North Section Ballast – One Step Forward?

I didn’t quite get to the point where the Posse could start laying rail when they (in the form of Andrew, Julian being in transit, Jim being MIA and Chris being a thespian) descended upon my garage last night. Even so, we did have a productive evening of ballasting.

Ballast on the north section

The reason why I didn’t quite get there is that I decided to make the fill along the river bank before ballasting, as this enables us to ballast without worrying about tying into the fill later. It’s flat, and so, we used kraft paper, hot glued in place to create the land form. This is probably faster than plaster, and we might make it faster still by doing the second layer with another adhesive. But hot glue is what we used.

Once the land form was created, we put a layer of glue on it and dropped ballast on. Then, we spent about an hour prodding the ballast around the ties until we were satisfied. When we were happy with the look, I blasted the whole thing with water – lots of it – to fix it all in place. Andrew thought I was crazy to simply soak everything with a big spray bottle; he would have been more restrained, tackling one area at a time, but that’s not how we roll on the Pembroke Southern!

Ballast on the north section

Once it was all done, we looked again at the photos of the real thing, and (sigh) decided the bank was too steep. Now, I’d started with the thought that it was a pretty steep bank, and chose an angle of repose for dry sand at 35-37 degrees. However, it now looks like I should have been considering something more like sandy gravel, in the 26-27 degrees range. I’d even held up the templates against the photo, and it looked dead on, but in the flesh, it’s not right.

Ballast on the north section

Here, for comparison, is the prototype photo of the bank where it looks pretty steep.

Pembroke looking south

In this photo, it doesn’t look quite so precipitous:


So, the game for tonight is to see if I can save our work and simply add a little to the bottom of the bank. At lunch today, I trotted out my trigonometry skills and decided that there needs to be about 0.7 inches added to the bottom of the bank. Hopefully I’ll be able to add that without doing the whole thing over.


3 thoughts on “North Section Ballast – One Step Forward?

    1. Yes, where were you?

      Andrew and I re-sanded the slope last night. It looked pretty good before we turned out out the lights.

      Attempt 2 on the bank.

      It turns out, however, that you have to seal the paper before you put anything on it. As it dried overnight, it shrank again and now there is a little crack along the edge of the roadbed. Probably the glue serves this purpose on the topside at this point, but I’ll have to flip it over and varnish the underside before too much more moisture gets in.

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