Although my Valkenveld micro-layout is only 75cm long, it holds more than 330cm of track that needs ballasting.
I used dark brown Woodland Scenics medium cinders ballast. I know there is a finer ballast of the same brand available with probably a more realistic size of stones. But I prefer the coarser one as the fine ballast looks like "coloured salt" to me.
I used the following, traditional method of ballasting:
- The ballast is first distributed with a spoon on all flat surfaces, ie. between the rails and in the sections between double tracks.
- I carefully move the ballast to come up to the top of the ties, but not onto them, using my fingers and a brush.
- The sides of the cork base I first coat gently in wood glue before applying the ballast. Without that treatment the ballast would shift down creating ugly waves and open surfaces when the glue-water mixture is applied.
- I then spray the loose ballast with 70% alcohol. It's important that the tracks are soaking wet. This holds the ballast together when glue is applied.
- The traditional mixture of 50% wood glue and 50% water with a few drops of liquid detergant is gently dropped on the tracks using a syringe. This is the most tricky part of the operation. Ballast will move which can drive you crazy.
- Once dry, all stones in places where they shouldn't be are removed with a sharp knive.
- The track is then given a final weathering (still needs to be done).