Model train retaining walls

Paul’s been in touch with a great ‘how to’ on model train restaining walls.

Hi Alastair, I thought I would share how I made some stone walls.

First thing is to get some white foam board at the dollar store.

Next peel off the paper cover on both sides. This can be facilitated by wetting the paper. You can use the board as a single layer or glue two pieces together with PVA glue as I did.

Next get some cheap ½” brushes and cut off the bristles right down to the metal binding. Using a drill remove the bristles down below the metal at least 1/8”.

This leaves the metal binding exposed which will make the stone impressions in the foam board.

You can make few different brushes and bend the metal into different profiles. Mark the tools you now made with different markings so the you will get different shape stones.

After you make all your impressions in the foam to form your wall you have to paint on the colors that you want. Make notations of the steps you use and the colors so that you get uniform walls.

My walls were colored with the following procedure:

Two layers of Burnt Umber wash allowing drying between coats.

Add the different color stones as you like.

A coating of dry brushed black using a fan brush.

Lastly a single coating of a black wash to emphasize the grout lines between the stones.

model train retaining walls

model train retaining walls

model train retaining walls

“Hi Al,

I thought I would send you some photos of how to easily and quickly make tin or corrugated roofing. I used a artist’s paint tube squeezer that I got on Amazon for less that $6. You can salvage the metal stock from aluminum drink cans as I show in the photo.

Now on to another Paul


A big thanks to paul for his ‘how to’ on model trains retaining walls, and to the other Paul too.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to stop dreaming and start doing.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

5 Responses to Model train retaining walls

  1. Fred Gevalt says:

    I love it!

    The best thing about this hobby is the artistry involved, and the ingenuity required to squeeze out the best and most innovative artistry. A new technique like this is a goldmine for all the builders on this forum.

    Thank you, Paul, and bravo – textures and templates with foam (and maybe plaster?) for new repeating shapes. Bravo!

    Fred Gevalt

  2. Ray says:

    What a great and cheap idea for walls, plus it looks more realistic than any plastic modeled wall you can buy. could be ued for building sturctures walkways love it. Also, Great clolring

  3. Dan Hulitt says:

    Kudos to the Paul 1 and Paul 2 . Great ideas that save modelers lots of dollars, pounds, yen, you name it.

    Just more great ideas that keep coming.

    Thanks, Al.

    MN Dan

  4. Dan Hulitt says:

    Just another thought. The cut bristles could be used for grasses in other parts of the layout. Some hairspray, some flocking, some powders, and you have it.

  5. JoeS - in ME says:

    This response is for Chris who asked about a source for O gauge vehicles.
    Menards has some good vehicles for the eras you are looking for. Also, check ebay for vehicles in 1:43 scale ( haven’t found many in 1:48). And, since I don’t know where you are, if you have a “Big Lots” in your area, they generally have a rack close to the end of an aisle with 1:43 scale cars. Mostly they are modern era but every now and then they also have some cars from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I managed to find some woody station wagons and some 40’s era fire trucks. I hope that helps — I too search for O gauge people and vehicles and they are hard to find.

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