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Jim used a dry mix material for his scenery base that was more of a concrete mix and gave a longer pot life than plaster of Paris, or hydrocal. Dried a lot harder, too.

I used it years ago, and liked the results. Unfortunately, but just like so many things, I can’t remember what the stuff is called.

Can anyone help ?

Last edited by Jim M Sr
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Greg has it right.

Structolite is a darker plaster intended for use as a base coat when plastering walls. It is slow setting - overnight for most applications such as dipping paper towels for basic scenery. It dries to a rough finish that is perfect for rocks.

Good for just about all phases of scenery building, except for casting rocks in latex molds. But, it is great for blending rock castings or chunks of styrofoam into a hillside.

It's available at Home Depot in 50 lb bags for about $15. It has a long shelf life if kept in tight containers away from humidity.

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Hi Jim,

You mentioned that Structolite isn’t good for casting rocks in latex molds.  I would like to know how you achieved the look of the rock faces on your layout shown in the above photos.   Is it carved foam, plaster, or some other method?  I really like the look you have achieved.


I can't begin to tell you folks how much I miss seeing those large brown envelopes with a Jim Policastro return address arrive at our OGR office, back when we had a home office in downtown Poland, OH. Jim made my job SO much easier because the materials he sent--primarily on disk, but backed-up with printed versions--were virtually ready-for-publication without any work on my part. He had a special knack for knowing precisely what I was looking for and needed, and that is a pretty rare thing, indeed. Of course, life continually evolves for all of us, and Jim had to move on to other things that demanded his attention, but there's not a day goes by that I would love to see one of those big brown envelopes show up in my mailbox. He is a very talented fellow, and a true credit to this hobby. And, you would be hard-pressed to find a nicer guy.


Thank you for the kind words. I'll always be grateful to you and OGR for giving me the chance to see my layout in print on such a regular basis.

It made me a much better modeler knowing that my efforts would be seen by so many fellow model railroaders. I miss being able to participate in that part of the hobby.

Through numerous medical issues and struggling to cope with the limitations they impose, I still enjoy the forum and the chance it gives me to sift through my photo archives (and all the memories it contains) and share them here when they fit the topic.


Jim, I remember seeing your layout in the magazine so many times.  You're correct in saying it lives on through those articles.  I for one am always glad to see your posts here on the forum and now knowing that your contributions here having you trolling through your photo archives and bring back memories I'll be even happier every time I see you post.

Thanks Jim,

Seeing photos of your work-in-progress is incredibly helpful. About a year ago I purchased some “white” styrofoam to use in building mock-ups.  I wasn’t planning to use it in the actual layout. Seeing your photos just gave me a whole new set of options for building mountains.  Who says you can’t teach an old dog some new tricks!  Thanks again!


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