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I am starting to work on my scenery and wanted to use the real thing for dirt in some corrals. Turns out my dirt is magnetic. Seems to me I read somewhere that is not a good thing. Am I asking for trouble if I use it ? Was planning on using white glue with it.
 

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it's magnetic ?? probably not real dirt from the ground, grinder sweepings or something ... dirt [ordinary plain dirt] isn't magnetic ..
 

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it's magnetic ?? probably not real dirt from the ground, grinder sweepings or something ... dirt [ordinary plain dirt] isn't magnetic ..
Rocks in my part of CT have a high proportion of ferrous oxide, thus making the soil slightly magnetic, and well water loaded with dissolved iron.

For the OP. If your dirt is magnetic, don't use it. You don't want to risk a poorly glued chunk in you engines or gears. Woodland Scenics ground turf (Earth / Soil) actually looks pretty good, and there are other suppliers as well.
 

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If you are going to keep the locomotive(s) away from the dirt, say up on ballasted rails, you are not likely to have any problems with properly affixed 'gravel' or 'dirt'. I sifted garden soil through pantyhose and got some nice fine stuff. I had tested the local beach sand that I used for ballast (on three layouts), but didn't think to test the fines that went through the pantyhose.

I mixed the fines with some plaster of Paris powder, shook it over the surface of the layout where I wanted it, rolled it flat (most of it was around the rails in my yard), and then sprayed it with alcohol and water. Once it was wet and setting, I sprayed it with dilute wood glue and some dish detergent to help it to penetrate. I never had any issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the replies. Sifted the dirt from my property and stuck a magnet in it. It's magnetic. The area I was thinking about using it on is a couple inches from track, but I am going to need dirt in other places, so I will get some Woodlands. Better safe than sorry.
 

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well, my science class was fifty years ago ... some things have changed, others haven't ...
the science article you linked to wasn't magnetic dirt, it was ferrous dirt [which sticks to a magnet], as in iron ore and others ..
up here some rocks are magnetic, but dirt in general isn't [ though it might be ferrous]

anyways, back to the op question, if there is magnetic [or ferrous] particles in the 'dirt' it would not be suitable for glue down in close proximity to the tracks [ read ballast], but okay for landscaping, better off with non magnetic and non ferrours'dirt' in general
 

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I've used sifted dirt in the past. It doesn't work well with Modge Podge which is my choice of foliage and ground cover adhesive. It turns dark and stays dark even after the adhesive dries, and if it doesn't change color that means it is still loose on the surface.

It doesn't mix well with paint or plaster either. I won't be trying that experiment again.

I won't be experimenting with real dirt anymore.
 

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Keep in mind that everybody's local soil is going to be a different color, so if you're trying to match a particular color you will probably want to mix a few colors together. It will also help a lot if you can spray-paint your base with a different local color as well. For instance, in my area the soil is all clay-based so I paint the plywood with a tan color, then put other colors over the top of it. The tan shows through in spots where I didn't put down as much vegetation or soil colored foam and helps give a greater variation to the overall appearance.

(Wow, can I repeat the word "color" a few more times???)
 

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I've used sifted dirt in the past. It doesn't work well with Modge Podge which is my choice of foliage and ground cover adhesive. It turns dark and stays dark even after the adhesive dries, and if it doesn't change color that means it is still loose on the surface.

It doesn't mix well with paint or plaster either. I won't be trying that experiment again.

I won't be experimenting with real dirt anymore.
I suspected the same thing, so I mixed my fines with almost an equal amount of plaster of Paris, which lightened the final product considerably. I'll be honest, it was still dark, but not too bad, and oh-so-realistic.

 
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