Author Topic: Considering a diffrent Scenery method.  (Read 2336 times)

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Flagler

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Considering a diffrent Scenery method.
« on: December 29, 2013, 08:01:18 AM »
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I Covered my L Girder Bench work with 1/4" plywood,followed by layers of 1" Blue colored  foamboard  that was shaped and covered with plaster cloth. This is most likely the most expensive way to make scenery.The results were very good.
I am planning on having a  route through very tall mountains on my next layout and this method might not work as well for long Tunnels and areas were I need to access hidden tracks.I am thinking of using Screen wire stretched between supports to create cavities within the scenery  shell.What do you think about using 1" foam board  vs plywood for the support the screen wire. Plaster will be applied to screen wire.The sreen wire will be vinal or plastic.It needs to be something that will not rust. 

Scottl

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Re: Considering a diffrent Scenery method.
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2013, 08:26:27 AM »
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I personally find the efforts many use to finish the scenery base a bit over the top.  If you are going to have ground cover and trees, why make it perfect- you are just covering it up!  :lol:

Foam board can work very well as a scenery structural base or the surface itself.  I once tried plaster cloth on the surface and won't again, just because it was added cost and the seams were more offensive to me than those of the foam board.  It also smooths the surface too much for my taste- screen likewise.  Both seem unnecessary, but I know many people use them, the latter is a classic technique.   I found in my last layout I could just roughly surface the foam to the contours I wanted, patch any grossly offensive seams, and then paint it directly.  I found for rough landscapes that gluing scraps of form board together gave a more believable surface than just carving a solid sheet, especially a horizontal flat surface.  A mixture of methods works well.

The ground cover deals with most of the flaws and touch up here and there with spackle is all that is needed.   Irregularity is natural- nothing looks faker to my eye than a smooth, "perfect" scenery base.  All landscapes are characterized by different types of irregularities and my "sloppy" foam approach is one way to generate this effect.

Spray foam (Great Stuff or the like) is also very handy for this work and a can goes a long way. It has a more bubbly interior when subsequently carved, but spackle can fix this.

Just my thoughts, hope it helps.


davefoxx

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Re: Considering a diffrent Scenery method.
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2013, 08:52:45 AM »
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+1.   Foam and lightweight joint compound for me.  Nothing goes to waste because foam scraps can be used to patch or fill areas.  I'll never do the mess of plaster again.  I use a handheld sander to shape the foam, so is no need for a coat of plaster or even Scuptamold over the entire surface. Lightweight joint compound, which has a similar consistency of foam when dry, is used to fill any gaps and is much less messy.  No mixing.  No waste.  Seal the container and the excess can be saved for another day.  Plus, this keeps the weight of my portable layout to a minimum.

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C855B

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Re: Considering a diffrent Scenery method.
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2013, 09:20:03 AM »
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A technique I'm soon to try - even bought a new jigsaw for it - is cutting foam at an angle around concentric contour lines. You then stack the resulting "onion" rings in reverse to build your mountain. It's slightly complex and requires a little bit of planning, but it is an efficient use of material and gets a self-supporting structure. If you break through while doing the finish contour, like Dave said you patch with scraps and move on.

This isn't my idea by any means, but I can't for the life of me recall where I heard of it. :|
...mike

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kelticsylk

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Re: Considering a diffrent Scenery method.
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2013, 10:03:09 AM »
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A technique I'm soon to try - even bought a new jigsaw for it - is cutting foam at an angle around concentric contour lines. You then stack the resulting "onion" rings in reverse to build your mountain. It's slightly complex and requires a little bit of planning, but it is an efficient use of material and gets a self-supporting structure. If you break through while doing the finish contour, like Dave said you patch with scraps and move on.

This isn't my idea by any means, but I can't for the life of me recall where I heard of it. :|

I'm trying something similar, but use 1/2" foam...


I'm planning to drape cloth or paper soaked in wallpaper paste over the basic shape. 2" foam seems too expensive to me, especially when covering a large area.  Foam is thin enough to cut with a utility blade.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2013, 10:05:41 AM by kelticsylk »

C855B

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Re: Considering a diffrent Scenery method.
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2013, 10:08:07 AM »
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Frank, am I seeing screws holding that together? :scared:
...mike

http://www.gibboncozadandwestern.com

We don't make mistakes, we have happy accidents. We just don't tell anybody. -Bob Ross

robert3985

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Re: Considering a diffrent Scenery method.
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2013, 06:24:38 PM »
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Here's a method my fellow-train-nut Kelly Newton perfected and used on his N-scale modules and on several HO scale model railroads, including Lee Nicholas' UCW and Ted York's Cajon Pass.

Lee Nicholas has devoted part of his web page to Kelly's technique here: http://www.ucwrr.com/Kelly%27sScenery.htm  On Kelly's modules, which were built for a customer, I assisted him by doing the river and much of the "finish scenery", which means track painting and weathering, ballasting, ground cover, some of the trees and bushes as well as the riverbed, river and all the bridges.

