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So I'm in the middle of planning my layout and the building of the project and I'm finding about 50/50 on items used in building hills, rock faces etc.

My guess is that apper mache would be the messiest but I'm curious what you guys have found personally...
 

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I'll give you my experiences on this.

I started my layout with papermache' and newspaper. I actually painted and then used the Woodland Scenics ground foam turf over it. It looked very fake in my opinion. The smooth surface of the paper did not look like real turf, no matter how much ground foam I used, or what the coarseness was.

I use Sculptamold exclusively. It's about $5.50 a bag, and I've used 6 bags to do my entire 18x5 foot layout. It's light, easy to use, and puts down a very nice texutre.

I'd try the cheapest method first, and if the results satisfy you, go with it. Technique will also take a little fiddling, but once you've got it, run with it. I would also talk with a local Railroad shop and see what they use. Often you can use most of their tips for your layout.

Enjoy!
 

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Brian Ferguson
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There are almost as many methods of doing scenery as there are hobbyists.


My material of choice is styrofoam building insulation. One common brand name here is Styrofoam SM. Usually blue, it comes in sheets that are 2 x 8 feet and in several thicknesses. It is easy to shape with hand tools (saws, rasps, sandpaper, etc.) or with an electric hot-wire foam cutter. Multiple layers can be glued together for unlimited height. When you have the contours pretty much the way you want, you either seal the foam with a coat of paint before using conventional scenery materials, or you can lay on one or more coats of plaster if you need to carve any details.

Hand shaping the foam is messy, though, so keep a vaccuum handy for frequent clean-ups. When gluing pieces of foam together, be sure to use a non-solvent-based glue - I like latex contact cement - regular contact cement or solvent-based glues will melt the foam.

This method is fast, easy, and extremely light.
 

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I used plaster cloth that comes in a roll about 8 inches wide. First crumple up newspaper to desired contours and secure with masking tape. Cut off pieces of plaster cloth, dip in a tub of water for a couple of seconds, and lay over the newsprint. It dries to plaster hardness but is much easier to apply and less messy than real plaster. I then sprayed the plaster with appropriate brown, gray and green enamel paint and covered with various "soft" scenery made for train layouts (ground up foam). Looks fairly realistic I think, but plaster is plaster, even when covered with grass, and cars taking an off-road excursion usually bear the consequences. If I had to do it again, I might use foam. I remember seeing an article years ago by Weird Jack Stinson (maybe on Old Weird Herald site?) that explained a variation of the sculpted foam technique described above. I think he used expanding insulating foam from a squeeze gun (like carpenters use to fill gaps around windows and doors). Squirt it on, shape it a bit, let it dry, paint it, and voila -- car coddling soft rocks!

mp
 

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I used Plaster of Paris. Cheap, fast drying and easy to sculpt like you want it to.

Underneath, I used styrofoam (the pink one), glued together with hot glue.
 

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Well what I did on my train set for mountains and turned out as good as I've seen on any other train set. I folded up news paper lightly into squares ( like paving blocks) and lay them like bricks to desire height and mask them so they stay in place, and then I got a painters rolling dish and mixed up flour & water and then drag a sheet of news paper through it until soaked and then layed it over the blocks and it contours itself, or you can if you wish, then when it's dry I mixed up a rather sloppy mix of moulding plaster and slopped in on with a paint brush, when that dries recoat a few times for thickness, then spray paint desired colour, cheap and very effective, hope this helps you in some way.
cheers
 

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I have made hollow scenery with styrofoam sheets, blocks, and utilizing expandable styrofoam and a trowel as filler. Another product that can be used in small amounts as a filler is Liquitex Modelling Paste. It's light but is expensive and tends to crack if applied to thickly. You will have to double check to make sure that the styrofoam isn't of the flammable variety. Hot glue is the fastest way to glue the bits together and a "cheese grater" type of plane is a terrific way to shape the material once the basic form has been cut out.

Styrofoam is commonly used in the theatre and architectural prop business. A lot of the decorative columns and replica "ancient" sculptures in Las Vegas are made this way. They are spray coated with a special two part epoxy protective coating which makes it rock hard and resistant to the elements.

Instead of epoxy, I have used light, multiple coats of carpenter's glue to create a base surface that is both hard and waterproof. Unfortunately, it takes forever to dry if it is applied too thickly. The scenery can be made very strong, light and portable with this method. Hopefully, this will help a bit.

Bob S.
 

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Dennis Samson
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I have used styrene "packing peanuts" to fill in large spaces, then covered them with plastic mesh and a layer of plaster cloth over the top. It seems to work pretty well and it's light.
 

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I used Woodland scenics Plastercloth over regular screening stapled down. To make the hills...I stuck wads of newspaper under the screening.





the result was OK

 

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DT
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You can do both.


This is Woodland Scenics plaster rock set in papier maché over a wire frame. Takes two weeks for the papier maché to dry in winter. I'm going to 'varnish' it when it dries (before grassing) to prevent it going soggy next winter.

See a couple more photos here.
 
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