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Postwar scenery

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Postwar scenery
Posted by NVSRR on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 9:26 AM

So one of the projects i am working on is a postwar layout     Still working on wiring.  But thinking scenery.  I figure dyed saw dust (if i can find it) for "grass".  Lichen and paint.     But ballast. I would think a dyed course sand. But where to obtain. Any ideas?  

A pessimist sees a dark tunnel

An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel

A realist sees a frieght train

An engineer sees three idiots standing on the tracks stairing blankly in space

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Posted by j. c. on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 9:29 AM

play sand if its still advable.

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Posted by snjroy on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 9:37 AM

Natural sand could work, but be aware that it can contain iron that will be attracted to your motors. Some suggest going through it with a magnet before track laying. 

Simon 

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Posted by RR_Mel on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 9:37 AM

You can’t go wrong with Arizona Rock & Mineral Ballast.
 
 
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
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Posted by dknelson on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 10:32 AM

NVSRR

So one of the projects i am working on is a postwar layout     Still working on wiring.  But thinking scenery.  I figure dyed saw dust (if i can find it) for "grass".  Lichen and paint.     But ballast. I would think a dyed course sand. But where to obtain. Any ideas?  

 

 
So this is the project to construct a layout as if it is being constructed circa 1960, right?  We would have loved to have had Arizona Rock and Mineral back then.  Actually many layouts back then had no ballast at all - maybe not the ones in MR's Trackside Photos but the ones you'd visit.  As I recall that was one of the selling points for cork roadbed - "hey looks like ballast."
 
I recall commercial ballast in boxes from LifeLike (back when they were pretty much just a scenery materials company) and, I think, TruScale sold ballast for a time.  It was real sand or crushed stone but pretty coarse for HO (the O and S guys probably liked it).  If you go to HO Seeker, Literature, and look under Tru-Scale Information, they advised using finely sifted sand, bird gravel (pet store) or a mix of the two.  I know some guys hung around the prototype tracks looking for a pile of sand a locomotive might have dumped - it certainly was (and is) finely sifted stuff.  The precaution about the magnet still holds however.
 
But for the most part what I recall of ballasted track in those days was that if it existed at all, generally it was oversized ballast.  
 
I assume bird gravel is still found at pet food stores.  Or maybe they too have switched to finely ground nut shells like Woodland Scenics sells.  I do believe the snake and lizard "sand" is crushed nut shells nowadays.  Might be worth a trip to the pet store. 
 
I have vague recollections of someone making a line of ballast from ground up cork - so it matched the cork roadbed I guess -- but I might be getting my eras confused.  That might be 1970s not 1960.
 
Dave Nelson
 
 
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Posted by NVSRR on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 10:41 AM

I am thinking roughly like 1950s. 1960s scenery.       Play sand with a watery paint to create a kind of lumpy plaster.    I didnt think of play sand.  Might take a stain like something from minwax wood stains.    

A pessimist sees a dark tunnel

An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel

A realist sees a frieght train

An engineer sees three idiots standing on the tracks stairing blankly in space

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Posted by 7j43k on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 11:39 AM

NVSRR

I am thinking roughly like 1950s. 1960s scenery.       Play sand with a watery paint to create a kind of lumpy plaster.    I didnt think of play sand.  Might take a stain like something from minwax wood stains.    

 

 

Ahh.  Post KOREAN war, I see.

Rather than speculating and expecting a bunch of old people to actually remember what happened when they weren't watching broadcast TV, building treehouses, and wishing they had more money for more trains, I suggest:

 

Kalmbach used to publish a magazine called Model Trains.  It was for beginners.  Which would seem to fit this project perfectly.  Once a year, in the December issue, they would start a project layout.  They built it "from start to finish", so you could learn what was cutting edge for beginners, back in the day.  You might be able to find back issues.  I know you could at this house, if you knew which box they were in.  In addition, you will see advertising, which will also give you further ideas.

In addition, Kalmbach published one or more beginner books:

1951, by a certain A. C. Kalmbach

https://www.amazon.com/Railroad-Layout-Albert-Carpenter-Kalmbach/dp/B000BF2JBC/ref=sr_1_266?ie=UTF8&qid=1528216095&sr=8-266&keywords=kalmbach+model+railroad+books

 

1958, by McClanahan and Reid

https://www.amazon.com/Scenery-Model-Railroads-railroader-library/dp/B0007F147Q/ref=sr_1_256?ie=UTF8&qid=1528216321&sr=8-256&keywords=kalmbach+model+railroad+books

 

1972, by Westcott (I think this may be a later "updated" edition)

https://www.amazon.com/Railroad-That-Grows-Linn-Westcott/dp/0890245150/ref=sr_1_75?ie=UTF8&qid=1528216556&sr=8-75&keywords=kalmbach+model+railroad+books

 

I also recall another nice beginner book from the olden days, but it's not coming up in my memory search.  A cover picture of the layout showing Suydam's Purina building comes to mind.

 

What is good about using these sources is that they didn't know the future.  So, if you follow them, you won't be diverted by knowledge of the future.

