Scenery - "How To" Books

Discussion in 'Photos & Videos' started by Bob Collins, Nov 22, 2001.

  1. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Anyone care to step forward and recommend some how to bbok to get me started on the scenery for my layout?

    I not only need something that will at least get me started with a step one, step two approach, but also some ideas about materials too. I recently saw an interesting article about using foam insulation for rockwalls, etc and that is fine, except my intention is to have a more rolling, open country landscape without mountains and tunnels.

    The lightbulb came on for me (dim, of course) about how and where I'm going to lay out a small town. Now back to the Walthers Catalog(ue) to see about buildings that will fit in with my ideas.

    But anyway, I'm looking for a book or books to get me started. I have one from Kalmbach, but about all the author discusses through most of the book is backdrops and I'm not going to be using one!

    Happy Thanksgiving to all :)

  2. billk

    billk Active Member

    Bob - Most of the scenery books I've seen seem to concentrate on the more spectacular stuff like mountains, etc. It seems that the insulating foam you mentioned would be an ideal way to make the kindler, gentler parts of the country, though.

    Here's an idea. (since its Thanksgiving eve it looks more like a recipe):

    Get a 1/2in thick piece of the foam. Note that's about 3 or 4 scale feet thick in HO, 7 or so in N scale.

    Make a topo map of your layout, with the elevation line spacings corresponding the foam thickness and play with it until you like it. (I assume US Army retired understands what I just said, right?)

    Cut the foam into pieces shaped per the elevation lines and stack the pieces up like a layer cake and glue them toether.

    Smooth out the stair steps and finish as desired.

    Bill K
  3. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Bill K;

    This old Army guy understands exactly what you are saying and likes the idea and possibilities very much. I knew learning all stuff about contour lines and the like would pay off as useful information some day:D

    I think the other thing I like about your idea is that once you measure and determine size, elevation, etc., you can actually do the construction up to the point of gluing it to the layout away from the layout and under more comfortable conditions. I'll give it a try and post a picture when I get something together.

    Thanks very much

  4. billk

    billk Active Member

    Not a problem. Bob - I'd really like to see how it turns out.
    Had another thought - the "good" foam (the pink or blue construction stuff) comes in thicknesses down to 1/2in, as far as I know no thinner. If you used something thinner, it would mean more layers but the contour lines would be closer together, so you would have more control over the shapes and the stair steps wouldn't be so hard to smooth out. I don't know how feasible it is to try slicing the 1/2 stuff into thinner pieces, but you could try it.
    I've tried coating the foam, after getting it into the shape I want, with a mixture of very watered down Durham's Rock Hard Water Putty and water-based paint in the base color I want (probably a dirt brown shade in your case). This puts a thin hard shell over the foam that doesn't show chips,etc, but is easy to remove (just break it off). Was pretty happy with the result.
    Bill K
  5. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member


    I hope to wind up with a mixture of what you see when you look out the window in Iowa and what I see when I look out the window in south Missouri. Your area is more rolling fields and we have lots of beautiful oak and hickory trees and more of a grazing and haying landscape. The layout is large enough to handle both, although with all of the trackage I've installed and am about to install, I'm not sure there will be any spaces of size to do a lot of scenery in a big display. We'll see what happens.

  6. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Billk et al:

    I actually have the better part of two sheets of 1/2" and two sheets of 1" "blue board" that I can work with. For some reason I thought I had 1" and 2". When I walked by it a few minutes ago I looked again and went to get my tape measure to confirm my suspicions. I have something of an idea about how I want to set out the town so will start with using the blue board. My track in that area is elevated 3" above the base, so there is lots of opportunity to be creative. The area is tear shaped and about four feet across and five feet from top to the bottom of the tear. That ought to be plenty to have some fun with in "sculpting" the terrain:)

  7. justind

    justind Member

    Give this one a try

    Try "How to build Realistic Model Railroad scenery" by Dave Frary (its a Kalmback book).
    This is the first one I read for layout yet, so I can't say if the techniques will work, but it is simple enough, and most of the methods lean towards water-soluble so they are fast and easier to clean up.

