Ballast inside tunnel?

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KWValentine

New Member
Hellow fellow MRR's.
I'm building the Grand Valley kit from Woodland Scenics.
I'm at the point of building the tunnels and need to install the ballast on the tracks.
My question: Is there a reason to install ballast past the point (6-8") where you can't see the track inside the tunnel?

Is there any benefit other than getting the practice?

Thanks.
Kevin Valentine
McKinney, TX
 
If it's a straight tunnel you'll be looking at head on, you'll be able to tell - otherwise, ballast to the end of your sight line.
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
If you ever run a train camera you're going to see where the ballast left off. Never get caught with unballasted track in your tunnels. You will regret it.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
I only ballast what I or my camera will see. That applies to track and tie weathering as well.
 

Matthewd5

Member
I'm a newbie t his but i would probably still ballast the hidden track

It's a Steve jobs throwback to a certain way of obsessing on details and craftsmanship

Matthew
 

Railrunner130

Well-Known Member
I guess there is also a philosopical question to be asked here-

Does model RR ballast do the same for scale tracks as it does in real life?

I don't think it does. However, I've been known to be wrong.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
No, it doesn't, not entirely. The ballast floats the ties to offer them a buffer against the dynamic forces of heavy trucks bearing 70-120 tons of car and burden passing over them. They help to keep the ties separated, and they help to keep them drained of standing water that would rot them quickly. However, most of us do use the glued ballast to anchor the tracks, particularly to maintain curvature.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
I'm a newbie t his but i would probably still ballast the hidden track

It's a Steve jobs throwback to a certain way of obsessing on details and craftsmanship

Matthew
I can't see Steve Jobs insisting that his devotees and customers should purchase his products with components that have little or no added value unless he were prepared to underwrite their inclusion himself and to bear the costs so as not to gyp them. In that respect, ballasting the track inside a tunnel has only as much value, in our hobby, as actually finishing the inside of the tunnel, itself, which few of us do. It's a choice in the hobby, but it would not be a choice in a sound business.
 
If you ever run a train camera you're going to see where the ballast left off. Never get caught with unballasted track in your tunnels. You will regret it.
That's an interesting thing to think about. It would never be a problem on my layout, since I fully enclose my tunnels so that they're completely dark inside.
 

PApat

Member
Hey Kevin,
My first layout was a WS layout. I am going to suggest two things - one, make sure ALL your track has a nice level surface. It's very easy to get things un-even, especially if the trackplan has 4" risers that cross over track. The layout I built crossed over under a tunnel and was problematic. There is a reason most guys use plywood or laminated masonite for track raised above the decking. Second, I would advise against ballast inside the tunnels because if you are not careful, you could have a couple of pieces glued to the inside of the rail and you won't be able to access easily. WS does instruct you to cut access panels, but try working inside there, holding a flashlight and a mirror trying to find the offending rock.

My 2 cents! Good luck and enjoy the build!

-bill
 
I might as well show what I do with tunnels. The liner is held in using a pair of 3/8" #8 screws, and constructed in two pieces using foamcore. The near side to access and the roof are one piece, glued together, and with a few seconds of unscrewing it comes off to give access for cleaning and maintenance. For serious stuff, you can take it off both sides.
 

bob

Administrator
Staff member
I guess there is also a philosopical question to be asked here-

Does model RR ballast do the same for scale tracks as it does in real life?

I don't think it does. However, I've been known to be wrong.
No, it does not. Real ballast provides support and drainage for the tracks. Hopefully your model track is supported by something other than ballast, something more solid. Cork roadbed is OK, but I prefer something even more solid, Homasote, plywood, or foam.

That said, ballast may perform one of the functions of real ballast. Depending on how you install it, your model railroad may hold your track in positon laterally (side to side). "Bonded ballast" does this quite well in some cases, as many a modeler has realized when they tried to remove it!

Your track expands and contracts in heat and cold. That can cause kinks and bends in the track. Bonded ballast may help prevent this. If you're using that system, I'd suggest keeping it consistent the entire way.
 



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