 

Ed

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 11:52 AM

My '50s-era layout had pretty much scale-sized HO ballast.  It came in a round cardboard container, but I don't recall the manufacturer.  Scenery was plaster-on-screen, with dyed sawdust grass and lichen bushes.
Kadee K-type couplers on all equipment, with remote uncoupling from a control panel, and remotely controlled turnouts using wire linkages. 
Track was Atlas brass flex on fibre ties, Atlas turnouts built from kits, and one scratchbuilt turnout on wooden ties.
It was basically an oval on 4'x8' table, with a small internal yard, one loco service track, and two reverse loops, one outside of the main oval, and crossing the table elevated on a long-ish wooden trestle and truss bridge built from basswood structural shapes, and the other loop inside the oval.

Wayne

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Posted by snjroy on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 12:00 PM

7j43k

I actually have that book (I'm a sucker for old books). The author shows a technique where actual sandpaper is glued over 1/4'' wood, and track nailed directly over the sandpaper. 

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Posted by BigDaddy on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 12:16 PM

People make colored sand and it is commercially available in colors mostly not useful to us for sand painting and the like.  Maybe more useful are articles on the internet dyeing sand. 

 

Henry

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Posted by garya on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 12:38 PM

7j43k

 

Ahh.  Post KOREAN war, I see.

I took it to be WWII, but point taken. 

I think that book was originally from 1961 or 1962.  It was a project layout in MR that started around a Christmas tree. 

I received a copy of the book much like the above linked one as a 12-year-old in the late '70s and started building that layout, with a few modifications, but didn't get far.  Even then many of the building kits and items were no longer available.

As an adult in 2001 I dug that book out and started in at part 3 (reversing loop), and everything worked correctly, unlike when I was younger.  I even used a Command 2000 DCC system for awhile.  I soon tired of the 4x8, and never proceeded past the plywood pacific stage before dismantling the layout

The recommendation for ballast was to lightly nail the track right to the plywood, then use a glue mixture to hold the track and ballast down, and remove the nails.  I didn't know any better, so I did it, and it worked, but cork would have looked better and been quieter, too

Gary
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Posted by 7j43k on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 12:59 PM

NVSRR

So one of the projects i am working on is a postwar layout...But thinking scenery.  I figure dyed saw dust (if i can find it) for "grass".

 

The way it was done back then was you dyed your own.  

There were also people who dyed their own lychen after scrounging it in the woods.

 

Also, Tru-Scale supplied trees.  Here's a rather vivid example, one of the four offerings on Ebay:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Tru-Scale-Scenic-Surroundings-SPRING-TREES-205-Four-Trees-NEW-In-Box/222063994611?hash=item33b40ba6f3:g:~JEAAOSwI3RW9Eoq

 

I had four of their orange trees, which looked sorta slightly somewhat OK.  To a junior high kid, anyway.

 

Ed

 

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Posted by HO-Velo on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 1:32 PM

NVSRR,  Your wistful & interesting project got me digging out and reviewing my old copy of Scenery for Model Railroads, by Bill McClanahan, Revised Edition including Hard-shell scenery and Zip Texturing.  Not sure which printing I have, 1958-1974.  Lot of timeless info in the book, but things were changing for the better, as pg. 26 discusses "the use of the old standby patching plaster mixed with asbestos swinging over to texture paint."

Thanks & regards,  Peter  

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Posted by 7j43k on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 2:50 PM

A decision point is going to be whether there will be any plastic buildings on the layout.  Revell introduced them about 1960 or so.  Atlas quickly joined in.  They were iconic.  In that practically everyone had them on their layouts.

Before then, you had the corrugated steel (yes, REAL corrugated steel) buildings by Suydam.  Suydam also sold some neat cardboard buildings (like the Purina feed building) that I think they picked up from Ayres.  There were also wood buildings (I had a very nice station--I can't recall who made it).  Alexander made some VERY nice building kits, too.

 

Ed

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Posted by chutton01 on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 11:06 PM

So we've had a number of replies, but no one asked the important question "What Would John Allen Do?" So what he did, as written up in the January 1955 Model Railroader, was to mix up an aggregate of ballast (so obviously scale ballast was at least familar to modelers by that era) and powdered cement [!], brushing and shaping the mixture over the track to the desired profile, and then spraying the result with water to set it. I think it would be difficult to salvage the track after using this scenicing method.

As for plastic buildings - for the definitely iconic, at least by 1962, Plasticville had adapted many of it's O-scale buildings to HO scale (the barn, cape cod, ranch, radio station, fire station, and others). Probably this started earlier, but I can't find an exact date. The O-scale buildings were introduced in the early 1950s, as this Tandem Plasticville Guide discusses.

BTW, hopefully in your quest for research, you have been hitting  up Google Books, such as this Boy's Life series "HO Model Railroad Which You Can Build", which starts in December 1958 (link - go to page 68)

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 7:11 AM

 One thing you can't duplicate - in that era, asbestos materials were used to form terrain. Usually added to plaster to strengthen it, or in the form of chimney cement. You can still get chimney cement, it just doesn't have asbestos. How well it works for model railroad use relative to the old asbestos variety I don't know. 

