Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ballast Removal, Part 567

Removal of my unsatisfactory ballast from the Dunes Junction layout is proceeding. Slowly. Very slowly.

I started out by using various scrapers, putty knives, and narrow screwdrivers to chip and scrape away the old ballast.  That was some tough sledding, so I started thinking, 'how did I glue this stuff down?'

Ballast removal: very messy.
(The Zatarain's is for eatin' not model railroadin')
Water soluble glue is how I glued it down, so I had the brilliant idea of wetting the ballast back down, just to see if it softens up, or in my wildest dreams, just flows away and goes gently into the night.

Sure enough, a 50/50 mix of water and 91% isopropyl alcohol, heavily misted on to the ballast, softens the dried ballast right up.  Helps to let it soak for five minutes or so before getting in there with various picking implements. Taking a cue from dental hygienists I've seen plying their trade, I keep a paper towel handy to wipe balllast chunks off of my picking tools. Then I vacuum now and then.  Only thing missing is getting the layout to rinse and spit.

It's slow going, but not as slow as chipping out the dry stuff.