Sputtering along, 10 x 3 layout scenery

Stephane Savard Jun 4, 2022

  1. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    It's about time I get back to this layout!

    layout_plan.png

    First, this thread is a continuation of a thread I started back in May 2018 when I started this hobby; you can find all 20 or so pages of that thread Sputtering start to a new layout. I started with planning the track plan, then building the track, etc., ending up with this bent 10 x 3.5 table. I think it's about 34 square feet.

    Well, after I finished the track, and built up the foam mountains, the layout just lingered there. Instead I was running trains, and working on many small side projects (3d printing locomotives, DCC installs, and fixing up my engines). In fact, I haven't updated that layout in just under a year! My last update was June 24th, 2021 when I finished the passenger station.

    That thread isn't really about layout design at this point, now being just a build blog, so it's moving here, right into a brand new thread! Works out well, because it's a nice breaking point between building the base and starting the scenery. So first things first, where was I a year ago?

    Well, I don't have an overall view, but the track was done, and the main forms of foam mountains were complete. Now, after a disaster with a yellow switching engine (now in the mail back to the company for repairs), I decided I was ready to start working on the layout once again.

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    A couple weeks ago, I started with carving out foam for the mountains and hills, to make them more mountain-like and less like blocks of foam. I started with a foam cutting wire tool, but that made so much smoke and fumes, I had to stop. I mean it's fine if you need to cut a few pieces, but after half an hour of cutting and shaping, I took my respirator off and realized the open window wasn't helping at all. I had burnt foam smell in the house for a couple of days. So I continued with a big steak knife and a sureform tool. It's a bit more messy, but works fine.

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    The next step was initially to start covering all of the foam with sculpt-a-mold, a sort of a cross between plaster and papier maché. Here in the above picture you can see that I've started applying it to the hills leading up to the tunnel portals. It's super easy to work with, and creates a nice hard shell, but it can still be easily carved with a steak knife if needed. Now this isn't the final state of these hills, I eventually want to start carving rock formations into them with plaster of paris, but that's for a future post. The problem I got was one of sequencing. I sort of need to know where the roads will go to finish the mountains, and for the roads I need to know where the buildings will be, etc. So for now I've stopped with the hills.

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    As you can see, I've started drawing where the roads will go, something I was dreading for a long time. Stupidly I never really planned for roads, figured I'd make a track plan and the hills and then just sorta put the roads in afterwards where they'd fit. Whew! Almost no space for those roads! Just to reach the yard I need to go through the passenger tracks and then the yard lead. It's a bit ridiculous really, but at this point I'm just gonna lean into that. I never claimed I was making a realistic layout, and that's fine with me. I mean just look at the cliffs! :D

    I went with laying the parking lot and base for the passenger station. I'm doing it the Woodland scenic way, without the woodland scenic cost. I'm using 1/16" foam tape I bought off Amazon and using plaster of paris instead of smooth-it. But it's going rather well.

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    Above is the main road and two grade crossings that I completed. Well mostly complete, I still need to carve out some flangeways into the grade crossing. The parking lot at the yard throat will feature a yard office. And I wasn't sure what to do with the little bit of road that ends between the passenger track and the yard, but I think I'll put a tiny building, fenced off with a cell tower. Will look nice in an overgrown field.

    So that's it for now!

    IMG_20220604_120937714_HDR.JPG
     
  2. Bookbear1

    Bookbear1 TrainBoard Supporter

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    Looking REALLY good! You've made a lot of progress. Please do keep posting to keep us all up to date (and inspired!)
     
  3. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Your thread comes along at the perfect time for me. I'm dreading scenery on my N Scale layout, but I'm in a far more positive mood after seeing your pictures. I really like what I see! What kind of glue did you use on your layers of foam? Are they 1" Thick layers?
     
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  4. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you Bookbear1 and Hardcoaler!

    You know, I don't really know what I'm doing! Why it took me so long to get started on scenery is spending so much time in analysis and "research", which really was just procrastination. Worry of screwing up, etc. But two "regular guy" youtube channels helped me, Steve Brown's It's My Railroad and DIY and Digital. So I just started carving and I just let it go where it wants to go. It doesn't need to be perfect, and I'm finding that it's easy to fix. Carve out too much foam, and you can add in some more. Or come back and carve deeper. The scary bits are when I dumped the plaster of paris right on the tracks to do the grade crossing :eek::eek::eek: But the first one turned out okay, and the next one was easier!

