Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by oldtanker, Mar 27, 2006.

  1. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    I'm starting on what I like to call my first real layout. Yea I've done a couple on sheets of plywood while serving in the Army but very did any real terrain or anything fancy because I knew that one day I would get orders and it would have to go.

    So here it is....the only real experance I have is with wiring a layout to run more than one train and building buildings. I am going DCC so that is no longer an issue.

    I have about a 8x13' area in which to work so I can really do something here. Building bench work is no problem, I have the tools and the skills.

    Coming up with a track plan...well I could use some...well a lot of help there. I do know how to model and weather structures but haven't worked up to weathering engines or rolling stock.

    I have or am buying several decent engines and have converted my Athearn rolling stock to Kadee #58 couplers and even went as far as building a gear box and installing a pair on a cheap Life Like box car yeaterday (a first for me) and will be doing the rest in the near future (I have to go 90 miles to get more).

    What I really need help with is terrain. Keeping in mind that I'm a good machanic, electrician, plumber and carpenter....I am not an artist! I look at the how to build terrain books and go cross eyed!

    What I'm thinking, after looking at Woodland Senic's web site is getting one of the 4x8 layout kits for the time being. I kinda think that I can learn a lot that way with detailed instructions (plus if it get the complete set up I will have structures that can be transfered to a new layout). Then maybe going onto thier modular layout system. They are expensive I think but I think in the long run that I will save a lot of money over the building/tear it out cause it aint right way of doing things.

    Anyone want to tackle this one? I can use all the help I can get and I can't find any local clubs in my area that are still active. The closest one is in the twin cites, over 150 miles.

    Thanks Rick
  2. oleirish

    oleirish Member

    One old tanker to anthor,From what I've seen of the prefab things that might be an option,at least to start with,Or do like I do paint your board with an earth color,put a little track down,a little ballest,buy some trees and just place them around,may be an building or two I think you will be suprised at what you can do!Try it you might like it!!
    By the way 23 years in the army,and allmost all that time in armor!!4th AD,2nd AD,5th Cav,2nd Cav.
  3. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    Jim thanks!

    1st ID x3 times at Riley and forward in FRG, 1st AD Frg, 2nd ID Korea, 2nd Cav Frg, 3rd Cav Bliss, 8th ID FRG and US Army Armor School Knox.
  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    The WS 4x8 kit can be used to do other shapes! ;) Like a module, or a shelf.

    With the room only 8x13, I would suggest that a shelf around the walls will probably give you your best result. Think about the era, location, and industries that you want. Start sketching them out, and trying to fit them in the space you have. This might require a bit of research, depending on the industries selected.

    As for the landscaping, try a diorama or two before you committ to the actual layout. Dave Frary was something like a lobster fisherman (I think!) and he turned out some fantastic scenery. I did a little diorama to try my hand at landscaping. You can see it by clinking here.

    Hope that helps.

  5. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder
    We did the N scale equivalent of the HO 4' X 8'. It will give you all the practice you'll need, for scenicing, and track laying. to make it part of your layout, will require some substantial support for the foam base. It is far more flexible than I had originally thought, and if it is not supported, it will eventually cause track lifting when it is moved.
    I would also recommend that you use cork roadbed, rather than the soft foam supplied by W.S.. Track nail the track ( flextrack preferrably) and run the layout until any possible problems have been found and fixed, then ballast.
  6. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    The easiest way (that I've found) to do it, is to get lots of styrofoam, a hot wire cutter, and put the foam wherever you want the hills to be, then using the hot wire cutter, simply cut it to shape. Once you've got the hillside that you want, simply cover the whole thing in a layer of plaster of paris or standard plaster to smooth it out. Sand out any lumps, then paint the whole thing in the desired dirt colour (I recommend not going too brown, but that's up to you). Add the scatter material and foliage of your choice, following these rules: anywhere that's not grassy, must be rocky, or gravel and dirt, and anywhere there's trees, there must be ground covering foliage below, tall grass and bushy foliage is THE most common thing where there aren't trees, model this by using the fluffly green stuff and silflor or a good substitute. You can never have enough trees on your hillside, but make sure they're not too dark or too light, you'll want a mid green with very little variation - I know this sounds weird but trust me it looks better than trying to have lots of variation, for some reason this doesn't work well on model railways, and if you look at real woodland there isn't a whole lot of variation in color overall anyway. Good quality trees are an investment in the appearance of your layout, they're never "too expensive", they're only ever "not real enough"! Find trees that you think look really nice, and buy lots of those, or at least as many as you can. When you place them, drill a hole into the plaster for the little wire they usually have to get them "planted", making sure they're as vertical as possible - repaint any areas of plaster that have gone back to the plaster color. Huddle the trees together in areas where trees are most likely to be (trees like flat areas with good drainage, plenty of water and not too much wind, so they're most likely to be found in your valleys, although trees will thrive anywhere they can, often creeping right up a hillside) and gradually over time build out the area as you buy more trees. Where the trees end, have lots of foliage, bushes, and tall grass to help the transition between wooded areas and areas without much vegetation. Also, have little bits of grass and foliage growing in between tracks, at the edges of buildings, where downpipes meet the ground, on dirt tracks between tire groves, and anywhere you think it should be - this adds to the realism greatly.

    Hope that helps!
  7. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    ok thanks

    Guess I'll have to go and start buying stuff now...
  8. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    No problem, any time. :thumb:

    Listen to the man who said you should start off with a few small dioramas first, for he is wise and all knowing. This is what I did, and it really helps to hone your skills this way. Saves messing up on the "big board" and wasting much material... you can at least throw away a small diorama, but you can't throw away your main layout, you'll either have to put up with the mistake or scrape it all off leaving a big unsightly mess.

    That's not to say you'll never make a mistake once you get good at doing this though... of course you're bound to mess up at least a couple times. But what you'll find is by practicing on a couple small scenes you'll avoid any major pitfalls and teach yourself all the best/most attractive methods to go for.

    BTW before you start buying, take a look through the woodland scenics range and give a little thought to what time of year you want to model, what kind of trees you want, and to see if anything catches your eye and gives you inspiration.:)
  9. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    Ok, thanks for the imput.

  10. Hoghead

    Hoghead Member

    I had the same problem, terrain, I could never get it to look right.
    I finally built the N-scale High Sierra pre-formed layout from Terrain for Trains and plan on building their new "Smokey Hallow" layout later on this year.

    They also make an HO pre-formed layout.
  11. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    ok thanks


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