Pics of my n-scale train set- need suggestions!

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by lightbulb8817, Dec 24, 2003.

  1. lightbulb8817

    lightbulb8817 New Member

    I'm trying to complete my train set. Its an N scale.

    Any suggestions? This is the 1st time i've ever built a train set this big. I need suggestions on what my next step should be.

    I think I need to paper mache the mountain. I want to make it hard. Right now, its kind of hard. I used stuff called mod-bodge. I did paper mache in school and made a mask. The mask turned super hard. How do i get the same effect on my mountain?

    I appreciate any suggestions you may have.
    Thank you and Merry Christmas!

    Link to images of my train set:

    Here's an image of how far I've gone at the time of posting.

  2. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hi loghtbulb!
    Welcome to The Gauge! :)
    My advice to you would be, since you have a train set & some track on a board, try to find one of those books like N Scale Model Railroading, or N Scale - From Set To Scenery...(something like that)...try to find some reading material that gives you an overview of the hobby...trains, track, wiring, benchwork, scenery, structure kits, etc...You can find books like this at your local hobby shop, or there are places you can find them could start with the Walthers

    There are many different techniques for making scenery...paper mache' is not generaly used as a scenic base...I think you'd be better off trying a hardshell plaster method (using paper towels dipped in wet plaster), or a more contemporary method of carving pieces of foam insulation board into scenic shapes.

    Keep us posted on how you're coming along!
    Definitely keep posting the pictures!
  3. lightbulb8817

    lightbulb8817 New Member

    Where can i find wet plaster? Lowes, Home Depot?

    We just hung new wall paper and my dad says that the wall paper glue will work for what I need. Is he correct that wall paper glue will work?

    I've just bought 2 books yesterday about electrical hookups and layout plans (for my next project). I'll definitely pick up a scenery book when I return to the shop.

    Can you suggest some online dealers that has good pricing with great customer service? My local shop doesn't carry anything beyond basic level train setups.

    Boy do i have lots of questions :eek:

  4. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hi lightbulb!
    When I say "plaster", I'm refering to either plaster of paris, or hydrocal...these can be purchased at arts & crafts stores, or at builders supply...(I don't think Lowe's or Home Depot carries hydrocal)

    Your dad may be right about the wall paper paste...I've never tried it, so I don't know...

    This is how I*'ve been doing my scenery lately...
    I start by stacking & glueing pieces of blue insulation board into roughly the shape I want...

    Attached Files:

  5. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    ...then, using rasps, saws, utility knives, etc...(& a good shop vac :) ), I carve it down, paint with tan latex paint, sprinkle on some dirt, & other ground cover, plant some "trees", & here's what I end up with...

    Attached Files:

  6. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    As far as online dealers, I'm not real familiar with too many of them...but I know a lit of the folks on here use a lot of them, & they'll be glad to help you out!
    Good luck! :)
  7. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Hi and welcome!
    I've made some hills and mountains by draping damp paper towels that were soaked in a glue over carboard forms or bunched up wads of newspaper. I'd imagine that wallpaper paste would work just as well. Once dry, the paper towel "skin" is hard but also a little flexible so it doesn't crack if I lean on it a little.
    Experiment with the paste and see if it works! I do recommend a good scenary "how-to" book though that will give you ideas for trees, water, and lots of other landscaping topics.
    Best wishes!
  8. lightbulb8817

    lightbulb8817 New Member


    That's awesome!

    What can i use to make ground cover? Glue and sand from the backyard (or fish tank?)?

    I just did the entire model with wall paper glue. We'll see how it turns out tomorrow.
  9. SD90

    SD90 Active Member

    Welcome to the Gauge, I'm just going to use carved styrafoam and then paint it and sprinkle dirt and ground cover on it too. It is easy and less messy than plaster. It's also much easier to plant trees too!

