NW Modeling List nw-modeling-list at
Mon Jul 20 17:43:51 EDT 2015

The one planned ash pit is a ways off and I'm interested in your ideas. 
My immediate need has been stone ballast and cinders for ballast and 
roadbed shoulders.

I use two Tyler test sieves (thru Hogentogler & Co. ) to screen quarry sand, a 0.02" (#35) sieve 
stacked on top of a 0.01" (#50) sieve. Anything too big gets caught in 
the upper sieve, HO scale stone ballast gets caught in the bottom sieve, 
and anything too small falls through the bottom sieve into one of 
Susan's metal pie pans. The (dusty) ballast is rinsed in a shallow pan 
with running water, agitated until the water runs clear, drained, and 
left to dry.

Plain sand is dyed black, dried and then screened with the #50 sieve 
such that the coarse powder that falls through as cinders is all smaller 
than any of the stone ballast. Yield depends on how fine the sand was to 
start and whatever gets caught in the sieve as too big for the scenic 
part of the layout is set aside to ballast a staging yard.

What became the bigger issue to work through was color (or intensity) 
and what affected it. The colors of stone, cinders, and crossties tend 
to darken when scaled to the layout from outside (think Tuscan Red). 
Limestone darkens when dust is rinsed off and some again when secured 
with liquid adhesives. Cinders are black, but may appear grey at a 
distance in bright light (on the layout, too). Photos for reference are 
often taken in these conditions, plus exposure and printing can add to 
the effect. Cinders and (wood) crossties are dyed, so the color can be 
adjusted by eye with dye concentration and cooking time.

Different quarries are sampled to adjust stone color. My first thought 
was Pounding Mill or PM/Bluefield, being the closest, but these looked a 
bit too dark to my eye. Seems quarry pit color can shift over time (at 
least 60 years) and ballast wasn't always sourced from the nearest 
quarry, so this put other quarries in play including Blue Ridge and an 
old sample from Pembroke.

Grant Carpenter

On 7/18/2015 12:46 PM, NW Modeling List wrote:
> Ed,
> If you know someone who smokes, has a fireplace, etc. you can use the 
> ash from those.  I'm still trying to duplicate that grimy gray look of 
> yard cinders/ballast that have been subject to rain, lubricants etc.  
> Dying sand might be the answer.
> Jim Brewer
> Glenwood MD
> July 18, 2015 11:30:29 AM
> Grant, you sir, are a truly dedicated modeler, and my hat is off to 
> you!  Could you please advise what size sieves you use? Your idea for 
> cinders is brilliant: would it work for the ash pit? Or would you 
> suggest something else?
> Ed Svitil
> Date:
> 7/18/2015 6:49 AM
> Grant;
> Where are the two N&W quarries you mentioned located? I really like 
> the dea of using quarry sand for ballast.
> Regards
> Russ Goodwin
> Buford, GA
> Date:17/07/2015 21:08
> For stone ballast, I use 2 sieves to screen quarry sand from N&W 
> quarries. For cinders, I dye plain sand black and screen through the 
> smaller sieve.
> Grant Carpenter
> On 7/13/2015 2:17 PM, NW Modeling List wrote:
>     Is there a commercial product to replicate NW 1950's  mainline and
>     yard ballast?  What looks/works best to the more experienced hands?
>     Thanks!
>     *Ed Svitil*
>     *Norfolk & Western Railway Modeler *

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the NW-Modeling-List mailing list