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@NJCJOE posted:

I haven't made a lot of progress lately. Started adding some foam board to the layout to create some basic scenery contours. I also did a little more work on the girder bridge.

Most of my time has been spent learning how to carve and paint rocks out of 2" thick foam board. A lot of trial and error. I'm working on the rock faces that will line the river bed. I'm hoping to get to the point that meets my satisfaction soon so I can work on the river. Here are some earlier test tries.



I'm loving your work and your progress.  Thanks very much for also including pictures of your rock results from BEFORE they met your satisfaction.  Some of us are following along with both interest in your progress as well as to learn how to do similar things.  Looking at the difference between your earlier and later carved-from-foam rocks is instructive all by itself.

Thanks again for sharing.

Steven J. Serenska

Last edited by Serenska

Thanks Steven.

It took a quite a few attempts before I was satisfied. I came very close to giving up at one point. Sometimes we are our own worst critic. But in the end I was happy. When we try something new, we just have to keep practicing, making changes as we go along. Thanks for the kind words.

I starting working on my roadways. I had a large roll of 1/8" cork that I felt would make good roads. I first coated the cork with Rust-Oleum brush on paint to fill in some of the voids.


I then sprayed on a combination of flat black, white and gray paint.


I added timber railroad crossings made of stained balsa wood.




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@NJCJOE, All I can say is this is page 10 of a remarkable story, the development of a really uniquely thought out model railroad. A super nice basement, a man cave to wish for, a beautifully constructed table setting for a fun to run railroad. Your bench work is fantastic, your track plan is unique, your mountains are creative, your water is cool and the waves are realistically interesting. Added to this, your accessories are the icing on the cake, and this makes for a super nice model railroad. Your roads lead to all points of interest, simply a Wow. Thank you for the updates, it’s a fun to read thread, making a lot of OGR Forum members happy. Happy Railroading Everyone


Today I discovered your thread and went back to page 1 to catch up on all your incredible progress.  My thanks are for the masterful instructions you have shared with us.  You have worked long and hard to develop these techniques and now I can use them to enhance my own skill set.

Your layout and train space will be dynamic.  I just want to say Thank You!



Joe, I don't know where to start. I'm late to the party and just enjoyed reading 10 pages of your outstanding progress and documentation

The outside is looking even better than it did in NJ. The inside shelving and the lighted display case are terrific. The finishing of the basement and the benchwork progress was like watching a a movie playing just for me. Like others I am in the process (Mianne Benchwork down) and found your postings addictive to watch.

The first run was great to watch and I'm going to enjoy your subsequent progress. Thank you for sharing all the details Joe. One question:

When's the open house?

All the best,


@NJCJOE posted:

I starting working on my roadways. I had a large roll of 1/8" cork that I felt would make good roads. I first coated the cork with Rust-Oleum brush on paint to fill in some of the voids.

I then sprayed on a combination of flat black, white and gray paint.


I added timber railroad crossings made of stained balsa wood.



Joe.....the roadway color is "spot on"!


So, when I came up with the design for the new layout, I wanted a way to create some cohesiveness between the O gauge and standard gauge portions of the layout, especially since the O gauge crosses directly over the standard gauge. I decided to make the scenery on both layouts similar, realistic and detailed. You can see my intent by the previous post about the river construction.

I decided one way to add some realism to the standard gauge layout was through the use of ballast. Not many people ballast their standard gauge track. During my decision on what to use for ballast, I realized something I always knew but never really had to contend with because my previous layouts were all toy train like layouts. Standard gauge is not set to any scale. Just look at the size between a State set coach verses a Blue Comet coach.

This was something that really challenged me when it came to finding the right ballast. There are some companies that make G scale ballast, but for the amount I needed it would be cost prohibitive. Turkey grit was another possibility. However, all the bags I found locally were opaque, not allowing me to see what it looked like and a lot of poultry grit is pinkish to attract the birds, not something I wanted.

I went into Home Depot and found a bag of stone used for concrete aggregate. There was one bag ripped open on the shelf and even though the stone varied in size, it looked like it would work. I bought a bag and brought it home. The stone was very dirty and had to be rinsed off multiple times. I then took a small section of tack mounted on some scrap Homasote and glued the ballast in place. I was not happy with the result. The stone sizes varied too much for my taste.

Next, I headed over to a local stone center and found some 1B grey stone, which looked like it would work. I purchased two five gallon buckets of the stone. I had to wash this stone as well. After looking it over, I discovered it was the same stone I bought from Home Depot in the bag.

At this point I started to think maybe ballast for the standard gauge is not a good choice. I then came up with the idea of sifting out the small fines and the large stones to see if I could be left with a stone size I was happy with.

This turned out to be a few step process. First, the stone had to be washed. I did this over a piece of aluminum window screen. This flushed out all the fines and stone dust.


I then dumped the clean stone into a sifting pan I bought from Amazon. I came with different size sieves. I selected a size and sifted the large stones out.


After sifting the two buckets and one bag of stone, I was left with about two five gallon pails worth of stone.


The stone was then spread out on a tarp to dry for a few days. I was pretty happy with the ballast and figured it would create the illusion I was looking for, so that is what I went with.

The ballast was poured over the track and sides with a small garden shovel. I then used a paint brush to level it out and get it into place. The ballast was sprayed with wet water (water with a few drops of liquid soap). I then mixed Elmer’s Glue-All glue and water at a ratio of 1 part glue to 3 parts water and poured it over the ballast. It took two applications of the glue, a few days apart, in order to completely glue everything in place. This was due to the size of the ballast and the large voids between pieces. Make sure you use Elmer’s Glue-All and not their School Glue. They are not the same. I used the School Glue on the test piece and could not keep the glue and water mixed.

So, now all the track is ballasted. I used about eight to nine gallons of stone on the layout. I still have about 1-1/2 gallons left over. The total cost for the stone material……..about $16. It took some time and work, but I like the end result.



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Last edited by NJCJOE


Just went through all ten pages. Wow. The room is outstanding as are the items that fill the space, and outdoors too. Congratulations on the great space, finishing it, and building the Standard gauge layout. The plan shows off the trains nicely. The ballast adds a nice touch of realism and looks great. The river is excellent, nicely done. I’m taking notes on that project. I’m now following this thread so that I don’t miss any progress.


@NJCJOE posted:

Great layout Joe.  Love that high gloss tinplate shine.  When I see that LionelCorporationTinplate/MTH 115 station in the heritage colors, I'm painfully reminded of the great York deal I missed from Al Rudman/Sidetrack Hobbies because I forgot to go back to his booth to pick up.  IMHO the York Meet steal of a deal; IIRC around $70.  Finally remembered about an hour into the drive home.  Lesson learned: no matter how much you are presently carrying, buy the item when you see it.

Looks great, Joe! One question: how did you keep the tubular track from getting wet and rusting during the process? Tubular track starts to rust very quickly on contact with water.


I was a little concerned about that. However, the track is tinplated and it is new, so there were no issues. I made sure to keep the humidity level low with the humidifier to speed up drying.


Last edited by NJCJOE

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