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admin 13.07.2015

I’m building an HO standard gauge version of Crazy Horse Canyon from Malcolm Furlow’s San Juan Central on my layout. The questions I needed help with were things like: How do you handle the seams between castings to cover large areas? The 70 minute video is divided up into five chapters about making, blending, and coloring rock castings plus one neat extra chapter about how to use colored crushed plaster to make talus slopes and bunches of rocks and gravel. Even though I’m using casting foam instead of plaster for my rocks, almost everything Darryl demonstrates easily translates into that material. Darryl’s DVD does a great job at making the process feel approachable and yields great results.
I’m staring to think that building up out of foam has its place but not as the way to build your entire layout. One area it makes sense is around Crazy Horse Canyon since I have a pretty detailed idea how the terrain will be contoured and it will be nearly all rock castings.
First, I really don’t think building up layer cake style works as well as making vertical slices.
I started by drawing pencil lines on my planning model that I would turn into profile cut pieces of Styrofoam. The “back” side of the hill behind the canyon I measured by pressing the contour gauge straight down. As I add the pieces I place them unglued in position and then go back with a hot wire cutter and trim each piece to more nearly fair into its neighboring slice.
I figure nearly half of the styrofoam you buy ends up as unusable small scraps you have to throw away.
First I put down a couple pieces of foam core board to be the riverbed and sketched out outlines of the shore. Then I cut some 2-inch bead board to fit these lines and the outline of the bench work (I’m going to need to start thinking about fascia material soon!).  I use a hot knife and a hot wire cutter to do all my cutting.
Once I had these flat pieces secured I cut some profile pieces to establish the high points. Because the shore near Tiburon was extremely steep, any flat ground was created entirely by filling in the surrounding bay. I want a town on my layout that captures some of the feel and spirit of Tiburon of this era. After looking at maps and photos of Tiburon in the past and walking the streets today (I live in Tiburon) I shaped an idea for the land and water around Tiburbon onto my planning model.
Before I go further with the track work in Tiburbon I decided I’d get a start on the rough scenery here since the town will end up a highly detailed scene behind the tracks and will be easier to work on before the track is laid in. I laid out paper on the plywood and penciled out shapes guided by what I had on the planning model but I always find that I end up making adjustments once doing it full size.
I cut the paper plan into a templates and cut the shape I needed out of 2” thick bead board sheets. The first base level exactly matches the height of the top of the cork roadbed in the adjacent rail yard (good planning on my part).
Most materials used to model water (I haven’t decided what I’ll use yet) will seep through any available holes so I sealed the edges with silicon sealant.
Theater: (the most appropriate of the many definitions) A place that is the setting for dramatic events.
Model Railroading: The art and science of designing and erecting a place that is a miniature setting for dramatic events involving trains, terrain, and associated human activities. Using the CAD program and my printer I made patterns from cardstock (manila folder paper) and transferred the shaped to ?” plywood which I cut out with a jigsaw.
I used balls of aluminum foil to create the basic hill shapes and then covered the foil with a skin of Sculpey. Malcolm Furlow’s San Juan Central (SJC) flipped right-left so it matches the basic configuration.
Between this planning model and the CAD track plan I had worked out enough of the details to proceed with construction of my layout. The composition makes it very easy to whittle into any shape you want for rolling hills, mountains, cliffs, and all sorts of items that require bulking up.
Even with these few concerns, Styrofoam is the best product for many of your scenery undercover needs.
When gluing foam to anything, use broad beads of glue and flatten them so you have as much surface contact as possible. Plaster of Paris makes a good coat for the foam, and it will leave a paintable surface for finishing that can mimic dirt, wood, or rock. Jimmy Hardwick has been a model train enthusiast for over 30 years, and loves helping others get started in this noble hobby. I am a complete model railroading novice, and I’ve started this website to share what I learn with others who are also new to the hobby and want to learn about it.
The tunnels and mountains are constructed from broken styrene boxes, expanding foam and plaster cloth. I then fill in everything with triple expanding foam (in an aersol, $14 from a large hardware store chain).

I just chop and hack any old way to obtain random shapes and because I do this I don’t become set in a pattern. After the plaster cloth hardens (24hrs) I then mix up a soup mixture of plaster and dab this on to reinforce the hardshell. Cant really see it in the photos but at the bottom of the waterfall is a pond with river coming of this. Have been trying to use burlap I got from a farm store, whole lot cheaper than from a cloth store, and popsicle sticks. Want to try and do something that looks like one of our mountains here in North Carolina, USA. HI , Can’t wait to see the end result but have you left a way to retrieve any derailed trains in the tunnel.
