How to use Proses Ballast Spreaders

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In the Bachmann Times, the official magazine of the Bachmann Collectors Club, you can find many useful articles about building and maintaining your model railway. In one of our previous editions, Peter Marriott looked into how to make applying track ballast to your layout easier and more effective with the help of the Proses Ballast Spreader. Below is his step by step guide along with hints and tips that he picked up along the way.

Proses manufacture a number of ballast spreading devices in different scales which combine a plastic hopper with slots that dispenses a steady flow of ballast as the tool is moved along the track. These devices work best on straight and curved track but can also be used on points or crossings with extra care.

Above: Cover of the Spring 2018 Bachmann Times (Vol.18 No.3)

Proses make ballast spreaders for OO/HO (PBS-HO-01), N (PBS-N-01), TT (PBS-TT-01) and Z (PBS-Z-01) scale, among others. Older versions came in grey plastic but now they come in clear plastic which helps the user see when the device needs topping up. Proses also produce ballast, adhesive spreaders, ballast adhesive and ballasting kits.

Above: PBS-HO-01, HO/OO Ballast Spreader

After a bit of practice on a test piece of track I was ready to get going with the ballast spreader: 

• Choose the correct spreader for the track gauge. There are grooves under the tool to fit over the rails.

• Place the ballast spreader over the rails of the track, it should easily slide forward and back along the rails. Fill the hopper around ¾ full with ballast using a spoon.

• Carefully pull the device smoothly along the track in a steady motion and as it moves the ballast falls between the sleepers and along the side of the track – I find that holding the spreader gently lower down the body gives the best result for me.

• Refill the ballast spreader as necessary as you go, being careful where and when you refill the tool so that the transition is as smooth as possible.

• Once you have finished the section to be ballasted, carefully remove the device upwards from the track so as to spill as little additional ballast as possible.

• Use a soft wide paintbrush to sweep off any excess ballast.

• Clean up any odd granules of ballast left on the sleepers by tapping the rails gently with a screwdriver or craft knife handle which will settle the ballast.

• If you prefer to ballast the points by hand, carefully pour ballast onto the sleepers with an old teaspoon then settle the ballast with the handle of a craft knife and brush away any excess.

• Lightly spray the ballast with water mixed with a couple of drops of washing up liquid and then apply your adhesive – suitable products are available from both Proses and Woodland Scenics, along with the Proses Ballast Glue Applicator which is available to suit several scales.


If you are interested in joining our Bachmann Collectors Club to read more articles like the one above, then head over to our Collectors Club Membership page or call the Club Office on 01455 245565. Not only will you be able to read the articles featured in our quarterly magazine, but you will get many more benefits over the course of your 12 month membership including:

  • Four copies of the ‘Bachmann Times’ magazine (as mentioned)
  • A Bachmann Branchline or Graham Farish catalogue*
  • A personalised membership card
  • An annual club wagon (in your chosen scale)
  • A specially commissioned Calendar*
  • The chance to attend our annual free ‘Members Day’

*Please note you will receive the next catalogue and calendar to be published following your application.