Ceiling tiles for mountain sides

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Donn Welton, Aug 21, 2003.

  1. Donn Welton

    Donn Welton Member

    I have just finished phase 1 of getting my basement ceiling in order for a train room and have a large number of scrap pieces of Armstrong ceiling tiles left over. I have seen somewhere that the edges make interesting mountain sides or "cuts". The ragged edges look like they have potential. Has anyone had any experience with this; if so, how did you go about doing this?
  2. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Donn, I'm only being half helpul but the answer is yes and its been done well! There were pics of just such a project around here someplace within the last year. Hopefully the thread's author or another modeller who has done this will demonstrate and verify my observation! Go for it!:)
  3. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Hi Donn, I had posted a thread about this a while back, couldn't locate it just now when I tried. Here is a photo I found in my file tho. Not the greatest shot but shows the rockwork ok. Mine isn't ceiling tile, its homasote but the idea is the same. After glueing together the layers I went at them with a utility knife. This took some time and was more fun when done to fast music. Then I used needlenose pliers and tweezers to remove balls of material. Some touching up and it was ready to paint. It's not bad looking and I'm sure it could be done better.

    Attached Files:

  4. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    there was a excellent article about that in the april 1981 model railroader
  5. marty w.

    marty w. Member

  6. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    I located my original thread, it is under General Talk, called "Modelling rock", currently on page 39. The one thing I do differently than the fine write up Marty attached is I don't use any plaster or similar material, I paint the homasote itself.
  7. Sir_Tainly

    Sir_Tainly Member

    There was also a piece on it in Model Railroader earlier this year, or late last.

  8. stary

    stary Member

    I think the Model Railroader article was last spring or summer. I just remember that the guy said to cut the peices into wavy patterns, glue them together with white glue, and use a wire brush and an x-acto knife for shaping. And then paint with acrylics. Use the wire brush outside, though, as it creates a LOT of dust. Model Railroaders web site is:www.modelrailroader.com:)
  9. Donn Welton

    Donn Welton Member

    Many thanks, everyone. This is a real help.
  10. billk

    billk Active Member

    I kinda like the look that ceiling tiles produce , but always thought that the "layers" were too thick for N scale.

    I tried experimenting with using flat pieces of foam from supermarket meat trays, stacking them up and putting a layer of Durham's over them. Didn't look too bad, except the trays have some kind of clear film on them that I would remove if I tried it again.
  11. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Aren't those 12" X 12" ceiling tiles similar material and about half as thick? Just a thot :D Sure would beat trying to slice the big tiles into half thickness :D :D :D
  12. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    I really don't see where the thickness of the tile would be an issue in terms of scale. You need to carve strata into them anyway. Relying on broken edges won't look so good. Once you are done working it you shouldn't be able to detect individual layers of tile anymore.
  13. billk

    billk Active Member

    Uhh - I must be missing something here. .:confused:
    What's the point of using tiles if you have to carve them? I thought the whole idea was that the individual layers were visible and looked like strata.
  14. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Well, It may have been presented that way, but once you try it you find you need to blend the layers or they look pretty much like...well, broken up ceiling tiles stacked up. The work of dragging a utility knife across them isn't difficult and really helps their apperance. At least thats my opinion!
  15. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    If you don't carve strata into the ceiling tile edges, you will have nice straight, perfectly parrallel strata. I doubt if you will ever see such in nature.
  16. billk

    billk Active Member

    OK, OK, you have to carve them. But then what is the advantage of using ceiling tiles if they just provide a surface to be carved, as opposed to many other methods/materials?

    I guess I should just get one and mess with it, huh?;)
  17. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Bill, The idea of the ceiling tile is a good one, I don't mean to badmouth it, it just still needs a little effort to produce a nice result. Most of the strata we are looking for is there, we just need to blend the layers. Now, having said all this, I haven't used them! I used homasote scrap, which had no strata like the broken ceiling tile has. So I had to create all the strata, not just touch it up. Still, same idea, if you can detect seperate layers of the homasote, you haven't finished carving! It may be possible with judicious stacking of the tiles to have a nearly verticle rock face, or if you use plaster or some similar material to not have to carve, but I'd certainly rather take a knife to it rather than use plaster. This is probably just preferance, having used almost nothing but plaster for all the early years of my scenery efforts. So far I haven't used any on my current layout, tho I've used some spackle. I'm starting to ramble so I'll stop now.
  18. Donn Welton

    Donn Welton Member

    What seems to be missing in this thread is this important question: what kind of rock is one attempting to model? Well defined strata work well for sedimentary rock; using the tiles as a base to which one applies a fair amount of plaster, hydrocol, etc., would be better for igneous, etc. rock that do not have layers.
  19. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Hi Donn, If I were modeling a type rock without strata, I wouldn't bother with the ceiling tile, I'd make rock castings with plaster. There are sure to be other ideas for that type rock, a new thread may be called for.


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