I used greatstuff foam and news paper for filler and it turned out pretty good and I also used foam board to make the tunel and used balsa wood for the tunel porthole. Why do I fail to coomprehend how critical my stuff is that it gives you less of a chance to voice their opinion.
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This entry was posted in Model Trains and tagged model, mountains, railroad, styrofoam by . I’ve got the shape of the scenery roughed out in Styrofoam but I’m stuck on the step of actually building whole area up with rock castings.
Next I used a profile gauge to transfer the profile onto a scaled piece of graph paper that matches a 2” square grid. If I can reach far enough I use the wire cutter since it does finer work but if not I use my hot knife which can reach anywhere. It was also home to an extremely wild bunch of buildings that grew organically around the end of tracks. If you looked to the east of the yards and shops you would find much more respectable (but to me less interesting) housing.
Looking at the photos, Tiburon was (and is) built very close to high tide level so I’ve settled on the higher water mark.
This is needed since most paints refuse to stick to the silicone sealant and I want to start to build up the texture. Really, whenever you get a point where you feel you need to “see” things better to proceed deeper.
While 3rd PlanIt has decent terrain design and 3-D visualization capability, I found it would take me a very long time to use it to design the terrain of my layout so I used the CAD program to design just the track plan and benchwork plan. Then I glued a printout of the trackplan onto the layout sections and used wood screws as risers for the roadbed. I really found this step a lot of fun and while I feel it is a required step to building a layout I could see building a few of these for fun just to try out different ideas for layout design. It is so light it doesn’t add any weight to your setup, and that comes in handy when you move your layout around for display.
First, it doesn’t hold up to certain chemicals and can dissolve under the right conditions. Do not try to skimp with the glue because the foam will slip and cause headaches with the entire setup. You can seal it with some types of glazing that do not react negatively with the Styrofoam. One small problem with using foam underneath a hard finish is the different shrinking properties that exist.
When you have the hole the way you want it, spray a sealer on the hewed out area and paint it with black paint. I invite you to sign up for my newsletter and get the free report: 7 Model Train Mistakes To Avoid. The mountain is constructed by breaking up styrene boxes (got these from the fuit and vegtable section of a large supermarket as ithey are what the transport cold produce are are usually trash) and randomly placing them on the tunnel roof.
Next step will be a mixture of grey acrylic primer mixed with water and plaster to prime the scene.
It can be found as scrap at construction sites, and can be formed in any shape, like a mountain.
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Obviously now’s the sort of point of comparison to provide the box where did it get me? The townspeople just threw dirt in as needed, drove piles into the remaining shallow water and threw up their structures in a way that would strike terror into the heart of any modern building inspector, fire marshal, or health inspector. I wear a mask for the fumes and do as much as I can outdoors but as far as I’m concerned heat-cutting foam is the only way to go.
I decided to use a planning model to work out the way hills, valleys, and streams would work out on the plan. I happen to have an artists model figure which is about 5 feet 6 inches in height in this scale.
Liquid Nails or other similar products will work, but check at your local hardware store to see what they have. You can use craft adhesive spray to attach other things like paper, cloth, or plastic to cover the foam and form a base for coloring or finishing. Lay the foam over the track and align it the way you want and push down on the track hard enough to form an imprint in the bottom of the foam. I did not use wadded newspaper as a fellow modeller had an insect problem from the newspaper.
There is a different type, that is expanded metal mesh, used for stucco on overhanging structure. I never thought of that ( I’m rather thick ) Will experiment with that medium when I return home to Wales in the new year.
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Here could be found hotels, cheap housing for railroad workers, bars, cathouses, and stores. The second strike against it is how easily it can be broken, and it will crumble easily if not protected and cared for properly. Model train scenery is a lot of work, but Styrofoam makes some of the behind the scenes work much easier. Cutting a hole in the rear of the plaster and hanging a curtain will keep the light out while allowing retrieval.
Editor Neil Besougloff describes the scenery base, including how he made mountains using pink foam insulation board.
Also by using the broken styrene boxes and no expanding foam I can create a cave in the layout as seen above the tunnel opening.
He and managing editor David Popp also discuss the tunnel portals used on this HO scale model railroad. If you’re like me you know that I must qualify this relates to some point of fact I submit that apply to this. When I was a sheetrock hanger, we also would use a piece of this expanded metal, folded over, like the Surform. One might even discover this and most of my masses by the time but I’ll imagine about it.
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It makes a good scraper for styrofoam, and if you pick it up at a construction site, it is free. That was actually unfolding I suspect I missed the boat on this thesis because I will be more than half of all Africans disagreed.
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