I said I might not get to the ballasting for a few weeks however, things moved on in certain areas and I got carried away with myself. I had purchased two grades of ballast, the finest, which one cold easily say was more suited to N gauge layouts and then medium ballast which could arguably be ore suited to OO gauge layouts.
My layout will be set in the early 1970s, in the pre-TOPs days. These days were not that long after the days of steam and it was common for goods yards to have a poorer quality of ballast. Very oftern the track was supported by anything available such as cinders or ashes and eventually this reached the tops of the sleepers and often covered them totally. Look at the picture of the goods area in Norwich station and the tracks at the bottom of the picture.
There is a good way to achieve this effect and it has been developed, mastered and documented by the modelling and photographic expert Chris Nevard. If you look on his blog by following the link given here – http://nevardmedia.blogspot.com/2011/08/creating-effect-of-ash-ballast.html you will be able to see how this look is achieved.
I have been following some of his advice to create a similar effect for my goods sidings and will also use the same methods when I attend to the siding near to the signal box. I started off by laying a really level layer of brown ballast which will be the main ground surface like you can see around the signals.
I needed to give this two layers of what was Woodland Scenics Fine Brown Ballast and was really please with how flat it dried out. I also made sure that other details such as relay cabinets were put in place now rather then chopping out scenery further down the line.
I stuck a border of masking tape down so the ballst stayed in the area where I wanted it and the added advantage was a nice neat edge to the ballast. There were no suprises to the ballasting process, however I was quite anal about putting the ballast in place as prior to the application of the glue there was not one grain of fine ballast on any sleepers. Being fussy at this stage saves a lot of time later on so I’m happy to be a bit obsessive once in a while..
I gave the ballast a few days to dry but the warm weather helped the glue to dry so I was able to move onto the next stage. I used DAS modelling clay to create the surface shown in the picture of Norwich station. You could follow the advice given by Chris Nevard and that would be a good idea, however, I chose to get a little bowl and broke of small manageble pieces of DAS clay into the bowl ready for when it was needed. I also added some water into the bowl so the clay didn’t dry out as it was quite warm in my garage.
There is still more to do on this part of the layout but it’s certainly exciting and should look good when completed.