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A Collection Of Scenery Posts

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I put together a collection of past Posts and hope you find something helpful in them.

My scenery posts have been popular over the years here and there.......Perhaps folks here will find them enjoyable & Helpful also.



My goal through these posts is simply to point out what I have learned Over 30 + years of creating scenery for Model Railroads, Diorama's and Scenic modules (& Now A Slot track) and pass that along allowing each individual to come to their own decisions about what to use, when to use it, how to use it and when to say " I think I'll Just do it My Way" )

Your results using any of the techniques I describe may vary and if you hold me accountable know that you will be imbibed with an internet curse of such magnitude that you would only Wish it had been the fleas of a thousand camels...Now, on with the show!!!




Model Scenery


It is important to understand that there are many ways to do scenery, the point of which is to provide a pleasant environment to display our race cars. Many techniques are used to get just the right look. That right look is differant for everyone but the techniques used by some of the best in the world at terrain modeling are consistent because they get excellent results every time.

Experimenting can be fun and sometimes produce very good results however, re-inventing the wheel is not necessary because the experiments have been done and the results are in......all you need to know, is where to find them.

Since coming on line I have made a study of scenery techniques used by the best in the world. Ive bought the video's ive bought the books and I have used the materials discussed in them. What I have found is this - Getting results using these tried and true methods is SIMPLE EVEN FOR THE AMATEUR.(loud enough for you?)

Yes, you CAN do scenery................Its easy, its kinda fun.........and the results using the methods I will be discussing over the coming weeks have been proven time and time again winning National Contests. We are talking Museum Quality work that takes no more time and is no more difficult than painting that entryway wall you’ve been putting off - ( you know what i mean here ) So, on with the SHOE


Before doing scenery work it is important to have the tools you need.

Also, deciding on what medium you will use (plaster, foam, ceiling tile, Styrofoam extruded foam insulation etc.)

For ground coverings, Base paint, various colored ground foams, Lichens, colored sawdust, ground shrapnel (homemade ground cover made with leaves & Cypress mulch blended and screened), and various twigs, sticks, sifted dirt’s, rocks and any other details which will be made permanent. Don’t forget some moss green color for stone viaduct shadow area's and for around culverts etc.


For tools you should have Masking tape, Paper towels, plaster, Foam rubber (for making soft scenery area’s) spreaders, carvers, gougers, rubber rock, brick wall, stone wall Molds, Spray bottles, adhesives, saw blades (for making rock strata) In various configurations. A dremel or motor tool is nice to have but not critical.


For coloring plaster you should have some good earth tone colors of paints ( I use artists acrylics and inexpensive acrylic craft paints) that can be mixed very thin with water . Raw Umber, Burnt umber, raw sienna, burnt sienna, yellow ochre etc are among the needed colors. These will be blended very thin making them more of a thin stain or wash.

India Ink & Alcohol mixed into several different tints.1 tsp to a cup..1 tbsp to a cup 2 tbs to a cup.

This mixture is sprayed on to define shadow areas. It can also be used on your figures to help define creases in clothing etc and to give light to heavy weathering affects to buildings.

A spray bottle of wet water (water mixed with a drop or two of dish soap) This helps your adhesive to flow into all the nooks and cranny’s.

All these things plus containers to hold your collections of scenic supplies is needed Before we start. Also nice to have but not critical is a rolling cart with shelves that will hold all of your supplies. Perhaps something that can be rolled underneath the layout when not in use.


Some of these items you may not have and you can probably get by without them depending on the level of scenery you want. There are also items not on the list because hey, I’m doing this from my head not ripping it off from a book LOL.



A large permanent track takes a large commitment in Time and in Money.

A Pure racing track will cost less than a scenic track in both but will still require maintenance.........The larger the track the more maintenance......The More scenery you add the higher the maintenance time needed.


Do you like racing or do you like Modeling?

Pure racing enthusiasts need not get too involved in scenery considerations.


Those who like scenery but still lean towards pure racers might want to consider a different approach.

Build your track for racing.........Build scenic Diorama's for display (perhaps directly above the track itself)


Consider For example your Race table with a Soffit above it that has Lighting to light your track...........Then, build within this soffit 3 dimensional Scenic diorama's displaying your treasures...Slide in a Piece of Plexiglas along the front and you have beautiful display scenes and Virtually no maintenance to worry about..............And Below this you have PURE EXILERATION with a race track that is designed For All out racing!!!


Now there’s an Idea for the guy who wants scenery but knows his buddies would just drive right through it!!


Approaching the building of a permanent Slot car track is very similar to that of a Model railroad (as far as the basic building blocks needed to put together a plausible semblance of realism)


where do I start?????

That’s always the first question a beginner has whether it be Slot tracks, Model railroads, Or Computers for that matter.


Over the years the Model rr guys have developed a sort of Template for how to go about designing a permanent model rr yet I have not see anything like this in the Slot world...........I believe perhaps that Robert Schleicher probably has come the closest in his book the Slot Car Bible, but still, while there is a lot of very good information for the beginner, it is not truly a Template or to put it another way, A Step By Step approach to HOW!!!

So, lets take a page from them Model RR guys (of which I am one), and why not, the 2 hobbies are actually naturals with many similarities.


So here is a list of Questions you must first answer before you can even BEGIN to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard )


#1- WHY do you want to build a permanent Slot Car track:

This requires some serious expenditure of Brain power to give a really true to yourself Reason for your desire. For some it will be a fond remembrance of the days of our youth, perhaps combined with 2 or 3 other things. KNOWING WHY you want to build one is critical. It will be one of the Prime ingredients in discovering the TYPE of track you want to build.


#2 - Fact or Fiction...Prototype vs. Freelance:

Will you build your rendition of a real life race track giving it the appearance (as best you can in the space provided) Of that track............OR, Will you design a freelanced could have been race track straight out of your imagination??? This will certainly have a major bearing on the design of your permanent raceway.


#3 - Era or Time frame: When will you place your race track? A track from the 1950's is going to look alot differant than say Atlanta super speedway isnt it. An Endurance race from 1962 hardly resembles the same Endurance race in the 90's. Attempting to build a track that will look right in All Era's is simply a pipe dream.........Better to build a modern appearing track for example and run your old timers as Special Vintage Races then to Build a track with every appearance of a 1950's Watkins Glenn and throw a group of Modern F1's on to Race........It just wont feel right.......Yes, it is your track and you can certainly do whatever makes you happy, but if you are going to spend the time and energy required to build a scenic course trying to get a fell of real racing......(i'll just let that hang out there )


#4 - The Element of Time :

How much time will you be able to devote to building your track?

How Much time will you have to maintain your track?

How quickly would you like to have an Operating Race Track?

Will you have Help building your track


#5 - The Element of Budget:

What will your initial Limit be for Startup Cash?(this is to purchase all lumber paint room fixer upper stuff basic shell in material and all BASIC Track and Power needs.($200,$300,$500,$1000??? )

What is your monthly hobby budget? ($20, $50, $75, $100, $200???)

What percent of your monthly budget will be devoted to Specialty Track Pieces? Cars? Detail accessories? Scenery?


#6 - TO BUY ...OR...TO BUILD??

This encompasses several questions actually.

Will you Buy all track & Power Needs or Build a routed course?

Will you buy all structures needed or will you buy the Scratchbuilding materials necessary and build all of them??

By looking at you’re above answers you should be able to determine if by buying you will be within your budget...OR... By Building you will be able to MAKE your desired time frame.


This appears to be a good start and IF you answer all of these questions you will have a better idea where you are headed and should be able to answer for yourself whether you want Analog or Digital, 2 lane or 4 lane, Nascar, Endurance, or Rally track. Etc


Now, look at your choices. What have you decided?

Now look at the cars you now own.......Are you a collector? If so, you already KNOW that a good portion of your budget is going to be for buying cars.

