HO scale rock tunnel forms

Mickael’s been in touch with his HO scale rock tunnel forms.

(his last post is here.)


Here are a few pictures of my rock tunnel entrances, before and after assembly and the natural materials used.

I used tree bark from a white oak tree in the woods that I found and glued them (all 4 pcs.) to the top of the tunnel entrances, let them dry and painted them with a dark gray mixed with white paint and water.

Then dry brushed them with white paint.


ho scale rock tunnel forms

ho scale rock tunnel forms

ho scale rock tunnel forms

Now on to Joseph:

“I have been reading this article for some time now and enjoy it very much. Unlike most on here, I run both O and S scale trains.

I thought I would share so hints I got from the old timers. Since I am 70 maybe I am the old timer now. I use a lot of wheat and rice bulbs with bare wire leads. I found nail polish make a good wire insulation after all connections are made. I also use it to lock on nuts to bolts and numerous other things. I prefer red so I can tell that everything is covered, but clear , black or any color will do.

The other hint is artificial coal. The original artificial coal was made from Bakelite which has some hazard properties. They then went to plastic which also has its draw backs. I found these lodged in motors and cut up belts using coal loaders. I also found black aquarium gravel worked better but still jammed up belts and was work to un-lodge from places. Try Grape Nuts cereal. Dry in microwave for 30 seconds then spray paint black. It takes a few spray times. Now if this gets caught in the motor or belts is crunches up and does not lodge as often as other materials. It takes just a little air and a brush to clean up Also safer for children and pets.

Your comments please….


“Well, seeing as how I am the least handy person on this planet, and cheap to boot, here are a couple:

Since my layout is in a permanent winter mode, I wrapped the plywood bases in white bedsheets —
It makes a a great “canvas” for laying down landscaping and a SUPERB conduit to run the wiring between the sheets and the wood – no drilling required.

The “snow” is actually a ceramic product: Duncan’s no-fire snow, available, among others, online at Amazon. You can paint or sculpt it on, and it dries to a plaster-like state.

More recently I wanted to add some ice-covered ponds, and as I dislike mixing chemicals, etc. for water effects, I went to the nearest drugstore and purchased a couple of ladies’ hand mirrors, you know, the kind they carry in their purses. I laid down some snow and partially buried them, feathering the edges with more snow.

But then I wanted a larger ice-covered swamp or pond, and here comes the cheapest solution of all: I headed to the kitchen, ripped off a good-sized sheet of food clingwrap (like Saran Wrap), painted the bedsheet in the colors I wanted to show through, and laid the wrap on top with a little landscape cement. You can make it smooth or rippled, and it looks great!

I hope these help.


Thanks to Bill, Joseph and to Mickael for sharing his HO scale rock tunnel forms.

I thought his tunnel entrance looked great. So simple as well (all the best ideas are!).

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

15 Responses to HO scale rock tunnel forms

  1. NJ Mark says:

    Thanks to all for the great ideas! Cheers! NJ Mark

  2. David Hannan says:

    Would like to see photos of your layout Bill – okease!

  3. Steven says:

    Looks good. I did the same only I placed mine on their sides making it look like layers of shale rock along the tracks. After I “blended” them in with paint and other scenic materials you’d never know it was tree bark.

  4. Keith Miller says:

    Thanks to all three. Bill & Joseph – pictures please! Would be interesting to see the varnish in place- and Grape Nuts coal! White bed sheets – yes, I can see the wiring would be easy to do; but what does it look like? And the cling film swamp sounds good, but what does it really look like? I would really like to see that.

  5. Bob Riemer says:

    For rockface latex molds I used latex over large pieces of coal that had been split to get the right effect. The small facets looked amazingly real.

  6. John says:

    Great idea! Would have never thought of that! Looks awesome!

  7. Don Jennings says:

    That is a good idea. If you could cut a big enough hole in the tree bark to make the tunnel portal that might look even better. having one type of shape for the portal try it and see if you like it. Don J

  8. Gerry says:

    My son-in-law owns a fireplace business and I’ve found that the fake logs work great for making scenery. They can be a little tough to cut and shape (I use a band saw) but the end product looks very realistic…

  9. Gerry says:

    ed form the fireplace logs. I model in ‘O’ and ‘G’ scale, that may be why they look so good and are easier to work with…no small parts.

  10. Nice tunnel. I noticed you use grain o wheat bulbs. I can suggest that you change to dual LEDs in a T1 package which light up with little current. You run about 10 Milliamps forward for Red and backward for Green and if you buy a quantity, the price is really cheap. Regular bulbs will burn out and replacing is a bear. You can put them in series with turquoise switch machines to indicate direction. Anyways, best to you.

  11. Rick Lochner says:

    Would love to see pictures of these ideas to get a good visual of the final prodcuts. I set up an O scale Christmas garden around the tree every year and am always looking for ideas. Thanks

  12. P:ete says:

    One suggestion. Bark taken from a tree outside can be full of crawly critters. It is after all their home. Bake the bark in a 150 degree oven for about 30 minutes and any critters in the bark are all sent to bug heaven.

  13. Susan Cannon says:

    Painted Grape-Nuts cereal is a wonderful idea!! It would be safe for kids/pets but for the paint. If there is a chance any could get into little innocent mouths of any species, make sure the paint used is safe as well.

    Thanks all for your wonderful suggestions. Keep them coming!

  14. Jim Aspin says:

    Slick idea Bill. Do we get to see some picks? (Please)

  15. Very resourceful… BUT:

    Did you consider that the bark could still host some critters that could take down or at least infest all your ‘eatable’ – wooden – layout (structure)?

    After drying, such things can be put in microwave on limited power or oven up to controlled heat to get rid of all living ‘matter’…

    Since you painted it heavily, that may also have taken care of issues, as long as the paint is all around and used some ‘ugly’, ‘anti-biotic’ solvent… ;-O

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