Paver/Jointing Sand for Ballast and/or Ground Cover...

Sumner Aug 21, 2021

  1. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

    I just put up a video on using paver/jointing sand for ballast and/or ground cover. I've been experimenting some with it for use as ballast with ME Code 55 track and also for ground cover.

    It is really cheap as I believe I paid about $20 for 50 lb.. I used it when I laid a floor with pavers in our greenhouse and started thinking it might work on the railroad. I had a #40 mesh strainer and then got two #60 mesh strainers for about $12 and gave one to Dottie. The higher the number the smaller the particles at will pass through. Using the #60 the particles seemed to be very close in size to some commercial N scale ballast I had. Pick a strainer mesh that gives you the particle size you are after or in some ground cover situations you could use it straight out of the bag.

    It has binder with it so put it down and add water and you are done. No glue needed in the water. If you sift it the binder goes through with the small particles so if you want to use only the larger particles that remain in the strainer you will probably need to add some glue to hold them in place.

    Not sure how thick it will go on and dry and not crack if you are trying to build larger features on the layout, so experiment, but I would think you could use multiple layers if needed. Also while wet you can push/mold it and then leave it to dry.

    I'm interested in how it works for others if anyone else starts using it. At this point I'm happy with it for ballast and ground cover for my 'western' based layout. Only problem is I've only found it in brown and gray. Might try mixing in some of the powdered colors they have for concrete at some point.

    Last edited: Aug 21, 2021

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

    That looks like a cool find Sumner. (y) I've seen similar materials like grouts being used before but not paver sand. Price is good for sure. One thing I saw from someone who used grout was they ran a magnet over it to check for anything that might me metallic and get attracted to locos. Wonder if that would be a good idea to do on the paver sand as well?
  3. sidney

    sidney TrainBoard Member

    very interesting and love those items for track switching. seen them before and now i see how they work. fantastic. Thank you
  4. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

    Am I right that this sand will be available were floor tiles are sold? How about the sifter?
    The track switchers are interesting as well.
  5. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

    This came up on another board also. I was going to check the sand with a magnetic and forgot but just did. Yes the magnet pulled up very small metal particles out of the sand while the sand was still loose after being sifted. Then I went and tested the hardened ballast on the test track and the ground cover with the magnetic. I scraped it back and forth over the harden sand and couldn't find any evidence of any particles on the magnet. So I'd agree if you left if loose be careful where you use it. Once wetted with water and hardened I'm not sure there is a problem being used as ballast. In the end though we all need to do what we feel comfortable with for our layout.

    I don't think it is used inside (although I did). I found it being used in patios and walkways. I used it with pavers in our attached greenhouse and found it at the local lumber yard so would think you might find it about any place patio or walk pavers are sold.

    The sifter I used is ( HERE ) we already had one that I think is #40 mesh that I'll use where I want a little larger particles in the end mix.

    I'm just finishing a newer version of what I call 'Hidden Switcher' that works, looks and prints faster than the original. In the 'paver sand' video the old version is the platform with the culverts on it and the new version is the platform with the wooden wall and barrels (still to be painted). I'll get the print files up soon on my account with the new SPDT switch housing and the new platforms with various camouflage objects. I have over a dozen objects one can print and use plus a 'blank' platform where you could glue about anything you wanted to it to push/pull to activate the turnout and the SPDT switch for the frog polarity. If you haven't seen it here is a video of the new version 'Hidden Switcher' and how it is installed and how it works...

    BNSF FAN likes this.

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