Making mountains

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Site Admin
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Joined: Fri Feb 26, 2021 9:20 pm

Making mountains

Post by admin »

Posting for Roy:

"Might sound like a simple question but it's stopping me with my layout.

I want to add some mountains, but I'm struggling with the height.

How high can they be without looking out of place?

Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2021 7:38 am

Re: Making mountains

Post by SealionSteve »

I always thought a mountain was something at least 3000 ft above sea level (note sea level, not the surrounding land), but I have just been having a google and there isn't really an official definition, although it seems 1000 ft above the surrounding land (note, not sea level) is a generally accepted rule of thumb.

I know the US has a lot of very impressive mountains, but I have always wondered why our American friends always have "mountains" and never seem to have "hills" on their layouts 🙂

So taking the 1000 ft above surrounding terrain as a definition, in HO scale that would be a height of 1000 x 3.5 mm i.e 3500 mm or 3.5 m. That works out at over 11 ft above your baseboard(!)

I guess few people have that much room...much easier to just build 'em as high as looks right - use rough card outlines to get an idea before you commit to plaster - then if you want to be pedantic, call them hills 😉
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Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2021 2:10 am

Re: Making mountains

Post by scenicsRme »

I think of mountains as being taller, more angular and jagged, mostly rocky cliffs with the peaks above the treeline. Hills are more weathered, therefore rounded with more soil and vegetation covering. How tall depends on how much room you have, they can potentially extend up thru the ceiling and down to floor level (or lower!). I think some consideration needs to be given to the base diameter compared to the height and the surrounding landscape, A couple of what I consider mistakes I see in many layouts is 1.) a single tall, small base diameter "mountain" poking up out of otherwise flat surrounding terrain like a dunce cap or traffic cone. 2.) A. "loaf of bread" hill just high enough to clear a tunnel thru it.
In the first mistake, mountains, except maybe volcanos, were usually formed by the earth's crust plates folding and wrinkling, much like a table cloth on a dining table being pushed from opposite sides towards the center (try it to see what happens...) the folds form in lines or ridges parallel to the pushed sides and repeat in decreased size as they die off, where the folds were pushed hard enough the crust cracked and slid over each other resulting in mountains that are much steeper on one side than the other like the Rockies.
In the second mistake, hills also formed along ridges and decreased slowly in height as they extended to the coast or plains, not popped up individually like blisters.The railroads took the route of least resistance (or cost!) with cuts and fills or even trestles, bridges, and going around, orders of magnitude less expensive than tunnelling. They would never bore a tunnel unless there was no way to go around or it was too high to make an open cut, The mass above would need to be solid rock and several times thicker than the tunnel height. Even when tunnelling, they would first make a cut until the cut's end rock face got at least 3-4 times higher than the tunnel height, and they would never flatten or build directly over the tunnel. The cut's sides and bottom would also be solid rock as it approached the tunnel mouth.
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