A place where I ramble on about model railroad scenery methods, tips, techniques, and lots of other interesting model building topics. I may veer off the track now the then to talk about fishing and competition BBQ.
Here's an O scale scene on a customer's High-Rail layout. All the structures are kit-built, and the people and details are off the hobby shop shelf. What I did to make this scene come alive was to add signs in the White Tower windows, a few posters, a weathered sidewalk, and the trash barrels. Now it's a place for your eye to stop and take-in all the details.
Here's an O scale church I scratchbuilt for a customer in Massachusetts. I wanted the WOW factor and the only thing besides church bells ringing I could think of were illuminated stained glass windows.
After a Google search I found the windows on-line in connection with the building plans for a protestant church yet to be built in the mid-west. I copied the file, resized it and then printed several copies on clear acetate. These were cut to fit and glued inside each window opening.
Next, I built a lighting grid so an LED would illuminate each window. I added a voltage regulator so I could power the lights with 16VAC.
The photos shows the illuminated windows as they would look at about dusk.
I needed several cod fish to place in the bottom of an O scale rowboat. I saw several photos of fish online that looked as though they might work. I copied them, reduced their size, duplicated the image several times, and printed them out. Next, I glued the printout to a thin sheet of soft foam (made for the scrap-booking crowd) and coated the fish surface with Mod Podge to seal it.
After the gloss medium dried I used a spade blade in an X-Acto knife to remove each fish. I thinned the back of the fins with the spade blade and then painted the edges of the foam gray.
The last step will be to flex each little fish into a football shape and give them another coat of gloss medium.
When I was a kid I watched Death Valley Days on TV. It was sponsored by a cleaning product called Boraxo. The main ingredient of the soap is Borax, a mineral mined in Death Valley, hence the name of the show. The soap is now called
"20 Mule Team Borax."
The miners moved borax from the mine to the mill using a wagon train pulled by 20 mules. They needed all 20 mules to pull the two ore cars and a water wagon many miles across the rough and uneven ground of Death Valley.
If you saved the Boraxo box tops and sent them away with $.50 they returned to you a nice plastic kit of the 20 mule team (it is 1/67 scale) and ore cars.
Some of the early kits also included a covered wagon, several miners and a cowboy on a horse.
I assembled and painted the covered wagon first, posed it in front of a calendar photo of Monument Valley, and took one of my first table top model photos.
The plastic 20 mule team kit (minus the covered wagon) is still available through Mule Team kits for $24.95.
I had the opportunity to use the Noch Grassmaster the other day to repair a small section of scenery on the Nantucket Railroad display. The repaired spot is in the foreground.
Several well known modelers have never had any luck using the Grassmaster and have been very vocal about their problems. They all said they can't get the grass to stand up.
I like the tool, get excellent results and use it all the time. It's always in my traveling scenery bag along with several sizes and colors of the Noch flocking.
The trick seems to be to wet the area to be "grassed" with wet water, and then spray or drop on diluted matte medium (3 water to 1 matte medium). The Grassmaster likes a humid environment.
Hold the grassmaster about 2 inches above the ground and gently tap on the side. The "grass" will sprinkle out and stand straight up in the wet medium. After it area dries you can brush your hand over the grass without dislodging it.
I never work more than a foot from the grounding pin and always install a fresh 9VDC battery about every six months.
BTW - The structures shown in this scene are all made from resin wood shingle wall castings and shingle roof castings. I use the MicroMark casting products and it's all explained in my Easy Casting DVD.
Many years ago Model Railroader magazine asked me to build a project layout. They wanted something that would fit in a 4' by 8' space and be HO scale. I came up with the Cactus Valley. A railroad based in the southwest desert of the USA. It was fictional but the scenery was modeled after parts of Arizona and New Mexico.
The scenery was made entirely from insulating foam applied using spray cans. After the foam was blow in place and expanded, I carved it to the landforms and shapes I wanted using a serrated knife. The foam was coated and sealed with thinned dry wall mud and colored using acrylic paints.