    As for the foam, yes, it's all 1" foam. Looking back at the real early pictures, it appears I used Great Stuff foam? I barely remember that haha! Anyway, the later foam layers (mountains) I used Gorilla Glue. Lay a bit down, use an old business card to spread it out into a thin coat all over the foam Then I mist some water using a spray bottle right in the layer of glue and put the second layer of foam. Weigh it down for a while and done! For very small areas, I just use a low temp hot glue gun.
     
  5. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    @Stephane Savard Your not alone in the being scared of adding scenery or planning for roads ahead of time believe me. Mine is Two tiny 2'x4' bases and did not think about the switches on the main one leading right where roads are suppose to continue onto the distance, instead two ends run right into my big arse Atlas turnouts, oh well. They will just be dead ends I guess :) I could move them a bit I guess, but too lazy and I like the roads where they are. :) Our layouts, means it's our way or the highway, ( see what I did there )! Yours is looking really, really good. And like you I had no idea it was going to take this long, but I have to take breaks from it for long periods of time. Run trains, other hobbies, life, etc....

    Can't wait to see more updates. That looks like a Walthers structure in the front? Love their kits, hate their instructions :)

    Oh yeah, smart person covering the Panel with tape before applying plaster, good move!
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2022
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  6. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Oh yes, mark me up as another guy who neglected to think about highways on the layout. I'll probably have a few roads connecting spots from here to there or patches of asphalt, but there will be no connector to the outside world. I subscribe to @in2tech 's rule that highways are of secondary importance to the railroad. If my scale citizens don't like it, they can move away ..... using the railroad. ;)
     
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  7. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    The passenger station is a Heljan kit, not Walters. No instructions, just an exploded parts view :D it was gifted to me by a friend. It's a European station, but similar enough to stations seen here in Canada.
     
  8. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Barely an update, but I've finished the entry road onto the upper deck of the layout...

    IMG_20220610_185835461.JPG

    Part of that not planning for roads, this is the only place I could figure would allow a road to get to the upper deck industries. The mine will be to the left, with the three tracks, while on the right, the silicone bowl will be the place for some industry (heavy machinery?) and where the srpay bottle sits will be some chemical plant for tank cars.

    IMG_20220610_185347306.JPG

    And now, I continue with the sculptamold rock faces. It's surprising how far a bag of this stuff will cover, and it's surprisingly fun to plaster it onto the layout and start forming some land mass with it. I've stayed away from the portals mostly, but that's because I want to work those areas with plaster of paris and sculpt the rocks using some techniques I found on youtube. The sculptamold is just a bit too "thick" to work in those areas.

    Now, I just need to spend more time laying down plaster to get more of this done! It's a slow process!
     
  9. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    New update time!

    Right, so more of the same really, this is gonna take a heck of a while!

    IMG_20220626_155157066_HDR.JPG

    I managed to add sculptamold to the "west" end of the bridge abutment. Unfortunately, I cannot take out the bridge, it's glued in place, but I protect it with masking tape, so no worries so far. I'm also doing all of the flat areas with a thin coat, covering the roads with masking tape not to mess them up. I don't want anything to be flat except parking lots and roads. I'm getting better at the sculptamold thing, mostly using a tongue depressor to mix and then apply it and form little hills, gullies and edges. I'm not sure yet if it will paint up looking like rock without more work. Top edges will be sprinkled with sand/dirt and ground cover, but I'm really wondering once I use some leopard spotting painting on the cliffs and then maybe dry brush, will it look acceptable for rock? hmm! will only know once I try it I guess. That or I need to make a test off the layout.

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    So I took an overall shot of the layout, well, two shots. At least gives an idea of where I'm going! Also see why I have a weird 45 degree angle to the table! It was an attempt at getting a larger layout given that my computer desk sits on the other end of the basement. The 45 degree bend allows me a longer table. This was the only area I could build a layout. I would have loved an around the walls thing, but my contract with my wife says I get this area and no more :D

    IMG_20220626_155136308.JPG

    So here are the tools I use on the foam. Steak knife and sureform tool. Just these two gets me to shape the foam pretty much how I need, and the rest of the form is completed with the sculptamold itself...

