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Ballast Recommendations?

Tony Galiani

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Tony Galiani

I ended up trying two different ballasts on my Mebane Train Show mini layout project and can't make up my mind as to what I prefer.  I had some Highball N Scale ballast which is very fine with a scale like appearance but from viewing distance, it just looks like a solid filler.

I also had some coarser ballast (though I do not remember what brand it is).  It was leftover from a past project in an unlabeled container.


Interestingly, the coarse ballast looks like ballast - although it seems to be somewhat over scale.

The fine ballast looks to scale, but doesn't - at least to me - have the look of real ballast.


I have posted two pictures showing the comparison.

I am curious as to others take on this and if anyone has a particular type of ballast or brand they prefer?



Tony Galiani

ballast sample 1.jpg

ballast sample 2.jpg

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That’s the problem with ballast we tend to have that strong visual memory of ballast being large rocks, but looking at track 150’ away (1’ away on your layout) you won’t see any individual rocks looks like fill. 

might try mixing some different colors as that may give you the individual rock effect at a distance better. Some ballast is mixed and some is very uniform in the prototype. I think that’s why the Kato ballast is such a mixed bag of colors so it will work at a distance some, even if not super common in real life.





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As to grain size I think that to some extent a choice has to be made of whether to prioritize it looking right when viewed from a distance or looking right in up close photos.

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