Basically, Kelly's method is cheap, uses readily available materials that can be purchased at The Home Depot, Lowe's, Michaels, and just about any fabric/sewing store.  The only "specialized" equipment is a flour sifter, but a rubber investment mixing bowl really comes in handy so you can just flex it and break the plaster out of it when it sets up...verrrry handy.

Here's a much condensed overview of his method.  First, get your railroad's subroadbed in, install your fascia and cut the terrain contours, get a pretty specific idea of what the basic landforms are going to look like, then glue plain old cheesecloth to your layout's edges using yellow carpenter's glue, and letting it fold down on the outside of your layout's edges.  After the glue has dried, fold it up over everything.  If you have rivers or streams planned, you need to have the beds already installed, or if you have flat areas for stations, industries, farm houses etc., a "bed" of Styrene, 1/4" plywood or even cardboard that's supported underneath is essential.  Stuff plastic grocery bags full of old newspapers underneath the cheesecloth a small section at a time until you're satisfied with the overall look of things, then secure the cheesecloth with T-pins, clothes pins, staples...whatever, then proceed onward.  Kelly doesn't hesitate to do this "cover", with the grocery bags full of newspaper underneath on an entire 6' long module all at once.  After you've got the cheesecloth covering everything (and I do mean "everything" including the track subroadbed) wet it with a spray bottle, then sift on dry plaster with a flour sifter.  With a wide paintbrush, paint it lightly and spray/sift with a little more dry plaster and spray bottle until you've got a thin coat of wet plaster on all of your cheesecloth.  You can push and pull the top or re-arrange the newspaper filled bags underneath to get everything just right before the plaster sets up.  After it's set up (which doesn't take too long) you can add more plaster, and you can also color your plaster using dry tempera.  Kelly and I like to use a combination of tempera and real dirt for some of the colorful prototype landforms in Utah, which have a very characteristic reddish color.  The real dirt is very effective in providing both texture and color.

After it's all applied and hardened up, you can remove the grocery bags full of newpapers and you have a hard, durable and fairly lightweight shell that can be modified or added to with rock carving where you want them.  Kelly sands the roadbeds (which are covered with the cheescloth/plaster shell), then applies Midwest Cork Products roadbed, sands it again and then puts his track on.  Because it's hollow, Kelly makes tunnel walls out of strip Masonite that follow the tunnel, hide most of the "hollowness" when viewing the tunnels from the outside, but are low enough to get at any derailed cars from the underside.

Kelly writes up a very specific set of instructions in Lee Nicholas' website along with a lot of photos.  If this is something that piques your interest, then take a look.  Kelly doesn't provide a finished look at his modules, but here's a photo of his modules done using this method, with the addition of rock carving, river, track, bridges, tunnel portals and ground cover:


When I used this method, I didn't cover my splined Masonite subroadbed with it, but cut the cheescloth to the right contour, then glued it to the edges of my subroadbed and put blue masking tape over my subroadbed...usually after I'd already installed my track (including all the electrical work which is much easier to do from the top, without any scenery base).

Nowadays,  I don't use this method any longer and I prefer to very specifically carve my landforms using extruded polystyrene sheets.  However, this is because I'm modeling prototype scenes and it's easier for me to get them as exact as I can using extruded polystyrene sheets and filling the seams and cracks with Celluclay.  I am attempting to actually finish-carve some of my distinctive sandstone cliffs using no plaster whatsoever.  We'll see how they look when finished as the jury's still out until the finished product is done.  Some rocks still require me to use plaster, which I do sparingly because my layout is portable, and plaster can add to the overall weight in a big hurry.

I have a tunnel on my Taggarts LDE that's about 20" long and is curved like the prototype.  After quite a bit of thought, I've decided to make it totally inaccessible except from either portal, and I'm carving the tunnel interiors (it's a double tunnel for the double UP mainline that pierces the rocks there) from a single layer of 3" Styrofoam which my friend Gregg Cudworth gave me.  The tunnel walls will be burned out with a custom Nichrome wire bent very specifically to my "high-pressure" tunnel wall profile (as on the prototype), which I will use on my custom made hot-wire carver/burner I made several years ago.  I've had several tunnels, some short, some long that I've built on my modules over the years, and early on, I thought that if the trackwork was near perfect, then there wouldn't be any problems.  So far, that philosophy has proven true for me, and the main thing I don't do is join any rails inside a tunnel.  The rail joints are always on the outside, and the track is really well glued down and ballasted in the tunnel interiors also.  Luckily, I haven't had a tunnel that was over 3' long, and I don't foresee that ever happening with me.

