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Discussion in 'FAQs' started by McFortner, Dec 18, 2002.
Has anybody used (new, not used!) cat litter for balast?
Pros? Cons? Tips?
Hi Micheal, I've heard of catlitter being used for some scenery applications but never for ballast. Catlitter is nothing but clay (kaolin). Seems to me that if you wet it enough to bond ballast it would just disolve The Woodland Senics ballast is actually roofing granules and some other brands like Arizona Rock and Mineral Co. are actually fine crushed rock. I think you might be better off with the commerical stuff.
BTW....They mine that stuff down in Sandersville GA....might be a good industry for a layout!!! They even have a railroad to connect the kaolin pits and processing plants to the mainline railroads. Its called the Sandersville Railroad and they have a huge fleet of hoppers..... and tank cars for the liquid version of it.
I have used oil absorbant from auto parts stores for years for ballast on O and S gauge layouts. HO scale ballast would be smaller but you could crush it into smaller pieces. There are some problems with kitty litter such as: some of it has green crystals and it clumps when wet. I use the normal white glue, water and a little dish soap mixture to glue it down. I haven't found any problems with it and at a couple dollars for a 50 pound bag you can't beat the price. Steve
Hi, Michael, I use the sand they have for sand art at an Art Supply store, there are a number of colors and I actually mix a few together. It is also cheap, about $1.20 a 1LB bag. It is usually in the children's section. I have tried kitty litter and didn't like the color.
Woodland Scenics I think is actually ground up nut shells.
Got 20 tons of crushed limestone with fines for my driveways this year. Wifey said I should set some off the the side to fill in later. I was thinkin I could use a screen and filter out big stuff and get some really good cheap ballast, so I saved a pile.
No matter how great Kitty Litter may turn-out for use as track ballast---what if you have a cat?.....Then again, I guess we are going for realism.
modern cat litter clumps, when wet - so you hardly can glue it down evenly with wetted water and white glue, or matte medium or other water based sticky stuff. On other, old-fashioned versions of Kitty Litter I have to second Vic: When you apply water it simply 'melts' into an oozy puddle of clay...
However, once I used a reddish version of that stuff on a diorama for the rip rap rocks at the foot of a cliff. To fix it in place, FIRST I applied white glue almost full strength (about 4 parts glue to 1 part water) at the base of the cliff. THEN I scattered the litter parts into the glue and pressed it down with the fingers. In some places, where more rocks were needed I added more glue, then litter. Looked quite fine. But for ballast it would have been much too coarse.
What I use for ballast is 'bird sand'. This is a fine grained granite sand, normally used to cover the floor plate of a bird cage. It is light gray colored and looks very good for well kept mainline ballast. I used it both on H0 and N scale layouts. And it is very cheap - a pound bag costs about 1-2$.
Only problem is: I live in Switzerland and I don't know if you can get this material in the US. Just try in a pet shop or even the pet department of a supermarket (that's where I got mine).