    IMG_20220701_114409460_HDR.JPG

    See, this is the same area once the sculptamold is applied. I shaped a dirt road leading up to the little hilltop. I'm not sure what to put there yet, but it will be a small building, maybe a little chainlink fence. Maybe a radio tower to go with the little building? A pickup truck at the front door, or better, a four-wheeler, I got one of those 3d printed already. I don't know what purpose this building serves, probably municipal something or other.

    IMG_20220701_120027552.JPG

    And here I carved out the far mountains and even added some scraps of foam to fill in some bumps I want. Will use up less Sculptamold this way. I don't have a plan, I'm totally winging it as I go along, putting ledges here, bumps there, whatever seems to look good.

    IMG_20220701_165040580.JPG

    And here it is covered! This time I had more trouble, up this point, I was using my first 4 lbs first bag of sculptamold. I guess that can give you an idea of how far you can cover with this stuff. A bag looks so small, but you do get a lot of coverage; just depends on how thick you go. Anyway, this here is the start of my second bag (3 lbs this time), and it's not acting the same way! It seems to cure faster, and a lot smoother, less cottage cheesy. More difficult to get that pleasant "rock" texture I was getting previously. So it was a whole new learning experience. Still, I think I'm getting it to work. I've taken to using an old toothbrush as it starts to cure to rough up the sculptamold and do some additional shaping. Seems to be working.

    That's it for now! Next post will probably more of the same, ha! (taking a while to cover all the mountains!)

    In other news, last weekend I went to some three hobby shops in the suburbs north of Montreal. I wanted to see what was left since the closure of the closest hobby shop to my home (was about 15 minutes away). Unfortunately, N-scale selection is mostly terrible. There was this little shop though, really hidden in Laval, where I found some cool older things. Got three Roundhouse Railbox boxcars for fairly cheap. Helped that I already had three sets of roller bearing trucks that I could use to replace the Rapido coupler trucks. I was really really tempted by some intermodal well cars though. I don't have any facility for them, but I just like how they looked. Good thing I didn't buy the cars, I measured things once I got home, turns out none of my tunnels will allow double stack cars. Ooops. I'm somewhat disappointed now!
     
  10. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    Man, that's a lot of sculptamold! Why I don't glue anything down on my tiny layout :) Also, mine is completely flat too, so there is that!

    Great work, looking good. Your becoming a sculping expert :)
     
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  11. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    One thing about real rocks and rock faces...no 2 look alike ! ;)(y)
     
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  12. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    I made of all this....

    IMG_20220514_105456473.JPG

    Using Woodland Scenics rock molds, and some rock molds I made myself from rocks I found in a field across the street. I just don't know how to use them though. Whenever I placed the rocks, it just didn't look right, and then with the size of the rock cliffs I have, I'd be reusing the same old mold over and over and over. In the end, I did all this for nothing (and spent money on the molds). I like just forming the sculptamold by hand, making interesting shapes, and may try my hand at hand carving rock forms in plaster too, once the base sculptamold is done.
     
  13. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    You can always use those as 'outcroppings' on cliff facings. Just slap some sculptamold where you want the rock to go and push the rock into it. Dry brushing paints and some 'inks' will make them look just fine. (y)
     
  14. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Well, same old sculptamold, but this is new, I applied it around the tunnel portal!

    IMG_20220702_141455420_HDR.JPG

    Will I regret not painting the portal first? who knows?! I'm going to be using very dilute paint, which is probably the best way to paint the plaster and all. So we'll see how it goes I guess. I also took the time to fix my tunnel portals.

    As I said in my previous post, I'd like a few intermodal well cars, but didn't think my tunnels were adequate. Well, I used the NMRA clearance gauge when I first made my tunnels. that like 23 feet tall in scale size (45mm). And Plate H is 23 feet too. I removed all my tunnel portals (broke one!), since they were only hot glued in place, and reinstalled them with the tunnel opening flush with the tunnel ceiling. I think I'm good now! And that one I broke? lucky I had a spare, I have the one double wide portal, and these come in packs of two, so happy there.
     
