John’s layout in the making

“I think the best thing I’ve found for creating varying ground levels is the insulating foam that comes in a can.

I’m not talking about large mountains here, but just easy undulating terrain. Just spray a glob of the stuff where you want a rise in the terrain, or a low ridge or a crevasse, and let it dry.

Now take a box knife or a sharp razor saw and carve the insulation into the general shape you want. Then fill the holes and gaps that appear with ordinary spackling or wallboard putty.

Again, let it dry, sand the surface to the smoothness you want, and paint with the color of your surrounding terrain. Before the paint dries, dribble on some sand or kitty litter to simulate loose turf or small gravel and rocks, add a little colored lichen or ground foam here and there as needed, and you’re done. And if you want to add trees, just stick the trunk support into the foam with a little Elmer’s glue.


“I had a late friend, Jim Brennan who now is past. He owned a hobby and train store in Ohio. The one trick he used was to save all his old thinner from cleaning his brushes. He would use it to color the plaster rocks and scenery on his layout. No extra cost but the results were terrific. Keep up the good work. Your hints and ideas are great.


“I have been constructing four track figure eight layout with separate morley controls for each track I run both DCC and DC engines and it give me a chance to give each engine a good long run either pulling a train ,double heading fast or the very slow running there is just track no points or crossings .The track base is particle board 20mm cut to 300mm wide covered with a black netting to lower the noise of running.










I’m intrigued by John’s pics – there seems to be a lot of space and track going on in the background. His track reminded my of Barry’s impressive helix layout too. If you have the golden key have a look. Can’t wait to see it finished too.

Thanks to everyone. Please keep ’em coming.

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.



8 Responses to John’s layout in the making

  1. Brian Messenger says:

    Hi Tom, I have used the spray foam quite often and works very well. I do rock faces with it, color it with acrylic paints and use Woodland scenics turf and grass to partially cover where needed. Will send Al a few photos of one of the rock faces that I have done and let him post. Brian

  2. Walter McGrath says:

    How do we access the golden key? For this type of data base, your charge was quite inexpensive.

    Keep up the great work, and thanks.


  3. paul Otway says:

    It looks good so far, would love to see it when completed.

    Paul Otway

  4. David Read says:

    Hi Alistair
    some advice please I have a US railroad layout in my attic room 23’x12’x26’x12 on tressles bolted together, BUT it has to go (sob sob) now is it worth trying to sell as a layout, or should I just break it up then sell the 40 odd buildings there are also 32 engines and about 70 trucks Boot sale or ……………
    Cheers. Dread.

  5. john says:

    Pardon me for saying but, the figure of eight layout is much better achieved by crossing over the main line at the side of the layout and that way you can cross over the tracks by one line passing under the other with cunning use of bridges or tunnels. One line goes out of sight behind the crossing and reappearing further round the layout.. I think this design looks like a basic racetrack from a scalectric set. and not very realistic at all. With all the effort which has gone into the track laying I reckon a bit more thought put into the design of the layout first much better results would have been achieved, and it would have looked more like a railway rather than a race track. Sorry but not my idea of railway modelling.

  6. Toni O. says:

    For “Dread”,
    Have you thought about cutting the layout into sections and saving the main parts that you really want to keep and selling off the other sections? If you do cut the layout into sections, best to cut them into the the dimensions for portable modules, for the scale of your layout, such as “N-Trak” modules for the “N” scale trains. That way you keep the best for your new layout and the rest would help pay for the construction of the new layout at your new location. That way you won’t lose the whole layout.

  7. wow great idea with the ‘spray foam’ hills and ground layout…works GOOD!!
    and the ‘save’ your brush cleaner idea…priceless idea….never thought of it myself
    and as for the 4 wide figure 8 layout….interesting idea… wanna see what kinda scenery it adds….
    my advice on selling off that extremely LARGE layout…..ebay and piece it out….or sell LOTS of it in a box….it will defo make you some cash flow…

  8. Ian Mc Donald says:

    love seeing the 4 trains coming down the track.

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