If you are not however a collector, look at what you chose and tell me, how’s that F1 going to look on your Hill climb track???

Perhaps you can THIN and repurchase a Fleet of cars that will SUIT YOUR Choice of track (you may want to keep 1 of each class for racing on others tracks however, After all, its ALL fun, and not everybody builds and races the same class.)


I hope some of you just starting out find something in this Short story worthwhile and It helps you to Cut to the chase!!

The sooner you answer these questions HONESTLY and VERY DELIBERATLY.......The sooner you will get that first track laid, that first tree planted, and that First Cliff wall finished.


We may not have a "Golden Spike" In this hobby, BUT we do not need it because WE...............Have the CHECKERED FLAG!!!!!


Some of the best layout builders in Model railroading (including Dave Frary a personal HERO of mine) Suggest building a scale model of your proposed layout.......maybe 1" or 2" to the foot

Cardboard and paper or balsa wood and Modeling clay, whatever you choose, this small visual model can really help you to visualize what you want and its easy to build a little more here and there with modeling clay than to Redo an entire section of the real thing


Check out the work of the master Dave Frary (Mr. Scenery) himself





Spend less time on scenery that is distant. More time on scenery within arms reach and remember the 3 foot rule............If its 3 feet away it need not be detailed to the max.........your brain will actually fill in the details (sounds weird but its true...the human mind is an amazing machine and tests have shown that people that see the same scene see different items many which are not even there just alluded too)



Traditional Methods of building your tabletop include:

1 - The Flattop Over Box frame

2 - Open Grid

3 - L Girder

4 - Cookie Cutter over Open Grid


One somewhat newer method:


5 - 2â€ÂExtruded Foam Insulation Board with built up contours using various thick nesses of this same extruded insulation board. Extruded Insulation is very dense foam-board and IS NOT Styrofoam with all the little beads, which has very little strength.


Each method has its own Advantages and Disadvantages and the method you choose will ultimately affect your landscaping choices.


Lets take these 1 at a time and assign each with a skill level suggestion.


1 - Flat Top Method - Skill Level = Beginner

Advantages - Quick, Inexpensive, Solid and Strong with flat layouts, very basic building skills required.

Disadvantages - difficult to introduce grades into your roadbed, scenery options more difficult to introduce. Below grade features like streams & canyons near impossible.


With the Flat top method you must use additional material to make an elevated roadbed-gluing risers in place for that roadbed to get grades.

The flat top method generally works best if you plan on a flat track with very little in the way of scenic elements. While you can introduce scenery to this type of basic bench work, it is not the best or most ideal for the purpose of scenery and is ideally suited for the beginner to build his first layout while learning basic techniques as it helps to get a circuit or layout up and running quickly keeping the excitement level and forward momentum that a beginner needs.


2 - Open Grid - Skill Level = Novice

Advantages - Very Strong, Easy to scenic, ability to introduce low or dropped area’s into scenery, Ability to create multiple grade changes easily, Allows for underneath access for wiring purposes, Allows for Pop outs for difficult to reach area’s to scenic or simply maintain. Easy to Finish and uses less material generally.

Disadvantages - More planning is needed in developing the overall scene before building. Additional Tools may be required as well as skill to create the risers and get plywood roadbed cut and installed


3 - L Girder Method - Skill Level = Novice/Advanced

Advantages - Lightweight, Strong, and Easy to scenic above and below grade, Front finish of layout can use radiuses for smooth flowing and visually appealing finish of project. Uses less Material. Easily formed Ideal for Screen, Plaster Hard shell Scenery, Easy access underneath for adding lighting extra wiring etc. This is a Professional method for building a permanent layout.

Disadvantages - Requires greater skill Level, Requires detailed planning before construction.


4 - Cookie Cutter over open grid = Beginner/Novice

Advantages - easy to put in some grades and some below grade scenery.

Requires minimal tools but a hand sabre saw will be required. Material needs to be strong enough to support track and cars easily; it must also be thin and flexible enough to flow with a grade. 3/8†Plywood sheathing seems to work well. Hairpin turns and Mountain switchbacks are very possible with this method.

Disadvantages - Limited below grade scenery, subject to temperature change problems if in an area like a garage where temps and humidity are not fairly constant or slow changing. Not recommended for any unheated space or space subject to exterior humidity and moisture fluctuations.


NEWER METHODS - Softer techniques

5 - Extruded Foam Insulation = Beginner/ novice

Working with this material requires some different tools than our traditional methods. Working with foam requires the use of Hot Wire cutting and forming tools with the quality examples of these being rather expensive and the Cheap variety’s being worth less that the postage to receive them.


Advantages - The weight strength ratio is very good for this method and this is a very viable technique for the temporary /permanent layout. With this method large modules can be built and easily moved being put together to form a complete circuit in minimal time. Imagine 4 x 6 foot tables that weigh under 25#s fully sceniced and that can be stacked in one corner taking up the space 1 small table would yet holding 6 fully sceniced modules that form an 8 x 18 ready to run Circuit. These are the possibilities with this method of bench-work.


Disadvantages - while strong for its weight it will not take the abuse a plywood tabletop will and it may require the occasional scenic touch up from high-speed hits into soft material.

Can be expensive to buy and set up, particularly if you want grades.

Tools to work with this material can be a bit prohibitive.


Just to clarify:

RE : Foam Tools


The hot wire foam tools can be expensive. The woodland scenics cutter is a decent inexpensive tool however, many have had issues with them as they do not last long............Long enough to do a good sized layout or 2 but, If you do this a lot there are far better available.

The Foam Factory has a unit in the 100 plus range most pro's are using with Many different wire shapes for doing many different types of shaping.


Also, Woodland scenics has great grades in foam that make it easy but again these do add up over a large area and are not actually sized properly for 1/32 so extra kits are required for good full support.


Other than that, If money is not as critical as time and ease of getting your roadbed in.

I say Go for it and

Get er done!!



Setting Your Terrain


While there are many methods used i will touch only on the main approach used by most to developing your scenic base.

This method has been used for many years and includes building up with wood and using screen or cardboard slats weaved over newspapers or a combination of wood screen and cardboard followed by a covering of Hydrocal plaster. This is called the Hard Shell Method of Terrain modeling and is used by most advanced terrain modelers.

Extruded foam is another method but this author simply does not have enough experience yet with it to do justice to the material as a scenic medium.


With this method combined with an open grid framework you can build above and below the bench work even running terrain all the way to the floor. This is an effective way to get into the scene and has been done by several accomplished modelers the most famous of which is John Allen who built the Gorre & Daphetid Model railroad. In his scenery you literally walked into a Canyon with mountains rising to the ceiling and the canyon walls going to the floor, which was painted blue to act as a river at the bottom of the canyon. His incredible model railroad was featured for many years in many publications and he almost single handedly changed the face of terrain modeling forever.


But this is not about John’s incredible feat. ( a simple online search will tell you more about his innovations including using mirrors within the scenes etc.)

No, this is about building YOUR scenery. It does help to study how others have done things however which is why i mention him here.


One thing that many folks forget to do is Add a backdrop onto their scene in area’s where it should have one. In Model railroading this is quite common. Not so much in the slot world but when we build against a wall a backdrop becomes an extension of our racetrack. Now is the time to determine HOW you want to do a backdrop if you will have one. In this way it can be worked into the terrain naturally. Most folks use 1/8†Masonite for their backdrop board but anything flexible will do.

Once you have your Backdrop board in place and have determined where you want elevations etc you can paint the backdrop a Sky blue color running this down below where you will attach your terrain forms. Painting in ground and tree’s can be done later as well as cut out buildings to detail your backdrop if you feel the desire. Photo mural backdrops are also an option for those artistically challenged, but be warned they can get rather expensive and some of these are So good, they actually will distract the viewer from the real stars of the show.... Your collection of racecars.


