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2018-06-05

Technique for reclaiming scatter material

When adding vegetation to the train layout, there is usually a lot of material that does not get stuck down and has to be removed. This is easily removed using a vacuum cleaner of course. I present here the technique I use to not only remove the material, but in such a way that it can be kept clean and reused.



I use a Shop-Vac type vacuum cleaner which has a large 'bucket' container and a suction hose that ends in this bucket.

The end of this pipe provides an ideal place to place a nylon stocking, which can be held in place with an elastic band.

When I wish to reclaim scatter or flocking material, I place the nylon stocking in place and close up the machine as usual. I then suck up all the material, and avoid cleaning other areas that may have undesired dirt.  Once done, I open up the machine, ensure that all the material has fallen down into the stocking and then I remove it.

I then place the end of the stocking over an empty plastic bottle, such as the bottle in which the scatter material came in, or a spice bottle.


I pull the stocking down and guide the material to the middle of the open top of the bottle


I push the tip of the stocking into the bottle to ensure it all comes out of the stocking.

The stocking can then be pulled off the bottle, leaving the reusable material behind.


When not collecting scatter material, I leave the stocking on the empty bottle so that I can visually see that it is not in the vacuum cleaner. I leave the elastic inside the machine.

Some things to remember:

  • Keep track of whether or not you have the stocking in place or not! Don't go cleaning the room and getting floor dirt into the stocking!
  • Keep in mind the capacity of the stocking is rather limited. If you are picking up a lot of material, stop and empty the stocking periodically
  • When pulling the stocking down over the bottle, watch that material goes into the top of the bottle and not down the side
  • Do the transfer to the bottle away from areas that you do not want to get dusty, as some dust from the vacuum will be present on the outside of the stocking.