Plaster Cloth

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by jimnrose, Nov 11, 2001.

  1. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    Any ideas for Mobile Mountains?

    The last time i had a permanent layout, 35 years ago, i used window screening to form the mountains and hills. What we call "chicken wire", hexagonal holes about 1/2" across, was too porous.

    I've just started getting my trains out again and have built four 30x 48 modules to use when our train club, Atlantic Coast S-Gaugers, gets together for shows. My question is, what are y'alls ideas concerning how to model a mountain on a mobile module?

    My intension is to keep the mountain separate from the table, stored in it's own case for transport, and then assembled on site at the shows. Keep in mind that we are not a "scale" outfit at this time. We use indoor/outdoor carpet from Lowe's, a "lumber yard", for grass. We do, however, work hard at making a fun and good looking layout.

    My purpose for the mountain is to provide a tunnel, about 30-inches long, and a raison-d'etre for a coaling operation. Two of our guys have operating coal loaders and unloading cars and the public, as well as us "big kids" love to operate them.
    Anyway, i'm looking for: lightweight, sturdy, good modeling charateristics, and, since i still have kids to put through college, economical.

    Thanks for your help.

    Oh, and one last thing, i'm new to this board, is there a spell checker available on this thing? Not my strong suit.
  2. George

    George Member


    My mountain from my last layout is still in the box. It's about five feet long, rises probably over 18 inches and is three feet deep. I poured foam over duct tape that was supported by crumpled newspaper, which was later removed to prevent a fire hazard.

    I detailed it with a road, a couple of houses, and landscaping. The biggest problem was finding a box large enough to protect it during transport. A large box from a newly aquired piece of furniture did the trick.

    I like your idea of using window screening, and had forgotten that as well. I do remember the mess people dealt with from plaster dripping through the chicken wire frame onto the tracks. That was before people thought of laying masking tape over the track before working!

    This old problem was what motivated me to make a solid foundation with duct tape, so that nothing would drip through. I had a lot of fun with it. The irregular way the foam flows and expands and sets helps you with the true irregularities of natural land. Anything too far from credibility is easily filled in with just about anything.

    Just remember, if you want a mountain to move about for shows, foam is the lightest way to go!:)

  3. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member


    What kind of foam do you use? Is there a site that shows how to work with this stuff? Do you paint directly onto the foam? Etc, etc, etc.
  4. George

    George Member


    I use "Mountains in Minutes" brand. You mix two chemicals into a large cup and as the chemical reaction gurgles, you pour it over your forms, and spread with a stick. It's expands rather dramatically, and as it sets, you spread it with a flat stick. You must work quickly as it sets fast, therfore, you work in a small area at a time.

    OPEN THE WINDOWS. Use a fan if you're in the basement.

    To paint, all I did was use regular spray paint, covering the foam with a dark brown. Again, OPEN THE WINDOWS. Then I painted full strength Elmer's glue, scattered ground foam, added lichen bushes and trees and it was finished.

    This chemical foam is probably available much cheaper elsewhere, as it's the same material used for packing delicate things of odd shapes. I was told by someone who packed a television with it, that when he mixed too much, it bubbled over the top of the box!

    It's actually fun to work with, as the way it expands can be very unexpected if you do the mix with a heavy hand!
  5. mike franks

    mike franks New Member

    Here's my opinion, if interested, old newspapers and liguid starch, when that dries, on with the plaster or spackling.A gallon of starch goes for ever.
  6. Sempak

    Sempak Member

    For anybody reading a 7 month old post...

    A friend of mine's mother works at a vet and they have a 'use by date' on their plaster bandage: after a certain time they have to throw it out!

    If you ask around at a local vet or doctor you may be able to get some of this now useless (to them) plaster bandage very cheaply!
  7. Chessie

    Chessie Member

    My son and I use drywall mud and paper towels. For color he uses dye like they use in cement and the drywall mud is cheep, about $8.00 for 5 gal. at our building supply store.
  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Plaster bandage

    I asked a doctor and scenery expert in our club about plaster bandage and he said that it has a problem in that it's designed to set very quickly (for mending broken bones) and that it's too fast for decent modelling work. I suspect that it contains plaster of paris or similar.
  9. billk

    billk Active Member

    Could you add some sort of "retardant" to the water to extend the setting time? I'm over my head here, but may someone familiar with the setting properties of plaster could chime in.
  10. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    I saw an article once about adding vinegar to hydrocal to extend its setting time. Maybe vinegar would work here too ???

    PS - my wife's an occupational therapist, maybe i'll ask her about the old bandage/gauze stuff as well......seems to me she had a couple comments when she saw I was using the WS stuff a while ago..........and it might have been that her stuff was just as expensive, cause it's the medical industry, where most stuff is also overpriced.......I'll check with 'er though....

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