Truthfully, I can't think of a time I've had a car or engine come off the track inside a tunnel.  As for track cleaning, I run Masonite pad cleaning cars on every other freight, which keeps the mainline rails bright without having to "Bright Boy" anything but little-used sidings and yard tracks...so, my tunnel rails stay bright, no matter how inaccessible they are.


nkalanaga

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Re: Considering a diffrent Scenery method.
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2013, 12:47:09 AM »
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If you're using screen wire over open spaces, heavy corrugated cardboard will work for the supports, and is both cheap and easy to cut, with little mess.  It's also easy to cut holes through it if needed, for hidden tracks or wiring.
N Kalanaga
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BCR751

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Re: Considering a diffrent Scenery method.
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2013, 11:17:28 AM »
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I really liking the idea of just using foam insulation board, particularly in areas where it will be completely covered like forests.  Simply paint the foam with your choice of ground color or cover it with a thin layer of plaster so would accept different types of paint without affecting the foam.  I do have a question, however.  When using plaster rock castings, how would one attach the castings to the foam?  I'm thinking using something like construction adhesive and then filling in the gaps with latex caulk.  Any other suggestions?

Doug

DKS

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Re: Considering a diffrent Scenery method.
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2013, 01:30:32 PM »
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I left any form of wire screen as an OTT method decades ago. Until foam came along, I used hardshell for a short while, but I now prefer foam infinitely over any other method. I stack 2" layers together, glue with foam-happy adhesive and secure in place temporarily with bamboo skewers. Then carve it to the final shape with a homemade hot wire tool. If any areas have rock faces, I attach Cripplebush rubber rock, then blend in with tinted Sculptamold. Finally, I cover with terrain materials, trees and details.
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jimmo

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Re: Considering a diffrent Scenery method.
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2013, 04:34:17 PM »
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I left any form of wire screen as an OTT method decades ago. Until foam came along, I used hardshell for a short while, but I now prefer foam infinitely over any other method. I stack 2" layers together, glue with foam-happy adhesive and secure in place temporarily with bamboo skewers. Then carve it to the final shape with a homemade hot wire tool. If any areas have rock faces, I attach Cripplebush rubber rock, then blend in with tinted Sculptamold. Finally, I cover with terrain materials, trees and details.

I use a technique almost identical to DKS. The exception is instead of Sculpamold I use pre-colored lightweight spackle (which is also a foam product). I will have to check out the Cripplebrush product line.
James R. Will

nkalanaga

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Re: Considering a diffrent Scenery method.
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2013, 01:51:17 AM »
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Doug:  On rock castings, I also used solid foam piles for most of my mountains, and construction adhesive works.  I wouldn't use caulk for the gaps, though, as it won't take paint and stains the same as plaster.  Just mix up a little extra plaster, work it into the gaps, and then carve it to match the neighboring rocks.  In my case, I put the plaster along the edge of each new casting, then pushed the next casting into it.

Another way I used was to get rid of the adhesive and use plaster for everything.  This worked especially well when the castings were fresh and still damp.  Put some nails into the foam, with the heads sticking out a quarter inch or so.  Apply a layer of plaster to the foam, making sure it gets in behind the nail heads, then press the castings into that.  This works especially well when the foam stack isn't neat, and there are gaps between the layers and/or rough edges, anything that the plaster will stick to.  Some construction adhesives don't like to set well in large gaps between a nonporous material and plaster.  On the other hand, this method also takes more room, as it makes a thicker "rock" layer.
N Kalanaga
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kelticsylk

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Re: Considering a diffrent Scenery method.
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2014, 12:59:59 PM »
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Frank, am I seeing screws holding that together? :scared:

Sorry I didn't see this sooner...
I use drywall screws as clamps. The foam is glued together with tacky glue. I usually just leave the screws in rather than reclaim them. My styrofoam roadbed is built in a similar fashion.

DKS

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Re: Considering a diffrent Scenery method.
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2014, 01:20:28 PM »
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I use drywall screws as clamps. The foam is glued together with tacky glue. I usually just leave the screws in rather than reclaim them. My styrofoam roadbed is built in a similar fashion.

I do the same, actually, when it's just two layers. For scenery having multiple layers, then I'll use bamboo skewers.
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Cajonpassfan

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Re: Considering a diffrent Scenery method.
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2014, 11:00:38 PM »
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Not trying to be contrary, as there are many ways to do excellent scenery, but I've seen too many scenes where the layered foam is mostly *above* the trackage and the landforms end up looking cakelike and unnatural (not yours Robert...:)
In hilly  or mountainous terrain, I believe the track needs to float *through* the scenery, with contours both above and below the mainline (unless you run along a lakeshore) and the amount or volume of cut and fill is somewhat balanced. The idea is that if one were to remove the railroad and take the fill dirt and place it in the cuts, natural landforms independent of human intrusion would reappear. Foam doesn't lend itself naturally to this, as it represents horizontal scenic contours.
I prefer to work with vertical contours, ridges and drainage lines, to develop credible landforms. I use old fashioned brown cardboard to place more or less triangular pieces at angles parallel to the track, some representing cuts and some fills and then connect natural ridge lines and gully bottoms with cardboard strips for a lightweight web. Brown paper, paper towels, and plaster "specialist bangage" come next, with a mix of plaster and or sculptamold over the top. It's clean, easy, lightweight, and easy to control.
Not saying this is the only way, or the best way, but something to consider because the technique lends itself to Mother Nature's ways: drainage courses and ridges, fills (or bridges) and cuts, with the railroad fitting in, rather than the scenery being designed around the railroad.
Just food for thought...:)
Regards, Otto K.