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Can I use dirt for HO dirt?

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  • Can I use dirt for HO dirt?

    I was wondering if you can use dirt for HO dirt. The dirt here in NW Indiana is not fine enough. I'm looking for an inexpensive dirt
    John

  • #2
    John,

    I use real dirt all the time. I have three kitchen strainers of different sizes to screen the dirt into very fine, fine, not so fine...
    Bruce

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    • #3
      John, I use it too. I run it through an old piece of pantyhose to get a real fine texture.

      George
      Flying is the 2nd greatest thrill known to man. Landing is the first.

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      • #4
        John,

        I use real dirt on my layouts and am fortunate to live by a lake that has just the right color for Colorado scenery. One of our club members bought this sieve set and it has been invaluable.

        http://www.amazon.com/Stainless-Stee...keywords=sieve

        As an alternative search this forum for using tile grout as dirt. It works out quite well and there are enough colors to match almost any area you model.

        Gary

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        • #5
          John, you will find that dirt that has a lot of clay in it will darken a lot when you glue it down. I'm not sure what you have in your area but I would suggest starting with dirt much lighter than you think you need and experiment. I was lucky enough to live close enough to the mountains so I could get some decomposed granite that does not darken much with glue.
          Kevin Miller

          Winlock, WA

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          • #6
            Three other recommendations for real dirt:

            1. Don't pick up dirt near highways (if you live in a place where there's road salt.)

            2. Run a magnet over the dirt to pick up any iron/steel that might be mixed in (so these don't end up shorting the engine motors.)

            3. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or so to kill any bugs that might be living in the dirt.

            It's best to collect in large containers, and write on each container where the dirt came from, in case you need to go back and get more.

            dave
            Modeling 1890s (because the voices in my head told me to)

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            • #7
              What about sand?
              John

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              • #8
                quote:


                Originally posted by jaynjay


                What about sand?


                John, Mike Chambers started using grout and he liked it. He used a blend of two colors, "Summer Wheat" and "Tobacco Brown." See his picture below. http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/t...TOPIC_ID=14836

                Also, here is a topic on the subject called "dirty question"; http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/t...47&whichpage=1

                I use Baseball Diamond dirt. I live near a high school, and every other year or so they bring in this dirt for the baseball field. A coffee can full, then strain/sift it, you have tons of dirt to put down.



                Louis L&R Western Railroad
                Pacific Northwest Logging in the East Coast

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                • #9
                  Sand tends to have 2 "problems" - (1) too sparkly (if there's a lot of quartz in it; (2) too coarse.

                  Another option is tile grout. The best there are the 2-part systems, where you have the 'colored sand' that is separate from the cement. Conventional grout often has portland cement or something similar that can cause corrosion problems when it's laid down and then water is added.

                  Decomposed granite (look for "paver bed sand") is probably the best thing to use that you can buy at Home Depot.

                  dave

                  (Edit: I think Louis/DesertDrover and I posted at the same time, his item showed up first :-)
                  Modeling 1890s (because the voices in my head told me to)

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                  • #10
                    One more thought: If you have an airbrush, don't be afraid to spraypaint your dirt if you don't like the color (but like the texture).

                    dave
                    Modeling 1890s (because the voices in my head told me to)

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                    • #11
                      quote:


                      Originally posted by deemery


                      Three other recommendations for real dirt:

                      1. Don't pick up dirt near highways (if you live in a place where there's road salt.)

                      2. Run a magnet over the dirt to pick up any iron/steel that might be mixed in (so these don't end up shorting the engine motors.)

                      3. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or so to kill any bugs that might be living in the dirt.

                      It's best to collect in large containers, and write on each container where the dirt came from, in case you need to go back and get more.

                      dave


                      To expand just a bit on this theme:

                      * Buy your own strainers; don't use the kitchen tools!

                      * "Cooking" the dirt to kill off any critters living therein is best done on the grill outdoors, and NOT in the oven! Dirt can smell bad. Don't ask.... :erm:

                      * The hot grill can be used for cooking dinner after the dirt is "done."

                      * Once the dirt cools, store it in an air (and bug) tight container.

                      Pete

                      in Michigan

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                      • #12
                        I use sand right out of the driveway. Scoop it up, cook it a little and put it on. You can see it in front of the shed doors.



                        this part of the country I am modeling is all sand so I use it as a base under all my scenery.

                        [:-shades]
                        Andy Kramer -- Modeling the Milwaukee Road in Wisconsin

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                        • #13
                          I agree with the above . I baked mine on the BBQ outside so no odours in the house.
                          Chuck Faist

                          Burlington, Ontario

                          Enjoy yourself it is later than you think!

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                          • #14
                            My house is built on "fine sandy loam", which like most other soil in the area has a yellowish color once you get below the topsoil. I screen it and use it for dirt on the layout. If I'm modeling a graveled area, I mix it with washed beach sand. I've got sand from three area beaches, but usually use that with the least mica/quartz.
                            James

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                            • #15
                              If the soil in your area is too grainy, you could always buy an inexpensive mortar and pestle to grind it down.

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