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Scenery construction methods?

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Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, June 22, 2018 5:33 PM

railandsail
I think one problem with the papier maches and cardboad is they are materials that can absorb moisture over time, and thus possible develop molds, etc

I had my aluminum sided house power washed last year and it's moldy again.  The wall paper in my dining room has been there for 18 and there is no mold yet.  It has to be pretty damp, indoors, to have a mold issue. 

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by railandsail on Friday, June 22, 2018 5:40 PM

I think I recall a fellow mentioning this problem on his very mountainous layout during a tour of layouts in the DC area,...and it was inside a home.

I would be concerned about this problem with my outdoor shed contained layout that will not always be strickly climate controlled.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, June 22, 2018 6:55 PM

 I've seen more than one article that mentions throwing a capful of bleach in when mixing papier mache to keep the mold out.

                            --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by cowman on Friday, June 22, 2018 10:48 PM

Don't see an answer to your question on paper  mache (sp).  There is a product called Sculptamold that is often used and I understand it doesn't shrink as much.  As for mold, another additive to the mix that some people use is Lysol.  Never had a mold problem, so have never used anything.

Good luck,

Richard

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, June 23, 2018 1:56 AM

Hi Richard:

Thanks for the reminder about Sculptamold. Less shrinkage may make it a better option than papier mache.

As far as mould is concerned, the layout room does have a very faint musty smell sometimes but I attribute that to the very old carpet and a very poor ventilation system. It hasn't affected any members that we are aware of so I'm not inclined to worry about it too much. There is no sign of mould in the windows, and we can open the windows when the weather permits.

Dave

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Posted by BNSF UP and others modeler on Saturday, June 23, 2018 2:50 PM

My experience with paper mache is that it cracks over time, so i did not suggest it.

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Posted by selector on Sunday, June 24, 2018 11:43 AM

I use a combination of techniques for the sake of skills development/maintenance, to change things up a bit so I don't get into a rut doing one loooooonnnng task, and to use the right materials for the right job.

As some have pointed out, extruded foam is durable.  It can have coverings for extra fine contouring.  It can be patched up when an elbow goes into it.

If you want really tough and resistant covering closest to where inadvertent/impulsive contact is likely to cause damage to more friable materials, I would urge you to use exterior spackle.  It's like concrete and not easily sanded, if at all, once it is set...as the instructions on my batch caution me.  Durabond of the kind that Doc Wayne uses might be close to that. 

I use Joe Fugate's goop over aluminum or plastic window screen supported via 'arms' of 1X2 comprising a riser cleated to the benchwork and then cross members of more 1X2.  It's quite strong that way, and the screen across longer expanses can be supported with plastic bags stuffed with rags or newspaper crumpled up for resistance.  If you want convex slopes, use more bags stuffed behind the screening.  If you wanted truly hard and durable surfaces, you could shape foam, or lattice, or the ground goop, and just apply a top coat of spackle where you anticipate you'll need the most robust material to keep effort, materials, and costs to a minimum.

In the image that follows, note the support struts I mention, but also the roll of polyfiber flocking used to suspend and to shape the screening over an intended tunnel.

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Posted by hon30critter on Sunday, June 24, 2018 9:02 PM

Thanks selector.

We overestimated the number of 1x4s that we needed for the benchwork so we have lots of material to support the scenery.

Dave

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Posted by Schuylkill and Susquehanna on Monday, June 25, 2018 1:52 PM

Shaping foam is difficult (and makes a huge mess) unless you use a hot wire cutter.  I don't have one, so I tend to stay away from making landforms out of foam.  I've also found it to be difficult to get shallow slopes or near-vertical slopes - any time when you have to make a cut at a shallow angle.  I've use a keyhole saw, a rasp, and sandpaper.

I tend to prefer cardboard strips over profile boards with plaster cloth and Sculpamold (or a homemade variant made using plaster of paris and paper that's been run through a blender).  It still makes a bit of a mess (what doesn't in this hobby), but it's nothing in comparison to finding little bits of pink foam all over for months.  Since you have an abundance of foam insulation, I'd suggest using that for profile boards instead of masonite, chipboard, or plywood.

The techniques presented in "Broad Backdrop Hills in a Narrow Space" by Sam Swanson (March 2009 MR) might work well around the edges of the layout.  The mountains were made from 3 or 4 inch thick pieces of foam board 18 to 24 inches tall, and greatly extend the visual depth of the layout when covered with puffball trees.  Conifers present a slight problem, but there is likely a way to make large numbers of "flattened" trees that could be used to forest the hills.  Perhaps by pressing pipe cleaner trees between two wax paper covered boards while the glue and ground foam dry?

 

Modeling the Pennsy and loving it!

