Scenery/landscaping Practice.

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by OnTrack, Oct 19, 2006.

  1. OnTrack

    OnTrack Member

    Ok guys, so earlier i made a thread on ballasting, and got some good information. I'm starting my first layout soon. I'm so anxious so i figured ive gotta do some thing. I decided to do a practice scenery. :)

    I used Woodlandscenics Foam Trackbed, Scenery Items and Black Cinder (i wanted some grey ballast for the trackbed but hobby lobby didnt have any "small" packages)

    And the track is a 9in Straight of Atlas Code 100.

    Any comments or suggestions are welcome thanks.

    Attached Files:

    • 11.jpg
      File size:
      53.3 KB
    • 22.jpg
      File size:
      63.2 KB
    • 33.jpg
      File size:
      55.9 KB
  2. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    It looks really Good...........Nice job.

    I cant believe 21 people have looked at this thread and not 1 made a comment...........Whats happened to the gauge???
    Cmon people, a guy goes out of his way to post pictures, ask for comments and ya'll cant even say HI!!!

    OK Rant over......Now on to suggestions.

    First.......Get rid of that Yellow thing your taking pictures over LOL (its blinding and detracts from your work )
    second........Try to take photos of your work outside IF AT ALL POSSIBLE.... Natural lighting and surroundings will add to the entire presentation.

    Lastly - Painting the rail sides inside and out will really enhance the realism...........Yes, its an extra step and the one thing that you can do to make plastic track LOOK more like the real McCoy!!

    You are on the right track (pun intended ;) ) a few tweaks and you'll be scenicing with the pro's and nobody will be able to tell the differance :)
  3. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

    OK, I looked at it once, and now I'm back. I can't say anything about painting the rails because that is something I have never done. I think it is great, myself. If I have to make any disparaging remarks (suggestions), the black ballast shows up on the sides of the rails where it probably got stuck. Anything else I say would be because I am envious.

  4. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I like it! You might consider using chalk to change the overall uniform appearance of the black ballast (not being critical - but a suggestion that I used on my ballast to break up the uniformity). The chalk goes on very lightly and adds just a shade difference. You can simulate an old oil spill, fuel leak, whatever with chalk and not worry about spilling paint or worry about the way a liquid will run down the ballast. The overall job is nice! Take time and an Xacto knife to remove every piece of ballast that might be glued to the inside and outside of the rail-side. It's time consuming, but necessary. Make sure you vacuum every foot of the track several times. Good job!
  5. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    A tip would be to tap the track with the handle of a small screwdriver or a paintbrush handle to help settle the ballast between the ties. This will help it from floating onto the rails. Like Tileguy said, paint the rails and ties. I just use Wal-Mart Nutmeg Brown Craft Paint slathered on with a 1" brush then clean the tops of the rails when dry, usually 10-15 minutes tops. I mix my cinder ballast with other colors including sifted parking lot dirt to break up the monotony of the color and because in practice it is usually not quite so uniformly black.

    All in all though, a great first show:thumb:
  6. santafewillie

    santafewillie Member

    Just logged on, I agree with Tileguy, PAINT THE RAILS AND TIES! In my opinion there is no better thing you can do to add realism. I am not sure how things look in your part of the world, or the part you are trying to model; in Texas the ballast is mostly gray to white and the ensuing "litter" on the side of the roadbed matches. Your photos show gray or white next to jet-black ballasted roadbed. The foam looks very realistic to me.
  7. OnTrack

    OnTrack Member

    Thanks guys ill take all of that advice and add it into this, and another piece when i practice more. I used black for the ballast work becuase Hobby Lobby only had grey (the color i will use in my layout) in large containers, they didnt have any in small baggies and such. So i decided to use the black as a substitude to practice with.
  8. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

    I don't see anything wrong with that. That's the way I'd do it.

