More from Terrapin Sidings

“Reading the comments are very humbling, thanks for the comments. Anyway as the backdrop, I took painting class 10 years ago . I never painted before that. It took a month to paint. I used acrylic’s to complete the scenery and a air brush for the clouds and mist at the mountain bases. The scenery is based on Western Washington.




(Jeff’s last post is here)

“Dear Mr. Alastair…

Thank you for your amazing website…

Two months ago I started Terrapin Sidings… At the time it was a pile of foam board (Foam core) and an idea. When I started that layout, I was looking for an opportunity that should “blow away” any and every excuse for not building a layout. With the exception of adding some exterior work to clean up the “presentation”, Terrapin Sidings is pretty much complete.

I tend to build one or two small layouts every year. Each one has its own inspiration and goal. Terrapin Sidings began with the goal of showing what someone can do who cannot do much with wood (it annoys the manager and your neighbors if you live in an apartment), who is limited with space, has limited time, and has limited money. Note, I work 80 to 100 hours per week. A day off is an absolute luxury. Most of what I earn is swallowed alive by rent, food, and gasoline (petrol). My space for a layout is similarly limited. In short, the first goal was to build a “no excuses” layout.

My second goal with Terrapin Sidings was to have a space to operate some of the On30 equipment that I have collected. Because of space limitations and that this was to be my first On30 layout, I chose the popular “Inglenook” shunting plan. Foam board (Foam core) was chosen for the base because it is easily cut with a single-edge razor blade or X-acto knife and a straight edge. Foam board is easily glued together with PVA (White) glue and offers a reasonably durable structure. To secure the foam-board while the glue was drying, I used low-tack (blue) painter’s tape. With everything, the 12″ by 40″ baseboard cost me less than $20 (American). That includes the permanently attached backscene that helps maintain rigidity.

The track was modified from readily available HO gauge track, PECO and Atlas. Ties (sleepers) were removed to improve the look for use with On30 equipment and to give it a “light railway” look. The net result was that the track looked like Egger-bahn track before it was painted and ballasted. The track was painted with acrylic paints from a local craft store. I used piano wire extensions and Caboose Industries ground throw switch stands to be able to operate the points (turnouts, switches) from the front of the layout.

Structures were built from leftover foam board and enhanced with details made from coffee stirring sticks and textured plasticard. The three structures are scratchbuilt.

Up to this point I had less than $100 (American) invested in the layout…

My basic land forms were made with a foam-board base, blue painter’s tape, heavy paper from a grocery bag, and diluted PVA glue. I was still within the $100… the dirt was free… sifted decomposed granite/sandstone in three or four different hues. I did splurge on a package of Woodland Scenics trees and two packages of Woodland Scenics figures (boy do the figures help make a scene more inviting and believable). With a controller to operate the trains, I was up to $200 (American).

The trains are Bachmann: some cars (trucks) are modified with scratchbuilt superstructures on Bachmann four wheel caboose underframes. The Davenport diesel can be found fairly inexpensively on e-bay and some other cars were purchased at deep discount at a store where they had been sitting on a shelf for over 5 years.

All told, I have between $300 and $350 (American) invested in this project… With most of that having been spent long ago (the trains and the track were all purchased over two years ago and the controller was purchased last year as part of my Glenbrook, Nopales layout project).

I hope this little project of mine inspires someone who has been sitting on the sidelines to decide to build something to run their trains on… Even if it is a wee tad smaller than the layout they really wish they had room for.

As for myself, I just had to replace our microwave and I have a large cardboard box that looks like the start of my next layout project……….








Hope you’ve enjoyed Jeff’s scenery as much as I have. And a big thanks to John too.

And now some news on the Big Kahuna Bundle deal (below). My boy has been beavering away on some more print out scenery, so I’m going to break up the Kahuna deal when I get the new stuff on the site.

So if $2 per building sounds good to you, please don’t hang about. It won’t be there forever. Scroll down and click to see what you get.

Please do keep ’em coming.

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.



13 Responses to More from Terrapin Sidings

  1. great great concept Jeff
    your dio-ramas are verry realistic and the fact that you use ‘recycled’ stuff to create with is awsome to all of us that have a limited budget for toys…!! haha
    the idea of building with foam core is very appropriate for me as I am unable to use power tools to cut wood where I reside so glue and a razor knife are an inspiration to go ahead a build where it could never be built before…!!
    thanks and we look fwd to seeing more of your excellent ‘scratch’ work!

  2. Bill Criss says:

    OK I went for the Big Kahuna deal! What weight card stock & glue do you recommend?
    Thanks & Cheers

  3. paul Otway says:

    I like the man leaning against the wall.

  4. Duncan Galbraith says:

    Most impressive back scene – a real work of art! You should market it through Al’s website here.
    I like John’s small layout, too. I also build small layouts, but a bit more quirky as on a toilet seat in a briefcase and round my old helmet. Just fun projects and not as realistic as John’s.
    Thanks! D/

  5. Rob says:

    Hey, i have never seen the model of the man leaning against a wall before. brilliant. I realy live in the back of beyond LOL.

  6. skipduld says:

    looks great I wish I could do as well. U sound like my wife don’t buy unless 50 % off.

  7. John Reynolds says:

    The figures are from Woodland Scenics… I chose poses that were “Actively Static” Terrapin sidings is a small On30 Inglenook… It was designed more for operation than to be a diorama… Total cost was less than $200 USD.

  8. David Wibbels says:

    I enjoyed your little layout. It looks like it is mounted on a ironing board. it looks kind of “Artsy” . The background is very realistic. Keep building !

  9. Warren Ferguson says:

    Great little layout! The people really bring the scenes to life!

  10. DAN HULITT says:

    Jeff; A neat and great way to cure the modeling itch….until the next one. A very nice job. The characters add a lot of character!

    For Bill, cereal boxes make a good inexpensive card. You can also buy heavier printer paper to print them on. that helps create more relief.

    As John says,” it’s all in the relief.”

    MN Dan

  11. Bob Bonnett says:

    Very enjoyable !!! Can you tell me what scale is the man leaning against the wall and what is he called?? Thanks

  12. Gary Manganiello says:

    Love the detail with the people

    Gary M

  13. Richard G Langellotti says:

    The scene in the first photo can easily be modified to look like the album cover of the Grateful Dead album Terrapin Station. Looks really good!

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