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Getting down and Dirty

I use real dirt and rock/gravel on the layout, as trying to simulate it with plaster just does not do it right.  By using real rocks and dirt, the color doesn’t fade or chip off like plaster does.  Once it is glued down it is rock hard.


Pick a surface to be dirtied.  It doesn’t take much preparation.


As all my layout base is Styrofoam , it is easy to put on the dirt surface. I use white glue full strength direct from the bottle.  Pour it on the area.  Work a little at a time, it is easier.  Spread it around the area to be done with a disposable brush. 


This layer must be thick, as you want to make a good thick hard crust of dirt.  The glue will soak up into the dirt more,  the thicker it is, it will make a tighter bond with the dirt and Styrofoam.  When dried it will not come off unless you scrape it off with a putty knife.

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Sprinkle the dirt you want onto the thick white glue.  I use a shaker bottle.  I pour different textures of dirt with rocks onto areas where I want to grow rocks.  I like the track road bed to have the rocks extend outward from the ballasted area.



After you apply your dirt and gravel spray the area with a fine mist of water to wet the surface.  Be generous to allow the water to soak into the dirt and mix with the thick surface of glue.  This will then wick upward to the layer of dirt you have applied.  When this happens you will see layers of glue appearing, then sprinkle finely screened dirt onto these wet glue areas.

When you pour on the extra heavy layer of dirt and rocks, they must be glued using an extra pouring of water and white glue.  I use a small squeeze bottle for the glue mix.   The glue is applied so that it soaks the dirt and rock mixture thoroughly.

You do not have to wait until it dries to start putting on larger rocks and more dirt surface.  I put on real rocks to simulate the natural outcropping of boulders and such.  Pour a mix of dirt mixed with smaller rocks onto and around the outcrop of rocks. I use a brush to work in the dirt and make it fall away from the boulders naturally.  Spray the area with water and then apply copius amounts of diluted white glue.  I use a mix of 60/40 water and glue. Put in an amount of alcohol as a wetting solution.