Modeling water with glass

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Glen Haasdyk, Nov 12, 2004.

  1. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Has anyone tried this? My harbour area is a square 12"X26" and I was thinking of using glass to represent the water, painted on the backside and set down with silicon.
  2. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Don't see why that wouldn't work Glen, although I wouldn't paint the backside. Much easier to paint the surface the glass is sitting on, since when you paint the backside of glass you have to paint backwards - highlights first, then darker colours. Also, it has no tooth for the paint to adhere to and IMO would be hard to get smooth areas of colours without streaking.

    edit: Just thought of something else. Plexiglass would work just as well and would be easier to cut. Actually, for water, anything shiny would work.

  3. Alan B

    Alan B Member

    Glass would model a dead calm moment. How many of those do you see, especially in a harbor?
  4. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    I seen someone use the ripple looking plastic like is used for shower doors for a wavey water scene in MR. It looked pretty good. Fred
  5. SAL Comet

    SAL Comet Member

    Glen, I agree with Val, use plexiglass and paint the surface below it.
  6. Muddy Creek

    Muddy Creek Member

    My father used a pane of glass with some shades of blue & green paint below on our O27 layout back in the 1950's. It wasn't too realistic but, hey, neither were the Plasticville buildings.

    My daughter and I took the canoe out on our lake the other day, 21 degrees, sunny, wind calm and the water was literally smooth as glass. So it might work!

  7. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    I did some digging and found a black&white photograph of my former N scale layout where my glass lake is (more or less) clearly visible.

    First I modeled the bottom of the lake like the surrounding terrain, and the color went from the reddish tan of the surrounding rocks to a murky brown at the deepest part of the lake. Then I 'planted' underwater weeds and algae patches (visble as darker splotches on the photograph) plus a few details like battered oil drums and other junk.
    Then I covered the lake with a glass plate which I had sprayed with transparent blue paint from below. This is better than paint on the upper surface: From time to time you have to clean away the dust which gathered on the glass, and this way the paint won't be scratched at all.
    Finally you have to work down the surrounding terrain to the glass plate so that it exactly matches the underwater scenery. This is a bit tedious, but it can be done quite well.

    Of course Alan is right - you have no waves at all. In my case this didn't disturb me, since a little pond in a hollow like this might be dead calm. A harbor might be different, I don't now. (The nearest sea harbor is about 250-300 miles away! :D) Perhaps waves could be added by applying wavy lines of acrylic gloss medium on the surface. This is just an idea, I didn't try it!

    Val, I think in this case glass is the better choice. Compared to glass, Plexiglass tends to be electrically charged and therefore attracts much more dust. On the same layout I had another small pond (only about 3"x4") and covered it with a painted clear plastic sheet. Every week is was covered with dust :mad:, so I tore it out after about three months.


    Attached Files:

  8. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    The harbour area will be 12X25 inches, mostly covered by a pier and either a barge or small coastal freighter so the water will only really be seen around the edges. Waves aren't that big of a concern to me but I can't use a gloss medium or anything that is poured as a liquid because of a hinge-joint that runs halfway through the 'water'.
    Fred, the rippled glass used for showers is tempered glass, not plexiglass and once glass is tempered it can't be cut again. I found this out last weekend when I tried to get an old shower door cut into the peices that I needed.
  9. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    Glen I don"t know how common it is anymore but you use to be able to buy non tempered ripple glass that was used in house doors
  10. CharlesH.

    CharlesH. Member

    I have an article by John Allen on using rippled glass for a lake. I'll se if I can post a portion of it.
  11. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    I'll check out the types of glass tomorrow in my travels. The rippled stuff sounds the best to me.
  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    IIRC, the HO Railroad that Grows has a section on modelling water using glass. They spent a lot of time with some solution on the top and having a fan blow air at it as it dried to make ripples. (Original date about 1957.)
  13. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Thanks for everyone's help. I went to the glass shop yesterday and after I told the owner what I was doing he gave me the two pieces of glass for free. I sanded the backsides to give them some tooth and the spray-painted the edges where the pier will go dark tan to represent shallow water, then I sprayed flat black on the rest. The two peices are now 'glued' into place with some bathroom silicon sealant and it holds extreemly well. Yes the 'water' is perfectly smooth but I may yet pour a little gloss medium or epoxy over to make a wave or two.
  14. SAL Comet

    SAL Comet Member

    Sounds good Glen, can you post us a pic.?
  15. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Glen, now I am looking forward what you can do with this glass!

    This is right, when I posted my answer I forgot about the rippled glass plates for kitchen or bathroom doors - and I remember to have seen some quite convincing water on model railroads back in the '70s. Today casting resins have taken over, but there are still some older techniques which give quite fine results. Now I am really curious how your harbor basin turns out. Keep us posted with pics, will you?


    PS: Take care with epoxy, depending on the brand or quality you use, this can ruin an otherwise excellent surface job! Better make some test samples first...
  16. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    I'll try but it will probably be awhile in coming, since I only have a 35mm camera and will have to get any photos scanned later.
  17. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Well, the price was right, that's for sure!!! I too would like to see some pix of how this turned out. :)

  18. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    Glen , does this help?? :p

    Attached Files:

  19. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    thanks Chris, those are pretty inspiring!
  20. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Hey! I recognize that bascule bridge! It's from the Aberfoyle Jct Model RR isn't it Chris?
    Nice shots!!!


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