Type of track ballast

Discuss the prototype and how to model it.
User avatar
Noel
Posts: 873
Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:04 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby Noel » Sun Feb 23, 2014 12:03 pm

I would not expect to see any ash ballast on any running line, whatever its status. The primary purposes of ballasting are to provide drainage and to resist the forces applied to the track by passing trains and temperature fluctuations. Ash is quite poor at both. In steam and early diesel days ballast was about 12ins deep, and extended about 12ins beyond the sleeper ends [actual values might vary a bit according to track status]. Outside the ballasted area [and therefore lower] was a cess, which could be used by track maintenance personnel and others as a walking route, and this was commonly ash or fine stone to make walking easier. I haven't seen Norman Solomon's DVD, but I assume from your description that this is what he was replicating?

Sidings were subject to far less stress because of slow speeds [and often reused old track components for this reason] and saw much more staff use on foot [shunters, examiners, etc.] so ash or smaller stones would be more common. In addition, maintenance of such areas would be minimal, resulting in a build up of dirt and rubbish. However, photographs show that even in storage sidings the area between the sleepers, although far inferior to running line standards, is usually still noticeably coarser in surface texture than the areas between tracks. Pre-grouping, especially in station areas, it was quite common for the normal ballast to be covered by a layer of much finer stone, again to make life easier for the staff on foot; this practice went out of use early in the 20th century because it was seen as presenting a risk of hiding problems with the track.

The situation changed with the advent of higher speeds, mechanical track maintenance and CWR and so in consequence did the appearance of the track.

Noel
Noel

User avatar
Will L
Posts: 1551
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:54 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby Will L » Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:51 pm

Noel wrote: Pre-grouping, especially in station areas, it was quite common for the normal ballast to be covered by a layer of much finer stone, again to make life easier for the staff on foot; this practice went out of use early in the 20th century because it was seen as presenting a risk of hiding problems with the track.


Interesting. In may pictures of the GER you can see track ballasted above the sleeper tops with what I understood was ash. I has always assumed that they has used ash all way the way down. Won't make any difference to modelling it of course but It good to know the truth.

Will

User avatar
Noel
Posts: 873
Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:04 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby Noel » Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:34 pm

Pre-grouping is well before the period I'm interested in, Will, so I don't know, but the references I have come across are to small stone over the ballast. I would have thought that rain would wash ash into the main ballast and compromise its drainage ability. I once saw the consequences of a small wet spot in a main platform line in Bath Spa station; every time an axle of an arriving train crossed it the rail dipped, and a sort of slurry was pumped up over the ballast by the movement.

I believe that the LBSCR, and possibly others, used shingle from beaches as ballast, for reasons of cost, which was regarded as inferior because, being rounded by water action, it did not bind together to resist movement the way crushed stone did.

Incidentally, I forgot that in pre-grouping station areas shunting horses would quite likely also be present on the track or alongside it, as well as staff.

Noel
Noel

steves17
Posts: 86
Joined: Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:00 am

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby steves17 » Sun Feb 23, 2014 5:01 pm

Thanks a lot guys. You're right i should have said the ash at the sides was just for the cess. I came across i diagram showing the layers of ballesting in a cross section but wasn't sure how wide spread this was as a common practice.
In my plan there is a small relief siding that i have theorised was put in only to store a works train to carry out bore cutting between mainline running, after it was completed the siding would be left to become over run by vegetation and as the years rolled by would be removed. As i'm working from fiction obviously i can't research beyond the illustrations and text. The scenario i'm going with is unusual and without precedent as far as i'm aware.
I could make the siding with either ash waste or ballast but you've given me something to go on. Thanks

User avatar
Hardwicke
Posts: 555
Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 10:25 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby Hardwicke » Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:03 pm

If you go to Sheffield, have a look at the through roads. They have a fine ballast unlike the modern stuff. It must date back to pre 1960's as it is under bullhead track. It has a slightly creamy colour.

Michael.
Builder of Forge Mill Sidings, Kirkcliffe Coking Plant, Swanage and Heaby. Still trying to "Keep the Balance".

User avatar
Guy Rixon
Posts: 534
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:40 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby Guy Rixon » Tue Oct 21, 2014 9:03 pm

martin goodall wrote:I took some useful reference shots on the Severn Valley Railway some years ago, which I use for colour matching ballast, sleepers, etc. (which are MUCH lighter than most modellers seem to imagine). [...]


Were sleepers creosoted back in the day? If so, then they were probably darker than sleepers treated with modern preservatives.

Sapper
Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 6:22 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby Sapper » Wed Oct 22, 2014 8:52 am

Hello Guy
I would suggest that in steam days certainly the sleepers were creosoted, I seem to remember in my schooldays a sleeper depot at Southall where there were creosoting tanks. I would imagine that creosoting finished with the end of coal gas production and relevant H & S considerations.

