I'm ready to ballast my layout. All the rails are in, YEA! Now what to use? I thought about kitty litter. I use stone dust on the garden layout, probably not good inside. What does everyone else use? Oh yeah I checked out my local shop(mostly HO), Woodland scenics looks to small. Thanks for the help.....
if you are more in the 1:20 or 1:22.5 group, i would recommend cat litter.
if you don't like the colour, just dry mix it with dark grey portlandcement, lay it out and spray it over with some waterdust.
(those manual spraycans, women have to either wet clothes for pressing or for wetting flowerleaves work fine)
if you are more at 1:29 or 1:32, use swimmingpoolfilter sand.
drymix it with blackpowder of the sort used by floorlayers, to darken the cement, they are using.
i have used both, and been content.
here a pic of the filtersand variation:
I went with the kitty litter. a couple dollar bag of the cheapy stuff got me enough to do it twice (good thing since I ended up losing a LOT of it in the move) Just make sure you don't get the pelletized stuff or the stuff with the stupid blue "odor crystals".
Posted By Greg Elmassian on 04/13/2008 3:58 PM
Doesn't that stuff swell up when it gets wet?
Chicken grit? No. Depending on where it's made it could be made out of oyster shells or crushed rock but it's very near indestructible. I used it outside every spring and it would last through the summer and into "no trains' season.
I use a pink crushed granite, I think it is called Rose Granite. It is the same color as what U.P. uses here in Iowa for ballast on their track and it is sized such that it looks to be in perfect scale for my pike. The only problem I have with it is that my track is so much lighter than the ballast that my track floats "ON" the ballast instead of "IN" the ballast... the more ballast I add the higher my track becomes after a train has passed over it a few times... the ties just work their way up on the ballast until they are completely on top of it.
The cheapy clay kitty litter might swell a little when it gets wet, but how often does it rain in your dining room (If it does, you probably have more important things to worry about)? To hold it in place I use the tried and true white glue(or matte medium)/water/dish soap stuff....don't use too much dish soap or it will foam and you'll have funny petrified bubbles on the surface after it dries.
I'll be using Oil Dry or El Gato Cheepo Grande brand Kitty Litter, I might add some acrylic to stain it to match the local rocks so it looks like the ballast was made of whatever was readily available.
I have used outside railroads a product sold for soaking up oil spills on garage floors. It is finely ground, like kitty litter. Most of these products are made from diatamaceous earth. Diatoms are small single cell organisms that secrete a siliceous cell or test. When they are packed togehr by the trillions in a rock it can be used to absorb moisture or oil (due generally do not swell).
The typical color is a light gray but you can go to Home Depot or Lowe's and purchase a small bottle of concrete stain solution. Mix up the stain in a 5 gallon bucket and pour in the diatomaceous earth. This will stain the diatomaceous earth. I have seen black and reddish brown colors.
A word of caution the diatomaceous earth will have fine silica dust in the bag, do not breathe in this dust. An old kitchen strainer and a bucket filled with water can be used to rinse the diatomaeous earth before staining. A good dust mask (not the cheapy paper ones) is also a healthy idea.
I use starter chicken grit but it's a little too light in color so I add coarse ballast that's all black and made by Woodland Scenics to give it some darker shades. The starter grit is really cheap and I've had to buy a whole bunch of it.