Dirt Roads

Dirt Roads

Postby rickb326 » Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:45 pm

I want to start putting some dirt roads onto my layout. Only problem is I don't know how to model a dirt road. I saw an article a while back about using real dirt, but wasn't sure how to get all of the criters and anything else out of the dirt.
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Re: Dirt Roads

Postby bparrish » Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:58 pm

If you are nervous about bugs in your dirt............. Oooooooooooo that sounds kinky...

Get your wife to will and bequeath you a cookie sheet. Trust me............. she won't want it back once she knows what you are going to do to it..

Spread the dirt out to something under an inch thick and bake it at about 400 for about a half hour. No buggy can survive that.

Then take a window screen and sift it for plant and root mater that you don't want in your roads.

Dirt roads tend to have ruts that are put in with a second application of dirt. Put down a thin layer of white glue, thinned 50/50 and sprinkle dirt over it and let it kick off. Brush up loose into a pile nearby. For the ruts put down lines of glue in the approximate pattern you want to use to demonstrate the traffic flow of your streets. Sprinkle dirt over (or brush back some from the piles nearby) and then press lightly and then with a blunt piece of metal trace a few lines into the whole mess. Allow to kick off again.

Brush up and save what you can. Vacuum thoroughly to keep down the dust that will come from all of this.

To make puddles in the road ... again a second pass type of thing........... Make a small circle of glue and put dirt over it. Allow to dry and vacuum up. Then flood the hole with styrene or super glue. They stay shinny and look sort of cool. To tone down a bit... pull a wash of dark green or gray paint oil from a jar of paint that is not completely mixed up.

There's a start for you.

see ya
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Re: Dirt Roads

Postby kruisyk » Fri Nov 12, 2010 1:14 pm

Doug Foscale has a great little DVD on building roads and highways for your layout. Check it out...

http://store.foslimited.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=FOSDVD%2D03

I've been having some frustration in that some commercially available dirt products darken considerably when put down with wet water. I've used real dirt, too. Hobby on! \m/

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Re: Dirt Roads

Postby ReadingBob » Fri Nov 12, 2010 1:46 pm

I generally do what exactly what Bob (the other Bob :D ) described using real dirt I collected up in Pennsylvania when I lived there (most of the 'dirt' in Florida contains way too much sand). I bake the dirt in an old can or pot on a Coleman Camp stove (or on the grill) outside. Like Bob I sift it using screens, stockings, etc. to get the granularity I want.

One thing I tried one time that and which I really liked the result of was mixing the real dirt with some Durham's Rock Hard Water Putty. There's no real ratio for this - just mix some in until you get a nice light color keeping in mind that it'll darken a little bit after it's glued in place. The allowed me to lighten up the dirt considerbly and to get a great 'dried mud' type effect in a parking lot area. After wetting it and apply a mixture of White Glue/Water and letting it set a bit (but not all the way) I created tire tracks by lightly draggin a thin piece of wire through the dirt.

There's also no law that says you can't paint, stain, use A&I, apply weathering powders, etc. to the dirt after it's affixed in place. So if the color isn't what you hoped for after it dries have at it!

It's fun to experiment with this stuff. After all the ingredients are basically....wait for it.....dirt cheap! :)) :ymsick:
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Re: Dirt Roads

Postby bigdave031 » Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:04 pm

I know it costs more but I buy the dirt from scenic express. It looks great and stays the right color. I use earth color paint first and then apply the dirt.
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Re: Dirt Roads

Postby Off Duty » Fri Nov 12, 2010 7:45 pm

Rick, Great question.

Bob & Bob Thanks for the tutorial, you guys make it seem so easy.

That is why I joined this forum, everyone is willing to share their tips and tricks and occasional mistakes so us new guys/gals can learn.
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Re: Dirt Roads

Postby rebel » Fri Nov 12, 2010 9:19 pm

bigdave031 wrote:I know it costs more but I buy the dirt from scenic express. It looks great and stays the right color. I use earth color paint first and then apply the dirt.
I find most commercial dirt dose not cut it as you move up the realism ladder. Used to use paint and add dirt and or commercial dirt, now I tend to go with the modified zip texturing, still experimenting on a hybrid method though.
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Re: Dirt Roads

Postby bparrish » Sat Nov 13, 2010 2:07 am

The dirt I use comes from the desert area south west of Boise. We have a lot of alkali and it is real sandy color. It does not darken when glued. If in need some finer for up close realism I use a fired clay mortar and pistil. I will grind down a batch to the finest of powders. I have used this since my days of antique and piano restoration where I had to grind a lot of my own pigments to match old wood colors during repairs.

Once I glue it down (see another thread regarding methods) I go back when it is all dried and rub off any large chunks that are out of scale. Then I run a vacuum cleaner over it to get all the dust out. Dust is a major enemy of modeling.

see ya
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Re: Dirt Roads

Postby MASSIVERALPH » Sat Nov 13, 2010 6:38 am

There's also no law that says you can't paint, stain, use A&I, apply weathering powders, etc. to the dirt after it's affixed in place. So if the color isn't what you hoped for after it dries have at it!

I think this is a requirement per George Sellious. Real dirt has the right texture, but the coloring is usually wrong and monotone.!
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Re: Dirt Roads

Postby Captain Swoop » Sat Nov 13, 2010 1:06 pm

kruisyk wrote:I've been having some frustration in that some commercially available dirt products darken considerably when put down with wet water. I've used real dirt, too. Hobby on! \m/

Dave Kru


Never leave a surface 'raw' . Use an airbrush and mist on the tone you want as the final acoliur. That way you don't have to worry about what the wet water does.

On top of that anything from the real world like 'dirt' left natural will be too intense in colour.

Same applies for anything you paint with matched colours like rolling stock or locomotives.

To get the best appearance you have to 'scale' the colour back abd pale it out with a misting of neutral grey to blend everything in.
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