Your opinion please

maxairedale Dec 11, 2010

  1. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member

    Submitted for your viewing pleasure are 2 photos of stone and glue.



    I started to do some REAL ballasting last night, and I’m surprised, no SHOCKED with the color of the end result. The yellow color is not what I was expecting or what I had when I did some of my not so famous ballasting samples.

    Okay on to the photos.

    • The spoon contains crushed limestone fresh out of the supply.
    • The track in the middle of the photo is what I did last night. This was applied with a mix of 1:1 Elmer’s Glue All (white glue) to water
    • The stuff on the section of blue foam is from one of my practice sessions. This was applied with a mix of 1:4 Mate Medium to Water.

    It is hard to tell in the photos, but the ballasting I did last night has a yellow color and is darker compared to the sample. I had expected that both the white glue and the mate medium would darken ballast, but to me there seems to be a big difference between the two Furthermore the ballast from last night is YELLOW not Limestone gray

    My questions are

    1. Since the ballast using white glue has a yellow tint, is this because I used too thick of a mix of glue/water or is it something that happens all the time using white glue?
    2. Should I have used, say a 1:4 mix (one part glue 4 parts water) as I did using the mate medium?
    3. Since white glue should be water-soluble what would be the best way to remove this Yellow ballast?
    4. Am I overly concerned about this? I guess I could say I was using Yellow Limestone.[​IMG]
    I am going to let is sit for a day or two be deciding if I am going to rip it out or not. I really am wanting the look of the gray limestone for my main line. I plan to do some weathering as seen in the ballasting video that I keep recommending others to look at, but I don't think it will cover up the yellow.

    Luckily I had time for about 9 inches last night.

    Thanks for looking, any and all comments welcome.


    Attached Files:

  2. Candy_Streeter

    Candy_Streeter TrainBoard Member

    Doesn't it actually look more like this?
  3. pachyderm217

    pachyderm217 TrainBoard Member

    When you use natural materials, you can expect some color change with the addition of moisture. Further, now you are not merely adding moisture; you're adding a coating to each particle, a coating of glue. The glue coating has a different light reflectance than the dry limestone particles. In fact, the Elmer's glue may even create a partial gloss on the surface, thus giving the illusion of the yellow color. The glue coating is simply reflecting more yellow light to your eye than did the dry limestone.

    Possible solutions:

    1.Continue using matte medium.

    2. Dilute the glue solution further to reduce the thickness of the coating.

    3. Airbrush the finished ballast with a light wash coat of reefer gray or some other dirty blend to kill the partial gloss and lighten the overall color.

    4. Use different lighting in the train room and during photography.

    I used a blend of Ottowa (silica) sand and local sand for my ballast. Like yours, after gluing the final color did not match the dry material. Given the price (free), I learned to like it.
  4. COverton

    COverton TrainBoard Member

    It might change to a lighter hue in time, certainly under the effects of UV-emitting lamps overhead or nearby. But we could be talking a couple of years or more.

    It is generally understood that applying even water to the surfaces of items changes their hue or shade quite dramatically. This would have to do with refraction and diffraction of light through the new layer, even if just a few molecules thick. Absorption of certain frequencies by surface layers is also a factor. Or, some substances reflect a certain frequency preferentially, in which case you'll see more of that frequency coming from the apparent surface of the product.

    If you have found a medium that, all things considered, you prefer to use for one reason or several, perhaps adding white paint to it in small amounts may solve your problem immediately. Both products you mentions will withstand the addition of both water and acrylic artist's paints and still do a good job. In fact, you must have diluted the glue a fair bit, at least by half...I use about a 7 or 8 to one ratio in favour of the water and still get hard ballast once it dries. Also, I happen to just continue to use yellow carpenter glue.
  5. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for the replys

    Yes and no. The bench work color is a tan/light brown, the color in the no flash photo is bit yellow, caused by the lighting, and the flash photo just washed it all out. In all three images (my 2 and the one Candy provided) you can see that the stone in the spoon and the stone on the blue foam are almost the same color. After I dragged my wife out to the train building (kicking and screaming) she too agreed that it was yellow/brown color next to the other samples I have.

    Free is good and that is the same I paid for the limestone. I do plan on using some weathering mixes on the ballast, but I am not sure if it would hide all the yellow without hiding the texture of the ballast. I knew there would be some color change, i.e., a little darker, based on my different practice sessions.

