Small 4 x5 around the tree layout question

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

  1. jflessne

    jflessne Member

    Small 4 x4 around the tree layout question

    I'm working on a small around the tree layout that is about 4x4. It has a small mountain and a tunnel. I plan to cover the layout with Woodland scenics snow. My question...should I ballast all of the track or just small sections? Should I be concerned with the snow material getting into the engine mechanisms?

    A small steamer will go around the track. Radius will be tight so I don't have a lot of options there.
  2. alexander

    alexander Member

    OK, it seems this wont be a "serious" (no offence) model railroad, so, i'd check out, IHC steamers

    Some of there freight cars, and, you've got it. track, well, 22" curves are possible, but, 18" are ok

    snow, i have no experience, although, i have heard that its eaiser to have a small amount rather than huge drifts, and, if you have it away from the track too (although some could be glued down with ballast)

    Ballast as much as you feel like doing

  3. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    Should you ballast all the track? My answer is yes!:D

    Will the snow effect the locomotive? That depends on the type of snow you use. If you plan on using Woodland Senic, it wont. Some of the others, you may have troubles.


    Here one of my web pages that shows snow on my layout. On my new N scale, I'll also have snow.
  4. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    My last Christmas layout - which used a Lionel train and track - I used pillow poly fiber batting for the snow. I over-sprayed it lightly with some glitter snow effect to give it a little sparkle in place. I used white glue near the track edge, and tucked or rolled it a little near the track to help avoid getting it in the steam engine valve gear or truck sideframes.

    I checked the mechanisms occasionally to make sure they weren't picking up any fibers, and they weren't.

    You may want a more realistic snow than what I used; the batting didn't really have a "solid" enough look to it. But since it was a toy train layout, the effect was actually quite nice. Good things about the batting was that it would lay in natural-looking drifts, and was very easy to clean up after Christmas.

    I built an outside frame (mine was 46" x 60") of 1x3 pine, and then laid 1.5" blue foam flush with the bottom and edge-glued to the frame. The foam was set flush with the bottom edge of the frame so the layout could hold a large tree and stand in the center, with the floor supporting the foam. 1/4" luan plywood was glued to the top of the foam to provide wood for track and accessory screws to go into, and spread the weight of the tree and stand across the foam. The 2 front corners of the layout were cut off at 45 degree angles, and a filler piece of 1x3 was fitted into the frame gap to avoid toe stubbing on the otherwise sharp 90 degree corners. This made a very light, very sturdy layout that worked well both on top of tables and on the floor for several years.

    I put the wiring and controls on top of the layout to keep a smooth flush underneath surface. The wiring was hidden under the batting "snow".

    I took it to the office and set it up in my cube where it got top billing in the cube decorating contest. The operating barrel car and operating barrel loader fascinated our electrical engineers, who couldn't get over watching barrels vibrate their way uphill.

    my experiences, your choices
  5. jflessne

    jflessne Member

    Ahh it begins. Here's my non-serious layout. I think it wil allow me to practice some landscaping techniques. :) I bought woodland scenics snow and about 50 feet of Atlas flex track and some roadbed.

    pgandw I like the idea of the 1x3 pine. And the foam base will make it easy to make a hole for the tree stand. I think I'll surround the tree stand with a mountain.

    I'm going to be running a smaller steamer and some short coal cars. Fun. I'll post pictures next week.

    Attached Files:

  6. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member


    What scale and where did you get the track plans for that?

  7. jflessne

    jflessne Member

  8. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I don't use fluffy stuff for fear of what the fibers can do to my trains. I use the sectional EZ track as well as Marklin's track plus an elevated plywood loop I made using 11.5" radius curves (an Athearn GP35 goes around it with no problems). All this is set over a sheet of OSB painted with several coats of cheap white latex. The roads are outlined in white painter's caulk to look like plowed snow then painted grey with cheap craft paint.

    Attached Files:

  9. jflessne

    jflessne Member

    Just a minor update to this little project. I put in a big order with my favorite online dealer and wouldn't you know it I forgot to order a few things. :( hate that. Paying another $8 to ship it via UPS stinks. One of the things I needed was a Xuron rail cutter. Local hobby shop wanted $14.95 for them.
    Anyway I need some suggestions on a Victorian house. I've been looking and looking. I'm not going to be a good candidate for scratch building one so we can rule that out. I'll need one with some detail. Any suggestions?

