Depicting water with oil idea?

MarkInLA May 13, 2014

  1. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

    Was thinking: What if our river, lake, stream, drainage ditches where to be filled with non-evaporating, say, mineral oil ? Ditches could just be drip-filled right onto ground work. Deeper water would require a well sealed sort of pan to insure oil isn't going to saturate, say, ply river/lake bottom and the surrounding banks. This could be only in areas where no loco can fall into it (though if you catch accident fast enough I doubt oil will permanently mangle the trucks or motor. Dust and stuff will sink to the bottom. And, of course bottom and banks will be pre-painted...How easy now to add branches, a boat (could be actually anchored in place). How about used motor oil while your mechanic is making an oil change (thick , black, dirty. oily )? Finally, while working on layout near this, could have a simple hard cover over most of it... Dibbs ?
    PS. One thing I realize; How to create currents or wakes ?...Maybe hook an old motor under water bottom which makes a vibration...
  2. retsignalmtr

    retsignalmtr TrainBoard Member

    Were you sitting on the toilet when you came up with this idea. I think using real oil as a substitute for regular water methods would not work. Oil, unless it is still in the can or in an engine is a pollutant, and used oil has unburned hydrocarbons (Gas) in it and will stink up your layout. It attracts dust, bugs and may attack the products that you are using for scenery like foam and paints. A drop of Labelle on loco gears is ok. Why not use real water? Cheap, easy to replace and non-polluting.
  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Even if remotely possible, this would be a maintenance nightmare.
  4. Eagle2

    Eagle2 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    For some uses it might be feasible, but the only reason I can think of (off the top of my head) to try to use something similar would be to recreate moving water, like a stream. Thinking out loud, it just honestly seems that the sealing necessary and potential compatability issues with scenery materials makes the traditional resin based methods much preferable. It my not be as flexible when it comes to rearranging/redoing submerged scenery, but...
  5. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

    It does collect dirt and insects, just look at your drain oil. Set out a bowl over night in the yard.
    It does evaporate, what do you think your smelling. Scented oils make me sick.
    It is extremely messy, just spill some cooking oil on the kitchen floor and see what the boss says.
    It is FLAMMABLE, you will be putting it in the vicinity of electrical devices where there's heat and sparks. Ask your insurance agent what he thinks.

    Need anymore?
  6. porkypine52

    porkypine52 TrainBoard Member

    Sounds like you are trying to complicate some thing for nothing. The oil idea would be a maintenance nightmare. Moving water? What for? There are many different ways to model water, I would try one of them first. Even REAL water (H2O) is a hassle to use if you try. Maybe on your G-Scale layout outside, but not indoors. Have seen the real water idea tried several time and each time the real water was replaced with something else. I can see NO advantage to using oil and a bunch of dis-advantages.
  7. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

    Knowing what my olive oil bottle attracts in the form of dust and anything else floating in the air, I would agree that oil is probably a bad idea.

    Water has been done a lot. Miniatur Wonderland has real water, but even on that fine layout the scale of the waves just looks wrong.
  8. MisterBeasley

    MisterBeasley TrainBoard Supporter


    Really, Envirotex Lite is going to look better and be much less trouble.
  9. Steve S

    Steve S TrainBoard Member

    Right, because fluids don't behave the same in small scale as they do in large scale due to surface tension.

    I recall reading years ago that special effects artists would sometimes use rubbing alcohol in place of water when filming ships for movies because the alcohol had lower surface tension which allowed for more realistic waves.

    Steve S
  10. packnrat

    packnrat TrainBoard Member

    this is where modeling your layout as a desert place is good. :)
  11. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

    Guys, guys, firstly, mineral oil if it does evaporate it's got to be over a ten span, if at all. Secondly, this amount of oil very shallow over rivers or stream bottom is not going to catch on fire as being so close to this low amp, low voltage system. As far as bugs, I don't see where they are going to be attracted to neutral smelling, clear mineral (baby) oil. But if be it so, seems like you could either pick 'em out or push 'em down. It's not like it's going to be swarming with Wasps (not W.A.S P.s). I'm talking a thin surface of it over painted bed bottom. Maybe a moving river depiction is a no-go, but a small ditch, tranquil pond shouldn't be a big deal. Last night experimenting with my first ditches, crevices ( I mean 3/16" wide, 16th" deep)I dabbed these two connecting, downhill ruts with WD40. No smell, and do they look wet now !
    I do appreciate all the replies. You're right about Envirotex and the rest, for sure. But real water is a real no-go . It'd be continually evaporating every day unless we add a circulation pump system. And, talk about electricity near by. The oil idea still seems valid for the small stuff as, also ,it doesn't cease being shiny and searches its own level. The hardened glue/epoxy stuff needs to be shined up/dusted frequently is why I got into this thought.
    While on this oil subject, is WD40 harmful to plastic ? I have the felt-tip tube of it and was starting to put teensy tiny dabs of it on the rivets of my switches just to ease up the ground throw's job. Then I stopped after 2 T.O.s when I remembered the possible danger.
    Thanks, Mark
  12. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

    I'd be interested in seeing some photos of what you've done, although for me any scenery, be it water, ground foam, ballast or whatever that isn't glued or fixed in place is a no go because it will eventually end up where it is not supposed to be.
  13. Flashwave

    Flashwave TrainBoard Member

    Somewhat off topic, but im remebering a thread where someone askex about using water, got a page and a half of "dont do it" and then explained he wanted powered model boats, another hobby, for his harbor. So I wont say don't do it, but I definately want to see pictures...

    Sent from my LG-LS970 using Tapatalk
  14. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

    Being that model railroading is rather whimsical what you do is up to you. It is for your pleasure most of all. But, I still wouldn't use mineral spirits, fish oil or vegetable oil in that way. They all evaporate, I've used them all in lamps and they all will attract insects and dirt.

    Do an experiment - put out 4 small bowls with a thin amount of each. One baby oil (mineral), one WD-40 (fish), one cooking oil (vegetable) and one water. Put a wick in each and place them outside over night. Which one will have the most insects and dirt? Then put a match to each of the wicks. Which ones will produce fire? If you leave them out long enough they will all evaporate depending on there viscosity. After all that is what we smell.

    Then try the same with plastic water.

    My other hobby interest is RC model airplanes that require a lot of air and space. Maybe that's why I curious about garden railroading. They can be combined. :)
  15. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

    Oil is not worth the mess you could have. If there is a hole anywhere on the bottom of said river, creek or lake, it will find it, and drip on the floor. The mess is not good. You're better off using other media for water, such as the aforementioned Envirotex.

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