also adds a little of this and that to change the look of areas a bit. I purchase four bags of Highball HO scale cinder ballast back in November. Well to my surprise the ballast is huge and not close to what Don had used. Don stopped by and checked out my cinders. Don and I agreed it was more like O scale and not very close to what he used on his layout. Not sure if Highball has changed the grading or it was a mistake in packaging.

What I did to fix the problem.
I used my strainer, pouring all the cinders through it. I got three bags finer and one bag of coarse O scale size ballast that I can use on my On30" module. When I did a test on the layout the ballast was still twice the size it should be. I put it over an area that has Woodland Scenic ballast and it still looked huge. I decided to see if I could crush the ballast. Using my auto body hammer and metal shaping block I poured small amounts of the ballast on my metal block and pounded it a good amount. I mixed my crushed ballast with a small amount of sifted dirt and cinders, about 10-15 percent of the mix (the dirt/cinder mix I packaged away while visiting the old Westboro yard during the fall of 2012).  I then tried it on the layout and it looked great...I think I found a formula for my ballasting...but it is the hard way. It seem Highball ballast does break down well if one wants to put in the effort. The only part that sucks is I got a lot of hammering to do over the next week or two. I figure it will take about 3 hours to pound out the three bags of ballast...I would love to hear from anyone that has run across this, and what they have the mean time I think I might look into N scale Highball ballast...George Dutka

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