    I'm picking up the materials to build the bench works etc this weekend.
  10. Iron Horse

    Iron Horse Member

    You can go to type in Victorian House and Search. Some come up. I had a cheap (life like maybe?) haunted house that was victorian, If you don't put in the boarded up part of the windows, you wouldn't know the difference. (Except for the ghosts, lol:eek::eek:)
  11. jflessne

    jflessne Member

    Earlier in this thread I posted the track plan. I decided recently to remove the 19 degree crossover and simply have the track go over the lower run via a bridge.

    Since this will be a simple Dc layout do I need insulators? Forgive me if this is a silly question.
  12. Iron Horse

    Iron Horse Member

    If you are only planning on running 1 loco, you don't need insulators. I don't see a reason why you would need them.
  13. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    Check out this thread:

    There is how I made my X-mas layout. I used plaster for ballast and painted it on with a brush and then ran a truck down the track to create the flange ways. Took a little cleaning up with a piece of brass as a scraper, but it looks good and works good too.

  14. jflessne

    jflessne Member

    Just an update on this project. Forgive me I didn't take pictures. You get so involved you forget to do this.

    I purchased some wood & foam from Home Depot last week. I planned to use 1 x3 pine but I couldn't find anything that didn't look like a chewed up pen. I grabbed some "other" type of tree. Really good quality wood. 99 cents a foot. No warping or knots.

    Home depot only had 1" pink foam. Seemed warped to me. I planned to cut the 4x8 sheet and jam it in the back of my SUV. It wasn't fun. My 3 year old sat in the front saying, "Daddy maybe that's not going to fit. Call Mommy!"

    Saturday I set out to put my bench work together. No problems really. The foam seemed to curl a bit. I'll up some pictures soon.
  15. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    3 year olds....they are great! My 3 year old grandson "helped" put my train table up, then demanded that we lay track out right now and run a train then wanted to know where the town was. I like your idea! Good luck!
  16. jflessne

    jflessne Member

    Well this layout is coming along. I'm using it to prep for my full size layout. Some things I have learned and have questions about. I promised I'll post pictures once I get my camera problems worked out.

    I purchased and used Flextrack for the entire layout. It was difficult to place the flex track and make it come out the same radius continuously. I think I read a suggestion about using a yard stick to draw lines as a guide. (I'll try that next time.)

    I used alcohol and a little liquid soap and my ballast seem to float a bit and ended up on top of the rail. I tried to use a medicine dropper and a contact solution bottle but it still didn't make a difference. What's the best way to clean up the tops of the rails?

    I painted my rails and ties with Senna brown (someones suggestion here) Seems to too light. I may weather them a bit more or hit it with the Midwest liquid weather stuff.

    I tried it out a some test track. The bottle mentions that you have to rinse with water to stop the weather process. :( But the rails turned dark black. Not sure that's the look I'm going for.

    I'm still ballasting... I ran out of alcohol.
  17. jflessne

    jflessne Member

    Pictures---Please don't laugh

    You'll notice the ballast started to float on the ties. I think I figured out what caused it. Instead of dumping a lot of alcohol and soap on all at once... I started to do it little by little. Taking my time. :) How am I going to remove this?????

    I believe that's why some areas are better than others. You'll also notice the paint on the ties seemed to get lighter. I suspect the soaking at a lot to do with this. A second coat will be needed.

    The house is a model power. For the sake of time I got a pre-assembled one. It needs weathering etc. And some details. Suggestions?

    I'm pretty excited I just picked up a Badger 200-3 complete on Ebay for $14.00.

    Attached Files:

  18. jflessne

    jflessne Member

    Wow is it that bad? No comments at all? :)
  19. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    I think it looks great!:thumb: How are you keeping the trains from crashing at the dross over?

  20. jflessne

    jflessne Member

    :) Too small a layout to have more than one train. But it might be challenging to run multiples on it.

Share This Page