Has any body tried coffee grounds instead of real dirt,because I am not allowed to bake dirt in my oven? Has any body tried it?

 

Paul\Matt

Original Post

If you can't use the wife's oven.

 

 Use bleach.  Wash the dirt in bleach, I did all of the small rocks that I get from my driveway in 50% bleach and water.  Some of the rocks have been on the layout for 8 or more years with no problems.

Coffee grounds were a MRR scenery staple for decades in the MRR world. They retain their color and from my experience and what I have read they are pretty much impervious to pests.

 

P.S: Why would you not be allowed to bake dirt in "your" oven?

I dont know where you get your dirt, but it does NOT have to be baked.

I agree that there is no need to bake dirt.  Just spread it out in the sun for an afternoon to get it nice and dry. It will be pretty sterile after that, not that it matters.

 

OTOH, I also endorse coffee grounds. I use them all the time. As O. T. said, it has been used forever, and provides a very nice contribution to your color and texture palette. Just make sure they are fully dry before applying (the sun will accomplish this, too).  You may get many posts from those who will tell you all the bad things that will happen if you use it.  I recommend trying it for yourself.

Last edited by Avanti
Originally Posted by Avanti:

I agree that there is no need to bake dirt.  Just spread it out in the sun for an afternoon to get it nice and dry. It will be pretty sterile after that, not that it matters.

 

OTOH, I also endorse coffee grounds. I use them all the time. As O. T. said, it has been used forever, and provides a very nice contribution to your color and texture palette. Just make sure they are fully dry before applying (the sun will accomplish this, too).  You may get many posts from those who will tell you all the bad things that will happen if you use it.  I recommend trying it for yourself.

 

 

 

How do you glue anything down without getting it wet after drying it?

 

 

Last edited by Kunde

FWIW -- Before trying them on my railroad, i baked a batch of coffee grounds in the oven to be sure they were REALLY dry, and then spread them on a board with white glue/water for an adhesive as a trial run. Within a week i had mold.

 

Went to my local sand and gravel company and bought an 80 pound sack of washed sand (it was available in about 5 or 6 degrees of fineness and colors) for $5, and put it through the same trial but WITHOUT oven baking first. It passed with flying colors and has been down for almost 20 years now with no problems.

 

As an aside, what looks more realistic than the real stuff?

 

jackson

Originally Posted by Kunde:
Originally Posted by Avanti:

I agree that there is no need to bake dirt.  Just spread it out in the sun for an afternoon to get it nice and dry. It will be pretty sterile after that, not that it matters.

 

OTOH, I also endorse coffee grounds. I use them all the time. As O. T. said, it has been used forever, and provides a very nice contribution to your color and texture palette. Just make sure they are fully dry before applying (the sun will accomplish this, too).  You may get many posts from those who will tell you all the bad things that will happen if you use it.  I recommend trying it for yourself.

 

 

 

How do you glue anything down without getting it wet after drying it?

 

 

Hmm.   Good point. Well, maybe it doesn't matter how dry it is. Not sure.

 

All I can say is that I have used coffee grounds regularly since I was 8 years old and have never had any problems. I don't see why it would be any worse than lichen, paper, homasote, papier-mâché or any other organic material.  They will all absorb moisture until they are in equilibrium with the ambient air.  Shouldn't be a problem.

For the record:  I don't doubt the word of those who have had mold problems.  It is just not my experience.  There must be SOMETHING that makes the difference.  Anybody have any ideas?

Don't use coffee grounds, mold always seems to pop up sooner or later.

 

There is plenty of products out there from the likes of scenic express that makes good dirt. 

Pete,

Understand where you are coming from, they simply didn't work for me. As we all know there are many ways to solve a problem rather than one exclusively "right" or "wrong" one. My position is if it works and gives the individual the desired results, then go for it.

 

jackson

 

P.S. Again i say, what looks more realistic than the real stuff?

 

 

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Last edited by modeltrainsparts

I used coffee ground for years in south florida, not air conditioned garage and so far never saw any kind of life, but 1 think the coffee was sun dried first, then applied and glued.

my 2 cents

Andre.

Originally Posted by paul\matt:

Where the coffee grounds use in a coffee pot,and wet.

Well, good question. The grounds I have used have all been used (i.e., have been run through the coffee maker) and then dried.  The folks who have had mold problems: did you do the same, or did you use fresh (unused) coffee?   Just fishing for an explanation here.

 

Jackson,

I agree that real dirt is great. I use grounds as just one more ingredient to get variety and texture in my ground covers.  Although, I think that nothing beats coffee grounds for simulating a freshly-plowed field.

It is fun to try to improvise and be creative, but really, coffee grounds won't work as well as other material.  Given the time and importance of getting it right, use stuff from JTT or Woodland Scenics: it will cost a bit more than coffee grounds, which are free, but it will be the same amount of work and ultimately give better results.

I use real dirt for the most part as well, the soil here in AZ is very fine and using gold mining sieves (5 gallon bucket size) makes classifying it into different grades and ballast and such simple. On my current layout I have no use for "garden soil" and such, otherwise I would still consider using coffee grounds. I used it for years on my childhood layout, and never saw any signs of mold (this in MI, where it is just a wee bit on the humid side). If you have mold growing on your layout, I think the massive amount of moisture present to make mold grow (on anything) is approximately 1,000x the problem that having coffee grounds on your layout could ever be.

 

Also: The replies I see saying that things will grow on coffee grounds on your layout all seem to be from people who have no experience with the matter.

Last edited by Owen Thurdee

I agree with some of you guys I think I am going to wait in think about it and will teel you guys what i am going to do. But keep the ideas and thoughts coming and thank you guys for help and makeing the brain cooking! 

