While waiting for the rest of the rail paint to arrive from Joe's Model Trains, the grandsons and I decided to try our hand at ballasting some track that was already painted. It worked pretty well although its going to take a looooonnnnng time. We did about 8 feet and it took an hour. There will be a learning curve, so I expect it will go a bit faster. But still, there's a lot of track to do even with discounting the area under the mountains and city.
Several things immediately became evident that I hadn't considered. First was the amount of stone that would be going overboard onto the floor. So we took a largish cardboard box and sealed the inside with masking tape so the tiny stones wouldn't get stuck in the flaps. Then, with my able assistants, we were able to follow the pouring operation with the box to catch the overflow. The second challenge was removing the excess that piles up between tracks. For that I made a little scoop out of cardboard, but we also realized that this excess could be pushed towards the other track and used to ballast that track.
As many of you know, the process is pour, shape, spray with alcohol and then, using a pipette, drip thinned Artist's Matte Medium as an adhesive. Many folks use thinned white glue. I made a shaping template based on a post from another forum member. I described this tool in the layout build thread on the Design forum, so I won't bore anyone with that detail.
One of the concerns I have after seeing the finished product is the ballast is a little to high up on the ties. We brushed it off level with the tie tops, but I'd like it a bit lower.
I didn't attempt at this time to mix in any different colors, but I'm thinking about ways to do it. Grandson #1 suggested going back with the airbrush and adding some more rail brown/rust to the ballast near the rails which is very prototypical. The rust runs down into the rock as soon as it rains.
Here's our result so far. It's not yet cured as of these pictures.
This last picture can't seem to realize that I wanted to rotate it 90º. I rotate it, but it keeps loading in it's original orientation.
When the paint arrives next week, I'll stop ballasting and get back to painting. I may use some tinted alcohol/India Ink washes and/or weathering powers to kill that pristine "white" look. Also there should be some darkening in between as well since lots of dirt, lube, etc., bathes that area.