  9. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Keep in mind that there are tons of people that lurk this site and never register and so do not have the ability to comment. Yes, I get that a lot too. You put a lot of effort into something, and then sit back anxiously awaiting comments and.... NOTHING! Get used to it. Unfortunately, it happens. Don't get angry 'cause that will just get you the wrong responses.... been there done that. Besides, forced comments are not the kind of comments you want. Have patience and those that are worthy of comments will comment.
    Good work on the ballasting. That's one of the things I do not look forward to but never-the-less, it has to be done.
  10. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    You've also go to keep in mind that most people don't check this site all day long like some of us and they may only check it every night. Others even only once a week. Soooo, if you have no responses after a week, a gentle reminder bump will usually generate some comments.
  11. OnTrack

    OnTrack Member

    Thanks, keep em commin!
  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I think that the ballast looks as if it goes out too far, but that night be because it's black. Possibly run a bit of grass up over the edge.
    Definitely paint the rails. Any dark brown paint will do for a start, even a black marker.
    I should talk. I've only got about 9 feet of ballasted track.
  13. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Not bad for a first try.
    I would mix some gray ballast with the black(2 Parts grey to 1 Part black) when doing your layout. This would add a little variety to the ballast.
    Also like mentioned above, paint the ties and rails.
  14. OnTrack

    OnTrack Member

    Thanks again guys, yeah im gonna paint the rails and ties for sure, ill run out and buy some paint tomorrow.
  15. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Looks like you're "on track" with this OnTrack, but the suggestions are valid. Woodland Scenics makes a grey blend ballast that looks good or you could mix your own. Shaygetz' suggestion for removing stray ballast is a good one that works well: simply lay the brush handle across the rails, grasping it lightly between your fingers, then tap it lightly and rapidly, using your free hand, as you move down the track. Definitely paint the rails, preferably before ballasting. If you had used a ballast colour other than cinders, I would guess your railroad to be a prosperous Class 1: deep rock ballast, with wide shoulders. There's nothing wrong with that, but many roads, even those with lots of money, use a sub-ballast. It could be crushed stone in larger sizes, cinders, or even just dirt. And on many lines, weeds creep into the ballast edges, and can spread right across the right-of-way.
    In the first picture below, it's easy to tell the two mainline tracks from the siding in the foreground, even though none of the tracks have roadbed under them. I used a narrow strip of cinders alongside of the mainline ballast to represent the sub-ballast. On the siding, what little ballast there is, is cinders, while there's also a lot of dirt and weeds mixed in.


    In this view, there is cork roadbed under the twin mains, but the ballast is still edged with cinders, and the weeds are trying to muscle in. The industrial tracks to the left are cinders, dirt and weeds, with the dirt and weeds getting more prominent towards the ends of the sidings. The track visible at the extreme right is the coal delivery track for the coaling tower. The ballast is all cinders, with some spilled coal, and a few tenacious weeds.


    Here, the ground is sloping down towards the river bank, so the line's builders dumped rip rap (broken rock) to help stabilize the sub-roadbed, then covered that with cinders, followed by the ballast.


    Another example, showing both rip rap and cinders beneath the ballast.


    Careful selection of materials can help set the stage for the type of railroad that you're modelling, which will enhance the overall appearance of your layout, and it will help to make things just "look right".

  16. OnTrack

    OnTrack Member

    Wow, thanks for taking the time to type that, and send me some pictures as well. I really appreciate it and I will take it into consideration. Thanks ONCE AGAIN. (nice layout as well:))
  17. stripes

    stripes Member


    Great start OnTrack ! I agree that the tie`s should be painted. I paint all of my track, then ballast.


    Also, I do not know hobby lobby, but I do know that there is both fine dark N-scale ballast and reg. dark HO Scale ballast available. This is the dark HO that comes in a 1.5 lb. bag


  18. EngineerKyle

    EngineerKyle Member

    And ONTRACK,

    I agree with those who say it's a great job for a first try. May I add some suggestions?

    Follow the advice in this thread. It's all good. Many have said "paint the track and rails", I agree, but I don't think anyone said how. I use auto primer spray paint. Rusty metal and dark grey are good colors. It is SO flat it makes a great base. It wipes right of the rail head with a mineral spririt soaked rag easily. It wipes off easier still if you apply a light coat of oil to the rails first.

    Next, try some finer balast. In HO scale, those large chucks you show are about the size of two fists put together.


    Maybe you should practice on a longer piece of track next time, say 3 feet.

    Also, look at Dr. Wayne's examples AND look at some real track out there in the field. See how the ties sit on top of the ballast in some cases, and are buried by ballast in others.

    After you sprinkle on the ground foam, you can drizzle on a wash of thinned flat black paint. I use oil base. It seems to darken and spread throught the grass and stones just right.

    Keep up the good work! :thumb:
  19. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Kyle, nice work on your track, and I like the way it passes through the cut, too.:thumb:

  20. OnTrack

    OnTrack Member

    lol im definatly gonan have to paint those rails and ties, i appreciate all this input though its gonna help me out, thanks guys.

Share This Page