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Woodland Scenics Subterrain Layout Building System

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  • Member since
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Woodland Scenics Subterrain Layout Building System
Posted by JamesNWR05 on Monday, May 15, 2017 12:23 PM

What is the concensus on here for the Woodland Scenics Subterrain Layout Building System? Is it really as easy and fast as it claims to be? Would a novice be able to complete it? How much work do you think would be involved with it? Is it worth the price?


Let me know your thoughts. Trying to decide how to proceed. Thanks :). 

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Posted by Choops on Monday, May 15, 2017 1:21 PM

My local hobby shop had one bult for display and it looked nice.

What I notice is you need to have a pretty good plan and stick with it which should not be a problem for a 4x8 layout.  You need to place the risers for all the track then add the scenery plaster cloth covering then add the track on top of this. 

The nice thing is that it will give you most of the scenery materials you need to at least get started.


Modeling Union Pacific between Cheyenne and Laramie in 1957 (roughly)
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Posted by jjdamnit on Monday, May 15, 2017 1:40 PM

Hello all,

In my opinion any kit gives you a good place to start, be it a structure, rolling stock or scenicing for your first endeavors.

Another advantage of a kit is it is a complete package. You don't have to hunt down all the pieces.

You will still need to provide some basic tools, which will come in handy with other projects. (Click on the "Instructions" link just above the price to see what is suggested.)

The "optional" items don't have to be Woodland Scenics brand. I found a dual-temp glue gun at Lowe's at a much cheaper price with the glue sticks included.

Rather than the more expensive Foam Tack Glue I would recommend latex caulk. This can be bought in tubes or cartridges that fit into a caulk gun (typically less than $10.00 for the caulk gun).

I have never used a Hot Wire Foam Cutter. The biggest drawback of these are the fumes created while cutting the foam.

To shape my foam landforms I use a serrated kitchen knife and the insert of a SureFoam plane with a small shop vac handy to cleanup the mess created.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by DSchmitt on Monday, May 15, 2017 2:01 PM

The riser grades available are nominally 2%, 3%, and 4%. They are actually a little steeper, but probably not enough to make a noticable difference in operation.  

There is no 1% grade. I can see away to do a 1% (nonimal) grade placing a 2% in one direction under a 3% in the opposite direction but then you will have a very deep section which could be good or bad depending on how far  you want the scenery to go below the level of the track. 

Anyway you are limited to the grades provided.

They are a quick, easy, accurate and consistant way to make grades

The main criticism I have seen of the system is the expense of materials over other methods. However other methods are  more work and time consuming. 

I have used the risers in the past  for part of a layout and will probably use some in my next layout. I haven't used the other components in the system

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, May 15, 2017 10:07 PM

You'll have to watch the video you linked to, and make the judgement yourself, as far as the work involved.  To me, $500.00 for the sub-base scenery structure, for a 4' x 8',  is way too expensive.  I used pink and blue foam board scraps from job sites, and a small bag of drywall mud.

But that's my thinking, and not your's.  If you feel the kit is the best and quickest way for you to get started, than by all means, do it!   That's the great part of a hobby, we each have our own way of doing things, to get to the level of modeling satisfaction, that we have in our mind's eye.  Nothing helps more than some inspiration, and ideas from other modelers.


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Posted by JamesNWR05 on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 4:49 PM

I like the kit aspect where everything comes together and it's a simple process; or at least a straightforward one for sure- some more specific questions I have would be the following:

1. How hard is laying the track going to be? Especially in the tunnel areas? Once the plaster has dried, will the tracks be difficult to place?

2. [As I come up with more, I will post them here]

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Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 9:16 PM

Watch the video.  The track is laid before the tunnel enclosure is set in place. You really need to watch the whole video, and then, go back and watch again, in areas you have trouble with, or questions about.  It lays the whole process out.


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Posted by MikeShort on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 2:07 PM
The hot wire cutter works fine on Woodlands Scenic foam, because it is designed not to give off fumes. You should not use it on any other foam products.
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Posted by tin can on Friday, May 19, 2017 9:02 AM

I have used WS foam risers on a couple of projects.  The foam is designed to be used with WS adhesives and low temp hot glue.  And for me, sectional track works better than flex track on foam, especially on curves. 

If you want to build a 4 x 8, with lots of elevation changes, then the WS foam products work well and are easy to work with. The biggest downside is cost; they are expensive.


Remember the tin can; the MKT's central Texas branch...
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Posted by Carnegie Falls on Friday, May 19, 2017 10:52 AM

It's not a bad idea if you are OK with that track plan they give you since all the pieces are designed specifically for it.  I wanted a custom design AND I wanted to save money on all the extras (you can find cheap plaster cloth, caulk, etc. as others have mentioned).  I ended up just buying the risers and the foam nails.  The risers are cool, but I learned you can't plop down 4% grade pieces on flat terrain; the change is too abrupt.  You need a section or two of 2% to ease into the 4%.  I see the kit comes with a variety of grades, so I assume their design accounts for this.  The foam nails have come in very handy and I would purchase those again.  I also used WS track bed and was mostly happy with it but this is my first layout so I've neve tried cork or homasote.

Still, constructing the thing (even using the kit and their design) won't be as quick or easy as their video makes it out to be.

Modeling the fictional western Pennsylvania town of Carnegie Falls in freelance HO.
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Posted by rrebell on Friday, May 19, 2017 11:44 AM

First off, this is rather expencive for what you get. The beaded foam they use is great for a model railroad but sheet beaded foam can be had for cheap or many times for nothing. Woodlands foam track bed is not the best (use cork) as you can not sand it or  make transitions but their riser system is the best along with their hot wire tool (only one that limits the temp to below toxic level). Best way to buld up land forms is more foam (like I said, I get most of mine for free). Then cover them with plaster cloth (ebay has plaster cloth for cheap). The T pins to let everything dry are available anywere cloth is sold.

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