Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tile grout as a scenery material

I have started to try out some materials and techniques to create the dry scrubby landscape of northern Nevada.

A few years ago when re-building one of my Ntrak modules, I was wondering if I could use some left over tile grout I had the way one uses commercial scenery products.  I was able to find several references to it's use in the model railroad press and on line so I gave it a try and it worked very well for me.

I use sanded tile grout for a first layer of base scenery.  The grout already has an adhesive in it but I still sprinkle it over diluted white glue.

I recently purchased this product at my local hobby shop.  The color is so similar to the grout I am using that it is hard to tell the difference when both products are applied side by side.

I would need to buy many bags of this product to get the amount of material contained in the bag of grout shown above.

Arizona Rock & Mineral offers many fine scenery products and plenty will be used on the layout for top scenery and track ballast. Some of the areas I can use this bag for would be dry creek beds and sand bars in the river.


I use this strainer to apply the grout.  The grout is fine enough that it falls almost straight through but I shake the strainer back and forth so the grout spreads in an even pattern.  The strainer also catches any clumps that may have formed in the grout.

Here is a small area at the rear of the Wesso module after the grout had been sprinkled on the diluted white glue.  When this dries, I wet it again with mat medium and apply other layers of scenery materials to get the look I want.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

First M/E code 55 track being installed


I am finally beginning to lay some of the Micro Engineering code 55 track on the Wesso module.  The crossovers were built on the work bench and then installed.  Now the other connecting tracks are in progress and wire feeders are being installed.






Most of the work is being done while the module is sitting on the saw horses in a way similar to how I did the staging yard.  I plan to do all of the track, electrical, and most of the scenery this way then install the module in place on the layout.

Before the track can be installed on the WP line going east from Wesso the dry creek scene under the bridge must be completed.

Today I poured a wet solution of Hydrocal plaster along the creek bed to give it a flatter surface.  The area under the wood trestle will be the first part of the layout to receive scenery and that will be very soon.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Layout room storage cabinets

Most of us struggle to find enough space in our layout rooms to store all of our trains, kits, scenery supplies, etc. The best solution can be some sort of cabinets but good cabinets can be quite expensive.  When I remodeled our kitchen years ago almost half the budget went to new cabinets and those were no where near top of the line.

What I have been using for my train room are un-assembled cabinet kits that I buy at Ikea.  They are well designed and easy to assemble.  I mount them above the layout and mount layout lighting under them.

Here are the cabinets I just purchased a few days ago and got some photos before installing the doors.

The east end of the Wesso section can be seen at the right of this photo.  The layout will be continuing under these new cabinets.

These cabinets are fairly inexpensive.  I buy the most basic finish which is called Haggeby.  The 75 inches of 15 inch tall by 15 inch deep cabinets shown in this photo cost me $123.00 plus sales tax.  I've been adding the cabinets little by little and now have 25 linear feet installed.

Of course they look much better with the doors installed.  The future path for the layout will be under the cabinets at about the level where those two orange module module sections are sitting now.

Led lighting for the layout and lighting valance will be mounted along the bottom of the cabinets.

Besides the shorter cabinets that are mounted above the layout, I have two 30 inch tall cabinets that were from the old train room.  These had been above part of the old layout.

Wheels have been installed under them and they are now used as base cabinets and working surfaces.  The one in this photo supports the paint booth.  Paints and scenery materials are stored in this cabinet.  The other one serves as a shipping table and holds shipping boxes and packaging material.   These cabinets are about 15 years old now and have held up well despite being at the low end of the price range for cabinets.

Monday, May 9, 2016

A new photo diorama

Over the years besides building a number of modules and a couple layouts, I've also built several small dioramas that have been mostly used to photograph items being sold on ebay.  Recently, as mentioned in several posts, I have been participating in the Trainboard.com weathering contests and wanted something different to photograph the weathered freight cars on.

Here is what I came up with.  This diorama is about 4 inches wide and 20 inches long.  The track is raised up on a fill which helps in getting low angle shots of the subjects.

This is the green side of the diorama.  I plan to do the other side with dryer scenery for a different look.



The backdrop is pinned to the wall.  Using both sides of the diorama and switching backdrops can result in a variety of looks.  Building dioramas are also a great way to try out new materials or techniques before using them on your layout.