glue formula

Discussion in 'The Inspection Pit' started by The Toolman, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. The Toolman

    The Toolman TrainBoard Member

    I think I read somewhere a few years back about mixing elmers glue an a little water in a squirt bottle to spray on the ballast to hold it together an from being sucked off when cleaning the layout.

    Anyway, could somebody give me the correct proportions of water an glue for this, or have I even got this right? I'm old an my memory isn't as good as it once was...haha

  2. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

    It can vary, it's usually 1 part glue to 2 parts water or 1 part glue to 1 part water. The more water, the longer it takes to dry.

    I would recommend though to not spray the glue mixture but apply it with either a syringe or eyedropper or pipette. You can spray the wet water or rubbing alcohol mixture, though I've found out it's much cleaner if you apply that with a syringe/eyedropper/pipette as well.
  3. gregorycarlson

    gregorycarlson TrainBoard Member


    Spraying glue from a bottle: 3:1 water to glue (with a few drops of dish soap) though I think I have read 5:1 and 2:1. I tried a few different ratios and had the best luck with 3:1, but I wouldn't recommend using a spray bottle since you really lose control with where it goes (unless it's a really big area) and instead suggest using a pipette, which are generally used for mixing paint.

    Best success for me. Eye dropper/Pipette: 2:1 to 1:1 water to glue (and some dish soap) depending on the 'flow' needed.

    Hope that helps, have a great day!
  4. Seated Viper

    Seated Viper TrainBoard Member


    I was going to mention, but Greg has already - dishwashing liquid. Two or three drops in the mix is said to help it spread. I'm told, too, that it helps concrete in cold weather, but don't let the foreman see you using it!


    Pete Davies
  5. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member

    I just put some ballast down last night using 1 part mate medium and 8 parts water. I used a 50:50 mix of water/70% alcohol as a wetting agent as seen in this video. I use both eyedroppers and syringes.

  6. The Toolman

    The Toolman TrainBoard Member

    The more I think about it, the more I think you guys are right. I had just read about the spray bottle an never thought about an eye dropper/syringe. I don't know what a pipette is though?

    Think I'll go with the eye dropper, I have one of them

    Thanx Guys
  7. drawmada

    drawmada TrainBoard Member

    Yes Thanks to Toolman for asking the question, was going to ask the same one :tb-smile:
  8. Fotheringill

    Fotheringill Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    No spray, please. Sooner or later, and probably sooner, you are going to glue your turnouts. It will not be pretty.

    I have found the following to be a good method;

    1. Lay the ballast (stay away from the turnout points) and brush out so there is nothing sticking up above the ties.
    2. Use either alcohol or dishwashing detergent to break the surface tension. Otherwise, the ballast is going to float up towards the ceiling. You may spray this or use an eyedropper. If dishwasher stuff- one or two drops per quart is enough. Shake before using, blow away bubbles.
    3. Elmer's white glue- NOT the school glue which will dry with a shine- You can dilute to half and half or thereabouts. There is no exact formula but the more water you use, the longer to dry. The less water, the more likely it will neither spread properly nor be absorbed downward into the ballast. Let it dry thoroughly, like a day or more.
    4. THEN- go over your work inch by inch with a magnifying glass after you have wiped the tops of the rails down with a rag with alcohol to get rid of glue that hit the tops of the rails. Remove any ambient pieces of ballast that have migrated away from where they belong and will interfere with operations.
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    We should make this post a "How To" if one is not already listed.

    Boxcab E50
  10. LOU D

    LOU D TrainBoard Member

    DO NOT use dish soap!!! Use alcohol as a wetting agent..When alcohol dries,it's gone,when soap dries,it's STILL soap..The glue won't truly harden,and it will be sticky,and attract dust.I use a baby aspirator to put it down.It's a small blue bulb used to clean their nose out,available in any drug store,also used as an ear washer.I put a little red tube from a can of carb cleaner in it.Use Matt Medium,it dries totally dull.Mix it about 40% glue,20% water,40% alcohol.[93% alcohol..] I usually flow 50/50 alcohol/water into the ballast from the side first,then after it's damp,I flow in the glue.If you're careful,you can go right down the middle of a 2 track main,and never go near the track..
  11. Chaya

    Chaya TrainBoard Supporter

    Here's what works well for me:

    I use one of those LITTLE Elmer's glue bottles like kids use. I fill it with 50% white glue and then 50% water, add one drop of dish soap, and shake.

    Then I use a really cheap hairspray bottle full of 70% rubbing alcohol and spray the ballast, far away and gently at first, and then closer until the ballast is soaked. (I use a cheap hairspray bottle because it atomizes so nicely).

    I open the glue bottle, tip it up, and dribble a generous line of glue down the center of the track.

    I then dribble glue onto first one side of the track, then the other, by running the glue bottle along the outside of each rail. It wicks into the ballast. I'll make multiple passes, gradually soaking the ballast until I see white glue between the particles.

    I wait a little while, then clean along the rails with my thumbnail. After it dries--24 hours--I clean them again with a dental pick to make sure no particles are in the webbings.

    I find that by using this method, the ballast remains just as smooth as when I put it down.

    And using the little glue bottle allows me to wet a lot more track before having to look away and do other things.
  12. The Toolman

    The Toolman TrainBoard Member

    This whole thread oughta be a sticky or saved somewhere easy to find. Theres so many good ideas in here, its hard to believe. They all have great points about'em.
    Everytime somebody posts, there is always another excellent nugget of wisdom added to the mix.
    A coupla more posts the way we're going, and a blind newbie ought to be able to ballast his track with a scoop shovel, liquid nails, and a bottle of moonshine to clean with........hahaha

  13. kstone

    kstone New Member

    Anyone know if alcohol or other solvents in the hairspray will melt a styrofoam base?
  14. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member

    Hi Ron

    A pipette is just a fancy eye dropper.

  15. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member

    Not sure about the "other solvents", but green, blue and pink foam are NOT affected by alcohol. This is based on my limited experiences.

  16. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

    I found pipettes for 50 cents each at a LHS; you might have better luck at a general-purpose hobby store (RC, airplanes, kits, etc)


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