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Hi all,

I've just laid the first level track for Turkey Hollow and I have a few months before I start the first steps away from bench and track work toward scenery. This is all new territory for me so I want to explore the different options available for covering cardboard lattice work. I want to create a base layer between layout levels (10") and between sub-roadbed.

I have watched both Rich Melvin's video demonstrating Hydrocal and Eric Siegel's videos where he uses Alumilite foam over fiber glass window screen. (I have a roll of aluminum screen I might try to use.) Both materials seem to be somewhat easy to use and work with. I know that I can get small amounts of both to experiment but I would really appreciate hearing from those who may have used these products, or something else. I have to admit that I am a little biased against Hydrocal because in my mind the weight can add up fast. Perhaps one product works better in some applications than others?

Thanks for your input!

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Dan, I’ve always used a cardboard strip grid covered in strips of plaster cloth, and then a thin coat of Scuptamold to cover the plaster strips, and give a smooth base for further scenic work. Here’s a shot of mine, with just painted Sculptamold to resemble rock. Eventually, I’ll cover it with foam coated balls to represent trees. To the left is carved and painted pink foam.

337C770D-D722-4252-8873-0DFDD7233964

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@Artie-DL&W posted:

Dan, I’ve always used a cardboard strip grid covered in strips of plaster cloth, and then a thin coat of Scuptamold to cover the plaster strips, and give a smooth base for further scenic work. Here’s a shot of mine, with just painted Sculptamold to resemble rock. Eventually, I’ll cover it with foam coated balls to represent trees. To the left is carved and painted pink foam.

That's a beautiful scene Artie. I take it that the plaster cloth needs a little filling with the Sculptamold to complete the package?

DSCN4097 [2)DSCN4084 [2)DSCN4094 [2)Several years ago, I discovered a very different method on YouTube.  Ended up ad libbing and adding expanding spray foam to the mix.   I was so happy with the results, I made some "How To" videos and put them up on YouTube.

I'd recommend you go check this OGR thread from 2017/2018.  It's only 2 pages long total and there's links to the "how to videos" which are still up on Youtube.    I never make my rolling hills/mountain scenery any other way.  But everyone has their own preferences.   

Check it out:  https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...abric-batting?page=1

The photos are typical of the results you can expect to achieve.

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  • DSCN4097 (2)
  • DSCN4084 (2)
  • DSCN4094 (2)
Last edited by chris a

If you are not making a rock face, I've had good results using carved foam covered with thin furniture batting (white glue) Once dry,  soak with a dirt colored paint and then cover with ground foam or grass. I've also used plaster cloth, packing paper and foam coated with thin coats of mortar mix or grout (left over from home projects).  If I wanted realistic rock faces I would probably use rock molds and create them that way. Rich at Black Diamond does something similar.  I've seen guys carve rock faces, I am not sure I would get decent results.

Geology to the rescue ...

When traveling along an Interstate in hills or mountain country, notice the cutaways in hillsides made by the highway construction crews.  Exposed bores from drilling (for placing dynamite) reveal the rock strata which often shows a pattern of "rock flow" set at an angle - close to 22 degrees, which shows the uplift of rock when our planet was young and convulsing. That eons-old pattern can be carved into Sculptamold and then painted as layers of strata like a sedimentary rock formation.

Volcanic rock formations are a different category, but there is a "flow pattern."  My Earth Science teacher called those rocks a product of "igneous fusion" from volcanic activity.

The scenery on your layout could make a visiting geologist excited.

Mike M.   LCCA 12394

Geology to the rescue ...

When traveling along an Interstate in hills or mountain country, notice the cutaways in hillsides made by the highway construction crews.  Exposed bores from drilling (for placing dynamite) reveal the rock strata which often shows a pattern of "rock flow" set at an angle - close to 22 degrees, which shows the uplift of rock when our planet was young and convulsing. That eons-old pattern can be carved into Sculptamold and then painted as layers of strata like a sedimentary rock formation.

Volcanic rock formations are a different category, but there is a "flow pattern."  My Earth Science teacher called those rocks a product of "igneous fusion" from volcanic activity.

The scenery on your layout could make a visiting geologist excited.

Mike M.   LCCA 12394

I know exactly what you're speaking to. I see many rock formations along the interstate that seem to have moved along a slope as the magma blended. And I have often thought of using wire to somehow re-create the bores from blasting that are still visible.

Ok, I'm getting way ahead of myself.

@chris a posted:

Several years ago, I discovered a very different method on YouTube.  Ended up ad libbing and adding expanding spray foam to the mix.   I was so happy with the results, I made some "How To" videos and put them up on YouTube.

I'd recommend you go check this OGR thread from 2017/2018.  It's only 2 pages long total and there's links to the "how to videos" which are still up on Youtube.    I never make my rolling hills/mountain scenery any other way.  But everyone has their own preferences.   

Check it out:  https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...abric-batting?page=1

The photos are typical of the results you can expect to achieve.

Chris, thanks for putting that thread together and for sharing it here. My wife is a quilter so I believe I have materials on hand to do some experimenting with this method. I'll most likely need to use different sub-structure materials for different parts of my layout beyond just card board lattice. The expanding foam could be the ticket in a certain corner I have in mind where I'll need a sizeable hillside.  The batting should cover anything that will take glue.



@John H posted:

I highly recommend Fusion Fiber, especially if you are worried about weight. It can be colored, shaped, reused if wet again, and needs no separate glue for ground cover. It also works with static grass quite well. I have used it over cardboard, rigid foam, wood, ceiling tile, and plaster cloth. It also helps deaden sound near track.

Thanks! Interesting stuff I'd had not heard of before. Still researching this.

Dan, I have used several of the methods described above for contours/walls/mountains, including Sculptamold and plaster cloth.  Both are very effective for their purposes.

Depending upon your purpose, I would also recommend Shaper Sheets, a product from Woodland Scenics (https://woodlandscenics.woodla....com/show/item/C1178).  It can be easily cut to desired dimension, moldable, and can be configured into many shapes.  Lightweight, but also can be made rigid with plaster or plaster cloth.   Can be painted. Can attach rock molds, but I have not done that.

I am still learning skills on scenery, so always try to create practice sections before going to the layout.  I attached several photos of different applications on my layout, which show the practice items first.

My first use was for the edge of a lighthouse scene. Here are photos of practice using small pieces of Shaper Sheet for rock contours, grandson assisting in application of plaster over the Sheet, and final product. (Handles are to swing the unit up on hinges to allow access to interior of round-the-room layout.)

Practice section for part of lighthouse sceneApplying plaster to lighthouse edgeLighthouse scene completed

Here are photos of sledding slope for Christmas/winter scene. For this one, I used plaster cloth over the Sheet to create a smooth slope.

Underlayment for sledding slopeShaper sheet in place for sledding slopeChristmas scene with sledding slope

Here are photos of mountain backdrop for Lionel Rocket Launcher platform, currently under construction.  For this one, I used spray paint directly over the Sheet, then various acrylic colors and grass items for highlights.

Practice sections for mountain backdropMountain backdrops

Hope these help to show another useful product for mountains and rock walls.

Enjoy,

Michael

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Images (9)
  • Practice section for part of lighthouse scene
  • Practice section for part of lighthouse scene
  • Applying plaster to lighthouse edge
  • Lighthouse scene completed
  • Underlayment for sledding slope
  • Shaper sheet in place for sledding slope
  • Christmas scene with sledding slope
  • Practice sections for mountain backdrop
  • Mountain backdrops

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