I picked up a rather simple method of painting a backdrop from Dave Frary.(author of Modeling Realistic Scenery) and I will share that here.


Get yourself some nice sky blue latex paint a rich medium blue...not too dark (do not go past the 3rd color on the paint chip)

Also get some basic White to match Flat finishes always work best in scenery modeling.

Start by grabbing a 3 or 4†brush and painting your Blue along an area about 6-8 feet long. Now, while it is wet use a 2†brush and work some white paint into the blue down low lightening the sky blue leaving more and more blue as you rise. Now take the same brush dip it in some paint and remove most of the paint by first brushing on some cardboard. Now stipple a little light cloud streaks up higher on the backdrop.


Move on to the next section and repeat until finished.

The great thing about this method is this

#1 - it is inexpensive

#2 - it is simple to Do Over if you do not like how it turned out

#3 - it will add a lot to all of your other scenery having that sky in the background.


OK this is finished so now we will add our risers, and cardboard or screen to form our hills. (Don’t forget to leave flat spots for buildings and little mini scenes)

Screen needs to be stapled to wood and requires a bit more work.(and a bit more money)

This method will cost more but does work very well.


Cardboard on the other hand is free and strips can be cut with a utility knife or simple box cutter and glued with a hot glue gun.

Once you have all of your screen or cardboard in place its time to cover this with our hard-shell.

This will require

#1 - a mixing pail (ice cream pails are excellent)

#2 -a stir stick

#3 - a spatula for smoothing (go to the dollar store do not steal wifey’s)

#4 - a scoop

#5 - Paper towels

#6 - Hydrocal plaster (or Plaster of Paris if Hydrocal is unavailable)

#7 - Something to cover the floor etc like plastic tarps, plastic sheeting etc.

#8 - water (enough for mixing AND for cleanup)



This type work can get a little messy so my advice is do it when the wifey is out SHOPPING....... she’ll be excited about her purchases when she returns and will be less likely to notice the fine dust you just covered everything with because you didnt mix outside!!!


Tear paper towels into strips about 3†wide. You will need about 15 sheets torn into strips for a small batch of plaster so prepare plenty because once you have mixed the plaster it does not wait for you to tear up more, it simply sets up in the bucket.


Mix your plaster into an ice cream pail to about a cream soup consistency and dip individual sheets into this completely covering. Drape these plaster soaked sheets over your scenery forms starting at the bottom and working your way up. Do not worry about getting a perfect look; this is rough in work only.

Continue this until you have covered the entire area. As plaster starts getting thicker you can pour this into any area’s you feel are a bit thin and smooth with a spatula.

If any plaster is left over or did set up in the bucket, do not throw this away.

Let it harden and we can use it later for rip rap or talus along cliff edges etc.


If you want to you can add colorant to your plaster as you mix. Some people like to add powdered pigment or paint colorants to get an Earthy color that goes all the way through the plaster. I don’t think its necessary for this base coat but it does give the impression of getting somewhere rather than having a snow-white landscape LOL.

Once this is completely dry its time to do your plaster rock molds or Glue in your Foam rocks.


Ground Goop - Sculptamold - Groundcovers


There are several different ways of covering up that white winter wonderland of Plaster we’ve created with our hard-shell plaster coat.

Some are commercially available; others are simple home made alternatives.

Care must be taken in the selection of these coverings as some recipe’s under certain conditions can cause mold & Mildew to form making for a rather unpleasant environment for us and/or ruining all of our hard work to date..............Sometimes, Cheaper is not better.

“The sting of a bad installation lasts far longer than the sweetness of a good price.â€Â

Something I learned in my Contracting Business and it applies here as well.

Sometimes saving money is important..........just do not let it become the all encompassing deciding factor of how you finish your masterpiece because it may cost far more in the end if things go awry. Experiment yes, but do so OFF the layout whenever possible.


OK warnings are done on to the show!!


Sculptamold is a commercially available product that is a bit expensive for large projects but extremely convenient and an excellent workable product. If you have a lot of scenery base to cover I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are in a hurry as it is spendy. For smaller layouts or layouts where little scenery base needs covering or for Diorama’s for that matter it works very well.


A Better Alternative for covering large area’s that is far less expensive is Ground Goop.


Making Ground Goop

There are several recipe’s available for this basic ground covering that was originated by Lou Sassi a well know modeler in the Model RR circle.

Lou’s Original Recipe

1C Celluclay

1C Permascene

1C latex pain

1/3C white glue

1 capful Lysol and water to bring it to a peanut butter consistency.


Permascene is no longer available. It was a product made from vermiculite and dry powdered glues. To substitute I have had success with adding Sculptamold and/or Ground up shredded Dry oak & Maple leaves, ground Cypress Mulch, dry sawdust and wallpaper paste.


1 - cup Celluclay

1 - cup earth colored latex paint

1/2 cup of white glue.

1 cup ground leaves & Cypress Mulch or sawdust fines (screened)

½ cup of clean Dirt/sand that has been baked to kill potential enemies of the state ( in this case meaning simply the wife’s state of mind)

¼ cup Cellulose Wallpaper paste

1 capful Lysol

Water to bring this solution to a creamy peanut butter consistency.


This mixture is excellent for creating a good colored scenic base that is workable and its a great start for our terrain. Fine sand can be sprinkled into this while wet as can other ground covers like ground foam. Mist any additions with wet water (water with a drop of Joy Dish Soap) And then spray with diluted White Glue (50/50 water glue mix)


Ground covers for finish are very much dependant on the look you are trying to achieve but one thing is consistent no matter what that look is, The more layers you use the more realistic your final outcome will be..........And this is a FACT!!!


I use many layers to create my scenes and I’ll list them here as basics

# 1 - Plaster - (including rock mold work)

# 2 - Ground Goop (Level One rock /talus added)

# 3 - Dirt/sand as needed

# 4 - Fine Ground Foam blended color #1

# 5 - Fine ground Foam- solid scatter color

# 6 - Fine Ground Foam -solid scatter color

# 7 - Ground Shrapnel *(explained below)

# 8 - More dirt sand pebbles as needed (final addition of rock talus)

# 9 - Add brush, bushes and trees

#10 - Final blending in includes using a little of most of the above here and there.


· Ground Shrapnel is my homemade Oak & Maple leaf /cypress mulch ground up in an old blender and screened. This blend is used for under-story ground cover in woods along waterways etc. consider it for use in any area that would have a bit wilder unkempt appearance.

· I Highly recommend this for use with your Rally Tracks


Rock Molds and Making Rocks


Making Rocks is not difficult with the use of latex rubber molds. These molds are available commercially OR you can make them yourself with the use of a Mold Making product.

Woodland Scenics has a good one that is inexpensive.

Done properly these molds will last many years. Making a Master for rock walls and using this Mold compound will make life so much easier if you need a lot of rock walls for building foundations, Terracing, Bridge and culvert abutments etc.

A How to on making you own molds will be done in the future if I see some interest. Most Model RR guys do at least some of their own mold making.

We have our Plaster Basecoat done; now we need to do our cliff faces.

Assemble your rock molds keeping in mind the direction of the strata. the direction you run the strata is far less important than that you keep it all running the same. Horizontal, vertical or at an angle we have seen them all so decide HOW you want to do your strata and then stay consistent.

Mix plaster and fill your molds after spraying lightly with Wet Water (remember, this is water with a little Joy dish soap in it). This will help the plaster to flow into all of the nooks and crannies. now watch and wait. Timing is critical so do not get distracted. When you pick up the mold and the surface of the plaster cracks ever so slightly (kind of like a pudding left in the fridge to long), this is the time to lightly mist the area you will apply the mold to and then Plop it on to the layout pushing it in with a slight pressure and holding it in place for 5-10 minutes depending on conditions. You will feel it heating up in your hand. After the requisite time has elapsed remove your hand but Not the Mold. Let it sit there for another 15-20 minutes. Doing 2 at a time like this helps whenever possible to get area’s done in a timely manner.


