Summer Evening and the ML401

Summer Evening and the ML401
Conrail ML401 rolls west through Central New York farm country in Onondaga County, September 1994.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ballast and Interlockings

As I continue to install some ballast along the main tracks of the Onondaga Cutoff, I am getting better at the painstaking process required when ballasting a turnout.  With small moving parts that are subject to very tight clearances, this process is difficult at best - care must be taken, as there is a good possibility that a turnout can be ruined!


Here we see some of the basic tools used in the process:  ballast, diluted white glue, isopropyl alcohol, water, and a soft brush.  While I use a large brush for most of the ballasting, the details inherent around a turnout - the frog, and points, specifically - require a smaller brush to ensure that all the granules of ballast are properly set between the ties and away from any moving parts.  This shot is at CP280, and I only ballasted the main tracks as part of this process.  But it still took me about 5 hours of work!  As we've discussed here before, every small step matters, and the persistence and patience are as much of a lesson as they are a tool.

Once the ballast is in place, I install tape over the moving end of the points to prevent glue from hitting those areas.  I also brace the points 'halfway' thrown so as to avoid gluing points shut.  The final preparation is to cover adjacent areas with paper towels, and then proceed to mist the entire freshly ballasted area with the alcohol.  Once it is wet, I dribble the diluted glue (with some alcohol mixed in already) over the areas, soaking the new ballast until you can see the white glue beginning to puddle up.  At that point, I use a damp cloth to wipe the rail heads down.  The next morning, it looks like this:


Once nice thing about the actual ballast installation process is that it yields an almost finished product right away - it's a major visual impact, and only requires a bit of weathering to become the finished piece.  Here with see the #1 crossover at CP280, ready for service.

Signal updates are forthcoming - I received word that the long-awaited final signal bridge shipped this morning.  Exciting progress coming soon!

~RGDave


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