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Discussion Starter #1
Yes I am actually building a small garden railroad!! Finally. It is a small one, a point to point switching afair, to get my feet wet in this garden railroad thing, and provide a little swithching puzzle for me. I have raised the bed between 8 and 28 inches to level the beds in the back of the house and I am doing ladder roadbed made from ripped cedar. I am having trouble finding suitable material for ballast. I want something "scale" for my 1/29 models. I live in Southwest Florida (Ft Myers) and I cannot find "1/4 minus", "decomposed granate", or "crusher fines." I have called several local landscape/concrete dealers with no avail. I did find some "chicken grit" at the farm supply, but at $5.00 for 5 lbs, balasting even my small layout could get pricey. Need something in larger bags or bulk.

Anyone in my neck of the woods have any suggestions. I was thinging maybe something made out of limestone used for concrete? But I do not know enough about what is available to know what to ask for at a concrete dealer.:confused: Any help would be appriciated.
 

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I can't tell you where to go...but I can tell you what to look for. You want to find a rock crushing company...or a landscape products company.

Fine's are the by product of crushing any rock. Rock goes through progressive crushing to get down to gravel...and whenever rock is crushed you get fines...or crusher fines as they're called. The product of rock crushing gets strained to sort the big from the little rocks. The littlest are called fines. Fines are sold to landscaping companies mostly...or landscape material providers. They get numbered based on how small they are. And they get names based on the kind of rock that was crushed...or based on a local naming convention. Chicken grit is a particular size of fines...and got that name from their use to help chickens digest food.

So...find out where the local concrete companies get their gravel for concrete...because that's where the fines will be. Or...call a bunch of landscape contractors and find out where they buy their material for paths and such. Another place to find would be a concrete recycling facility...because they crush waste concrete to be recycled into new concrete...and there will be fines there...maybe for free if you arrive with just a couple of 5 gallon pails.

You're way down the peninsula, and given the non-rocky topology of Florida, I would expect your concrete providers and landscapers to be trucking gravel from a LONG WAY north...ergo meaning expensive.
 

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I've been using #2 chicken grit from New Ulm Minnesota, It's a pink granite I think, called "Rose-something" and holds up very well here in Oregon. I haven't purchased any for awhile and with current fuel prices it's probably a little more expensive now but I paid a bit under $8 each for 50 lb bags from a local farm supply. Not bad considering it had to be shipped to Oregon from Minnesota.

I really like it in bags. Besides being more uniform in size than bulk it also stacks and keeps well for extended periods unlike loose piles that get scattered about and infested with weeds.




This gives some idea of what the grit ballast looks like.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys.

Richard, chicken grit was my first thought but it appears on one trucks down large bags--5lbs. But my receptionist lives in rural Florida near Lake O and will be checking with the feed store there for larger bags of granite grit.

Mike, the only screenings locally appear to be limestone screenings, not granite. I am going to get a few bags and see if it will serve the purpose--may be too much like sand--I'll keep ya'll posted.

I do hear that Rinker (CEMEX) has granite fines at their facility in Coco and Tampa, but those are 2 to 4 hour drives--kinda tough to get a load of bulk fines.

Matt
 

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Rock is rock...who cares if it's limestone or granite. Look for the places that recycle concrete. There's fines there for sure. Just take four or five 5 gallon buckets.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I tried some of the limestone fines--they use is for laying patio stones. Seems too fine--more like sand but a different consistancy-seems to stick together much better than sand. Once compacted it does not have the "look" of balast like the crusher fines I have seen posted here.

Here is a photo of a small test section--let me know what you all think.



I will keep looking. I know there are a lot of garden railways in Florida--what is everyone else using?
 

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Hi! I live in Florida just south of Ocala, and I have had the same problem of not being able to find granite fines. I did get one truck load once but I had to special order a ton or more. I finally gave up and I use finely crushed lime rock which is plentiful here in Florida. Outside of being stark white it works quite well even though it may not be scale size. What I have found, too, is that the heavy rains we have plays havock with gravel ballast at times so a slightly larger size helps it stay in place more. Good luck finding what you can live with.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
How does it compare in size to the picture I posted? I don't have a problem with the white color--funny thing is the FEC used to be famous for its white balast when it used lime rock balast. Lately as the line was rebuilt with concrete ties and welded rail the railroad has rebalasted with granite rock from Ga. If you have any pictures of lime rock I'd like to see it--where did you get it?
 
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