  10. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Ah! I'm seeing rapid layout progress and lots of ambition! That's great! Now, take a breath and take your time! :)

    If your wall paper paste worked out you might want to start by painting it some sort of earth tone color. It helps to have a base color before putting on other ground cover. As for what to use, there are several options. Some folks, myself included, use actual dirt or sand as you mentioned. Sift it to get big chunks out. If you are putting any near your track its a good idea to pass a magnet over it to pick up any magnetic grains there might be in the dirt. Your locomotives can attract these and possibly get gummed up.

    There are lots of commercially available ground cover materials to consider too. Go get that scenary book so you can learn about the options you'd like best.

    Looking forward to hearing how its going!!!
  11. lightbulb8817

    lightbulb8817 New Member

    Styrafoam is hard to paint in my past experiences (i used a brush)... or maybe I'm thinking of some other material.

    I don't have very much money to buy the commercial stuff (boy do they cost alot!), so I'll most likely be using something from the yard.

    Thanks for telling me about the magnet. Never even thought of it.

    How do you guys keep your trains clean? My train develops black stuff on its shiney wheels and start to lose power and stop. I used an eraser to clean it off. I've also started whiping down the track really really well with a wet tower and got tons of dirt off. Is there an easier way to clean my trains? The eraser takes so long.

    Here's where I stop for tonight.


    You can see all my train images here (it updates itself when I upload new images):

    I'll be at it tomorrow again. The toughest part for me is probably the decorating and making it look realistic. I'm not really artistic and somewhat sloppy. :p

    Thanks for all the great suggestions!
  12. lightbulb8817

    lightbulb8817 New Member

    The wall paper glue works! The mountain is hard, yet flexible.
  13. lightbulb8817

    lightbulb8817 New Member

  14. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Welcome to the Gauge lightbulb8817
    You sure have come to the right place to get any help you need as you have already seen in the replies you got. It;s good to see the progress you are making.
  15. lightbulb8817

    lightbulb8817 New Member

    Thanks for all the warm welcomes. I almost feel fuzzy :oops:

    What do you guys think my next step should be? I just have to sand the mountain a little and fix a few holes. What should I do next?

    How do I make fake grass? I have a role of fake grass, but its really old and hard to work with.

    I've also got some stuff that is used to make tree leaves. I don't have too much of that and that doesn't really look realistic (clumps are too big).

    Any ideas?

    How about painting tips? I was thinking about getting green paint and just going over it, but I'm sure that there are ways to make it more realistic.

    Thanks for all the support :thumb:
  16. Grass

    the easiest way to make grass is with the woodland scenics ground foam, which comes in a variety of shades and it put down with 'scenic cement' or a 50-50 mix of water and white glue.

    The ground foam is fairly cheap (big bags of two or 3 mixed tones run about $6.50-7.00 at your local hobby shop.
  17. csxengineer

    csxengineer Member

    getting off cheap

    I went to Home Depot and asked if they had any latex paint that was made but customer didn't want. He had a shelf of OOPS paint in a nice earth tone for only $5. as opposed to $15.00 if I had him make that color for me. I painted all my pink foam a nice earth color. It really helped plan the layout better.
  18. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

  19. Bama Red

    Bama Red New Member

    Welcome, Lightbulb! I noticed from some of your pics that your track runs kinda close to the edge of your layout in spots. You may want to consider some kind of fascia board or other type of barrier (trees, fencing, buildings, etc.) to prevent disasterous derailments (don't ask me how I know this).
  20. lightbulb8817

    lightbulb8817 New Member

    OMG! :eek: :eek: :eek:

    Thanks for all the great tips everyone!

    Charlie, your tutorials are AWESOME, nothing less. We need more tutorials :thumb:

    My Home Depot also has returned paint cans for cheap. I g2g pick up some maybe tomorrow.

    Yah, my trains fell off the desk a few times. Nothing was broken.

    Here's one that fell off before I started making my mountain :cry:

    I just put more Plaster of Paris onto of my wall paper paste. Here's how things look right now:


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