Complete newby questions

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by rob164, Feb 16, 2004.

  1. rob164

    rob164 Member

    I=Ive been thinking about making a layout. The table I have is 48"x30". From what I read i was going to lay down a 3/4" thick piece of plywood and than another inch thick piece of plywood. I wanted the setting to be like a tropicla jungle island. I was going to make a huge mountain and beach with water surounding it. The deeper board will have the water over it and the higher board would have the land. If anyone has a better idea please tell me. I am kind of on a budget. I really need to know how to make the mountain and water.

    Thanks for reading,
  2. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    That sized layout you could about use blue foam on a frame and just skip the plywood, saving $$$ and weight. If the mountain is also made of foam, it can be made really light weight.

    What scale? What type of industries? Is it to be portable? What type of table?

    Oh, and :wave: :wave: :wave: Welcome to the-gauge! :wave: :wave: :wave:
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi Robert,

    Welcome to The Gauge!

    One of the best combinations of beaches, islands, and railroads I ever read about was an article in MR within the past few years called "The Railroad that went to sea". It was about the railroad (can't remember the name now, of course :rolleyes: ) that built out across the Florida Keys.

    I would second jon's suggestions about building materials, and I also have the same questions for you... :)

  4. rob164

    rob164 Member

    I wanted the scale to be like really small. Ill look into that more. I want the island to be like an old carribean fishing island. I dont want it to be portable. I think it would be awsome having like 2 islands with a bridge connecting them and docks and old boats and just tropical lush trees. Im not sure how exactly im suposed to make it. What are the steps. I have been looking into this and studying. I wont rush myself into it.
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Well, there are two ways to "go small". One is the more obvious - a smaller scale. HO is 1:87, N is 1:160, and Z scale is even smaller at 1:220.

    The other way to "go small" is have a small layout. There are a whole bunch of ways to do this.

    One way is you can choose to model a narrow gauge line. In terms of impact on your layout, it means you can run larger trains in a smaller area. For example, narrow gauge (distance between the rails) might be noted as HOn3 (HO scale, n for "narrow", 3 means three feet betwen the rails, instead of the standard 4'8.5"). In practical terms this is more or less HO trains running on N scale, standard gauge track. The biggest advantage of narrow gauge is tighter turns without smaller trains. Warning - not all locos and rolling stock can be simply converted to narrow gauge!

    A second way to get a smaller layout is to choose a switching layout instead of continuous running. John Allen's "Timesaver" layout is a classic switching layout that is also a bit of a puzzle. hence the "Timesaver" name is a bit of a joke... If you do not need a circle or loop, you can make your layout narrower so it can fit on a shelf.

    Another way to do get a layout in a smaller space is to do a diorama or small circle layout. There are plenty of examples here that are lots of fun, if not really prototypical:

    Some small N scale layouts:

    Hope that helps!

  6. rob164

    rob164 Member

    thanks, do you know any good ways to make a mountain?:confused: thanks:thumb:
  7. YakkoWarner

    YakkoWarner Member

    rob, 3/8" plywood supported at 16" intervals will bear the weight of a full grown man. An inch and 3/4 plywood base is over-building quite a bit. Home improvement stores sell sheet foam insulation in thicknesses from 1/2" to 4" from $8 a sheet up to about $30 a sheet (4' X 8'). Having the foam allows you to make several layers and it can be easily contoured to form mountains and other raised features.

    My first suggestion to you would be to go to a hobby shop and pick up a copy of Model Railroader magazine or some other related periodical. You can also brouse through "The Academy" right here on the gauge and learn alot about techniques and methods of building.

    Good luck, let us know how it goes.
  8. rob164

    rob164 Member

    Thanks, Can you give me some steps on how to make a mountain?:confused:
  9. rob164

    rob164 Member

    I have decited to make it all HO. I foound some old track that is about an inch wide. Im pretty sure this is HO. Right now I have the table. I am thinking that Im just supposed to lay down a foam sheet. Im still not sure how to make a mountain and this is going to be a big part. I also dont know how to make the water. I want the water to look like the carribian. I have seen some water that looks brownish. How do you make color tone in the water? I want it to be very blue. So this is where Im starting.
  10. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    You can make the maountain just out of layers of the blue foam, stacked and glued with carpenters glue. The other option is to make some sort of form, and use paper/plaster to form it. The simplest form of that is to ball up newspapers and toss into a pile, then dip paper towels into plaster and lay over the balls. It will shrink in about half, but makes an eazy mountain. You can add black and/or brown latex paint to the plaster first, then you have a good base color to scenic. IMHO: Blue foam is hte way to go with this project.