Save all of your dried left over plaster and crush it up separating it into varying sizes or grades. This will be used later as Talus.


Frocks.....Rocks from foam rubber I have covered earlier and will include here simply a web site link as I can not improve on his technique.



Other items that can be used to make rocks include Ceiling Tiles broken up and stacked.

Cork can be used in the same way.

Real rocks like flakes from shale and slate can be hot glued and stacked to make some interesting rock features.

Extruded foam can be carved and painted (although I have found this difficult to get a good look but others with more artistic ability have done some fine examples)




ROCKS.................Hard Rock Clinic


This clinic is one i did awhile ago for a Model RR forum.

Since I am a ways away from doing my rockwork I will share this one with you.

Keep in mind these rocks are HARD and should be used only where you will not be crashing into them.





Making a rock outcropping is actually pretty easy and doesn’t require an enormous amount of skill................What it does require is a Mold or Molds for making your rocks from plaster and paying attention!!. Molds can be purchased from several different manufacturers, Woodland scenics being the best known. Making your own Rock Molds will have to be covered in another area as I am going to discuss how to do things once you have your molds.


Once you have your basic Hard-shell done, Place your molds taking notice of the direction of the rock strata's grain. You will want all your grain running in relatively the same direction. If you support the molds with small blocks of wood taped down the molds can sit in this wood pocket and will not flop spilling plaster all over.


OK, its time to mix up a batch of plaster to approximately the consistency of Tomato soup and fill our molds as close to the top as possible. while this is setting up, spray the area where the molds will go with water to dampen and follow this by brushing on a thinned white glue mix right before adding the mold to the scene.( this will help act as a bonding agent giving you a superior bond over no glue).


Now watch your molds. When you can pick them up and bend them seeing fine cracks form it is time to plop them into your prepared spot. Remember which way the grain is going and how you decided to lay this particular mold in. Now, flip it over onto the spot and hold it in place for a couple of minutes. You will actually begin to feel Heat coming through the mold. When you feel this heat for about 2 minutes you can remove your hand and let the mold remain where it is for about 10 minutes.


While this is setting up clean up and prepare for your next mold. Overlapping molds is a good idea in some area's and carving can be done to tie the molds together nicely with any knife while the plaster is still moist. Don’t get overly excited here trying to make things perfect since there are other steps that can be taken to cover up these area's later if your sculpting skills are like mine ......Follow the same procedure for each rock casting you will do as described above.


Next step is to create our Talus or rip rap. This is the rock that has broken away from the face of the Cliffside or been blasted from the cut through the rock and is piled up below.


Take all the left over dried plaster from in your bucket that didn’t get used and is now getting hard. Toss it all into a plastic bag and start whacking away with a hammer.


Pour it out and set aside the pieces that are too large or that don’t look like they’ve been broken up enough and repeat the process. Now spread this rip rap where it would likely have fallen or where the railroad guys would have moved it to based on your situation (think like a foreman of the crew here )


lay it all in and go have Lunch while this sets up a little more from air exposure. After Lunch it will be time to begin coloring our Rocks.


Rocks are interesting in that once you really look at them you realize they have a lot of colors to them.............Oh sure there are rocks that are really dark gray or really a light buff but over an entire cliff face you generally see multiple hues or even distinct color breaks.


Here is an example of some Rock of the North Dakota Western region.





Notice that there are several shades ranging from light taupe to an orangey red to a charcoal. Learning to get these subtle and not so subtle colorations is something that while not real difficult does take a bit of practice so I recommend that you do just that and practice these techniques on some rock molds you have made just for this purpose(later they can be broken up and used elsewhere on the layout)


There are many ways to do this coloring, probably as many as there are modelers but here is my method. I use an Alcohol India Ink mix (1 1/2 -2 tsp to a pint of denatured alcohol) along with Acrylic artists colors by Liquitex, Basic, etc in Burnt Umber Raw Umber raw sienna and ochre. I mix these into thin washes using a dab to about a cup of water. I also mix a slightly stronger solution in small cups.


The thin washes are put into spray bottles, as is the India ink solution, I also Keep a spray bottle of Plain Water.


First I spray the castings with my India Ink solution lightly, I then take a brush and dip into my little cups of well mixed color solution that is a bit stronger than my spray and I dab a hint of different colors here and there. I then spray on a wash of a different color then that dabbed. For example, if i dab a yellow ochre I will then hit it with an Umber wash...this helps diffuse the color and give a multi hue blending affect. Some area i want to keep a more stark distinct color I will then wash with plain water spray. The same is done to the riprap although these are mostly just sprayed since they are loose still at this point and while doing your rock faces they receive quite a bit of spray.


Once you have covered all your rocks using the above method hit the entire area with an India ink wash ( be careful here as it is easy to get too dark)Now get out your 50/50 diluted white glue and start soaking the area around the rip rap tossing a bit of dirt groundcover or turf blend in along the edges to soak up excess and begin your first layer of ground cover scenicing.......Letting this dry for a little while you can now highlight by dry brushing a light color like white with a hint of gray added to simulate sunlight hitting the faces of the outcroppings. You can also do this time after everything had dried completely.

No color and you end up with this



Add color and BLEND it with the spray and you get a more natural look like this



If you practiced and had a good idea of what you wanted hopefully you will end up with something that looks like this ( I have a bit more highlighting to do on these yet)





So, that’s it...................remember to do a bit of practice first. It’s very easy to make your washes too strong and you will end up with casting that are very dark. My basic rule is this, When you think it looks good, add just a little more water to be sure


Good Luck and I hope you have found this tutorial helpful!!!

Additional How to On ROCK MOLDS

Fill your molds with Plaster..............While this is setting up mist the area you are going to stick the mold with water to dampen it.

Now, water will come to the top of the mold so have a bucket handy you can pour this off into or just soak it up with a paper towel.

When the plaster starts to set up it will go fairly quickly so during this process DO NOT GET DISTRACTED!!!!

When you pick up the mold you will be able to bend it and the plaster will show fine cracking lines yet still stretch some...........PERFECT,

Bring the mold to the layout and paying attention to the direction of the rock strata(you'd better have a good idea which way that is because the mold will not show it from the outside) Place the Mold on the area you want the rock and apply a little pressure...........DO NOT LET GO!!!


Hold your hand on the MOLD until it is feeling very warm under your hand.........This will take 5-10 minutes which is why its nice to do 2 at a time if you can.

After that amount of time you can let go but leave the molds in place for another 15-20 minutes.

Remove the molds carefully peeling from the bottom up or from the bottom corner up at an angle.


Now simply carve away any excess or use a wet 1" paintbrush to blend in.

Grab up a little plaster and fill in any area's that need it when you either do your next batch or if you are only doing 1 batch take a little of your plaster and put it in another container once mixed and add a hint of vinegar to it. This will give you a longer working time.

The other thing you can do is fill these area's in with premixed sheetrock mud from a pail as long as it is not a large deep area.


That’s it..........you are ready to paint unless you want to add rubble and talus.............Do this before painting so that all of it blends together nicely when you do paint.




This one is very good and goes into detailing and highlighting for light and shadow effects.


If you have rocks to paint and want them to look great, this is a Must Read!!!.........While its main focus is on painting this companies rubber rocks, the techniques discussed will work on practically any surface including Styrofoam, plaster, Foam Rubber etc.







Most racetracks have them, the old fence designed to keep you from watching the races for free........Some keep theirs in good repair..........others, not so good...................Me, i wanted one in need of attention along the old backstretch considering i have large industries in the backdrop.

