Layout Rebuild — Scenery

Scenery is, metaphorically and otherwise, the landscape of the layout. Interest in the layout scenery ranges from non–existant in some operators who are happy with a 'Plywood & Pacific', as long is it operates well, to the other end of the spectrum where there are modelers who build a small layout and spend years refining the scenery detail to ever higher levels.

CSME is a club layout with a charter that includes community outreach. We feel the need to do scenery well enough to captivate and entertain the members of our community who support us by attending our annual open house.

We are, however, doing much better than 'well enough', we have several members who are demonstrating a genuine command of the craft and art of scenery.

9/5/2012 — With a plan in mind 3/4" foam is laminated to the facia to act as a support and foam sections are cut as 'ribs', spaced at three to five inches and glued to the supports at either end.

Photo by Randy Stockberger

9/5/2012 — These ribs are bridging the gap between the lower and upper track levels. A 'fish mouth' is notched in each end to give the glue some surface area to bond to.

Notice how the rib has been shaped at the top to form a berm to separate the upper level track from the dropoff and notched at the bottom to form a gully for drainage. Spend some time thinking about how the details of the scene would be handled in the prototype and replicate them in your work.

Photo by Randy Stockberger

9/5/2012 — The glue holding the ribs is allowed to dry before plastic window screen is glued between the ribs. The screening gives support and backing to the plaster cloth added later.

Each rib gap has a piece of screen cut and applied. The gaps are handled separately to prevent the buckling that would happen if a wider piece of screen was forced to bridge several ribs.

If metal screening was used it would rust from underneath, could potentially cause electrical issues and would interfere with radio signals from the DCC system, the club requires plastic window screen. The screen is carefuly trimmed to size to maximize strength and so no stray edges try to poke thru.

Photo by Randy Stockberger

9/5/2012 — Plaster impregnated gauze is applied one layer thick on the screen but not until after the glue has dried. The plaster gauze is allowed to dry overnight.

When the gauze has fully set a peanut butter thick slurry of 50% plaster of paris and 50% fixall is spread over the landform to a thickness of about 1/8" and allowed to dry.

At this point the landform is ready for coloring and texturing or the addition of rock molds. The result is strong enough to stand the bumps and thumps of daily use but is not strong enough to lean or stand on.

Photo by Randy Stockberger

9/5/2012 — A different view showing a gully to channel runoff away from the tracks.

Photo by Randy Stockberger

10/3/2012 — Another view of the same blob. At the left will be a streambed channeling water under the three tracks via a series of small waterfalls and ponds. The subroadbed under the three tracks will be cut out and replaced with a bridge or trestle.

Photo by Randy Stockberger

10/3/2012 — This scenery technique was perfected by Larry Vogt on his home layout before he taught it to the scenery crew at the CSME.

Photo by Randy Stockberger

10/3/2012 — Gene Neville, Doug Taylor (hidden behind Gene), Larry Vogt and Bill Howell Discuss the scenery in the helix near Toledo.

This area of the layout is the first scene the public will see during our open house. We are working hard to make a positive impression in this area.

Photo by Randy Stockberger

10/10/2012 — Doug Taylor is working on a harbor scene adjacent to the helix. The rockwork and culverts are nearly finished but the harbor is still bare plywood.

Photo by Randy Stockberger

11/12/2012 — We have a second helix at the far end of the layout between Philomath and Summit. The landforms have been finished and a coat of color improves the looks until someone has time to come back and detail the area.

The area in the forground will be the location of a timber oriented industrial area.

Photo by Randy Stockberger

10/10/2012 — A closeup of the rockwork in the Toledo helix. Colors are misted, dappled, washed and flowed onto the surface in thin layers until the proper look is developed.

The only real secret to getting a finish like this is to not be afraid to try.

Photo by Randy Stockberger

11/12/2012 — A view of Doug Taylor's nearly finished harbor scene in the forground blending into Jerry Boudreaux's nearly finished retaining wall and stream (complete with salmon).

Photo by Randy Stockberger