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  15. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    Live and learn is what you and most of us are doing. Who knows down the road you just might want to use some of them? Of course it's your layout so you make it look they way you like best :) You know how to make rocks out of molds now :) Apparently a ton of them? It's looking awesome too. Curious to see it when you apply paint, etc... And by the time you get really, really good at this, it will be time to move on to another new project for your layout :)
     
  16. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Time for an update, not that there's much to add honestly, but there was a new development yesterday, so why not!

    So in the past three weeks or so, I did very little of interest that wasn't already posted, or a variation on the same... so here goes real quick:

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    Finished carving the mountains!

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    Finished sculptamolding the mountains at the back of the layout!

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    Finished the "west-end" tunnel portals!

    Right, so all of the above was done at least two weeks ago. Since then I've not touched the layout. Summer is in full swing, and my teenagers have weekly competitions and activities at the local pool, and well, just about a million other things on top of the day job means I just didn't have time for anything.

    Alright, so post why today?! This:

    IMG_20220730_165420634_HDR.JPG

    I bought some intermodal well cars yesterday! Or more specifically, a 5-car set of Walthers double stack well cars. Next week I'm going to the store to pick up a second set, to make a 10 car intermodal train. These don't have any containers, so while I was at the store I bought only two, the ones in the picture above. I didn't mean it that way, but they also happen to be Hi-Cube boxes, so it was a good test of the tunnel portals. Here above you can see how I had to raise the portals a bit to let these pass through. But, despite this, one portal, which happens to be on a curve, will not allow two stacked Hi-Cubes to pass through. However the clearance is very close, so I know that regular sized containers will be fine, since theoretically, they should be 3.88mm less tall. Even one Hi-Cube plus one regular would fit.

    And the nice thing is that I am about to shoe-horn an intermodal company right onto my layout!

    IMG_20220730_185134735_HDR.JPG


    Just north of my yard, I have a little stub-end track. I have no real good reason for it, I was just going to stick a warehouse there and give the company a little name, just another place for spotting a boxcar or two. So now, I bought some lengths of flex track, and pinned it right on top to see how long of a stub-ended track I could fit in there. So now, we have Real Tight Logistics Inc.! Notice the toothpick sticking out right behind the last well car?

    IMG_20220730_185100608.JPG

    That toothpick was just a placeholder to see if I could fit two 5-car sets. And yup, it's real tight, but it fits! With some creative landscaping I'll make it work somehow.

    I had massive sticker shock when I saw the absolutely stupid price of containers. These Evergreen containers were some of the cheapest, and still a stupid price. I mean these are just blocks of plastic with decals. No moving parts either. I am SO glad I own a Resin printer; it's going to get a good workout. I can make my own decals, and only buy a few decal sheets for the containers with white lettering. If I want a few fancier containers, maybe I can find a good deal at the next model train expo.
     
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  17. sidney

    sidney TrainBoard Member

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    you could print paper containers much cheaper and they look real nice if done right. i used to have a couple made but there gone now......
    cant remember where i got the file for printing from. i printed them on an ink jet printer for sure.......
     
  18. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Honestly, my 3d printer is sitting idle right now,. It would be shame not to use it! it'll be a fun easy project anyways.

    What did convince me to add this track is finding a stub ended Intermodal company right here in Montreal. Located right next to the Pointe-St-Charles yard, alongside Wellington Street. The whole company grounds is shaped like a lemon slice, with the tracks along the curved side. Before this I thought all Intermodal was double ended yards. Another 3d project will be the container crane/truck.
     
  19. DeaconKC

    DeaconKC TrainBoard Member

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    I am very impressed with the progress you are making. And enjoying the pictorials, as I am getting back into the hobby. Good luck on the containers.
     
  20. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    It's why I enjoy my Kato CSX Intermodal sets so much, yes they were $99.00 each but came with rolling stock and containers. Plus I rally like CSX, a lot :) Great idea with the 3D printing them. I am looking at some White CSX Intermodal containers and they are like $35.00 for two of them. Maybe one day, bit for sure not many of them if I get any! Me cheap or frugal with my model train stuff, usually!

    BTW, layout looks great!
     

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