Ballast Size

Ballast Size

Postby sman » Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:01 pm

As I ponder and procrastinate on building a layout, perusing the local hobby store the other day it dawned on me that I wasn't entirely sure what size ballast I should be using. I was looking at the Woodland Scenics range for example, which comes in Coarse, Medium and Fine. My initial thought is that fine is for N and Medium for HO.

So I'm curious to know what people are using for TT. I noticed there are TT scale ballast packs you can purchase online. Is that the best choice or is it acceptable to go with say medium or fine? Or take medium and run it through the coffee grinder for a few seconds :grin:

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H
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Re: Ballast Size

Postby ConducTTor » Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:28 pm

I used medium on my old layout and I think it looked ok but I may try fine next time. Or I'll just order tt specific.
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Re: Ballast Size

Postby Arseny » Fri Aug 19, 2016 3:44 am

I used Noch "H0/TT" scale gray ballast, and I liked it.
Maybe it is a little bit bigger than necessary to fit in scale, but I think it's acceptable.

Also I used Tillig TT scale ballast, but it seems to me it is too small.

Also I used Auhagen TT-scale ballast, but I did not like it. It looks like they use some water-soluble paints, so I've got some ugly brown leaks
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Re: Ballast Size

Postby MacG » Fri Aug 19, 2016 6:48 am

I think, 6 or more stones, in a row between the ties (Tillig-Track), are a good compromise for our scale. The metric size per stone should be 0,3- 0,6mm.

Look at the prototype: http://koemo.de/index.php?route=informa ... ation_id=6

I want to use ballast from www.koemo.de
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Re: Ballast Size

Postby AstroGoat760 » Fri Aug 19, 2016 7:44 pm

On the layout I built, I used a mixture of Woodland Scenics Fine and Medium ballast.
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Re: Ballast Size

Postby sman » Sat Aug 20, 2016 6:20 am

Very helpful and interesting, thanks!

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Re: Ballast Size

Postby WillYart » Thu Dec 22, 2016 7:46 am

I don't know about in countries besides my own but here in the US there we have no national standard regulating ballast size. However the AREA (American Railway Engineering Association) has well reasoned recommendations that are often followed. Typically smaller ballast is used in yard areas and anywhere people have to walk near the track for loading/unloading. A nominal 1" (25.4mm) is good for this purpose. See http://uknowledge.uky.edu/cgi/viewconte ... rchreports. For modelling purposes I highly recommend reading http://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/node/9950 esp. re. experiences with the Woodland Scenics product.

Rather than having multiple sizes of ballast, I chose a ballast that falls well within the minimum size I'm trying to model. There are a lot of layouts out there that are nicely done but with basketball-sized ballast that kind of stands out; trying to avoid that.

Here is a source for great ballast *real rock*, this is where I got mine from:

Smith And Son Ballast
Owners: Harley & Dale Smith
13630 GAR Highway (Rt. 6)
Chardon OH 44024
Phone: 440-286-4890

I don't know if you can get him to ship to Australia. I have him my address, he mailed an order form, and I mailed him back with my order.

It's available in many sizes and colors, including

White Limestone
Gray Limestone
Penn-Ohio Limestone
Color Blend
Marblehead Limestone
River Gravel
Dark Limestone
Silica Sand


I chose the #50 size, Penn-Ohio limestone. I think it's the real stuff; the color variation seems correct - it's beautiful. Measuring a dozen or so nuggets of ballast, they are all around 0.14 - 0.18 mm which is within my 1" max. Another advantage is that it's small enough to use for gravel roads and driveways.

EDIT: I don't disagree with MacG's practices; plenty of prototype ballast falls within those measurements. Some people may prefer to work with slightly larger ballast sizes than mine; also in our scale the visual effect you're after will affect the decision
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Re: Ballast Size

Postby CFRiad » Thu Dec 22, 2016 10:16 am

A lot depends on the personal preference.

In many cases a simple scale down of the prototype may be accurate but may not look good. For example, a prototypical ballast in TT scale may look like sand on the layout. Sometimes using an oversize ballast helps enhancing the overall look of the layout.

Personally, I know that there is no such thing as a perfectly prototypical layout, so I tend to exaggerate some details. But that is just me.
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Re: Ballast Size

Postby sman » Thu Dec 22, 2016 6:56 pm

Thanks Will, that's some food for thought. While waiting for the train to the office I studied the ballast on the track, and in a straight line between the rails I easily counted 20 to 30 rocks.
Raid also makes an interesting point though. As things get scaled down, sometimes you want to exaggerate detail to make it pop.
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Re: Ballast Size

Postby WillYart » Tue Dec 27, 2016 8:16 am

sman wrote:Thanks Will, that's some food for thought. While waiting for the train to the office I studied the ballast on the track, and in a straight line between the rails I easily counted 20 to 30 rocks.
Raid also makes an interesting point though. As things get scaled down, sometimes you want to exaggerate detail to make it pop.


that's the best way. I can't look at trains much being in Hawaii. Such a hard life.
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