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Model Train Terrain

Updated on May 7, 2014

Building Model Train Terrain

Building model train terrain has to be the start of the procedure of making model railroad train scenery.

This model train terrain will have not only valleys, gorges, riverbeds, cliffs and mountains, in addition to fields, meadows, rolling landscapes and all sorts of other additional land contours that you are able to envisage.

Screen Or Chicken Wire

Building Model Train Terrain

This is an older technique for making the form of model train terrain, but even so works and it is reasonably cheap, particularly if you already have old chicken wire, screen textile or other such like pliable stuff lying round the workshop.

You will be able to cut down the material in parts so that it is easier to mould with. Then you staple or paste the bottom border to the roadbed. The top edge needs to be turned up below and attached to the wall or backdrop so that the screen comes to an apex then commences to sink down behind it prior to it being bonded. This way it will not appear that your trees are climbing up your wall once you are completed. The screen could be mounded in any way that you would like to form a rolling meadow, unpredictable mounds and valleys or marvelous mountains. You might need to utilize bits of Styrofoam or wood or bundled up newsprint underneath the screen to prop it up firmly in a few places.

Make certain that no metallic bits of the screen or wire meshing come into touch with the rails of your track when you have completed securing it down and then take some plaster cloth (which is a netting fabric surfaced with dry plasterwork; it is normally readily available from your local hobby shop) and cut numerous 6 or 8 inch lengths so that it is comfortable to work with. Use one length of the plaster cloth and position it in a flat pan filled with water for a couple of seconds, barely enough time to soak the cloth. And then remove the cloth from of the water by carrying it on two corners and pulling it out as a sheet. Then position the sheet of wet plaster cloth upon the screen frame beginning at the top and cover up over a segment of the wire screen with the cloth.

The next patch of plaster cloth should be employed in a like manner overlapping the beginning sheet. Carry on doing this until you cannot see any more of the screen or chicken wire any longer.

If you do not have any plaster cloth you are able to apply regular paper towels soaked using a soupy concoction of plaster or Hydrosol (which is a lighter type of plaster that is available at the hobby store).If you would not like to utilize plaster at all you are able to use firm paper towels and paste them on the top of your mesh by employing a paintbrush and a tub of liquid paste.

model train terrain
model train terrain

Cardboard web strips

Building Model Train Terrain

This method of beginning your model train terrain involves some cardboard packaging and a pair of heavy-duty scissors or box-cutter knife.

You will need to cut numerous one-inch wide strips from the cardboard in different lengths dependent on the size of the model train terrain as well as how high you want your hills or mountains to be.

Then start binding the strips to the sub roadbed by folding up the bottom border of the strip beneath itself and sticking the folded part to the sub roadbed. Employ the same technique to the top edge of the strip, folding the top of the strip under and sticking the turned up edge to the wall or backdrop. Place the next strip about 1-2 inches to the side of the first doing the same way

Once you have several strips in place, then take another length of the cardboard and staple or glue it horizontally across the vertical strips. Carry on doing this on the other strips until you finish up with a latticework or web of the cardboard strips. You will be able to adjust the height and contour of this web in associated areas to create the aspect of mountains and valleys when you have outlined the form of your latticework of cardboard strips, you could then employ plaster cloth or use paper towels soaked with plaster as described above.

Wadded newspaper

Building Model Train Terrain

Wad up a few old newspapers one half sheet at once, such as to make each wad have an irregular bottom and slightly rounded top. Then you start piling these wads upon top of one another, supporting them in place using masking tape.

Once you have built a couple of the wads in the form of a mountain or hill , you will be able to then bring out the plaster cloth and position sheets of the cloth onto the surface of the mountain, layering them so that none of the newsprint is visible below.

model trains
model trains

Using Foam Sheets

Building Model Train Terrain

If you've utilized extruded foam sheeting for the sub roadbed, you will already know how easy it is cutting and shaping it. Extruded foam is outstanding for creating landforms for your model train terrain.

If you would like to build a mountain, beginning by cutting out the general form of the foundation of the mountain depending on where you're going to place it on your layout. Use these as a guide to draw the form on a different sheet of extruded foam. Then cut down the 2nd sheet so that it is approximately an inch littler in sizing than the 1st one. And then you use the second form as the template for the next one and so on, building each fresh form a bit littler in sizing than the one in front it.

Before long, you should be able to stack the forms in the form of a mountain utilizing increasingly littler forms on top of the bigger ones. You will be able to then "shape" your mountain by arranging the forms a bit on top of one another and by trimming off the edges of a few of the forms, such that finally you finish up with the general form that you desire. Then paste the foam sheets together using glue.

You are able to use a hot knife to trim back the unwanted top edges of the sheets in order to smooth the slopes of the mountain and likewise produce fissures or roughness to further heighten the form. You might prefer to cut out the areas what you would like to put in rock formations

When you are completed making your mountainous form, then cover up the mountain with plastercloth employing the technique described higher up. It is essential for the surface to be rough-textured decently so that it will follow the remainder of your layout; and it will be easier to paint it and put on groundcover the right way.

Making rocks

model train terrrain
model train terrrain

Ceiling Tiles

Build Model Train Terrain

If you break up old ceiling tiles and stack them so that the rough broken edge look like a cliff or a rock wall. You will need to do some shaping and breaking of the edges to obtain the correct look. One you have the shapes right glue the layers together.

If you tilt the layers correctly you are able to make them look like rocks disrupted by an earthquake or glacier.

You will need to cover the top of the tiles with other scenery to disguise them and you may want to paint the edges to look more like rock

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Tell us about your train set

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    • Tricia Deed profile image

      Tricia Deed 3 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      L love our train sets. They are the featured item at Christmas.

    • profile image

      Chris1970 4 years ago

      Gotta love plastercloth!

    • ModelTrainsForB profile image

      ModelTrainsForB 5 years ago

      Some great tips for creating affordable model terrain. Buying layouts can be expensive, so creating your own is a must for many enthusiasts. Lee.

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 6 years ago

      My son was a fan of train sets, however, with time his interest faded away. I really enjoyed those times when we used to build those sets with houses, stations, etc. And so much fun watching the train ride in the décor was some relief after that hard work.

    • adamfrench profile image

      adamfrench 6 years ago

      Impressive lens, thumbs up

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I still have my HO Scale train set from when I was a kid, it still works and I still set it up from time to time!! :)

    • pepys profile image

      pepys 6 years ago

      This brought back quite a few memories going back some 40 years when my brothers, my father and I were building our train set.