I started with some scribed siding from Kappler Scale Lumber and 1/4 x 1/4 posts along with some 1/8 x 1/8 supports.


Building a fence is very easy so I will not go into it here.............FINISHING for that special rundown look on the other hand requires a few tricks of the trade..............Tricks that many of us who build & sell don’t let go of very often............trade secrets?? well maybe not but here is one that’s a neat trick and very hard to come by.

Peeling paint affect

Start by staining your fence with a wash of 16 oz of 91% alcohol and 1 tbsp + 1 tsp of India Ink.

This will give the wood an aged look.......Let this dry overnight.


Now you will need a piece of furnace filter material (the kind you use to make pine trees will do nicely) and some rubber cement.

Put some rubber cement on a piece of scrap foam core and dab your square of furnace filter into it. Now dab a little off on the foam board then start dabbing on your Wall (fence or building doesn’t matter).

Once you’ve covered the wall with dabs let this dry for about 15-20 minutes.

Now use a hobby paint like Delta or apple barrel. (i chose a whitewashed look) Paint your fence with a fairly dry brush..........this will help to keep your detail of boards and also give a bit of an older faded look.

Let this dry for 35-45 minutes.

Now take a piece of furnace filter and scrub the walls.........this will remove the rubber cement and the paint with it.



Your wall (or fence in this case) Is now ready for Final weathering and adding signs etc.




After painting a few sections of track, I found an adhesion problem.......even using plastic prep etc...................WHY ??

This was the question so I went on the hunt to find out more information.

First Stop Scalextric to find out What kind of Plastic is used.


From their site i discovered that the track is Polyethylene (one of the absolute worst types of Plastic to try to coat i found)


There are several chemicals used in an industrial environment but they are so dangerous Nobody will even Name them.


What I did find however was a trick..................Yes, a Trick discovered by someone just like us searching for a method.

Adhesion is tremendously improved using this Trick and is suitable for light to moderate duty according to what I read.




The trick is to FLAME your track...............YEP, Flame it with a Torch. NOW, this is very important So READ CAREFULLY


A High Oxygen content flame is what you want so a simple plumbers torch and propane cylinder is fine but turn it up a ways to introduce extra oxygen into the flame.


Now, you want to just Kiss the track with the far end of the flame passing over it fairly fast but smooth and steadily keep the flame moving over the surface............you will actually see a surface reaction to the heat kind of like a shadowing effect.

Now, let the track cool for a minute and then apply a very thin coat of exterior house primer ( i know someone is going to ask why Exterior so I’ll just tell you, There are more polymers in it allowing it more flexibility without cracking, and since our track will flex/expand/contract etc over time, its simply a better choice)

The first coat should be so thin as to be merely a dusting, almost transparent..........The second coat of primer will also be thin but just a bit heavier than your first coat. Let this dry for a couple hours.


Now use your finish paint.( I used Ralph Laurens River Rock Pediment RR58 from the Home Depot) 2 thin coats with an hour between will work. Allow 72 hours for full cure before using the track. Remember to remove your masking tape after the last coat has dried.


I'll add some pictures when I return next Friday or on Saturday Morning.

This system worked very well and I'll recommend it Highly.


IMPORTANT - Masking should be done Prior to flaming ( I used Blue painters tape and a single edge razor blade to trim)


Good Luck to you!!!!!

Here is a photo of the completed painted track and alongside a section that has been weathered with 1 coat of Alcohol(91%) and India Ink......I used 2 tsp to 12 oz here.




Through all the things I talk about in this thread everyone should remember that it is information provided as a general guideline and by no means does one need to do things verbatim.


When building a permanent layout you should please yourself first. This means looking at different scenes and deciding what type of look YOU want.


ROCKS once again


With the rocks most people simply do not realize the amount of color in them...its a brain thing and I cant tell you for certain WHY this is the way it is, I only have theories.


Bill's case is classic and I hope he doesn’t mind me picking on him .... (believe me he is in great company because some of the best model terrain guys on the planet have done the same things he has including myself)


We build to what our mind tells us rocks look like.........then we think. Its good "but it is missing something" so to figure out what that something is...we go out and look at rocks..........Its like getting hit in the face with a sledgehammer when we realize our brain LIED to us.

We then add some color to what we have already completed and work to improve our technique as we progress through the remainder of the layout.

And exactly as in Bills case, we get better with practice (most not as quickly as Bill )...............Now for some this means tearing out the first sections we did because we cant get them to blend in..........(not the case for Bill, he's done an excellent job of enhancing the original stuff saving it from having to be redone......me, I’ve been on the other end and Had to tear out sections)


Lets also keep in mind that there are Other ways to make rocks than Plaster Molds.......Old ceiling tiles broken up and stacked can be made into a reasonable rendition of a multi-layered cliff face.

Heres an article on that exact item that is brand new from Kalmbach



Another place for tips on doing this and Many other tips comes from Harold Minkowitz (whom we all call Minky and thats his online AKA )

There’s some excellent scenery articles here and visiting his site is well worth the time spent.

He has given a lot of time to prepare these articles and how to's so Be kind, sign his guest book and tell him thanks.........and hey, don’t forget to tell him Tileguy sent you on over....(your going to really like Minky's site )

There is a lot there so be sure to look around carefully !!




OK, that should be enough to keep ya'll out of trouble for a day or 2

See you at the races.......


ROUND HAYBALES - Make your own....... Tube from Toilet paper......cut into 1.25" sections.. Set on wax Paper, seal inside with caulk, glue, what have you.... Fill with plaster(heavy) Or minimal expanding foam (lightweight)


For foam, carve off flush with tube using a fine hack saw blade.......remove wax paper...... Paint medium to dark brown.

let dry......using very fine fibers or a fine field grass that’s dry, cut up material very fine. Spray entire piece and roll it in fine material..........let dry.

On any roll end that will show squeeze glue in a spiral fashion starting inside and working your way out.......sprinkle with fine material in same spiral manner..............touch up any area's with more glue and fine material as needed.

Spray entire thing one last time with wet water and then a 50/50 glue water mix........allow to dry




Do you really want a beautifully sceniced layout?????.............OR...........

Do you want a Race Track.......There is a Difference!!!!


This is a hobby................If you are afraid to spend money, you will never have a permanent sceniced layout that will satisfy you.

Think about it........If all you ever buy is what you can get cheap, Will you EVER own that C6 corvette?? Or that Audi R10???


Of course you will because you are willing to SPEND on CARS............But, are you willing to Spend on the stuff that makes those same cars LOOK GOOD!!!


ASK Bill(jwsmw) if that Targa Florio Layout came cheap................

Or Rob (Taxi) if Foresters Dream left his wallet Fully intact..............

In FACT, ask any body who's permanent sceniced race course has impressed you In the least...........They do not get like that without throwing some serious money at them.


Bill probably quit counting in case his wife found his notes ROFLMAO ( I know Bill, I am always picking on you, see what happens with 25,000 views....you get noticed )


When it comes to Spending Money on our scenery we must CHOOSE our battles.........500.00 is a chunk of change granted but take a look at that Pit building once again.........Wouldn’t you say that is a MAIN FEATURE????

Wouldn’t you say that as nice a course as it is, it wouldn’t be the same without that MAIN FEATURE??


He chose his battle, decided on one Very Large complex for a main feature and he spent the money......I'm sure he looked for deals.......might have even knocked door to door and collected all the neighbor kids old Lego’s, But he was committed regardless and he ended up with a fabulous Main Feature. He Chose his Battle Wisely!!!


My point is Choose your battles and be willing to spend where it does the most good!!


A Targa Florio layout wouldn’t necessarily benefit by a building like this.........Bills ruin goes way further in producing a scenic element that fits his theme than a huge modern Pit building.


