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Thread: AZ Rock & Mineral Ballast: Size N....or HO?

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    Default AZ Rock & Mineral Ballast: Size N....or HO?

    I've previously used Arizona Rock & Mineral N-scale ballast... I like the way it applies, but wonder if their N-sized ballast isn't TOO fine. Maybe it's just me, but it just seems to lack definition after it's installed. I know it's more to scale, but after it's installed, to me it just "looks" more like...well...sand than ballast. In our scale, perhaps ballast is one of those things that looks a little better slightly oversized....

    I've been contemplating ordering a bag of their HO size to test. With their N scale ballast seeming to be finer than many other commercial N-scale offerings, I'm wondering if their HO-scaled ballast maybe isn't a little finer too...

    Has anybody had any experience with their HO-sized ballast? If so, I'd love to hear your opinions. Pics would also be most appreciated...

    Cheers!
    Troy


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    Personally I've never agreed with the idea that if something true to scale does't look right then something is wrong, that's just how it would actually look from that distance. You look at ballast on a railway from 320 feet away (2 foot rule), you're not going to see individual grains of gravel. What DOES help though is having a few slightly different shades mixed together, it's often the uniformity of colour rather than the grain being too fine that makes it look like smooth featureless sand. After everything is laid, a subtle black wash over the tracks and ballast also helps make the detail pop.

    I used a mix of different grays and brands of ballast here as well as a dash of Florida beach sand and I think it turned out pretty ok.



    HO ballast will be giant grapefruit sized chunks, I've always thought it looks way too big for N scale. Arizona and the finest WS Ballast is the best match, just need to play with the tones to add some detail to the mix.

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    I used AZ N Scale Ballast on a siding, not bad, but I found Smith & Sons to be a more consistent and slightly smaller blend, so it is perfect for N scale main lines.
    Karl

    CEO of the Skally Line, an Eastern MN Shortline

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    A lot depends on the prototype you want to replicate.

    If you are mimicking something like limestone that is uniform in color, the texture will be hard to see.

    Many granites are naturally multicolored, so the different mixes of minerals in the stone make them look like different colors. These different colors give the ballast a stronger texture.

    Since the default color for model railroads is a gray color, mixing in some white, black and another tone or two of gray gives you the illusion of texture.



    I find the Woodland Scenics "Fine Ballast" great for HO or maybe O. The stuff I have, will be used as iron ore loads.

    Even in an out of focus picture, it is easy to tell WS (iron ore) from AR&M (pink lady granite - mined in WI) ballast apart. Note how the real granite has color variations.

    One thing you might you want to do is buy larger quantities of A&RM ballast (N or HO) then sift out the too large or small stones.




    In reference to Baron's suggestion of mixing color, I have a suggestion for an experiment. At your local craft store, there is a ballast alternative, ArtSand. This colored material is used in various artistic project and comes in many colors both natural and bright. Best part is that it is the right size for N scale ballast. You can buy it in large or small containers.

    That is actually white ArtSand. Under the tracks I painted black Tempra paint. The wet glue I used to hold the ballast, mixed with the paint. Producing the color shift. You can see the bright white specks of grains that escaped glue. You can see the actual color of the sand here, http://www.nscale.net/forums/album.p...chmentid=44737

    While you could mix up a custom ballast color using ArtSand exclusively. Because you can buy small quantities, it is possible to mix it with the AR&M ballast to introduce some minor color variations.

    Also try some black or brown Tempra paint added into your wet glue. It will weather the ballast as it settles into the nooks and crannies.
    Use what you know about the world to model…
    Learn from modeling what you don't know about the real world.



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    Quote Originally Posted by baronjutter View Post
    What DOES help though is having a few slightly different shades mixed together, it's often the uniformity of colour rather than the grain being too fine that makes it look like smooth featureless sand.
    What he said. This is mostly Arizona Rock and Mineral's n scale Northern Pacific Grey, with small amounts of a couple different WS colors mixed in.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoNW View Post
    there is a ballast alternative, ArtSand.
    Beware: I tried the black art sand as a coal substitute and found that some of it was attracted to magnets. You don't want iron filings anywhere near your motors so might want to pass a magnet over yours and see if anything sticks.

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    Arizona Rock & Mineral N-scale "Apache Stone" ballast contains a nice mix of colors and looks good from 320 scale feet away.

    - Jeff


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    While the brand I buy doesn't seem to be a natural material, so I've never had that problem.

    But hidden iron could be a problem with any natural sand or stone products. It is always a safe practice to run a strong magnet, to catch any stray taconite. Iron is often what gives sand/stone it's reddish color.
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    I used Az. Rock. To my eyes, it looks pretty good:



    Wolf
    Last edited by SP-Wolf; 14th Jan 2018 at 10:24 PM.

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