    Tell me what you are interested in and I can try and scan and post some of the articles on my website or even mail you some photocopies...then you can decide whether or not to buy the book. Mailing them is no prob, just keep in mind that snail-mail is slow so by the time they get there inpatience may have gotten the upper-hand and you will have purchased something by then anyway (if you are anything like me) :D .
  8. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Bob,
    I have the following books for sale if you are interested, including 1 on scenery, they are:

    101 Track Plans by Linn H Westcott
    Small Railroads you can build Edited by Linn H Westcott

    "Scenery for Model Railroaders by Bill McClanahan" Very good book indeed.

    Bridges & Buildings for Model railroads by Willard V Anderson
    764 Helpful Hints culled from Model Railroader magazine.
    Easy-to-build Model Railroad Structures edited by Willard V Anderson
    Practical Guide to Model Railroading by Westcott-Page-Wagner-Adams & O'hearn
    Also have the following from KEMTRON
    Logging Cars Volume No 1 by Armitage Plan Book 10 G-scale --
    Buildings of the Old West -planbook No 3 HO-scale
    Buildings of the Old West -planbook No 2 HO-scale
  9. justind

    justind Member

    how much $

    Shamus, 2 of those books I may be interested in:

    Small Railroads you can build, and Practical guide to model railroading (that is the Red Wing layout design correct?). How much for the both in $US dollars, and what do you guess for shipping amount to Utah, USA.
  10. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Justin,
    Those two books will cost you including postage from the UK $25
    Let me know if you want them and I will take them off the list.
  11. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member


    I have several of those books already and I don't see anything that really tickles my fancy, but thanks for taking the time to post them and I hope others might find something of value to them.

  12. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    I don't know if this will help or not, but now that I've got this cool camera, I can show you what I've done. (this was for an N scale diorama, but this works in any scale, any size layout.
    This is two pieces of 2" thick foam that I carved with a keyhole saw, & a big wood rasp. It's the beginings of a rock cut. The track will be laid on the flat area.

    Attached Files:

  13. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Then I cover the foam, & cover it with this stuff called Sculptamold. You can find it in craft, & hobby stores. You mix it just like plaster, but it has a much longer working time, is lighter weight, doesn't crack, or chip nearly as easy. Yoiu can color it too, if you like, just like plaster.
  14. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    After you,ve used the Scultamold, just paint & scenic to you liking.
    Here's some finished foam scenery.

    Attached Files:

  15. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Thanks very much Charlie. I appreciate the picture.........1000 words and all that.

    One question. As general rule do you glue the pieces of foam together before you begin to cut it like you want it? And what type of glue to you use for the foam? Guess that's two questions!!!

  16. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Well,lets see how many answers I can give you! :D
    I use a heavy duty construction adhesive called Liquid Nails. It comes in a tube that you dispense with a caulking gun.
    Before glueing, I cut the pieces out in roughly the size I need using a keyhole saw. (a handsaw with a small, pointy blade)
    Then I stack the pieces, & glue them, & yes I do a lot of the carving before I get them to fit where I want.
    Here's the big selling point for me - I can carry a 4x8 sheet of this stuff into the basement with ONE HAND! Try that with 3/4" plywood!
    One suggestion - keep a vacume cleaner handy when you cut, or carve the foam. Ther's always a large amount of styrofoam "dust" created.
    Good luck, I hope I've been of some help. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!
  17. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Thanks again Charlie.

    I have on hand the better part of 2 sheets of 1/2" and two sheets of 1" blue board, so I am right with you on weight, portability, etc. I used the 1/2" to lay over my fibre board on my benchwork as I was told it would deaden the sound considerably. I'll do some experimenting one of these first days and let you in on the results.

  18. billk

    billk Active Member

    Bob -
    IMHO almost any kind of adhesive that doesn't attack the foam will work - I've used Elmers wood glue successfully. Some kinds of Liquid Nails will dissolve the foam, so if you use it get the right kind.

    I think I've written this before, but one good way of shaping the foam is to use a wire brush - not the heavy duty one with steel bristles, but the kind plumbers use to clean pipe threads with, that has brass bristles. I'd think this might work well for the kind of landscape you're building.

  19. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Thanks Bill, all good info to know.

    Have you ever run across a guy named Greg Hopgood there in Marion?

  20. billk

    billk Active Member

    Just looked in the phone book - only Hopgood is Amanda in Cedar Rapids.

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