My small layout is set into the steam era, 1943ish.   It is a small short line on the shores of Lake Michigan.  

I am looking for a recommendation on ballast.  

1) most ballast around Michigan seems to be a lighter color, was it the same back then?  Did steam locomotives darken the color?

2) my layout will be set in early winter, so on the shores of make Michigan it will be mostly covered in snow.  Not sure if it matters much on the ballast I choose 

3) this is a short line, and lots of  maintenance was put on the back burner.   

Any pics would be great!

 


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Original Post

Look into Brennan's Better Ballast. Plus, don't forget to weather all your rails in some sort of olive green "camo" paint. All the freight car journals were plain bearings back in those days, and the journal oil was a dark green color, which dripped out on the all the rails.

Definitely give Dennis a call and tell him what you're looking to accomplish.  He will have a ballast which meets your needs and be spot on with how much you need. 

-Greg

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rattler21 posted:

Jim,  If I were to do it again I would use HO ballast rather than O.  John in Lansing, ILL

why HO ballast?  

I am thinking of going with Brennan's Better Ballast.   He has a Rail Yard Black that seams to fit what I need.   

Jim


Home of the Michigan and Great Lakes Rail Road.

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Hot Water posted:

Look into Brennan's Better Ballast. Plus, don't forget to weather all your rails in some sort of olive green "camo" paint. All the freight car journals were plain bearings back in those days, and the journal oil was a dark green color, which dripped out on the all the rails.

Floquil (no longer around) used to make a color named "rail brown" that was a perfect match. I used it to paint the rails on my layout. I'd try and see what that color cross references to in readily available current paint. 

As far as ballast I used crushed granite. I got it at a local pet food store. It's straight granite with nothing else. 

20190228_113515

Santa Fe, All the Way

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Ballast was essentially the same color then as now, but the use of cinders was far more prevalent, it's true. Cinders made second-rate ballast, but were fine in some situations. Also, it's easier to clean ballast now, and maintenance is generally better. 

Around here, the CSX ballast is a gray limestone color, but the ballast on the CN (weird; it's the former ICG/GM&N/MJ&KC main into Mobile) tends toward a warmer, granite/marble color. 

Ballast was actually dirtier in some ways after the diesel took over. Steamers used grease and oil for lubrication, but had no crankcase "oil pan" (or crankcase in general) to leak engine oil. Coal-burning steamers carried no oil at all, except in small oil-around cans used by the crew. So, the diesels began leaving a streak of oil down the middle of the track, sort of like autos on the highway. (Sort of like a middle rail....) Steamers did not.

Like modern autos, I think that modern diesels drip far less oil than their ancestors.

Consider roofing granules, you can buy it at the box box home improvement stores.  It'll be a LOT cheaper than little jars of ballast, and it looks great.

OPINION: Your track and ballast presentation is probably the most important visual aspect of attempting to model the steam era in scale-like proportions. Thus,,,,,,,,DO NOT TRY TO SAVE MONEY ON BALLAST! Your track and ballast modeling is generally what visitors will notice, and comment on , first. Spend your hard earned money and do it right!.

 Steam era pics from Cleveland Ohio 1930. Any questions on blast color OR what shade of black? It has been said- do it right not cheap!- Nick

                                                                                                                             

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rockstars1989 posted:

 Steam era pics from Cleveland Ohio 1930. Any questions on blast color OR what shade of black? It has been said- do it right not cheap! Well said! Nick

Ballast in engine terminals is naturally going to be much darker than mainline because of all the dirt, coal dust, cinders and oil that accumulated from the locomotives serviced there.  Plus, it think most of the time the "ballast" in the roundhouse and shops area was usually cinders taken from the ash pits.

Rusty

Pete, many of those pictures look exactly like the roofing granules we're using on the NPOG layout.  In spite of some dissenting opinions, IMO the roofing granules are an excellent ballast material.  They come in a variety of colors and grits, you can pretty much get what you need to achieve the effect you'd like to accomplish.

Jim;

I totally agree with using Brennan’s ballast. Now, I am only using Lionel Fastrack, so it is not as critical for me, but I definitely like the look of the added stone. And as you mentioned, mixing the various ballasts can give you different shades. The ballast is pretty small...

3E3902D2-4CCB-4774-B217-E7EE8387BEDC

I have been mixing the yard ballast with the standard gray ballast... I am currently doing my engine yard, so I have been mixing 2 cups of yard to 1 of standard for a darker appearance...

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I used a lighter mix (2 standard to 1 yard) for my main lines... 

CB5C91CF-88DC-472B-AE79-A97272DE6BEF

Paul

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Provisionary Member - Brotherhood of the Crappy Basement Layout

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I'll second the roofing gravel.  Back in the 70's, I lived near a yard and the hoppers carrying the stuff would leave nice piles on the tracks in all the available colors.  Yard workers used to let us scoop up buckets of all we could carry.  

Brendan

I recently "ballasted" my almost 3x30 foot yard using Woodland Scenics Fine Ballast Gray Blend # B1393.  I applied it over the rubber anti-fatigue mat I'm using for roadbed by sprinkling it on top of gray paint.

It looked too light for me when I was done, but when I Googled "Typical Railroad Yards" the photos I looked at looked just as light as what I have done:

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To me, darker looks too dark at our scale.  I may dry brush some black on top of the ballast or spray some Rust-O-Leum American Accents Stone Textured Finish Stone Gray Stone paint sparingly to give it some contrast.  As of now nothing will be put between the rails, but that may change.  I used 1-1/2 shaker bottles of the Woodland Scenics stuff, went a long way.

I do need to sprinkle some cinder material around the coal tower.

here's an earlier shot of another place on the layout using the Rust-O-Leum spray paint:

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Just after painting the sides of the roadbed, still has masking tape covering the rails:

DSCN0263

 

MODELING SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA

4+ years and STILL Having A Blast Running BPRC

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