Using real sand/dirt for scenicing

Discussion in 'Photos & Videos' started by papa smurf37, Nov 17, 2002.

  1. papa smurf37

    papa smurf37 New Member

    Spotted this elsewhere.
    A newbie was being given advice to use sifted sand/dirt of the desired colors for one's scenery requirements, as long as it was heated in an oven on low heat to kill bacteria, etc. This was good advice as far as it went.
    I must also add that it is very important to run a big MAGNET thru all the stuff you collect. An old radio speaker works great, as the magnets on speakers are usually very powerful.
    By doing this, you remove all ferrous debris and prevent the motor magnets in your locos from attracting the stuff, which would cause eventual motor failure. BTDT! A word to the wise.:)
  2. jkristia

    jkristia Member

    I just tried to use real "oven roasted" dirt this morning, and didn't really like the result. The reason is that what looks like nice light colored dirt in the yard, turns out to be way to dark when first applied to the layout, so I ended up painting it over with a light grey color. Now I will try and find some almost white dirt, and see how that looks.
    I didn't do the magnet thing with the test, but if I find the right color and are going to use it for the yard, then I will for sure use the magnet.
    Thanks for the advise.

  3. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Over a period of time, I have collected sand and fine gravel from the sides of roads as well as silt fom a stream bed. Using different sizes of sieves it is amazing what I now have available to use. All the ballast on my N gauge layout is from a natural source. I never even thought of heating it for health reasons nor have I checked with a magnet. Once the ballast is glued then there is nothing left to get picked up by my locos.
    So here I am with no ill effects and have been using natural products I find in the area for over 6 years now.
    I guess you gotta do what you gotta do but not me.
  4. tomfassett

    tomfassett Member

    I use real dirt in combination with purchased scenery material. Fortunately, I live in the desert where the natural color of dirt is always lighter in color. I like the way the dirt flows in between the fine gravel to create an extremely smooth surface. The finest gravel I buy at the hobby shop is still prototypically half as big as a persons fist. I model a desert scene where the ground is often bare (or has very limited vegetation). The ground in many desert areas is as smooth as poured concrete (and about as hard...;) )
    I always treat the dirt for microbes as dirt in the desert is usually full of things which cause health challenges like Valley Fever (something I have had twice, growing up in the desert). I do, however, use a more modern method and nuke the stuff in the microwave. Here, the magnet idea is important as little metal particles "pop" (or explode) in the microwave, putting on a tiny fireworks show... It doesn't do any damage (unless there are big pieces) but it is disconcerting to see the little sparks fly, and it coats the inside of the microwave with minute dust particles... I usually sift the dirt to remove any larger particles, leaving me with a fine powder. I can then add a thin paint wash to change the color.

    Tom F
  5. Railery

    Railery Member

    i never heard of the electrolysis idea before, neat:) But i have used potted soil sifting it through three different seives. i also use pool filter dust mixed with dry pigment color. This is really inexpensive but very dangerous to mix (must use a painters mask). Once on the layout its okay. U can make any color or mix of color u want. Probably one bag could last a life time :D :D :D

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