    As far as scale, N is probably the best for what you want to do. HOn30 would work equally as well, but offers less ready to run (RTR) loco's and rolling stock. There IS RTR HOn30 available, if that's what you like: HO could be run in that space, but you would have to use flextrack and would be limited to shorter loco's and rollin' stock. IMHO: shorter, plantation type loco's and rollin' stock would fit right in to you plans.

    You are wise to not get rushed, it's easy to buy a lot and feel trapped into using what you bought instead of what you want.

    For ideas, you might search google for some keywords like plantation trains, hawiian trains, plantation loco, Philippine railways, Australian railways, etc.

    Pictures are broken right now on the first one:
  11. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Is the track silver in color? Brass is unrealiable to corrosion :(

    On the mountain, if you go with foam, you will want to carve it. There is a heated wire tool to do this, or you can make your own, or use other carving tools. Breaking the foam makes nice jagged rock edges.

    On the water, if you use a commercial product, it starts clear, and you can add color. If it's water based, food color should do. You could leave most of the foam it's natural blue to show through and look like deep water, painting the edges sandy.

    You can get free track planning software at so you can draw a track plan and make sure it will fit.
  12. rob164

    rob164 Member

    Thanks. Now would the n be good for the size table Im having? The table is 48"x30" I want it to look very big. I thought that having really small trains and scenic stuff would do that.

    Now what about the water? I want it to be blue like saltwater. Is it possible to make the water very light blue and than fade into a dark blue like how near the land is light and than deeper it is dark blue.
  13. rob164

    rob164 Member

    Sorry jon I wrote the other post before I read yours.

    What would I paint the sand part with?

    Where do I get the foam block?
  14. rob164

    rob164 Member

    O and jon did you mean that the program on that web site is completly free? because I couldnt find it.
  15. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    30" is very tight to turn around an HO scale train, N will fit nicely. You can do HO in a radius that small, it's just not conventional. Preformed (sectioanl) track is not available in that tight o fradius for HO, but is for N. HOn30 is basically HO running on N scale track, so it would work as well. In as sense, HOn30 is a more advanced scale, but if it's what you want, I say go for it, and we'll just have to bring you up to speed faster :D :D :D HOn30 is very well fitted for backwoods, logging, mining, plantation and smaller, light weight railroads.

    The blue foam for the mountains would just be cut from the same foam you make the layout from, 4 X 8 (48" X 96") sheets of insulation. If you are really crafty, you could maybe use 1 sheet for the layout, 48" x 30", which leaves 48" X 66" of the foam. You could make hollow doughnut shape rings that stack up to form the mountains, and perhaps need to buy only one sheet.

    Yes the software is free, on the left under "brouse", it says "RTS Download". You do have to register, but it's worth it. You can do HO or N scale layouts with it.

    If I put two s's in atlas, I sent you the wrong way, sorry.

    for the sand, just some tan latex paint would do, or perhaps some really really fine sand glued down. It also depends on the "water" you use, because want to use something the water won't dissolve. You may wish to experiment with whatever you do on some small scrap.
  16. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I realize, I am making an assumption that you want to be able to run trains around a continuous loop. If this is not the case, then the 30" width is not a problem and you could go with HO or N. N is half as tall, roughly. Often thought of as half as "big". But it's both half as long and half as wide, so you get 4 times the "area" on an N scale layout than you would with a same sized HO, if that makes sense. So, your 48 X 30 inch in N scale would have as much track and scenery as a 192" X 120" or 4 X 10 ft HO layout. Geeze, I think I'm confusing myself again :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes::confused: :confused: :confused: :D :D :D
  17. Arlaghan

    Arlaghan Member

    By the way Andrew, that was the FLORIDA EAST COAST RAILROAD which ran all the way from St. Augustine FL down to the Keys where cars were taken by Ferry to Havana, Cuba! ;)
  18. rob164

    rob164 Member

    O, thanks jon
  19. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    For scenery ideas, you could check out the Lahina, Kanapali & Pacific Railroad, it operates on Maui.

    For the water, what our club did was first paint the bottom a light blue, then paint the "deeper" areas a dark blue. At the beach, just use artist sand but do not glue it. Mix your two-part epoxy and gently pour it in the "deep" area. As the epoxy gets to the sand, it will mix it up a bit, thus spreading the sand a bit. The result is a beach that does not have a straight line.

    Attached Files:

  20. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Thanks! You have saved me the trouble of looking it up... :D


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