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Ground foam - what am I doing wrong?

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Ground foam - what am I doing wrong?
Posted by Canalligators on Saturday, October 26, 2019 9:29 PM

 I need a large amount of ground foam, and am not willing to spend the amount of money needed to buy it.  Between three railroads in O, HO and N scales, I will need enough to cover about 100 square feet in various consistencies - from grass to coarse turf.  I thought I’d start by making up a couple gallons.  So I’ve been trying to make my own, per multiple how-to web pages and forums.

The problem is, I can’t get it fine enough.  Ten minutes in the blender, wet with paint, only gets me down to quarter inch pieces.  Put those in a coffee grinder for two minutes, and I only get down to eighth inch pieces.  I’ve tried different loadings of these grinding tools, different amounts of liquid, different on/off cycles.  After all this, it dulled the blades on both machines.

I got so disgusted with it that I walked away from the scenery work for a year.

All the sources glow about how fast and easy it is, so either they are full of soup or I’m missing something.  Hints?

Genesee Terminal, freelanced HO in Upstate NY
  ...hosting Loon Bay Transit Authority, run through Amtrak and CSX Intermodal

CP/D&H, N scale, somewhere on the Canadian Shield

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Posted by ba&prr on Saturday, October 26, 2019 9:43 PM

Here's a 2 part youtube. The guy used a wire brush on a drill and a hand cranked grinder.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLaTyE1eHVo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHo0M7b0Eyk

Joe

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Posted by mbinsewi on Saturday, October 26, 2019 9:54 PM

I haven't watched the videos from Joe, but, I used nerf footballs when I made my own, dry, no paint, just broke up the football and put the pieces in an old blender.

The I died them with fabric dye.  I ended up with 3 different "courses", depending on how long I had them in the blender.

Mike.

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Posted by SPSOT fan on Saturday, October 26, 2019 10:56 PM

I have found that ground foam can go a lot way if you use just a little bit and don’t go for complete coverage of whatever area you are scenicing. When I’ve done scenery I used a smaller amount of ground foam over a heavier layer of dirt (which is FREE!), though I was modeling Eastern Washington desert, so I suppose you may need to go a bit heavier than I am describing.

If you want to try to save on you groundfoam usage, perhaps you could try covering areas with other scenery items. Just using real dirt can work quite nicely, especially if modeling dryer areas in dryer seasons. Static grass is another ground cover option, though it may be more expensive for the area covered... maybe just a few grass tufts could work well.

Regards, Isaac

I model my railroad and you model yours! I model my way and you model yours!

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Posted by gdelmoro on Sunday, October 27, 2019 7:16 AM

Thanks Joe,

Those were useful videos. 

Gary

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Posted by mobilman44 on Sunday, October 27, 2019 8:23 AM

I'm reminded of my attempts 25 years ago to rejuvenate and color lichen.  I did my research, knew what had to be done, and followed directions.  Said nicely, it resulted in an ugly mess with no redeeming value.

Save yourself the time and frustration and buy what foam you need.  There are plenty of offers on Ebay from folks with surplus supplies, and you can get what you need reasonably.  I speak from experience, having been on both sides of those transactions.

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, October 27, 2019 9:06 AM

mobilman44
Save yourself the time and frustration and buy what foam you need.

.

Yes, I believe mobilman has the right approach. No matter how hard you try to make your own, you will never match the coloring, size variety, and quality control of Woodland Scenics or Scenic Express.

.

I have two 27 totes full of scenic items I have collected. I did not spend a fortune, and I have an amazing variety.

.

This is a case where I can not see the cost savings justifying the effort.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, October 27, 2019 10:41 AM

I just watched Joe's videos.  It's been decades since I used the good old hand grinder, probably the last time I did venison sausage.

As a kid, that grinder was the main food processing equipment.  Everything from meat to the Thanksgiving cranberrys.

I have to agree with collecting the commercial foam.  Get bags as you can afford them, and build a supply.

My current layout is small, so I didn't really need that much.  Mostly for trees and shrubs.  I used very little for ground cover.

I still have a couple of bags of the home made stuff I did in the late 80's.  It still looks great.

I think the biggest problem, besides all of the work, is finding the right foam.  Back when I was doing it, the nerf footballs made the best looking, you couldn't tell it from WS ground foam.  I tried a foam mattress topper, and it didn't work.

Good luck on your adventure.

Mike.

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Posted by cowman on Sunday, October 27, 2019 11:50 AM

There's always the old dyed sawdust method.  I used it early on in my modeling, it worked just fine.  Use various fabric dyes, then screen it for different textures.  Goes a long way and is cheap.  Of course you need a saw and some wood to cut up.  (Benchwork)

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Posted by NVSRR on Sunday, October 27, 2019 4:26 PM

Scenic express makes larger containers of the stuff. Not overly expensive. You could look there.  How about lookingnat teddy bear fur as a start point and follow some

of the different tutorials on how to condition it to look like different turf

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An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel

A realist sees a frieght train

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Posted by Canalligators on Monday, October 28, 2019 10:49 PM

Now I seem to be getting somewhere!

Mobilman, your words are a reality check. I think I will follow your advice.  And thanks for the tip about sourcing on eBay.

Kevin, I see the cost/benefit argument.  It’s probably not worth the trouble to make my own.  Lately I’ve been talked out of doing some things “on the cheap”, sounds like a bad habit that I need to break.

Mike, I can see that the foam I used is probably part of the problem.  It just doesn’t want to be chopped up.  After all those how-to guys said you can use almost any foam!

Cowman, I am using dyed sawdust too.  I just made a couple of gallons of it the other night.

NVSRR, tnx for the source hint.

Genesee Terminal, freelanced HO in Upstate NY
  ...hosting Loon Bay Transit Authority, run through Amtrak and CSX Intermodal

CP/D&H, N scale, somewhere on the Canadian Shield

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Posted by luvadj on Sunday, November 10, 2019 6:44 PM
I found the lumber yard was a willing participant in my sawdust dying ventures for practically nothing but the cost of a couple of boxes of Rit dye...The grinder got to be a chore and I bought a used blender from the local goodwill store that I burnt up in the middle of a batch...now I buy just enough WS clump and fine foliage to get the job done.

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Posted by kasskaboose on Monday, November 11, 2019 5:40 PM

Foam is def one of those things you have to bite the bullet and buy.  The cost is far cheaper than the run around in seeking a homemade solution. 

Besides the great advice mentioned, you also can sign up for email discounts from various online merchants.  Many of 10% off discounts during the holidays or even randomly.  Just ensure it doesn't end up in the notices stay out of the spam folder!

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Posted by xdford on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 2:41 AM

For what it is worth, I have bought a couple of florists foam blocks of slightly different colours at a Reject/$2/ Crazy Bargains type shop and using a vegetable grater, broke them down to ground foam. It has been not  the same product as ground foam from WS but as ground cover it seems to be a better product than dyed sawdust... although I have used that in the past as well...but from normal viewing distance, it seems to work OK  

Hope this helps,

Cheers from Australia,

Trevor   https://sites.google.com/view/stagnesrailway For Your Interest

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