Hello to all.......just wondering if I should ballast my three rail Buco (Swiss) layout or not. I have just installed a sound deadening non-slip blanket to my benchtops, and then relayed the track again. The result is simply amazing in keeping the running noise down to a very acceptable level when operating my Buco tinplate trains. 

The track is brass "bullhead" profiled rails attached to real timber sleepers (ties) with authentic brass rail spikes. Will adding ballast to the tracks give me

even more sound insulation? I have included a couple of photos of the layout just before I pulled the track up to install the underlay blanket.

Thanks......Peter on the fabulous Gold Coast in sunny Queensland, Australia (down-under)

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Hi Rattler21:

I have a huge plastic container of unused stone ballast I bought from a guy in America on Ebay....real cheap....even with the postage charges from there to here, but that was some years ago now.  They are fine grey stones, and I also have the plastic hopper that fits on the 3 rail track to evenly spread it. Just not real sure if I should proceed or not.

Thank you Vistadomescott for the fine comments on my layout......it has taken me quite a while to work it into the back and side of my third garage, and still have room to park my "baby" - 1985 SS Group A Commodore (Australian Chevy) - limited production of just 500 cars to homologate the race car for the Holden Dealer Team (HDT) that year (1985).

Peter from "downunder" 

My personal opinion- there are two types of "O" hobbyists (regardless of DC/2 rail or AC/3 rail), toy train enthusiasts, and model railroaders.  Neither is better than the other-  but you appear to be a toy train enthusiast from the amount trackage vs. scenery.  So I think ballasting would be a nuisance, and ruin the toy train effect of the layout.  I think this, regardless if it had any effect on sound. 

Sure thing Peter!  And well said Mike. I am always torn between a layout with all the ballast, scenery, etc, and a nice clean post war looking toy train layout.

For my layout I started with Lionel tubular track and intended to go the sparse route, simply tracks, signals, trains.  I ended up using Fast track by Lionel and decided to blend in grass etc, and off it went.  Often I wished I had stuck with the traditional track. 

I look forward to seeing more of your layout as the trains start operating. And if the classic car is in the pic, all the better!

Buco, You were wise to ask this question.

IMHO: Applying ballast is largely an aesthetic decision. I am not aware of its presence having much - if any - effect on suppressing noise.

The one bit of enthusiastic advice I would offer would concern how often you think  you might be changing the track plan in future. If you are absolutely certain you will never change it, perhaps, you could go ahead and add ballast. However, if you think you might want a change in the track-plan someday, I would definitely not add ballast. You'd be asking for an awful mess to have to deal with in sweeping and scooping up all those miniature particles of whatever.

And if you do decide to add ballast, I would wait a long, long time before drip-gluing it down into permanent place. Once glued-down, you will never be able to remove it without  destroying the track - without exception.

Forewarned is forearmed (!)

Just my opinion.

FrankM

P.S. The ballast on my layout, which you can see a section of here,IMG_0214 is not glued down. Through time, it has tamped-down a bit, here and there, from the movement of the trains, but I did not consider gluing it into place due to my occasional urges to change the layout, even though I have not changed this particular track area in 10+ years.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge has limits.     Dr. W.Dyer

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Mike Wyatt posted:

My personal opinion- there are two types of "O" hobbyists (regardless of DC/2 rail or AC/3 rail), toy train enthusiasts, and model railroaders.  Neither is better than the other-  but you appear to be a toy train enthusiast from the amount trackage vs. scenery.  So I think ballasting would be a nuisance, and ruin the toy train effect of the layout.  I think this, regardless if it had any effect on sound. 

Great way to put it.  I'm a toy train type myself 

Very interesting topic and comments.

Although Peter's track is different from traditional O Gauge tubular track, IMO its appearance is very similar to it. The photos below show my ballast and tubular O Gauge track:20180311_152217

I don't know about how ballast affects sound because that was not an issue for me. However, I believe adding ballast helped stabilize my track so I have much fewer derailments.

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My ballast consists of asphalt pebbles I got along the side of roads near my home. The pebbles are much bigger than O scale ballast, but the rails of the tubular track are also much bigger and higher than O scale rails. I guess that's why they call it high rail. Arnold

In my little world, I leave this troubled world behind.

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Mike Wyatt posted:

My personal opinion- there are two types of "O" hobbyists (regardless of DC/2 rail or AC/3 rail), toy train enthusiasts, and model railroaders.  Neither is better than the other-  but you appear to be a toy train enthusiast from the amount trackage vs. scenery.  So I think ballasting would be a nuisance, and ruin the toy train effect of the layout.  I think this, regardless if it had any effect on sound. 

I second that - and I'm a dirty old weathered, ballasted, painted rail Hi-Railer. 

You seem to have a very nice toy train layout; "true ballasting" would look a bit out of place to me - though some ballast-like roadbed seems compatible.

Maybe you could sell/give your "Ton of Ballast" to a friend or club.

(BTW - how much "Chevy" is in the Commodore? I know that Holden is/was GM Australia - or part of it? - but my familiarity with Holden were primarily the ones disguised as Pontiac GTO's and G8's and the Chevy SS from a few years ago. And the current Camaro, I think (...not sure; I drive a Dodge Challenger R/T, so you see where my head is.)) 