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Monday, June 25, 2018 2:37 PM

Dave,

If you want strong - use either hydrocal or casting plaster over screen. Base coat 2 layers of plaster soaked paper towels and a finish coat over that. I prefer slow set plaster for the finish that is not rock outcropping. I've used this method on several layouts.

The plaster sets up like cement and is very durable. I had to use a heavy weight hammer to smash through some hydrocal when removing the last layout - the sawzall couldn't get the job done!! I'm sure the Durabond is similar in terms of durability.

I don't feel that goop, paper mache or plaster of Paris will give the durability and strength to stand up to that "one guy who likes to lean on scenery" that seems to be in every group.

To save money buy plaster in big bags at the plaster and lath supply store (not WS or HD) - there is one in most medium sized cities.

 

To much from me,

Guy

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, June 25, 2018 10:01 PM

Schuylkill and Susquehanna:

Thanks for the suggestions. I will look up the article you mentioned.

By the way, Mike Lehman has made very effective use of chenille to make tons of background trees quickly and easily.

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/11/p/243702/2714178.aspx#2714178

 

This will give you an idea of what the material looks like and how to make trees out of it (although personally I would avoid the sparklesSmile, Wink & Grin):

https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/make-glitter-trees-from-chenille-bumps-2365046

 

Guy:

Thanks for your input. It is not "too much from me" at all!

Dave

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 12:06 AM

Should the answers in this thread be representative, the majority of model railroaders seem to prefer traditional (or should I say old fashioned?) methods of creating the scenery on their layouts.

There is no method which does not create a mess, but I found building up the landscape on my last layout using extruded polystyrol (Styrofoam or "pink foam") less messy than any other method. A good shop vac takes care of all those tiny scraps and bits of foam quite efficiently.

There is one big advantage the use of foam for scenery has - it´s a dry process. Water and "trains" with their rather delicate electronics don´t mix well and so does lumber and water. Ceertainly a point to think about!

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

"You´re never too old for a happy childhood!"

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 1:24 AM

Tinplate Toddler
There is no method which does not create a mess, but I found building up the landscape on my last layout using extruded polystyrol (Styrofoam or "pink foam") less messy than any other method. A good shop vac takes care of all those tiny scraps and bits of foam quite efficiently.

Hi Ulrich:

Given that we will have a source of pink foam at no cost, I'm going to recommend that we make extensive use of it. We will just have to deal with the errant bits with our shop vac, and maybe some anti-static spray.

However, I still anticipate the need for some sort of covering over the foam in order to do away with the appearance of even layers. I have seen too many layouts where the layers of foam are obvious. Kudos to the layout makers for their efforts, but as the construction foreman I will not allow that to occur on the club layout. Scultamold, rock molds and plaster cloth are easy fixes for the layered appearance. Yes, there will be some additional mess. I will just have to make sure that nobody puts the excess plaster down the drain!Bang Head

Dave

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 1:41 AM

Dave,

instead of using plaster, plastercloth or Sculptamold, why not use the tiny bits and pieces of foam, mixed with (diluted) white glue?

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

"You´re never too old for a happy childhood!"

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 2:30 AM

Tinplate Toddler
instead of using plaster, plastercloth or Sculptamold, why not use the tiny bits and pieces of foam, mixed with (diluted) white glue?

I think that the consistancy could be a problem unless you were able to grind the foam 'chunks' into finer pieces. However, if you could figure out a way to do that without creating even more mess, the ground foam could certainly be mixed in with whatever material like Scultamold that you are using.

I don't think that just adding straight glue to the foam bits would work. It would take too long for it to firm up. I can see it slowly flowing off of any non-horizontal surface it was applied to long before it becomes firm enough to stay in place.

Dave

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 8:07 AM

Tinplate Toddler

Dave,

instead of using plaster, plastercloth or Sculptamold, why not use the tiny bits and pieces of foam, mixed with (diluted) white glue? 

That sounds really messy.  I've used the plaster cloth and it's pretty minimal in terms of fuss and mess.  I just cut square of it, dip it in water that is in a paint roller tray and lay it on the subscenery - cardboard stripping.  Not much to dislike and not very messy.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by rrebell on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 9:19 AM

riogrande5761

 

 
Tinplate Toddler

Dave,

instead of using plaster, plastercloth or Sculptamold, why not use the tiny bits and pieces of foam, mixed with (diluted) white glue? 

 

 

That sounds really messy.  I've used the plaster cloth and it's pretty minimal in terms of fuss and mess.  I just cut square of it, dip it in water that is in a paint roller tray and lay it on the subscenery - cardboard stripping.  Not much to dislike and not very messy.

 

You forgot the messy part of smoothing it out. Just messy for the hands but washes off real easy in a bucket of water.