 

Paul\Matt

Originally Posted by Rayin"S":

With the price of coffee now, I would stick with scenery materials.

Ray

 

What is the price of used coffee grounds? Around our house they are in the negative column because they have to go in the trash- which costs money. All of the coffee grounds I ever applied were already brewed. I suspect that this also removes most of the food potential from them as well as making them zero cost. Coffee grounds are not the solution for everything, but they do look good as gardens and forest soils. As other people noted it is not necessary to bake regular soil for layout use, so that is your best bet for most of your layout ground covering if you are like me and enjoy the satisfaction of creating something worthwhile from found materials.

I have used coffee grounds that were baked well in the oven to give a dark rich soil appearance. No problem. It gives a different appearance that real dirt. I used real dirt also that was naturally finely sifted off of a softball field that gave a different but great appearance. I think that coffee grounds can have a place on the layout, but it should be kept dry. Probably the different results that folks have had is due to the different conditions where their layouts reside.

 

Rick

I used some coffee grounds on my last layout. Would never use them again. They make a mess no matter how you glue them.

Good morning everyone. I have saved coffee grounds that I put into my garden all the time. The first thing to remember is that you need to save them in a open container. If you save them in a closed container you will trap the moisture within the coffee grounds and mold will grow.  A big mistake I made this year.

 

I have never used coffee grounds within a layout before so I may try it sometime. For now they will still go into the garden. I plan on giving it a try this time.

Jackson,    I agree. Real dirt is the way to go. Where did you get that shorty diner? Is it a cut down Plasticville?

Al,

Yes, it is a Plasticville that i shortened by sectioning out the middle with a Zona saw. Below is a little better photo of it.

INMO real dirt, in this case a medium fine washed sand ($4 for 80 Lbs.) does the job best and is inexpensive as well. In the yards and similar areas i simply spray (rattle can) it with a light mist of black to give it the oiled effect.

 jackson

 

 

 

 

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Saw dust is a much better ground cover. You can make saw dust a fine powder in a blender or use it coarse. It adsorbs colored water and diluted white glue extremely well. Saw dust is light weight and best of all, it is free for the asking at most middle and high schools with an industrial arts shop.

Originally Posted by Bobby Ogage:

Saw dust is a much better ground cover. You can make saw dust a fine powder in a blender or use it coarse. It adsorbs colored water and diluted white glue extremely well. Saw dust is light weight and best of all, it is free for the asking at most middle and high schools with an industrial arts shop.

Saw dust is great.  So is dirt, sand, peat moss, kitty litter, ground foam (commercial or homemade), ground oregano leaves, lint from the clothes dryer, coffee grounds, and a hundred other things.   I have dozens of jars of stuff that I have accumulated. My workshop looks like a alchemists laboratory.  Almost never do I use a single material.  The trick to natural looking ground covers is to use mixtures that produce varying textures.

 

One of my favorite sources of nice ground covers is tube sand.  Here is an old posting on this topic:

 

Tube Sand

 

Also, as several have mentioned, don't forget that any material can be colored to produce even more variations.  Even sand or gravel can be easily tinted by putting it in a jar with an ink/alcohol mixture and shaking it up. 

Organic materials tend to rot one way or the other. I would go with a bag of dyed ground foam. The only organic material I prefer is decomposed granite known as "chicken grit" which makes for an inexpensive and realistic ballast.

Originally Posted by electroliner:

Organic materials tend to rot one way or the other. I would go with a bag of dyed ground foam. The only organic material I prefer is decomposed granite known as "chicken grit" which makes for an inexpensive and realistic ballast.

Decomposed Granite is Mineral, not Organic. The Decomposed aspect is from the rock being degraded over time and losing it's cohesiveness.

Originally Posted by electroliner:

Organic materials tend to rot one way or the other. I would go with a bag of dyed ground foam. The only organic material I prefer is decomposed granite known as "chicken grit" which makes for an inexpensive and realistic ballast.

In all respect, I have build and displayed layouts under a very wide variety of environmental conditions for a very long time, and I have zero evidence that organic materials on the layout cause any problems.  Ever.  

 

Do you ever use Homasote? Do you model using bristol board or cardboard or vellum? How about foam core? Non-toxic paint? Paper? Lichen? Wood?  All of these extremely common modeling materials are (or contain) organic materials and I venture to say that you will never find a significant layout that doesn't employ many of them.   The "don't use organics" bogy is not a credible argument.

 

I will step off of this particular soapbox now.

Originally Posted by Avanti:
 
...The trick to natural looking ground covers is to use mixtures that produce varying textures....

 

Also, as several have mentioned, don't forget that any material can be colored to produce even more variations. 

As Pete said, what you want is a variation of texture.

 

I used the local sandy soil in my freight yard - no baking. I figured if something could live "frozen" in solid white glue, it deserved to survive!

 

yard 002

 

But, the longer I looked at it, I began to wish I had used a darker ground cover such as cinders. It was depressing to calculate how many pounds of new, darker ground cover (and how many hours!) I would need to do the changeover. The yard is 35' long!

 

Then, one day I found a can of almost black flat latex house paint in the "oops" department at Lowe's. As an experiment, I took a 2" brush and started slapping on the paint, covering everything - ties, rails and dirt - with a thick layer of paint.

 

A half-hour later, it was done, with a lot less grief than I had imagined! Just enough brown showed through to give it a little variety in color in places.

 

The paint was removed from the rail tops with a block of pine and, later, an LGB track cleaning block.

 

yard 001

Jim

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