Old sleepers still ooze tar when they get hot in the sun and I expect that this is the remains of the creosote preservative. Certainly, they would be almost black when treated but would soon lighten to a brownish colour when exposed to the atmosphere and sunlight. Certainly old sleepers are almost grey in colour when they have been down for some years.

Hopes this helps.

Regards

Sapper

Alan Turner
Posts: 506
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 4:24 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby Alan Turner » Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:36 am

Guy Rixon wrote:
martin goodall wrote:I took some useful reference shots on the Severn Valley Railway some years ago, which I use for colour matching ballast, sleepers, etc. (which are MUCH lighter than most modellers seem to imagine). [...]


Were sleepers creosoted back in the day? If so, then they were probably darker than sleepers treated with modern preservatives.


As I walk the SVR tracks most Sunday mornings I can tell you the predominant sleeper colour (for timber) is grey with a hint of brown, some have a green slime tinge in wooded areas. New sleepers are dark brown but I suspect creosoted sleepers would have been black.

However don't look at the ballast. We get it from where we can, there is even some crushed concrete in some areas. Also it is too big for turn of century top ballast. Ours has to be capable of mechanical packing with a tamper so it is akin to modern ballast rather than the hand packed turn of century ballast which generally had a finer ballast on top.

Alan

User avatar
Noel
Posts: 873
Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:04 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby Noel » Wed Oct 22, 2014 10:29 am

Guy Rixon wrote:Were sleepers creosoted back in the day? If so, then they were probably darker than sleepers treated with modern preservatives.


British Railways issued two diagrams for tanks for creosote traffic to sleeper depots, with a total of 64 vehicles built between 1950 and 1960. The GWR and LMSR also built creosote tanks.

I think that a major reason for ending the use of creosote was probably the switch to concrete sleepers.

Noel
Noel

John Palmer
Posts: 414
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2011 11:09 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby John Palmer » Wed Oct 22, 2014 6:00 pm

My copy of 'Railways of Today' dating from about 1930 has a photograph of creosoting cylinders for treatment of sleepers. The text describes the process as involving the exhaustion of air from the cylinder after it has been packed with timbers for treatment and the introduction of creosote oil 'under pressure' until each sleeper has absorbed between 3 to 6 gallons of it. So far as I can see each cylinder in the photograph could accommodate about 50 sleepers.

User avatar
Serjt-Dave
Posts: 228
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:31 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby Serjt-Dave » Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:35 pm

That's funny i was just watching a You Tube video on how they made track on point sections where it shows timbers first being knifed {where they stabbed with lots of little blades} and then they are placed into the tanks to have the creosote applied {I think it was done under pressure}.

Dave

User avatar
martinm
Posts: 93
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 5:49 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby martinm » Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:45 pm

Creosoting sleepers
One firm, Calders and Grandidge in Boston, Lincs, appears still to be pressure treating timber with creosote, although their web site http://www.caldersandgrandidge.com/products/poles now only mentions telegraph poles.
There is a photograph of their treated poles stacked to dry at http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1206673 giving a good indication of the colour when new.
According to 'Old Boston' http://bostonpast.blogspot.co.uk/2012_11_01_archive.html the creosoting plant was not installed until 1930, no mention is made of what if any treatment was used prior to that date. This corresponds with the date given by John, maybe it was the same plant.
regards,
martin

Alan Turner
Posts: 506
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 4:24 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby Alan Turner » Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:14 pm

martinm wrote:Creosoting sleepers
One firm, Calders and Grandidge in Boston, Lincs, appears still to be pressure treating timber with creosote, although their web site http://www.caldersandgrandidge.com/products/poles now only mentions telegraph poles.
There is a photograph of their treated poles stacked to dry at http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1206673 giving a good indication of the colour when new.
According to 'Old Boston' http://bostonpast.blogspot.co.uk/2012_11_01_archive.html the creosoting plant was not installed until 1930, no mention is made of what if any treatment was used prior to that date. This corresponds with the date given by John, maybe it was the same plant.
regards,
martin


Why not look at the sleepers that they do: http://www.caldersandgrandidge.com/products/sleepers

regards

Alan

User avatar
martinm
Posts: 93
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 5:49 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby martinm » Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:52 pm

Alan,
I wasn't sure that these had been creosoted, any more than the poles on their site.
The ones on 'Geograph' look more like I remember the treated sleepers.
Justshows how tricky all this colour choice is!
martin

shipbadger
Posts: 113
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:00 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby shipbadger » Fri Oct 24, 2014 7:32 am

Hi all,

Calders and Grandidge had a plant in Gloucestershire on the site of the former Grange Court station until recent years. The smell of creosote on a warm day pervaded the surrounding air. From memory they only treated poles there. If you look at their website you will see that they note that only softwood sleepers are treated with creosote. Hardwood sleepers were found by the SR (at their Redbridge sleeper works) to have insufficient depth of penetration for the creosote so the practice of incising the timber (those little slits you can see on some) to enable the creosote to penetrate. Creosote is no longer generally available for the retail market as it is considered a possible carcinogen but is available in bulk quantities for industrial/agricultural users. Note that at least one firm sells a product 'Creocote' which I suspect relies on a portion of the population with poor spelling skills not realising it isn't the genuine thing. (My late father-in-law told me that he used to go to the gas works with a suitable bottle to buy creosote)

H&S now requires that when we open the door of the sleeper built platelayers hut on the DFR we allow it to ventilate for a few minutes to allow the creosote fumes within to escape.

