Low Cost Tips to Improve Your Railroad Modeling
Photo by Richard Schumacher
Trackwork is the most visible representation of your model railroad. It does not matter if the train is even on the track, the track is still there for all critical eyes to critique. It defines from where your line is coming to where it is going.
Ballast is a key element and expense in the presentation of your track. While there are many ballast products specifically produced for model railroaders, a fine alternative is the use of masonry sand.
This sand is available in many pigments with different degrees of coarseness. You would use the sand as you would use any ballast products, but the big difference is the cost. These products are designed to be used by the building industry and are a fraction of the cost of regular ballast. The sand comes in minimum size bags of approximately twenty-five pounds, but do not be dismayed, you will be amazed at how much ballast the average railroad will absorb.
If you cannot find the exact color you wish to have on your pike, consider using the sand ballast as a base. After the base dries, use the more expensive model railroad ballast as a top coat for color.
A final note of caution. Some of these sands can contain iron which would be the same as soldering a wire between the rails. Be sure to bring a strong magnet with you when choosing your sand. Test the product. If any of it sticks to the magnet, do not use it. Pick another color.