Page 1 of 1

Balast and Kato Track

Posted: Sat 15. Aug 2015, 19:14
by fpm_michael
Ok.. I'll get this thread rolling. I have just completed balast work with all of my Kato track and have leaned a lot.
If you do not know how to balast track already, this is not a how-to. You can find all you need to know on YouTube. This is specific only to Unitrack. So with that in mind......
I start by using a small brush and adding glue to the sides of the Unitrack and also in between the tie ends in a few spots. (Work slowly and add small amounts of balast as you go.) Don't work too far ahead, the glue is thin when brushed on and dries fast. Once you have some balast glued on, it provides some tooth on the sides of the track, then you can lay your balast as usual and do your normal wetting and glue mix to set the balast permanent. Be sure to profile as you like and check that the rails are clear before wetting. Brushing on glue and presetting a small amount of balast will keep it from all washing down off the Unitrack when you wet and glue. The results are really nice.

When wetting/gluing... FIRST and Formost. Stay clear of the switches and turnouts with your glue. I killed two of my switches when they got soaked by my 50/50 glue mix locking down the balast. (or if you are using Scenic Cement... Same thing) I use rubbing alcohol to wet the balast before dripping in the glue mix, and it is far more effective than soap water. It will wick the glue into place far from where you are dripping, so if you wet with alcohol, and get it in your switches, be prepared for the glue to migrate a long way. That is what happened to me. I was dripping glue far from the switch,(so I thought) but I had wetted everything with alcohol. I thought I was safe, but the glue migrated about 2 inches into the switches. Expensive mistake.

Once you have the bulk of the balast done, then you can take and mix a small amount of balast with white glue in a cup. It makes a nice thick paste, and then you can use that to mortar around the switches and turnouts. It is much easier to work with and no danger of locking up a switch.

Do not leave a lot of balast in the center of the track. It is really hard to pick out later and tends to derail things a lot. I use my fan brush and pull out as much as I can before locking it down with glue. Also the fan brush is great for pulling balast off the tie ends without knocking it off the sides of the Unitrack. Do lots of tests dry. You can put balast on and pull it off many times before you have to lock it down. Once you have that first layer of balast glued on with the brush, the bulk is easy to work with.

Weathering the ties and rails is a personal choice. I did weather a lot of areas, but not the whole layout. I discovered that just a little weathering in a few key places was more than enough to bring home the effect. And it saves a lot of work and expensive paint pens.

If you have any other comments or technics to share, please do. ;-)

Re: Balast and Kato Track

Posted: Tue 18. Aug 2015, 03:36
by ghewitt94

Looks like a very nice result and your discussion provides insight to what for some can be difficult.

Keep at it and more pictures as you progress would be nice.


Re: Balast and Kato Track

Posted: Thu 20. Aug 2015, 21:54
by fpm_michael
Thanks George,
I am all finished with the balast work. It has been an adventure but the results are great.
Here's a little shot of the rail yard in all its balasted glory.

Re: Balast and Kato Track

Posted: Mon 4. Jan 2016, 07:51
by norbertsz
Registered just to reply here :)

This looks really good! Looks like you put a lot of work into ballasting.
I have the same concern right now as I'm building my Unitrack layout, the realism of the track. I'm looking into different ways to make it more realistic, this is one of the best I've seen.

Since your layout looks interesting, do you mind posting a picture of the whole layout?

Re: Balast and Kato Track

Posted: Thu 31. Oct 2019, 13:58
by AlecDavies
Wow, excellent job done. The insight you provided defines a sure success story, hope for the best, keep going.