LEGO locomotive models by LNUR members

The LNUR ballasting standard v1

The LNUR ballasting standard (v1) is our first LEGO track ballasting standard.

The standard

A departure from other LEGO train clubs’ ballasting methods (such as PennLUG’s track ballasting standards, which look great too), LNUR use “real” loose ballast around – and typically under – the LEGO tracks.

Railway tracks are raised by 2 plates in height (or a plate and a tile on corners where no connection to track is able to be made); track is fitted on to these supports, and loose ballast is poured to fill this gap creating a prototypical railway ballast.

Ballast composition

The ballast itself is composed of:

  • 1×1 round tiles in light bluish grey [BL]; these form 90% or so of the ballast material used
  • 1×1 round plates in light blue grey [BL]; these are around 8 – 9% of the ballast material.
  • A variety of other LEGO elements in neutral, dark colours, such as dark bluish grey [BL], dark green to olive green, dark tan and more. A small amount of these goes a long way to adding some additional texture, and these parts form 1% or less of the ballast material we use.

Examples of the LNUR ballasting standard in use

Alongside this ballast standard, we have developed modular edging to be used along the public-facing edge of displays to act as a retaining wall and minimise any ballast falling on to the floor.

An example of LNUR ballasting using the plates to raise the track by 2 plates in height from the baseplate level.

An example of LNUR ballasting using the plates to raise the track by 2 plates in height from the baseplate level.

An example of LNUR ballasting without the use of plates to give the track additional height.

An example of LNUR ballasting without the use of plates to give the track additional height.

Comments on the LNUR ballast standard

  • We have around 50,000 – 60,000 LEGO ballast elements in our cooperative collection, which comfortably ballasts around 24ft+ of double-line tracks. We’re working to expand our ballast collection to enable consistent ballasting of larger layouts.
  • Set up and tear down time of the display is not hugely effected by the addition of the ballast:
    • The ballast is typically the last addition to the display, and is bedded in by slowly running locomotives. In time, members may develop locomotives / rolling stock to help us do this more effeciently; at the moment it can be a little trial and error before all ballast is suitably bedded in, and doesn’t interfere
    • Cleaning up the ballast is fairly easy: once all other landscaping is removed, the ballast is left in pools we can easily scoop in to the ballast bucket.
  • Whilst it slightly reduces set-up time to omit the use of the 2-plate height track supports, this does impact the display itself:
    • The ballast does not necessarily effectively cover all baseplate below it, meaning glimpses of unwanted colour are visible;
    • Points (US: switches) are harder to ballast effectively without the depth below track.

Standard longevity

The LNUR ballasting standard is still in use on some of our displays (see Compliant displays, below). Many member layouts use a variation of the PennLUG style, with ballast and sleepers fixed to the rails to make for a more straight-forward set up.

It is planned that this LEGO ballasting standard will be surpassed by a more permanent ballasting method in future years, but for now this allows us greater layout flexibility and only adds a smallish amount of time to set up and tear down at displays.

Compliant displays

 

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