Adding scenery to scale model trains is an expression of creativity and a great way to have fun too. Required materials are easy to access.
The goal for all terrain, tunnels, and landscaping is to achieve a realistic looking design which has the same scale and perspective as your model trains toys. Beyond that, the scenery should complement the look and the era of your train. Within these few parameters, you are only limited by your own imagination and ideas so have some fun.
The first step for trains toys scenery is to give some thought to what you want to achieve. This can be challenging to do on your own, so it is recommended to start looking at photos and layouts of other train hobbyists to help give you ideas. If you happen to live in an area where a train show is coming up, that would be ideal. However, a far easier solution is to go online and start surfing the web.
After you have formed a plan for your scenery, you need to translate the plan into materials and components required to implement that plan. The good news is many of the elements you will need are available to you at no cost because they utilize everyday resources found around the house and even in the yard. You can always supplement your scenery with store bought landscaping and structural components, or you can just buy the raw materials to build your own structures. To help you complete your materials list, the following provides you with some basic information about some of the most popular scenery elements, which include mountains, waterfalls, tunnels and landscaping.
Mountains - An inexpensive method of forming mountains and valleys is to form them with chicken wire, coat it with wet, plaster coated strips of gauze from bottom to top, overlapping. Once dry, it can be painted accordingly. Cliffs and rock walls can be made by wadding up newspaper and holding it down with masking tape; then the same wet strips of plaster covered gauze are put over it, from bottom to top, overlapping. Again, once dry the rocks or cliffs can be painted.
Waterfalls – These are made with sheets of stiff plastic that must be clear, although they can be colored in realistic amounts and colors. The plastic strips must be sealed by an acrylic, high-gloss gel. That same gel is used to coat the rocks along the sides, top, or bottom of the falls. The gloss must be blended together.
Tunnels - One of the most popular components for scenery is tunnels. Tunnels are just plain fun to have in your layout. The easiest way to build a tunnel portal is to cut it from a 1/2 inch thick sheet of beaded Styrofoam, the kind often used as packing material. Cut it in the shape of the opening, always keeping in mind the fact that your train must be able to pass through without touching anything but the rails. Washes are used to paint the Styrofoam, and dark stains can be added to give the appearance of soot. Styrofoam sheets can be used to build the body of the tunnel. Dark construction paper is glued to the inside that is visible.
Landscaping - Trees can be formed from pine cones that have been shucked, until only the core remains. The core is then dipped into thinned glue then dipped into a mixture of dark green turf and Styrofoam. Twigs from your backyard can also be used, if there are enough small branches to pass as a tree. Artificial turf can be used as grass, and extras such as people, signs, and telephone pole can be purchased from many suppliers.
Adding your own creative scenery to scale model trains is a fulfilling way to spend your time and it opens up a miniature world of creative expression and beauty. What began as a set of trains toys can develop into a true work of art.
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Joe Kanooga is a father of two kids, a successful business owner and the author of numerous articles about scale model trains. Click here to download a free model trains toys guidebook filled with hobby tips, ideas and information.
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