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Posted by RR_Mel on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 9:20 AM

[quote user="hon30critter"

 

 
RR_Mel
I’ve used premix Paper Mache for over 50 years as a sub base for it’s strength and durability.

 

Hi Mel:

Where do you get your Papier Mache and who is the manufacturer?

EDIT: I found a product called 'Celluclay'. Is that what you use? Also, how large an area will a 5 lb. bag cover?

Thanks,

Dave

 

[/quote]

Sorry for the delay, I haven’t visited this topic because of the shrinkage problem.  Yes I’ve used 'Celluclay' for about 40 years.  Early on I bought it from Toys R Us, when they stopped carrying it I found it at Michaels then switched to Beverly Fabrics as their store is much closer.
 
The only problem I have experienced with 'Celluclay' is the shrinkage and I solved that by using Saran Wrap between the 'Celluclay' and the base.  With the 'Celluclay' on the Saran Wrap it becomes a shell and easily removable.  In my 40 years of using 'Celluclay' I’ve never had any cracking or mold.
 
I use three or four layers old damped news papers as the base for my 'Celluclay'.  I guess if I had to say what I disliked about using Paper Mache it waiting of it to dry.  A ¼” to ⅜” thick layer of 'Celluclay' can take two days to fully dry.
 
I use a 10” steel mixing bowl (left over from Mom) and mix in small batches.  The 'Celluclay' is easily mixed with water and I add Elmer’s white glue to the mix just for kicks.  I add about an ounce of Elmer’s All Purpose glue to the mixed 'Celluclay'.  I don’t know if it makes any difference but I’ve always added it to Paper Mache, it’s something I learned from my mother many many years ago.
 
About 70% of the scenery base on my current mountainous layout is 'Celluclay'.  It has been through some very tough times over the last 30 years.  Early on my garage wasn’t temperature controlled and the summer heat in the garage would get up to 108° and as low as 38° in the winter.  That really screwed up my soldered HO track but absolutely no damage to the 'Celluclay' or scenery.
 
I’m sold on 'Celluclay'!
 
One of the members on the Forum put me onto Sculptamold a couple of years ago and I find it superior to Paper Mache for ease of use and it carves much better than Paper Mache but in my books 'Celluclay' Paper Mache is much stronger than Sculptamold.
 
As for coverage I think it took two and a half 5 pound bags to cover my 10’ x 14’ layout at about ⅜” thick.
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 10:06 AM

Thanks for the details Mel.

Dave

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Posted by CNSF on Thursday, June 28, 2018 4:31 PM

If you can get extruded foam cheaply or for free, I'd recommend starting with that and see how far it takes you. There may be certain situations where you may decide other methods will work better, but I'm having success using foam for pretty much everything, with applications of "goop" over top as needed to fill gaps or get the exact contours or textures I want. The biggest advantage is probably that you work it dry; so you can stop work and come back to it later whenever you want. You can carve rock faces or gullies directly into it; use a rasp or sandpaper to shape and texture a field or whatever, stack it up (or down) for mountains or river valleys, etc. And it's much easier to plant trees or telephone poles in than a rock-hard surface.

Yes, you need to have the shop vac on hand and clean up as you go, but I still prefer that to dealing with spilled plaster drips. A tip: because the filter in my vac doesn't always catch all the fine particles, I've added another filter over the exhaust using a scrap of old panty hose and a rubber band. That works really well at keeping tiny flecks of foam from showing up all over the layout room.

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Posted by dmikee on Thursday, June 28, 2018 5:09 PM
Try experimenting with spray foam (the kind used for building insulation). You can use small sized bubble wrap for the basic form (over cardboard strips). The foam kits cover about 1 foot by 12 ft up to 1 inch thick. Then, just paint the foam with your favorite earth tone base and zip texture as you go.Don't use the foam in the can, it will not be easy to shape. You can buy the foam on Amazon.
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Posted by BRENDAN BROSNAN on Thursday, June 28, 2018 10:40 PM
I use Celuclay ( a brand name for paper mechie) over the styrofoam to smooth out the contours. It dries much harder than plaster. Michael's has it and I use my weekly 40% off coupon. Who still makes and caries screen wire anymore. The only thing I can find is a nylon screen and while strong, doesn't rust etc. (great for window screens) but not worth a dime for plaster base because it doesn't hold its shape. For a large club layout as a finish coat consider spraying the acoustical ceiling spray (without the glitter) with small styrofoam dots in it. Makes a great base for zip texture. Sprays on fast and can be done in multiple coats if needed. Just cover all the track first.
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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, June 29, 2018 9:03 PM

CNSF, dmikee and Brendan:

Thanks for the suggestions.

Dave

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