ballasting questions

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Time to ballast my track i wanted to go w/Arizona ballast company,but there are no pics of what they sell on line. Does it make a difference are all companys stuff the same?

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
Two primary things you need to keep in mind: 1. does the ballast contain ferrous metal? It can be pulled up into your loco motors and create a problem.
2. Does it look scale to the track you are laying? Using the wrong size ballast can make the track not look just right. Woodland scenic Medium size ballast is the right size for HO scale. I don't know how Arizona Ballast sizes their ballast.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
I second the ferrous metal content check. Had the fuel tank speakers ruined on 2 of the early BLI Blueline C30-7's I had from picking up metallic ballast on the club's layout.
There are photos of the Arizona Rock & Mineral products on their Facebook site:

You do not need to join Facebook to view the photos.

It's just poor marketing on the part of AR&M to not have the photos on their main site. It will likely reduce their sales.

Fifer Hobby has a nice "Arizona Rock and Mineral Products Color Chart" on their site. It's actually better than AR&M's own photos!

- Jeff
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Well-Known Member
Staff member
I bought the Arizona Rock Sample Pack and you do get a lot of samples for the money - a lot! Well worth the money if you are looking for a good product and want to see it and handle it before you purchase it in bulk.

Don't quote me on this BUT, I think the sample box I got had close to 50 individual sample packs in it.


Well-Known Member
Not to change the subject, but one thing to keep in mind is that some railroads didn't have a lot of $$. As a result, their ballast jobs were minimal.


Active Member
MY thing is today is no ballast. The reason is if I want to move / change / remove something it is a total mess. If you layout is pretty much as it is going to stay for an extremely long time, go ahead and ballast. Use the thinned down white glue to anchor it, and keep it off the rails. No amount of track cleaning will get that glue off the rails. Just use the roadbed you are laying on as the "ballast" and you should be fine if you are moving stuff around...

The Aerojet
Use the thinned down white glue to anchor it, and keep it off the rails. No amount of track cleaning will get that glue off the rails.
I don't understand the statement above.

I have cleaned stray white glue off my rails any number of times. It is easy to remove by chipping off the dried glue with your fingernail, then cleaning off any remaining residue with an alcohol swab or even a bit of cloth moistened with water.

There types of glue that are more trouble to remove, such as CA or epoxy, but white glue is simple to remove from the rails.

- Jeff


Well-Known Member
Staff member
If you apply the thinned white glue with a pipette (ignore the ruler) you can control the amount of liquid being applied and you shouldn't get any on the track tops. Easy to clean out or throw away.


Active Member
Yes, that is the tool I use as well -- here is the deal - when i was building this current layout, I purposefully set the tracks under the scenery. Some of that white glue from Woodland Scenics can be hard to get off. It is not Elmer's, so don't ask what it is. ALL I know is I had a very hard time getting the stuff of the rails. YES I was careful in applying the glue, but don't ask how it got on the rail. Just one of those things one wonders about after the fact, and I am relating my experience.

The Aerojet


Well-Known Member
When I apply the glue/water mix, I use a re-purposed Elmer's White Glue bottle. When I get a bottle of glue down to about 40%. I top it off with water and a few drops of dishwashing soap and it is really easy to apply in the right place. No messy cleanup, just push the cap back down and you're done. A few quick shakes before using gets it mixed back up easily. Never gets on the rails unless I am consuming an adult beverage!


Well-Known Member
I always wipe off the nib on my glue bottles (I use carpenter's and it works) as soon as I push the nib closed. I also always cover the tracks with tape when I am spraying nearby, and if I am ballasting, as soon as I have glued the ballast I pick up a paper towel and wipe the rails in the area. Later, after the ballast is hardened, I go over the tracks with a cloth wetted with isopropyl alcohol. Dried paint should come off with a small pieced of wood, say a popsicle stick, rubbed along the rails. Or, use lacquer thinner for an even better job.
Just reading along with this thread, as I am nowhere near the ballasting stage, but I have an extreme noob question about glueing the ballast. Delute the glue, but then you spray it over the spread out ballast using your air brush?

Or is the process more or less using an old glue type bottle?
I've found that Woodland Scenic Cement is much harder to remove or dissolve than diluted white glue. Woodland's works fine, but I avoid using it for any type of ballasting, but leave it for scenery work.

I've heard that trying to reclaim track that has had ballast secured with Woodland's is next to impossible to remove.


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