Using Real Water

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Iorkca, May 18, 2005.

  1. Iorkca

    Iorkca New Member

    Ok i am real new to model train building, i am currently planning a small layout to start with. One thing i really would like to have on my layout is a real working waterfall flowing over a train tunnel down into a river which flowes through the layout into a lake. As far as the waterfall and making it so the water won't leek into the foam i can do that i just want to know if there might be complications later on in using real water with an electric train set, even though its not alot of voltage. Worst case i will have to settle on learning on how to make fake water and a fake waterfall, but real would be so much nicer. If anyone could let me know if they have used real water and or if its a good idea it would be great.
  2. hminky

    hminky Member

    One word: DON'T.

    Real water is messy, creates un-needed humidity, hard to control

    AND it is actually out of scale, it is too thick. Alcohol would be more to scale in thickness.

    Just a thought
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Water and HO trains are not a good idea, partly for electrical complications (shorts, plus humidity is not good for scenery), and partly because water does not "scale" properly. It just will not look right. When you get into larger scales (like garden railroads) you can use real water. There are several products that make putting "fake" water on your layout relatively easy.

    Take a look at the results of Tom's work -

    This link will take you part way through a really long thread, but you can see the evolution of the river...

  4. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Some folks have tried using real water but strangely, it doesn't look like real water on a layout. There are many ways to emulate water. Woodland Scenics has a good method as do other manufacturers.
  5. hminky

    hminky Member

  6. Iorkca

    Iorkca New Member

    alright thanks for your replies guy's i will look at the material given to me as links and will go with the fake water. The only thing is it gonna be hard to simulate the waterfall where the water is going over the rocks.
  7. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

  8. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    As noted above there are some nice threads on The Gauge for making water and water falls. You might find more by hitting the Search button above and typing in "waterfall".
    My modest waterfall projected can be found here...

    Good luck on the project!
  9. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Ahhhh...the Lone Dissenter arrives...:wave:

    While water has its complications, it has been used successfully in modeling. Everything the guys have said is right but, since any modeled water never really looks like the real thing, it's up to you to decide if it's worth the many drawbacks. The Sept. '77 Model Railroader magazine has an excellent article on the HOn3 Port Caribou and Western Navigation Co. layout of Richard Patterson. 400 pounds of cement were used and many elements were animated, including a working sawmill and railcar ferry that road on submerged track and used an O scale trolley mechanism for power. He colored the water to make it "muddy" and more realistic. From the pictures, foaming appeared to be his biggest problem.
  10. hminky

    hminky Member

    John Allen used real water and said he regreted the use and he had a railroad built for operation not scenic effect.

    Just a thought
  11. babydot94513

    babydot94513 Member in training

    I am a rookie to modeling compared to the rest of you, but my gut instinct is not to use real water for model railroad purposes. I can imagine far more problems associated with the use of real water than can be overcome no matter what skill level you have.
  12. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Shaygetz's post reminded me of a boyhood visit to the Kingston Model Railroad Club in NY. They had a real water scene with water flowing down a mountainside that I enjoyed back then.
  13. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    I was recently Down in Orlando.There is a huge G scale layout there with lots of real water and towering 10' mountains.It starts at floor level.
    Now you would think that if water,real water stood a chance of looking good it would be in the larger scales.Truly it was pathetic.

    A long time ago one of the Top modelers in the Hobby made a statement

    "Nothing in the scale modeled world looks less like water than real water"
    I believed him then and I'm convinced beyond a doubt now!!!

    I read an article on water falls using monofilament fishing line and it may have been liquitex or silicone caulk (Its in one of my many files somewhere ;) )

    I remember saving it because it did a very credible job.
    I may have gotten it from a George selios article come to think of it.
    Do a search in google on the Franklin & South Manchester.
    Dave Frary did a huge Photo shoot and you will be able to see what a credible job can be done with fake water :)

    Better yet, heres the link
  14. KCS

    KCS Member

    Hey, we run HO and we have real water on a portable module layout that we use at show's. We have two modules with running water but building them was no easy task. I'll have to find the diagrams for them to show how they are made. You can just throw down a water proof base hook up a pump and go. They have to be regulated and one thing we use to do that is a "C" clamp pinching a rubber hose that goes up to the back of the model where the water comes out then into a small pool down one water fall under a double set of main line's then down another fall then into a hole hidden in the bottom that's not visible then the water dump's into a mop bucket that is suspended to the modules frame work that can be taken off with ease to change it out, add more or pack it up. on the floor is a large circular pan that collects any water that leaks because over the years they will eventually leak. As for the pump I'm not to sure what kinda pumps are being used. It'll take me a bit but I'll try to get some picture's with a diagram.
  15. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Beside the fact that real water looks out of scale there's another "scale" problem - namely the deposit that builds up when water evaporates repeatedly. These are the minerals and whatnot in the water, and leave a whitish film behind. I suppose distilled water wouldn't have this problem, but I agree with those who say don't use real water.

    I can remember watching an old, low tech pirate movie where they used a model ship in real water for a storm scene. It was so obvious that it was a model because of the way the water looked. "Huge" waves that were way too smooth and giant drops of water the size of basketballs!!! :rolleyes:

  16. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Ahhhhh geeee................they just don't make 'em like that anymore ;)
  17. belg

    belg Member

    Guys I have been seeing references to CRYSTAL CLEAR silicone is this something different than clear silicone? I have not seen it at the hardware store does anyone know who makes this product?? Thanks Pat
  18. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Belg, if you go to the caulking aisle, you'll find it in both squeeze tube and cartridge in a crystal clear package to emphasize what it is. Clear caulk has an ever so slight fog to it that gets slightly foggier as it cures. Crystal clear does not.
  19. XavierJ123

    XavierJ123 Member

    Boy, this is almost like a challenge. I keep thinking about a waterfall that I built on the back porch patio. I formed a small concrete pond in a garden hole. Then I put it on the back patio and stacked up slabs of limestone to allow water to flow down into the pond and be recirculated back up again. The trickle of water was too slow.
    And I just can't fathom how real water could be out of scale. I mean flowing water is flowing water---a ditch, a narrow creek, a wide river, whatever. I can understand how a "drop" could be out of scale but then there is Niagara Falls. The biggest problem is evaporation and dampness causing rust on trains. IMHO, artificial water doesn't look good at all.
  20. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Xavier, that's just it - the drops are out of scale, the streaming is out of scale, etc. etc. If you look at the picture below you can clearly see the difference between a narrow stream of water from a tap and a much larger stream of water from a real waterfall.

    The trouble is, water on a layout would be a stream about like that of a tap. You can see right though it, there's no mist at the bottom, it's not whitewater etc. I agree that some artificial water looks bad, but some of it it totally amazing, like this photo on the NMRA site.

    Hope this helps! :)


    Attached Files:

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