Buco, I come from a background in HO trains with as close to realistic scenery as the person can accomplish.  In that regard, ballast was a "must".  But now 50 years after starting my first HO layout, you can see I am in O gauge 3-rail.  I am now seeing the benefits of not ballasting.  I am starting to build a layout with GarGraves track and realistic scenery, but I'm holding out on ballasting for a while.  Maybe I never will.  As others have said, I think your layout looks great as it is.  It has that traditional toy train look.  Since you have the ballast, I agree with others, lay down some track on a spare piece of wood, ballast it, and see what you think.

You can probably get by without the ballast, in light of the type of layout you apparently want it to be, but at the very least I likely would paint the overall surface of the layout an earth or grass color, and possibly paint the roadbed under the track a kind of grimy gray (or other) "roadbed color".

To ballast - or not to ballast.  A personal decision.

Ballast will probably not decrease noise.  My experience is that ballast is noise neutral.

I'm really into color and texture on my layouts, so ballast is a necessity.  But that's just me here in sunny California.

Keep us posted on what you decide to do.

 

 

RT   

Thank you to one and all - your comments ad ideas will be taken onboard. I would like to add specific comments to the various responders:

Brendan: Yes I have a heap of spare track and I will try ballasting a couple of sections to see what it looks like. Both sections of your track in the photos look amazing. Thank you. 

Mike Wyatt: You have nailed it so succinctly!!!! Yes I am  "TOY TRAIN" type of guy, but also like the more modern locos produced by MTH. I have just recently purchased a brand new BNSF Dash 9 diesel with all of the "railsounds" and love running it on my "Swiss" track using my Lionel RS-1 transformer.

Vistadomescott: I have included a photo of the "baby" that is parked in the wife's garage, just for you.

GFTIV: Adding extra ties (we call them "sleepers" here in Australia) is possible however the track is becoming a "collectors item" now, as the Buco company went bankrupt back in 1957. Original Buco stamped track is getting a little scarce, and I really don't want to alter its appearance if I can help it.

Moonson: You certainly posses "words of wisdom" that I value in relation to my kunundrum. The Buco track is becoming too expensive and too rare to damage or lose it, if a track re-design was ever contemplated. I might take your suggestion and just loose lay some ballast on one section of the main line and see how it performs. I have heard (on this forum) that "loose" ballast can get into the drive gears of the loco's and cause damage.......that is the last thing I would want to happen. 

Arnold: The photos of your track also look great. The ballast I have is more like the "chick grit" described by others.

D500: The "Group A" engine has Chevy Corvette "brown" double valve springs as standard, and "Directional" alloy wheels based on the Corvette. I have included a photo of my "baby" with the directional wheels. I love your Dodge Challenger R/T - nearly got one in Miami, Florida 2yrs ago when we were driving across America, and our Alamo rental car (Kia Cerato) died on us. The wife said we couldn't afford the petrol (gas) to run it all the way back to Los Angles - I still think she was wrong!!!!

Mark: I also have a "bundle" of new GarGrave track I bought from the States some years ago when I couldn't get anymore Buco 3 rail track and intended using it on the back straights where it would not be as noticeable. As it turned out, I got onto an auction site in Switzerland (Ricardo) and was able to purchase enough spare track to complete my layout and to fill a couple of plastic storage containers as well. Thank you also for your comment on my layout and I will do a "test section" to see what it looks like.

William 1: I have attached a couple of photos of the layout with the sound insulating anti slip underlay in place and the track relayed. Hope you like them. PS. I ran a couple of my Buco locos around the layout last night to test it for electrical continuity and the reduction in noise was incredible....the loco's (both running at the same time chasing each other) were whisper quiet. I am stoked!!!!!

Thank you one and all.......Peter (Buco tragic) on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

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It is possible to both ballast and not ballast. If your benchwork is solid, lay the ballast but DO NOT glue it. I have found that the particles usually do not move very much. In addition, you can quickly vacuum up and have clean track as a result. Just keep the ballast from the inside of the rail web and switch points. I have had no loco gear issues.

I like the look of ballast, but after ballasting/glueing my Atlas O track, vowed never again.  What I did was arrange my track on my 1/2" foam board, then used a section of 3/8" plastic hose to lay up against the ends of the ties.  I then used a Sharpie and drew along the outer edge of the tubing.  Removed tubing and track. Painted a wet coat of gray (or whatever), then sprinkled O ballast into the wet paint - kinda like we used to do with green sawdust for grass.  Vacuum the excess and screw the track into place.  Without staring at it, the looks are convincingly real. Don't have my phone with me right now otherwise I'd post a pic.

And, yes, I've changed the layout a bit; I just take a small section of Atlas O track, right side up, and scrape the old ballast using the ties as a scraper.  Doesn't gouge the foam like a scraper or putty knife would. Vast majority comes off; what doesn't I'll just use a bit more grass on it.

Carl

TCA 07-61628, LCCA 40022, Lone Star Hi-Railers, EAA, AOPA

Your layout looks great AS IS.  I didn't do anything to mine, either, for a long time. I have been using tubular track for decades, and liked the toy train look. However, I have recently taken two steps beyond bare track: 1) I bought rubber ties to make the track ties/sleepers appear more properly spaced and realistic, and 2) I bought chicken grit to use as ground cover between tracks and along the ROW. It is not between the rails (so not true ballasting) and it is not spray glued down (and it hasn't been a problem with wheels or motors). Unconventional, but it works for me.

 

lionel steam [13)

John 

 

 LCCA PCA TCA

 ILLINOIS RAILWAY MUSEUM        

 www.irm.org   

 

 

 

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