Scratch built scenery

“These loads cost just £1.19p to make. Sand loads. Made from flower arranging foam blocks. Dunelm stores all over the uk. It even looks like sand. I just cut the rectangular blocks to fit the trucks then shape accordingly. I use a kitchen knife and your fingers to mould into shape.

You could plasticote them with matt acyrlic varnish to make them weather proof.


And this in from Bob:


Here are some of my scratch build N Scale (1:160) buildings

I proud of them hope you enjoy.

Melbourne Australia.”

I loved ’em! Bob must have the patience of a saint – for everybody else, have a peek out these new models here. You just print them out and stick the together.

Oh – and don’t forget the ebay cheat sheet to hold on to those dollars.



PS Beginner’s Guide is here.

35 Responses to Scratch built scenery

  1. good idea and very realistic.

  2. Hi Al, I used one of your 2 story houses to make a replica of what is refered to as war-time housing. After several attemps they came out reasonable well. Let me know if you would like to see them.

    David D

  3. I would love to! Please do send.

  4. Your loads are great, I passed some on to my buddies and they love them. Keep up the good work

  5. Awesome n-scale houses.
    Being an n-scaler myself I can’t but admire Bob’s work.
    I just stick to expensive Faller kits and similar…

  6. Hi Bob,
    Love your scratch buildings especially the one with the fountain. What did you use to make the fountain?

  7. Both John and Bob ..well done.

  8. I have one remaining question… Is there enough relief to reach in the finished product so the units in hand can be appreciated for craft?

    I love how they look in 2D.


    Dirck Hecking

  9. Sorry, I just have to ask: is English the second language of all model railroaders?

  10. I am impressed looks great. Natural slate rocks can be used for rock hills or walls. Just find the right one you can splint hey are like wafers can be separated and payed against each other or built. Cracks willed with dirt or ballast then flocked and trees added also trails and over hangs for cliffs
    Hope this will help.

  11. very good look real send more pictures.


  13. Hi Guys, The ‘dust’ from flower arranging foam blocks is a respiratory hazard so take care … preferably do not use it. Sealing it, providing the ‘spray’ does not spread it could make it safer. Peter BB

  14. I look forward to your info. Some have given me graet ideas Cheers from down under

  15. Thanks for publishing them and for your comments . They give me a lot of pleasure and more are on the way.

  16. nice loads

  17. could’ve concealed the front walk a bit . still good!

  18. Super John and Bob good work, and good ideas….really need to look at all stuff with an open mind…that is why i like modelling so much…keeps the mind oiled.

  19. Great ideas and simple too – just how I like it!!

  20. What scale are the cars you built those loads for?

  21. many thanks, i have just started rail modeling in n gauge and have struggled with almost every aspect, the electrics and dcc in particular. Finding your contributions very informative and entertaining. My respect and dont worry about “dumming” things down, i cant be the only guy struggling to get a grip!!!

  22. nice home made dont for get bushes are drying now so take the kids on the field trip to collect

  23. You know there are people that have pros and cons about anything, but I see is an outstanding job well done. I love the houses and the scenery

  24. I am seeing beautiful work here! Many thanks for sharing your tips and photos.

    To the person who asked whether English is the second language of all model railroaders, I would just say that this is not an English class. This is a wonderful place, where modeling friends such as I, who have only a 10th grade education, can come together for fun, so please don’t be critical of anyone who is sharing and/or commenting. It’s all welcome and appreciated, regardless of the grammar. My daughter is a high school English teacher, and she would never, ever ask that question. By the way, I am surprised that you, such an authority on the language as you deem yourself to be, began your sentence with “Sorry”. That is incorrect. Besides, the only sorry thing I see here is the state of mind of one who would ask such an asinine question.

  25. Great loads. Love the simplicity. I do remember many years ago an article on How to model a steel scrap load. The chap used aluminum foil shredded in a blender, then colored differing hues to achieve desired look. Chap glued shreds to plastic card, to be removeable. Also loads could be combined to make a pile of steel at a yard or whever. I do hope this idea also helps. Michael C.

  26. Does anyone have a method of fixing Skaledale buildings to MDF baseboards please?


  27. Coal Loads: I have cut balsa wood to fit the hopper. Then I’ve taken coal, wrapped in things like a thin towel or cloth and used a hammer. I select the small,pieces I want and shape it on the balsa. Then I glue it to the balsa. When it dries I use an acrylic varnish or shellac and when that dries I glue it into the hopper.

  28. Hats off to the n-scale buildings…very nice…..another idea for coal or sand loads…pc of balsa or decent cardstock,cardboard..with a little spray foam on it..when dry – you can shape and or color it – and coat with white glue..sprinkle any ballast material, coal, as example….on it to make a load….hope it helps….keep tips coming……still learning and enjoying

  29. Used balsa wood and coal on ” 0″ gauage on Hooper cars, works great with the varnish, never tried the shellac. Still waiting to hear if any “0” gauge readers can guide me to police, libary, gas, firehouse buildings .


  30. “Bob from Melbourne”, those are terrific looking houses. Can you add any info regarding your methods or materials?

    I’d like to suggest that when people make suggestions or send in pictures, that they identify the scale in which they are working. That would make it much easier to identify applicable ideas for our own layouts. What works in G may not apply at all if the reader is modeling in N or Z.

    On the subject of “English as a Second Language”, Al has quite generously put together a web site complete with a spell check app for us to exchange information. Is it asking too much for persons adding comments to at least review their inputs before posting? Some of the comments are close to being undecipherable.


  31. I’ve been printing my own building facades for a while. My best use for the technique is in making Harlem brownstones for my Park Ave based layouts. I have no means for pictures right now, but soon.

  32. To you who are “Sorry” You must be a very sorry person to have the gall to suggest this, that “Is English your second language” Who are you to be such a high and mighty to criticize someone that might not have a ‘high education” as you may have. Shame on you !!

  33. Coal can be purchased from, in small or large volume. The sand loads look very realistic, a great idea. thanks for the idea of filling the hopper with balsa wood, then gluing the load on thus reducing weight.

  34. hi, i think your stuff is cool. i have a question- i’m starting my layout, i have a large wooden table about 4′ by 20″. what is the best inch thick material to put above the wood. solid foam is ‘flamable’ , what do you use?

  35. G’day
    I have just started to make the paper models……………………love them…………and I have found a card stock, which comes in a packet of 125 sheets. It is 0.2 mm thick
    and is perfect for directly printing on, then cut out and model away!!
    In Australia is goes under the brand of “J.Burrows A4 premium digital paper.” I find it just perfect and my printer, an Epson WF 2630 has no problem handing this card.
    Try it out

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