Ballast adhesive: what is the best recipe?

Discussion in 'The Inspection Pit' started by videobruce, Apr 8, 2012.

  1. videobruce

    videobruce TrainBoard Member

    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. bfhalloran

    bfhalloran New Member

    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. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    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!
  4. MRLdave

    MRLdave TrainBoard Member

    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. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

    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.
  6. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    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.

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