But what are you after?? a Lemans type course? Modern Nascar?? Nurbergring, Watkins Glen?

A Huge grandstand /Media center as a main feature might be just the ticket for your course.....But is a single scaley or Carrerra plastic grandstand going to be Impressive???........Probably Not


However, stick 4 or 5 of them alongside each other and add a second tier and suddenly you have a MAIN Feature. You’ve committed and chosen your battle...........So what does 5 lower units and 5 upper tiers cost Well, if you got a good Price and did not pay retail the 2 level grandstand would run around 70.00 each (including postage) so multiplied by 5 we have 350.00..........BUT WAIT...........We do not have our Media Center yet...A press towers 80.00 and 25.00 per extension. Since we have a double-tiered grandstand we need at least 2 extensions...Suddenly we are at 480.00 and we haven’t added 1 spectator.


Suddenly 500.00 for a Main Feature built out of Lego's isn’t sounding like quite so much ....is it..........remember, we don’t have 10 grandstands to fill with spectators.


When Choosing your battles ask yourself What YOU want in a race course. Then decide on How best to achieve that look and finally choose your scenes...........


Once you have chosen your scenes (perhaps scenes that will make your track recognizable as a specific race course....an example would be bills town square on his Targa circuit) Then and Only then can we decide WHICH scenes are a Priority.

1 scene will ALWAYS stand out as a Main feature.......Its the nature of 1 of 2 things...Space you have or race track you are trying to portray or any combination of the 2.

Trying to save money is ALWAYS a good thing and if we know exactly what we want and need it makes it that much easier to keep our eyes out for a good deal.........


Keep the above in mind when you start to plan your scenic race course......If you are unwilling to spend some money on A Huge Grandstand or a Large Pit complex, Maybe we shouldn’t build Daytona.............Maybe we should build a rally track.


If you want Daytona and you want people to KNOW its Daytona, Be prepared to spend some money.

Even Scratchbuilding supplies cost money and scratch-building a large complex takes Many hours. (Brad would be able to give you a good idea what kind of time it takes to build a beautiful scratch-built Pit scene and also the kind of dollars involved...........again, it costs money!!



We do not have to spend all of our hard earned cash on scenery because we do not have to build this overnight. It takes time to build a fully sceniced track...Longer if it is your first one, less time if its your second or third (remember, if you already built one you’ve not only learned, but you’ve collected items that can be re-used saving time and money)


It is not uncommon to spend a year or 2 building a fully sceniced layout...........Train Guys may spend a lifetime and 5-8 years is quite common.


This is a hobby and like so many other hobbies it costs to have fun.

What if you were into scuba diving, how much would you spend a year pursuing your hobby if it were

Downhill skiing or parachuting???...........As for Me, I would much rather spend 500.00 on a beautiful main feature for my Layout than jump out of a perfectly good airplane!!!!


Different Approaches to a Scenic Layout


There are several ways to get a scenic Layout and no 1 way is the right way.

The right way is the one that works for you............Oh sometimes in our passion for modeling we get a bit overzealous and try to impart our way as the best way (and I am just as guilty at this as the next guy), But really the only right way is the technique that works for you and gives YOU the look you want.


Slot Track building and Model railroading do have a lot of similarities and also a lot of differences, but Ive noticed there are several Distinct types of Layouts being built by members and I will name these types using distinctly Model railroad terms...(but only because they thought the stuff up first)


The Prototype - This type layout takes a real life track and compresses it to fit an available area. All scenic elements are kept mostly to scale and scenic realism varies with builder’s desires.


Freelanced - This type layout is based on any track-plan that appeals to the builder and fits the area available. Scenic elements again vary by builder.


Tinplate (toy-like appearance similar to Lionel and American Flyer) This type layout has a very distinct look and while it is not for everyone it still has a certain charm that is reminiscent of a child’s Christmas walk past department store windows.


Scenery Types (as I see them)

Ultra realistic (fine scale) - sacrifices racing and speed elements to gain a more realistic overall scenic affect.

realistic (most fit here) - uses elements of scenery to enhance the layout without sacrificing overall racing ability.

Eclectic - (collectors Layout) Many collectors have layouts with a mix of their collections and add scenic elements to help showcase these elements. The layouts generally end up in the tinplate category (But NOT always)

Minimalist - The Pure racer's type of sceniced layout. Very little IF any scenery is used that is not directly related to track performance...Often you will see a blend between the minimalist and the eclectic where a few elements have been added to showcase The Minimalists collection of Slot Cars, But ONLY if it will not interfere with track performance!!


There is no right type or wrong type like I’ve said, there is only what appeals to you. Certainly there is crossover between the above types but even crossovers will lean in 1 direction and I am not going to even attempt to try to micromanage the various crossover possibilities. Suffice it to say that most will fall into one of the above types GENERALLY SPEAKING...


Deciding which of the above styles appeals to you will help you in your planning process and also steer you towards the type of track-plan that will work for you.


Use the track Index, Look at the different layouts and see if you can determine which category you would put them in. See which way you lean and keep that in mind as you start your planning process.


Adios till next time





A lot of guys seem to like these and they certainly have there uses. Buying these kits & Built Up Buildings CAN save a lot of time and get you racing that much faster.


However, if we take JUST a little extra time, we can make these look SO MUCH MORE Realistic.


Heres How:

1 - Spray Paint the Exteriors with a fine textured paint to eliminate that Smooth Plastic Look.

2 - Weather your building with a little India Ink Mixed into 91% Alcohol (not the 70% stuff, go to a pharmacy for the 91% variety and add 1 tsp to a cup in a spray bottle.........Spray your building sides and roof.

Use a bit heavier mix for near the ground.

#3 - Spray entire finished building with Testor’s DULLCOTE..............This will eliminate any sheen. Do this after all details have been added.


#4 - For garages you may want to consider smearing some paint where a car may have scraped alongside a door...Put Posts (steel concrete filled type) In front and out from building painted Yellow and add some auto paint to these. Remember, drivers are used to hitting stuff and they DO hit these posts on occasion. (Again, spray anything you paint with Dullcote.


#5 - PLANT YOUR BUILDING...Building do not sit atop the ground, they are planted firmly, weeds grow up along side them. EVEN if its concrete all the way around Some weeds WILL grow.


#6 - JUNK, ADD JUNK...Real Life there is always junk laying around.........Pallets leaned up against the side of a building...Old Oil Or Lube Drums out back waiting to be picked up..........Litter & Leaves tucked into any un natural corner formed by this junk. Old packing crates or Boards from packing crates. Etc (you get the picture) you don’t suppose somebody would bust open a crate and whip a board up onto the roof do you??

How about hiding the empties from a long night in the garage?


#7 - SIGNS - Unless signage is replaced these take a beating by the weather also.........remember to make some look as though they are on their last legs...........How about a sign where some of its torn away???


If you are looking for Realism in your scenery, the above will improve dramatically your store bought buildings.

This is not for everyone and some folks Prefer the Toy Look (there’s a Million Lionel toy look layouts out there and their Owners Love them)


The Above is for those who are after realism Scale scenery that looks closer to real Life.

Anybody can use the above to dramatically improve your structures, ANYBODY!!!


It is not hard, it only takes a little time and a few little tricks and there are several guys on here who are more than happy to help you improve a scene, all you need do is ask.


Lay out your scene and take a photo...Post it and send a PM to your favorite member (or members) who are into scenery. ( Or simply Entitle Your thread "Scenery Suggestions Needed" I am sure Many will be happy to point out ways you can improve a scene (12 heads are always better than 1)..........Over time You too will develop a feel for developing a scene just like the rest of us............All it takes is a little time/experience and perhaps in the beginning, a friendly helping hand, soon you will devlop scenes that work!!!






