Choosing Model Railroad Ballast with Texture

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Duration: 7:44

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In large scale and small, ballast is a vital component for a successful railroad. Good, uniform ballast on a full-scale railroad helps secure ties and keep them dry from the elements. On a model railroad, ballast serves to add realism and depth to your scene (when done correctly). When it comes to selecting model railroad ballast for the trackage on your layout, the goal should always be to create visual intrigue.

Similar to any other aspect of the scenery on a model railroad, ballast color and grit should be chosen based on the unique specifications and aesthetic of your particular railroad. Experts warn against using a single commercial color that makes your trackage look flat and unrealistic. So in this lesson, we teach you some simple tips for finding the right model railroad ballast that will give your layout additional texture and interest.

The key to realistic model railroad ballast

To help you figure out how to choose the proper color and grit of model railroad ballast for your layout, Tony Koester walks you through a simple demonstration for creating well textured ballast. He lays down various shades of model railroad ballast on a sample track to show what happens when you choose the wrong color for your track.

Tony also explains why modelers often make the mistake of buying model railroad ballast in bulk that doesn’t suit their layout. It’s an understandable mistake; the lighting could be different in the hobby shop or the shade you pick might be on sale. But Tony introduces an expert tip for buying and testing ballast in order to give your trackage more texture and visual intrigue.

He talks about some of the things you should take into consideration when experimenting with different types of model railroad ballast, including lighting on your layout, and then discusses why this little simple aspect of a railroad can have such a big effect on the realism of a layout. Try out Tony’s tip for choosing the right ballast for your tracks, and we guarantee you’ll add vital texture and interest to your scenes.