    A couple years????? Yes I could wait that long, but...

    I used a mixture of 50% water and 50% glue. When I was applying the glue I thought that it looked too thick. I'm about to test, off of the layout, a mix of 20% glue and 80% water (1:4) which is the same as the mix for the mate medium I used in my practice sessions. I want to see what that will look like.

    As for what I am currently thinking, I will most likely use mate medium at a 1:4 ratio. I like the way it turned out in my test areas and in an area where I created a gravel parking lot.

    I do like the color that has appeared (not for my ballast), but I would use it on a backwoods road some place, so the yellow may show up again.

    Off to test the new white glue mix, just so I know.


  6. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member

    Just in case anyone is interested in this dribble, I continue.

    Back out to the train building I went to do a few things.

    • Brake in a loco that I have not run since I got it.
    • Mix up some wreathing powers using powered paints and plaster.
    • Paint the rails.
    • Attempt one more time to test some ballast glue.

    Mixed up some white glue with water at 1 part glue and 4 parts water as I mentioned before.

    In the photo below is my practice session involving my attempt to ballast a switch and not stick it up (a different thread), using mate medium and a 1-inch ± circle. The circle is what I did this afternoon using the glue mix mentioned above. As you can see, even with the poor lighting that there is very little difference in the ballast color at both the switch and the circle. To the eye both, are gray and both are acceptable.


    So as was mentioned in a previous post I believe I used too thick of a ratio when ballasting the track last night.

    Now I need to remove the mess from last night and redo.

    Thanks for the help.


    Attached Files:

  7. nscalerone

    nscalerone TrainBoard Member

    I, too, struggled with the "right" ratio/mix for scenic glue for a LONNNNG time, UNTIL..........I stumbled on this formula, and I use it for everything, scenery, ballast, etc.

    Use a 60/40 mix of "Aleen's Tacky Glue" (brown squeeze bottle, found @ "Hobby Lobby")
    ( 60% water, 40% glue, and about an oz. of 70 or 90 alcohol......I mix my "batch" in quart carpenter's glue bottle, it has a perfect tip to "dribble" the mix on.)

    Mist 70%/90% alcohol on whatever you wish to glue......ballast, etc., until it is pretty well wetted, then dribble on glue mix until the area is opaque white. If you get a bit much on, I use a large damp car-wash sponge & ice cream bucket of water (to rinse sponge) to dab up excess. Let dry for 24 hours, and check for loose areas, if needed, re-apply alcohol & glue to area that is loose.

    As to getting up "failed attempt"...........I've heard it can be soaked in hot water to soften & freed, but I've never tried it.

    Good Luck, keep working @ it, and have a Merry Christmas. :tb-cool:
  8. cdecatur41

    cdecatur41 TrainBoard Member

    I respectfully do not understand. One photo was taken without a flash, so it should be at photo K of 3200 or so for incadescent bulbs. The second photo was taken with flash at maybe 5500-6000K photo temperature. The first will be yellow, the second blue. Is this a trick, or are there subleties I cannot see? Or perhaps I do not understand?
  9. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member


    I saw it at Wal-Mart this afternoon.

  10. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member

    No Trick.

    Yes I agree the first photo should have been taken with a filter (one of the problems with a point and shoot camera[​IMG]) and the second was washed out by the flash, again a point and shoot problem. Neither photo revels the true color of the ballast samples, but to get an idea of the colors and what I was complaining about, take the ballasted track in the "No Flash" photo and compare that to the ballast in the spoon and ballast on the blue foam in the "Flash" photo (post #1). Now you have "Yellow" ballast compared to the color it should have been.

    The point of this thread was to find an answer as to why the ballasting I did using white glue was the color of weak tea and not the gray color of the limestone that I started with and had obtained during my practice sessions when I used mate medium as a glue.

    It was suggested that I had used too thick of a mix of glue to water (see post 3 & 4) and that was the cause of the weak tea "Yellow" color. Further testing proved that to be the case (see post #6). Again I used my point and shoot camera but under a different light that time. The colors of the two piles of ballast are the same in that photo but due to the lighting still has a tint of color, but to the eye the ballast is gray. [​IMG]

    The "Yellow" ballast has been removed and will be replaced during the Winter Layout Party.[​IMG]


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