3418 Meadow Wood Lane, Crozet VA 22932
Phone 434-823-4809 / Fax 404-591-8682
Email: jsgeare@yahoo.com

Test Panel Reports

Our panel of testers included people whom we believed represented various age and skill levels. We have also had voluntary, unsolicited, reports from early users.

We had three reasons for asking a panel to test the product:

  1. Most importantly, we wanted to discover any profound defect which had escaped our attention. For example, if many panelists broke out with a serious skin rash from handling the product, or if the color changed to a solid green after a few days, then we would either have to abandon the product or find a cure. No such problems were reported.

  2. We hoped to indentify any criticisms, problems or questions that any typical user might have, so we could address these concerns immediately for future users. As anticipated, our testers faithfully reported a few issues, which we have addressed below.

  3. Finally, we wanted to see if general user experience supported our claims about Buck's Ballast. We are pleased to report that most users agreed completely with our claims, and none expressed complete dissastisfaction, none suggested our claims were baseless. We have not reproduced the favorable comments, simply because they reflect what we have already said about the product.

For the most part, criticisms (#2, above) were limited to appearance factors. These are indicated below in red italic text; our response is in normal blue text. We think this will help you make an informed purchase descision.

". . .too much black in the mix. In fact, it sort of takes on the look of the cork roadbed. . . ."
We fully expected criticisms as to color. Aside from what is in the "mind's eye," it is also true that the color of real ballast varies according to region and railroad. We expect to produce color variants in the future. But for now, modelers will need to rely on the tried and true methods they have always used: coloring the glue mix, washing or dry brushing the finished product. See photo at right for product appearance (note: ballast appears shiny because glue is still wet).

"seems to be quite large for HO . . . several of the pieces were about 6 scale inches. . ."
We were guided by the shape and size of actual ballast, which as previously indicated does include stones that are 6" and larger. We would agree, however, that Buck's Ballast includes some particles that are larger than the Woodland Scenics and similar products, which are advertised as "HO Scale." The picture at right shows actual ballast from the CSX, which includes stones that are in excess of 6". Bold lines are inch divisions on the grid.

"Unless the ballast could be made in smaller size, or this was way cheaper than most other types and kinds of ballast, I would probably not buy it."
We certainly COULD screen it for smaller sizes, but then it would no longer be an accurate representation of the real thing. As to cost, we maintain that Buck's is less costly than the alternative products. We strongly support any decision to "go with what you know" if the difference in cost seems trivial to the user. It is YOUR railroad - do what pleases YOU.

"The size, however, is way too small. It looks more like dirt rather than mainline track ballast."
This criticism stands in opposition to the previous observation that the ballast is too BIG. Fact is, people see the same things differently. We can't take sides in this, so we simply used real ballast as our guidance. In FACT, some modelers actually mix 2 scales of ballast (usually N and HO) to create a product for HO layouts with a greater variety of sizes. We think this variety already exists naturally in Buck's, as supplied.

While there is no "dirt" in Buck's Ballast, the powdery component of the mix does make the ballast look "dirty" when it is applied dry. Pictures at right illustrate the appearance when applied dry, and then later (still wet from glue).

"Seems to require slightly more than my current ballast"
We know from experience that it is possible to use a little, or a lot, to ballast the same length of track. Our opinion and observation is that you can stretch Bucks further. But of course the way you apply it determines how far it will go.

Summary and Conclusions

The good criticisms we have received are familiar to us, for they are also made with respect to other brands of ballast - and other brands of anything at all, for that matter. Most reflect user preference and perception and we certainly agree that people should follow their own preferences. Observation of physical and technical properties can, perhaps, be made a bit more objectively; either something performs as claimed - or it doesn't. We are pleased that most users have affirmed the product performance.

We offer Buck's Ballast as the superior value proposition for your money. We believe it hits the sweet spot of appearance, performance and cost and if the early reports are any indication, you will, too.

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