Your Camera is your best friend when it comes to modeling realistic scenery, In fact it is one of the best tools we have and for good reason....( now you just know I’m just going to have to tell you WHY right )


Your Camera see's BETTER than the naked eye............I kid you not, the Camera lens see all the little things that We overlook BUT............we do see them in an overall sense.


How do we use a camera? Its simple... Take a close up picture of a section of your layout.

As an example I'll use a recent one of mine.

This photo shows where improvements in what has been completed so far are needed and they are as plain as the nose on my face but very hard to see to the naked eye.

Being critical of what you see is the key............critique your picture and make notes of everything you see that needs work.



2 minutes here and there and pretty soon you have dramatically improved the overall LOOK and FEEL of your Race Track. You’ve gone from Good Enough...........to As good as you can make it.


There is no Secret to doing good scenery. Its actually all pretty basic stuff. The difference between making great scenery and run of the mill is paying attention to the details.


And THAT is why your Camera is one of the most important modeling tools you own. If you use it I guarantee you will Improve your scenery work dramatically!!


Till next time!!!!


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Todd, there is a lot of VERY useful information in there! :unsure: Thanks!



24 beer in a case... 24 hours in a day... coincidence? I think not!


If you ever get really, really bored... fergysplace.com

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Thanks for the fantastic information. I have pinned this topic for easy reference.



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must be one of the longest single posts I have seen!


I wont argue that Phil :unsure:

Actually , it is posts from over seven or eight months that I combined to save looking through 23 pages of posts.:blink:

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damn ! i was going to say that wouldve taken you all day to type ! - thank god for "cut 'n' paste"


ps - mr scenery link dont work


oh - and i suggest anybody use the "back to top" arrow button

Edited by lavenlaar

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Vines along fences and buildings have been often used........At times on purpose and at other times to Hide a flaw, a bad corner join, what have you.

Taking things a step further to Detail your vines makes all the difference in the world and its as simple as adding a bit of color to your vines to simulate blooms............Clematis along a building or Morning glories growing wild, A bit of color goes a long ways in adding interest to a scene


Morning Glories in Bloom growing along the fence at Tech 32 Speedway


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Phil, I think he's talking about plants... :angry2:



24 beer in a case... 24 hours in a day... coincidence? I think not!


If you ever get really, really bored... fergysplace.com

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I guess I can close my web site down now, its all been said ! thanks for sharing the wonderful info.


I didnt set out to step on any toes here and I apologize for the invasion.

Your site is a great resource and covers far more than my post collection.


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ahh Todd, i was only kidding mate. my site turns itself off every month around the 20th when it exceeds its bandwidth. Your post contains wonderful info as the photos of your work show.


us aussies are newish to the whole landscaping and slot thing, it is only in the last 12 months that more people are building routed tracks than going with plastic. i noticed the same thing happening in the states about 3 years ago.... so we are a bit behind the rest of the world but are learning from the work of others. :angry2:

Find me at Card Guys for custom trading cards

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us aussies are newish to the whole landscaping and slot thing


Ahhhhh OK :ph34r:


It may be ya'll are new with landscaping and slots, but i have to tell you, your model rr scenery guys are not taking any backseats to ANYBODY!!

With guys like

Laurie Green

Steve Pettit

Mario Rappinet

Mark Fry

Dieter Chidel

Bernard Snoodyk

John Demietrovich ( Broughton Vale ) http://www.geocities.com/loggingloco1/BVT/bvlayout1.html

Youve got Modelers that can stand with ANYBODY on the Planet!!


Check out all of the fabulous scenic layouts from Aussie Modelers


Be SURE to look at the RED STAG LUMBER CO........Considered by Most in the hobby to be the finest Narrow Gauge Logging Layout EVER BUILT........Says a little something about Aussie Modelers doesnt it :ph34r:



Why do you think I'm here??

Ya'll are freeeeaking Famous!!!!! :nice:

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us aussies are newish to the whole landscaping and slot thing


No I think the fact that more home/club tracks are around that more people are adding scenery. The original HMCC track built in 1968 was fully landscaped,as were most "club" style tracks then. The other club track down here "Watsons Glen" had great scenery. John bacons fantastic track in Adelaide was probably one of the best in the country more recently.





Part of John's great pit area.





Hobart Miniature Car Club


Tassie Resins










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Up here in my country the Birch tree is King!! Birches are stand out tree's with their White paper like bark and they make a fabulous scenery tree. These really stand out when mixed in with the deep greens of Spruce and the sharper green of a Balsam Fir.

Other tree's can be modeled like the Birch tree i'll be doing using of course different colors but TODAY, We do the King of the North Woods.

We start with a Weed commonly found in ditches and waste area's....The Common Yarrow. Yarrow grows 3-4' tall and it is a bit brittle and will not take a car crashing into it. Keep this in mind when choosing its location. Either protect it, OR make up a few spare to replant should damge occur.

Here Ive painted the armatures using a brush and white acrylic craft paint. ( Did this while watching the Nascar RERUN on Speed :) ) The white fibres are Polyfibre commonly used in making furniture or in quilts.Tease this out very fine and you'll end up with a nice representation of the small branches when we finish these.


Here we have our foest Prepped.



Use a Black permanent marker (or paint pen......I use a Sharpie ) To spot your armature. Pay attention to your main branch joins, these are commonly Dark. Do all your armatures like the following.




Here are our finish Materials (less my secret ingredient )



(to be continued)

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Spray lightly with a camo Dk Green from underaneath and dust the top and sides



Now come back with a reddish Brown and hit the top and Dust the sides



use a spray adhesive (or cheap hairspray) and use a Darker shade of Fine ground foam sprinkling the Underneath Only. Some will run up the sides a bit. This is ok.



Now use a lighter shade of Fine Ground foam on the top & sides......Remember to use sparingly.



Now hit again with spray adhesive just dusting everything and Sprinkle with your leaf texture.( I use my secret Ingredient which is Home made....you may want to use Purchased OR try a blend of Parsley and other spices....oops, I'm giving away Part of my secret )



Lastly use a Spring green spray on some tree's not all and give just a Dusting (spray and pass the tree through the paint mist a couple times........When you are through you'll end up with a Forest




Now all thats left to do is Weather the trunks with an Alc/India Ink mix ( always use 90+ percent Alcohol and mix several containers to different strengths starting at 1/2tsp to a cup of alcohol and adjusting from there for shades lighter and darker. use the appropriate shade for light weathering to heavy weathering)


Plant these mostly in Clumps. Birches will grow singly but Purpose Planted Birch are More often Clump Birch with 2 or 3 main trunks growing from the ground up. Since these represent a younger tree in the 10 - 30 year old range the Massive Trunk's of a 60 + year old Birch will not be required........remember to mix in some smaller tree's underneath......young balsam fir's (see my recent clinic on improving the Heki N scale tree's in scenery How to's Tree's ) along with some dead and spindly growing even younger tree's. Finish off with my home made ground schrapnel (made from a blending of leaves and cypress mulch screened for size.)


Add weeds, a few lump bushes and you'll be so close to reality it will scare you


And you thought you couldnt do this stuff didnt you :)


I hope you have enjoyed this clinic and it helps you to improve your efforts towards scenicing your layout.

Follow the steps and you'll end up with Tree's that will really make that scene POP.......Even if these are your first tree's ever if you follow the steps i have utlined above you'll end up with Exactly the same look as above.

Good Luck to those of you who give this a go..........And please, If you try this, Show your efforts. We all would love to see your work :P

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That's amazing Todd!

Don't know how you do it.....


As my track is to have a typically Aussie feel, I've been Googling images of Gum trees (Eucalyptus) to find a suitable 'trunk' to start with.

Those weeds look pretty close to what I need. I'm sure I can find something in my travels....

(People are gunna look at me funny now, as I stop on the side of roads picking weeds!!!)


