Question about real materials.....

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by IandOFan71, Nov 14, 2008.

  1. IandOFan71

    IandOFan71 Member

    Greetings all,
    I have a question about using real material on my layout. I know that if you use dirt that you have to bake it but I think my situation requires a different approach. I model the Athens subdivision of the C&O and I thought what a neat idea it would be create the roadbed on my layout out of the actual roadbed from the Athens sub. So, yesterday I travelled down to Nelsonville, Ohio and scooped a bucket full from the side of the tracks. Here is the tricky part. This stuff is mostly coal cinders with some dirt, glass and metal shavings mixed in. I can get rid of the metal and glass but I'm left with the dirt and coal. My question is what is the best approach to treating this material so that it doesn't cause any damage to the layout and/or my engines? I'm assuming that I can't bake the coal so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    If it were me, I would crush it down to a particle size appropriate to scale, wash it to remove the dirt, and then give it a final wash in a bleach solution. Rinse, let dry, and you're good to go. 10% bleach solution, which is what you buy in the store, kills everything.

    BTW - if you have a microwave, you can use it to quickly sterilize actual soil; however, you MUST be sure all metal particles are removed beforehand.

    Good luck...:thumb:
  3. Be sure to run a strong magnet thru it to pull out any bits if iron, either shavings that may have been missed or iron particles that make up part of the mix.
  4. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    Old speaker magnets are great for this! I have one suspended from a long cord, (so I don't have to bend over,) I use on my workshop floor. You could just pour out your material then slowly pass the speaker magnet over it.
  5. IandOFan71

    IandOFan71 Member

    Thanks for the responses all. I wasn't sure how to deal with this stuff but you've been a big help. I'll be sure to print these out.

    Thanks again,

  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    A flower sifter is a good way to sift out any pieces that are too large for ballast. The correct size for ballast in ho scale is about the size of Woodland Scenics fine ballast. Remember that in ho scale 1/8 inch is close to 1 foot in diameter. If you get the material crushed down to about 1/16 inch pieces that would equal about 6 inch rocks.

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