Ballasting Track with HO-Scale Ballast

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Duration:   6  mins

Josh Clark is at his father-son Norfolk Southern HO-scale layout to demonstrate a quick and easy method of ballasting track. Even though Josh will be working with HO-scale ballast in this video, the same techniques can be used for other scales. For this project, Josh uses a paintbrush to spread the ballast, a spoon to distribute the ballast, water with one pump of soap in a spray bottle to decrease the surface tension, and Elmer’s Wood Glue. Josh and his father use Woodland Scenics ballast, specifically fine ballast for HO scale.

First, Josh vacuums the track to clean the surface and then begins to spread the ballast, on the side of the track first. He places the spoon on the side along the ties at an angle for an even distribution. When the HO-scale ballast is distributed, Josh takes an angled painting brush to spread it out and brush the excess off of the track, focusing on one rail and then the other. An easy way to remove the excess on the ties is to simply use a finger. To glue it all down, Josh sprays the track with some wet water in a spray bottle that produces a finer mist. Starting in the middle of the track, he lays down a mixture of half water and half glue, and then drips it on the outside with a lighter hand. Josh recommends practicing on a different surface first so that the HO-scale ballast you place on your track adds great realism.

For another fast and easy ballast process or information on choosing ballast with texture, visit the Model Railroad Academy archives.

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5 Responses to “Ballasting Track with HO-Scale Ballast”

  1. Darrell Millner

    Josh, Thank You,
    I look forward to putting your example to use.
    One thing – if I may – the only thing that seemed to be missing from the video was a shot of the end result, after the 50/50 clue dried.

    • Customer Service

      Hi Darrell. Thank you for your feedback. I will forward your comments on to the proper department. We appreciate your comments.
      Jean Model Railroad Academy Video Membership

    • Customer Service

      Hi Linda,

      Here is what our expert had to say:

      Well, a real railroad couldn’t do much without switches, and the same is true for model railroads. Switches create junctions, passing sidings, yards, and industrial spurs. There is really an unlimited number of configurations. I’d say go out and look at real trackwork near you.



      I think what she was asking was how to ballast switches not if she should put them in.

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