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2015-11-28

Merkur ballast

For Märklin K-track I really like the ballast called Merkur Stryroplast.  This is a 5mm thick roadbed that is formed in the shape of the K-track pieces. This allows the K-track to be simply pressed into place. One may need to cut some of the ballast to fit surrounding areas, but that is done really easily with a work knife.

I have put this page together to show some of the aspects of working with the Merkur range.


Advantages

  • Visual appeal. I do not think the visual aspect of C-Track, or M-track come anywhere near K-track + Merkur. Manual ballasting can match its visual appeal but at only with a considerable amount of effort.
  • Ease of laying. Once one has the tracks ready, they are simply pressed into the Merkur roadbed. It could not be easier. I don't even glue the roadbed down, I use the electrical connections to hold the track down and then later when I add landscaping up to the roadbed I find everything is held perfectly well in place.
  •  Reusable. Not gluing the roadbed down means it can be lifted up and reused too. The tracks can be lifted out and inserted again.
  •  Flexible lengths. Most of my track is 2205 flextrack. These can also be ballasted by pressing a length of flextrack into the roadbed while it is straight, and then the rail and roadbed can be flexed to the desired curvature.
  • Parallel straights. I was able to buy rigid straight lengths of roadbed at 57mm and 64.4mm track separations. These allowed station sidings to be laid very straight using the cheaper flextrack.
I used the Merkur ballast for my first layout which I started in 1998. In 2013 we moved and I had to dismantle the layout. I was able to reuse almost all of the roadbed and I was able to buy more for the additional track for my second larger layout. The roadbed had become somewhat brittle after 15 years but I was able to use most of it again. The flexible lengths were no longer flexible.

Here is a piece designed for a curved turnout. Areas under the moving parts are left clear of ballast, and I paint these areas black before installing the turnout.

Roadbed in their second life. As can be seen, I have not yet completed covering gaps. You can clearly see the area that is assigned for the installation of the turnout motors. I install my turnout motors upside down so that the visible surface is flat. I then ballast the visible flat surface. (Not done yet below!)

The geometry of the slender 2271 turnouts is very acceptable....


Where there are a lot of turnouts in one area, the ballast can be trimmed down and then any gaps filled in with matching ballast. (That step still to be done below!)


A close up of a turnout in the ballast. The turnout motor is still just some black paper and needs to be finished off.

Here the gaps below the track can be seen if one looks carefully.

I still need to close up that gap!


See this link for an explanation of black thread in some images

Merkur was at one stage bought out by the company NOCH and marketed under that brand. NOCH seems to have dropped the line and the Stryroplast products can now be found at http://www.merkur-styroplast.de/

I bought mine through Lokshop.de I am not sure if all the items are still available.