Cinders not quite right on Pembroke roundhouse tracks

Last night I glued down ballast for the tracks around the turntable. Now engine service areas are often ballasted with cinders from the engines, but I assume that it takes a little while for these to accumulate. After six years, would they have had enough to cover the area? I didn’t know, so I mixed in some of my regular ballast. Now, having done a little more research on why cinders were used, I suspect that actually, in those first years, they would only have had cinders on the roundhouse tracks only if the engines dumped their fires there.

Also, based on review of other photos of cinders, the Woodland Scenics offering is too coarse. As I recall from interacting with real cinders in ballast in my youth, they are quite soft, and even crush underfoot. They would quickly then turn into dark grey rusty mud, which is more consistent with the look of a lot of engine service areas.

So, perhaps I should go back and cover them up with normal ballast, and reserve cinders for the turntable lead, where the firemen probably cleaned and banked their fires. Due to a lack of Pliobond, I’m not going to get to these tracks before the weekend anyway.


2 thoughts on “Cinders not quite right on Pembroke roundhouse tracks

  1. I’ve been wondering about using something like dyed tile grout for cinder ballast. Cinders are a challenge. The real things are small and as you pointed out not rock like at all – I always wondered about using Woodland Scenics product for this since it just looked more like small black rocks, maybe coal, but not cinders.

    On the Island cinders were applied like ballast so would have been shovelled into any place where they didn’t fall naturally. Since rock ballast was not available on the Island the cinders, in many places, replaced what had been sandstone shale or dirt “ballast”.



    1. Hi Chris, I am using a mixture of grout and sand for most of my ballast as the CA used riverbed gravel which was pretty fine. Sand by itself changes colour when it gets glued down, and mixing in grout helps substantially. Grout comes in a host of different colours, including dark greys and black. Cheers, Rene’

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