Those birches actually look like gums when clumped together.

Thanks for the tutorial.


Keep them coming, I know you've got plenty!

Maybe add a link to your SF pages for others to see?







SCMR build thread

Woodbrook Valley build thread


"A Man's home is his castle, but his garage is his sanctuary!"

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Pine Tree - Improved Bottle Brush


Pine Tree’s can be made in a variety of ways but one of the easier ways is the Bottlebrush Method where Sisal Twine or other material types are twisted up in a piece of wire.


While realism generally suffered somewhat with this method, it was a great way to cover large expanses and a better quality of tree from canyon creek was often used towards the front to hide the rather obvious lack of detail to the main part of the forest.


The good news is this; the bottlebrush tree CAN be made to front of the layout standards with a few simple steps and a very minimal cost.


The items needed:

DRILL - cordless is nice but not critical

1 screw hook - placed into your drill

1 small roll of Tie Wire (used for tying rebar etc).......$2.29 (will make aprox 50 tree’s)

1 Natural broom grass Wisk Broom.......... $1.00 (will make aprox 5 tree’s)

1 roll ¾†wide masking tape..$ 1.99

1 Can DK green Camouflage Spray Paint......3.99( enough for aprox 35 tree’s)

1 Can of 3M super 77 Spray Adhesive...........7.99 (enough for over 50 tree’s)

Lg - Course Ground Foam In Medium & Dark Green...8.00 Each (will do 30 tree’s Ea)

Fine Grass dried and cut up fine.......Free.


Cut up your Wisk Broom into Pieces 4†and 3†long.......Cut a Piece of wire aprox 12 - 18†depending on size tree you would like......18†piece will give you about an 8 ¼†finished tree. Fold wire in Half and match ends then bend ½ back forming a 90 degree angle.


Lay down a length of tape and lay 1 side of wire in the middle...Now add your cut up Broom grass using 4†pieces towards the Bend in the wire and the 3†pieces moving from ½ way and upwards.( this part isn’t critical because the Broom grass will be trimmed after twisting) When finished lay another length of tape over the broom grass and fold over the wire. It should look like this:



Now. Put the cut ends into a vise keeping the grasses level and tighten vise.

Like this:




Slip the hook part of your drill through the loop in the wire. Now spin it up!!

Twist it tight but not so tight you cannot remove your hook from the end.



You should end up with a scrubby looking thing but don’t worry, you need to trim it up using a good pair of scissors.

All you need do is make it look like a tree...........kind of like this:



Our next step is to use a spray adhesive and sprinkle this armature with the dried grasses you’ve prepared ahead of time. This will give you this look.



Now spray paint this with your Dark Green paint so you end up like this:



Next you will use your spray adhesive again and add your ground foam. Different colors can give you a different type of tree.



Here are a couple of finished trees. As you can see each one has a unique look just like natures do............




Try a few your self, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is and thankful for the Money you will save.


See you next time


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ince I am constantly experimenting with ways to improve my scenery I wanted to add this latest Pine photo. This one used Far less paint after adding the grasses leaving alot of the natural coloring of the broom grass and the grass fibres.

It gives a bit more Branch appeal........I am going to experiment with a stain next and see if I can get a bit closer to the natural color of a balsam fir Branch first followed by a spruce branch.

Here is the more Natural looking tree.


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Why should we build a wall and make a mold of it when we can use the stones and just build the wall

right where we need it?.


Several reasons come to mind so I'll lay them out for you.


#1 - Weight.........Lightweight Hydrocal weighs Far less than real rocks

#2 - If you need 12 feet of wall It will take far longer to build all of this by hand then to build 16 or 18" of wall and make Molds.

#3 - Different area's have different colors of stone.......Plaster can be stained to match any type of terrain.

#4 - The chances are this will not be your last layout. Someday you may build again and These Molds will last you a lifetime making it a build once proposition.

#5 - Uniqueness - No Home made Stone wall is exactly like anybody elses. If you make your own Molds you create a signature look that will be unique to your layouts and landscapes. This alone makes a modeler stand out from the run of the mill store bought items that everyone else is using.......


This is why this topic is in advanced techniques. It takes a special individual to want to take the time to learn how to make his modeling unique...It is not for everyone and theres nothing wrong with saying I'll pass............


I cant explain why some have the desire to seek this level of uniqueness, i cant explain why some NEED to take artistry to the highest level......those of you who have these desire's may not be able to either.......it just IS what it IS ...:purplebounce:


So, for those of you who are ready.....On with Part 1 :thumbsup:


First we need to gather our items. Bags of stone OR any crushed stone of the right size can be used. Much depends on the type of wall you wish to build. This example will be a Dry Stone Landscaping wall (something everyone can use somewhere).

The Items needed for part 1 are

#1 - A Bag of washed Stone

#2 - A backing material (I have used a tiling product called Kerdi but fiberglass tape laid on wax paper can also be used)

#3 - A hot glue gun & Glue sticks

#4 - a knife or scissors

#5 - A straight edge

#6 - A stone sealer (or a thin coat of polyurethane)

#7 - A cheap paint brush

#8 - Some type of protection to work on ( ive used a heavy cardboard Panel)




Lay out your work area, pour out your stones, plug in your glue gun and begin fitting stone along the bottom and left edge. keep fitting and gluing stones until you have about 10" aproximately completed (fill in any larger gaps with small pieces of stone)



Lay your tape out for your next section alonside the end of the first.

Now fit your stones in to your second section so that they will match up with the end of your first section.




When you are getting near the end of your second section move your fist section into position by carefully sliding so that you can match up the right side of the 2nd wall with the left side of the first wall.




In this way you will be able to simply keep repeating these 2 molds for as many feet as you need. If you want a 20' wall all you need do is prepare enough molded sections.




While the pattern itself may repeat itself you'll have a hard time distinguishing this considering you will be staining this and the same stone in 1 section will not be the same color in another section making it look like a different stone all together.


After completing your 2 sections we need to seal the stone with a thin sealer. We do not want to use something so thick it takes away any character from the unique surfaces of each individual stone.

I have used a Stone Enhance, but a thin polyurethane will also work. Be sure to thin this if you have to.




Allow this to dry completly


In Part 2 we will cover the actual Mold Process & Discuss some of the options available for molding material.

See you soon!!



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Since I ran out of Molding Material and am Waiting for my Order to arrive, Lets continue with Pine tree's


When I build a forested area I like alot of variety in color texture and tree types.


One technique that has already been well covered here by a member is the bottlebrush pine tree.

As ive shown there are other ways to do a bottlebrush type tree.


In this method we will use a similar method to that ONE that was discussed only I will be using Manilla Rope.


Manilla rope is a bit darker in color than hemp or twine and lends itself nicely to making tree's.


The same technique as he discussed and I showed above is used and then the tree is trimmed and given a base coating of our stained Sawdust in a dark shade ( i'll cover the Stained sawdust soon :aussie: )

Ive set the new tree alongside our last Pine so you can see the difference in texture we get.

The new Manilla rope tree is on the right.



Here we have our Finished tree after giving a top highlighting coat of med green groundfoam. Follow up is done on all my tree's with a cheap Hairspray




These are quite easy to make and you can prepare hemp/Wire/Taped Armatures ready for putting into a vise while watching the TV.......Trust me you wont miss much of the RACE

Good Heavy Scissors or shears, a Cookie Or Baking Sheet, Tye Wire (or baling wire) A Wire Cutter, A Roll of 3/4" Masking tape..This will be all thats needed for Prep. I Prepped 15 trees last night during an hour and a half movie and I didnt work very hard at it

Twisting them up, Trimming them and doing the foliage work is another 30-40 minutes.

So, in around 2 hours you can have 15 trees from 6" tall to 14" tall, Tree's that COST very little and Look...............Well, You tell me!!! :P

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