Ballasting or should it be “Re-Ballasting”?

Hi. I have that lovely picture from of the French narrow gauge engine being turned as my desktop wallpaper here at the office and I have been staring at, trying to figure out how to translate it into the space I have on my layout. Some things are becoming apparent and I thought I’d start by writing them down – I find writing things out is still one of my favourite thinking tools…forgive me I analyse things for a living!

Paving Stones

For the life of me I can’t think of what the concrete-work along the edge of the paving in the picture is called. I think it would be fair to assume that it is as wide a strip as a railroad tie and should be just shy of flush to the top of the rail head. I’m tempted to use some pine ripped to size for the core and lay a thin strip of card along the top.

Frankly I’m really tempted to try and pour this using some thin plaster in formwork just you would in the real world.


This should be easy and I anticipate doing this with a little Polyfilla plaster. Likely I’ll dye the plaster when mixing it with a little acrylic paint. Hopefully I’ll get a colour warm enough that it will only need some washes of colour when done.


Oh how I agonized over the best way to model a railway line ballasted with nothing but the sand it sat on. I am still so pleased with the tile grout approach and would continue it without hesitation.

For this station though I really need proper stone ballast. Years ago I used cat littler. It was about the right colour and you could seive it down to a size nice enough for the HO scale layout I was building. I have a pile of old screen in the workshop so I may make a larger seive and grade some cat litter again.

In the mornings I try to get out on my bicycle and ride along the old railway trail. The trail is finished with some really fine stone that looks like a discarded aggregate product. Most of it is far too coarse for what I need but I wonder if a similar product could be had that could itself be further graded for use on my layout?

Either way both products will need to be washed before installing on the layout and weathered lightly once in place. I’m keen to try either.


That turntable is really neat. I’ve never seen one for engines before that was essentially a crossover like this one. It reminds me of the much smaller ones you’d see for turning cars on a hand-worked factory railway. Peco make a small wagon turntable for OO9 and I have one.

I can’t help but think about how this might be a place to try a CD-based turntable as Card Arendt has so wonderfully popularized on his website.

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