Tony’s railroad mountain ‘how to’

Got this in from Tony. I think it has all the makings of a great train layout!


Hello Alastair, find pics for a 4M x 2M HO layout in figure 8. Still under construction but base board, track risers and track laid and ballast.

The tunnels and mountains are constructed from broken styrene boxes, expanding foam and plaster cloth.

I am in North Queensland Australia so this layout will be a rainforest and bush layout. Have left the “mess” in the pics to show some of the materials.

To make tunnels/mountain, I first made a box section with openings for the tunnels and spray painted inside with flat black waterbase acrylic.

As can be seen there is a roof for the mountain to go on top. The mountain is constructed by breaking up styrene boxes (got these from the fuit and vegtable section of a large supermarket as ithey are what the transport cold produce are are usually trash) and randomly placing them on the tunnel roof.

I then fill in everything with triple expanding foam (in an aersol, $14 from a large hardware store chain). Took 3 cans. This all tapers down onto the base board. I break the styrene by hand as this gives a more random pattern to the edges . Also by using the broken styrene boxes and no expanding foam I can create a cave in the layout as seen above the tunnel opening. You can also see the expanding foam and broken styrene in the same pic.

Once the expanding foam has cured (24hrs) I then “carve it” using an electric carving knife ($10 Ebay) and a “surform”

I just chop and hack any old way to obtain random shapes and because I do this I don’t become set in a pattern.

With the surform I can create the mountain and river waterfall. Once shaped I then covered it in plaster cloth. I did not use wadded newspaper as a fellow modeller had an insect problem from the newspaper.

After the plaster cloth hardens (24hrs) I then mix up a soup mixture of plaster and dab this on to reinforce the hardshell.

Cant really see it in the photos but at the bottom of the waterfall is a pond with river coming of this. Next step will be a mixture of grey acrylic primer mixed with water and plaster to prime the scene.

Regards,

Tony”


An excellent ‘how to’, Tony, thank you very much.

Click here for the ebay ‘cheat sheet’ if you’re heading off to ebay for the that carving knife.

Best

Al

Hey – need some houses for your layout? Click below :-)


20 Responses to Tony’s railroad mountain ‘how to’

  1. Well done Tony , messy job doing that , I Know ..mess everywhere when I have done !!!

  2. three exits/entrances to the same tunnel, very unique ; )

  3. Cool Tony!
    Have been trying to use burlap I got from a farm store, whole lot cheaper than from a cloth store, and popsicle sticks. The sticks are for the frame and the burlap to cover everything with.
    Want to try and do something that looks like one of our mountains here in North Carolina, USA.

  4. As usual, very instructive and full of inspiration. This has to be the best `club` on the planet !

  5. HI , Can’t wait to see the end result but have you left a way to retrieve any derailed trains in the tunnel. Good work . Keith

  6. I agree with len thank you

  7. Great ideas – so thanks for that! Good question from Keith re: recovery access in tunnels. Removable sections along layout edges are relatively easy but in the middle – a bit more tricky. Also – word of caution when using electric carving knives! Don’t try to cut too much at once. I bought a brand new knife then tried going through a sizable chunk of foam, stalled it and burned it out! My bride was none to happy about that. Onward and upward lads.

  8. Another intuitive mountain lesson. Hadn’t thought much about ‘expanding foam’ previously – But, now I’m ready to start my mountains. “Thanks’ from Ontario.

  9. Very well done Tony, should look great, I am in south east Queensland I am doing mine on a farm scene, with a few mountains, may be we could Email each other on our progress

  10. Plaster Paris is an organic form and will draw bugs and provide food for mice. Hydrocal is the preferred medium due to its chemical make up. You can cut plaster 80% hydor 20% plaster if preferred.
    Have you tried ceiling tile rock for entrances and inside enter and exit? I have a demonstration on foam tunnels. This allows you to LIFT the entire mountain off of the layout to retrieve derails. Cutting a hole in the rear of the plaster and hanging a curtain will keep the light out while allowing retrieval.

  11. Houses sprayed with stucco use “chicken wire” to hold it. It can be found as scrap at construction sites, and can be formed in any shape, like a mountain. There is a different type, that is expanded metal mesh, used for stucco on overhanging structure. It is usually black. It can’t be formed as easily, but it can be useful. When I was a sheetrock hanger, we also would use a piece of this expanded metal, folded over, like the Surform. It makes a good scraper for styrofoam, and if you pick it up at a construction site, it is free.

  12. Have anyone ever tried tin-foil and plaster of paris for rock faces???? It will compliment the mountain at the cut-ins.

  13. I used greatstuff foam and news paper for filler and it turned out pretty good and I also used foam board to make the tunel and used balsa wood for the tunel porthole.

  14. I live in Australia too , love to see the completed project.

  15. Love your creativity, a little messy, but the results are well worth the effort!!! Great Job!!

  16. keep the pictures showing progress coming

  17. DIRK: Is your demonstration on foam tunnels in the form of a video? If so, how can I access it? I live in the U.S., so if your demo is in person, I guess I won’t have the luxury of viewing it! Thanks, Marion in Mississippi

  18. nice job and hints.

  19. Hello,
    it a great idea. It gives every one who are such enthusiasts, a lever to build their lay outs. I will try and adopt the idea. Thanks!
    GOPAL Daga, Calcutta, India

  20. Thanks for all the greet tips

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