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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Buffalo NY
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    Ballast adhesive: what is the best recipe?

    I had a problem with my 1st layout 15 years ago with either the 'wet water' and/or the diluted white glue mixtures 'tarnishing' the rails (a non-intentional weathered look). I would like to avoid this from happening again.

    1. What is the preferred ratio for ballast adhesive? 50/50 white glue & water or something else?
    2. How about "matte medium instead of white glue?
    3. For 'wet water', would a 90 or 99% isopropyl alcohol bet a better 'buy' than the 'watered' down common 70% found anywhere?

    This is N scale Peco code 55 if that matters.

  2. #2
    Use an eyedropper and 70 percent alcohol to wet the ballast, then another eyedropper with 50/50 white glue and water to well-tailored ballast. Work about a meter at a time. You will have very neat ballast in N or HO or On3, whatever. Matt medium is relatively expensive by the quart, white glue is ridiculously inexpensive by the gallon.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Wishing I was at MP 35 on the Moffat...
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    I use Elmer's white glue. I have a big 32 oz bottle that has lasted me for years.

    I mix it roughly 50/50 with water, a squirt of dish soap and 70% alcohol to kill surface tension.
    I haven't tried to find 91% alky in Germany yet.

    I thoroughly wet the ballast with straight 70% alky from amisting trigger spray bottle, then dribble on the glue mix from an emptied Elmer's bottle. The twist action top makes it easy to regulate the flow.

    I dribble it on until I see the mix starting to puddle below the ROW. It looks milky now, but dries transparent and solid as a rock. You can gently use a toothpick to remove stray ballast from the web of the rails, and atop the ties, but after that, don't touch it!

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Montana
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    573
    That's like asking the best recipe for apple pie....everyone will have a different one that they like. But the 50/50 glue/water mix is probably the most common. I'd avoid the 99% alchohol..........that's usually used as a paint stripper and could have some nasty side effects. The alcohol level isn't really a factor anyway, it's the wetting ability. I haven't fpound alcohol to be a "better" wetting agent that plain old wet water in terms of application success, although it does evaporate a little faster. The key is getting enough of whatever you use on to WET the ballast, not just get it damp.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Mod Podge matte medium diluted with water 50:50 works best. White glue can get brittle over time and come undone. Matte medium is slightly flexible.
    Metro Red LineUnder the streets of Los AngelesCheck out my N scale layout blog!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
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    Wild and Wonderful West Virginia
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    I've used both a 33/33/33 combination of Matte medium, Water and 70% Alcohol and a 25% Alcohol(70%) / 25% Water / 50% Matte Medium mixture with little to no difference in results, it works for me.

    I still find the Matte Medium to be too shiny, I would love to find a Flat "Flatte" Medium... I'd buy that by the gallon.
    Pat M.
    Carolina, Chicopee & Central Illinois
    "The Chicopee Road"
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