                               --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 12:55 PM

snjroy
 
7j43k

 

I actually have that book (I'm a sucker for old books). The author shows a technique where actual sandpaper is glued over 1/4'' wood, and track nailed directly over the sandpaper. 

 

 
I seem recall O-scalers did something similar only using gray 'pebbled' shingles cut to shape, kinda combined ballast and roadbed.
 
I'm pretty sure by 1960 commercial 'artificial' ballast (i.e. not dyed sawdust) was around. I'm going to be off work for a few days and between working on the layout will try and look back at some of the old books I have. Collecting old 'how to' model railroad books is sort of a hobby-within-a-hobby for me. I have books going back to the 1930's.
Stix
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Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 3:45 PM

chutton01
So what he did, as written up in the January 1955 Model Railroader, was to mix up an aggregate of ballast (so obviously scale ballast was at least familar to modelers by that era) and powdered cement [!], brushing and shaping the mixture over the track to the desired profile, and then spraying the result with water to set it. I think it would be difficult to salvage the track after using this scenicing method.

Yes and I actually gave the idea of mixing dry powdered glue (still around at a good hardstore by the way) with the ballast then wetting it with water plus something to break the surface tension - liquid detergent or isopropyl alcohol although Allen himself likely used photograhic (darkroom) liquid, which Linn Westcott also advocated.  Heh - it will be easier to find powdered glue or cement than photographic developing liquid I bet.

And how did it work?  Not consistently well and likely I was being too frugal with the dry glue.

An ad in the January 1954 MR from Model Hobbies of New Cumberland PA advertised "real limestone ballast" for HO, tinplate, O-S.  Three sizes, and all at twenty five cents a pint.  It also said they had been providing it since 1939.  I cannot seem to find another brand of ballast in the 1954 volume but I suspect there were others.  Again the trackside photos of the era rarely show really convincing looking ballasted track however.

Dave Nelson

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 6:15 PM

 Kodak Photo-Flo is still readily available.

I can understand John using it - after all he was a professional photographer.

                          --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by bearman on Thursday, June 07, 2018 8:06 AM

I am also a big fan of Arizona Rock & Mineral.  If that is not an option, paver sand at less than 5$/per 1/2 cf at Home Depot.  You might have to sift it depending on what you want in terms of ballast size.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by NVSRR on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 3:17 PM

I didnt think there were many ballast options avaliable  most something like dyed or painted sand.  Since i am looking towards general period lionel O scale specific   rather than prototypical ( i have the ho for that).      I was not aware or anything other than cardstock and plasticville. Plasticville is what i was thinking.  

As for books.  Railpub just closed up shop last month. That was a perfect place to get past publications. You guys reminded me I might have the bill meclanahan scenery book. I have to look to see if it is the right time frame. I have to look into the others

A pessimist sees a dark tunnel

An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel

A realist sees a frieght train

An engineer sees three idiots standing on the tracks stairing blankly in space

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Posted by angelob6660 on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 5:08 PM

Play sand is just regular sand that you buy at the warehouse store (Home Depot/Lowe's). 

Mainly to place sand into a sandbox or making landscape scenery in the backyard like placing tiles together.

Modeling the G.N.O. Railway, The Diamond Route.

Amtrak America, 1971-Present.

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, June 14, 2018 10:37 PM

"Model railroad ballast can be ground cork, small stone, sand, fine sawdust or bird gravel. If you don't care to purchase your ballast grit, you can use fine siftings from a sand or cinder pile."

- Practical Guide to Model Railroading, Kalmbach Books (1952)

"Ballast grit" is apparently what they called model railroad ballast back then. I did find an reference to using birdseed for O scale ballast BTW.

One method of application was to cover the "ballast board" (something like cork roadbed, only made of wood) with a slow-acting varnish or glue, add the wood ties, and then apply ballast. (Later you would come back and add the rails, no flextrack yet.)

 

Stix
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Posted by 7j43k on Friday, June 15, 2018 9:38 AM

NVSRR

So one of the projects i am working on is a postwar layout     Still working on wiring.  But thinking scenery.  I figure dyed saw dust (if i can find it) for "grass".  Lichen and paint.     But ballast. I would think a dyed course sand. But where to obtain. Any ideas?  

 

 

NVSRR

I didnt think there were many ballast options avaliable  most something like dyed or painted sand.  Since i am looking towards general period lionel O scale specific   rather than prototypical ( i have the ho for that).  

 

My first model railroad book was a Fawcett book called "The Model Railroad Book" by Warren F. Morgan.  I received it in 1951.  It was exclusively O scale 3-rail.

He has a chapter (2 pages) called Roadbed Realism.  He recommends using "roofing paper" for ballast--cut in strips for single tracks, as a sheet under yard tracks.

He also has lots of comments on other aspects of scenery.

The book, by the way, is aimed more towards those of a more advanced nature--advocating things like Hi-rail.

Cutting edge, for the time.

 

And still available:

https://www.amazon.com/Model-Railroad-Book-Warren-Morgan/dp/B0000CJ5NB

 

Ed

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