Tony Comber

User avatar
grovenor-2685
Posts: 2986
Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:02 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby grovenor-2685 » Thu Oct 30, 2014 11:47 am

For preparing timbers and creosoting see start of this film http://www.scalefour.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3919
Keith

John Palmer
Posts: 414
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2011 11:09 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby John Palmer » Fri Oct 31, 2014 12:45 pm

The creosoting cylinder shown in that film looks identical to the one referred to in my previous post. What I hadn't appreciated from the 'Railways of Today' photograph was the readiness with which you could run in multiple trolleys of wood for treatment, the number presumably being limited only by the length of cylinder. If the cylinder is made long enough it can be used for treatment of such items as telegraph poles - were cylinders always dedicated to treatment of just one product, or, if long enough, might a cylinder be used for treatment both of sleepers and poles?

I was interested to note that nothing was said in the film's commentary about exhausting air from the cylinder before introduction of creosote under pressure. From the little background reading I did on the subject it appeared that there were two distinct treatment methods: one involving creation of a (partial?) vacuum to help draw creosote into the timber, the other relying upon pressurisation to force the liquid into it.

shipbadger
Posts: 113
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:00 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby shipbadger » Sat Nov 01, 2014 6:38 am

John,

The firm that provided my 'train shed' had similar vessels to force the current chemicals, not tanalising as that is out now, in their yard so that cut timber would be treated all round. It's a few years since I saw it but I think they had a number of different types of trolley for different materials. Presumably you would have differing trolleys for poles or sleepers.

Tony Comber

User avatar
newport_rod
Posts: 132
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2008 12:48 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby newport_rod » Thu Jun 02, 2016 5:06 pm

We've used chinchilla dust on Little Mill Junction, held with PVA and have experienced severe cracking resulting a most unprototypical appearance . Has anybody else experienced this and how does one avoid it please?

Members can see the unfortunate results at the AGM

andrewnummelin
Posts: 172
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 9:43 am

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby andrewnummelin » Thu Jun 02, 2016 10:24 pm

I've had the same problem and after a couple of attempts I ditched it. I can't remember where I saw the suggestion to use it, so can't go back to see if there were any advice on suitable adhesives.
I removed what I could and filled the remaining cracks with sand and PVA.
Regards,

Andrew Nummelin

shipbadger
Posts: 113
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:00 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby shipbadger » Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:14 am

My N scale layout is ballasted with chinchilla sand/diluted PVA and has now done nearly around exhibitions without any sign of cracking. Perhaps the problem comes when you start to 'scale up' the application for P4 trackwork. As a thought though, why should chinchilla sand respond any differently from using other minerals such as granite? Doesn't really get us any further forward but does indicate that it works in some applications. Perhaps gluing technique has some part to play. I certainly thoroughly pre-wet and then flood with diluted PVA when ballasting. I regard it important that the PVA mix is seen to be absorbed into the ballast straight away with none lying on the surface.

Tony Comber

shipbadger
Posts: 113
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:00 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby shipbadger » Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:17 am

Should have said nearly thirty exhibitions in the above post. Does this forum have an 'edit' button for authors, couldn't find one easily?

Tony Comber

User avatar
RobM
Posts: 909
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 4:39 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby RobM » Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:21 am

It's the pencil button……..
Rob
http://www.robmilliken.co.uk
Updated December 2016

shipbadger
Posts: 113
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:00 pm

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby shipbadger » Fri Jun 03, 2016 5:48 pm

Thanks Rob, never noticed the pencil icon before. Was before the first coffee of the day :-)

Tony Comber

User avatar
stephenfreeman
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 9:13 am

Re: Type of track ballast

Postby stephenfreeman » Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:13 am

Hi,
Not had any problem with Chinchilla sand, however there are several varieties, I think not all are created equal. Thorough pre-wetting before applying the diluted PVA is of course a must. Perhaps it depends on the wetting agent employed?
Stephen Freeman
Bespoke Finescale Trackwork and Semaphore Signals 7mm to 4mm scales
http://www.borg-rail.com or http://www.tracknsignals.co.uk


Return to “Track and Turnouts”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest