More on model railroad trees

Hot off the press after Martin’s superb model trees, Tom sent his ‘how to’ version in:


Please find attached a method of making a tree that you would find in an orchard. It uses readily available materials and is pretty cheap and quick to manufacture.
The trees shown are part of a war games table – `the orchard` of Gettysburg – but would be equally at home on a HO/00 gauge railway.

Referring to picture 1:

Collect the heads of dry teasel plants – can be found most of the year in country parks, woodlands etc.

Cut them to give a `trunk`.

I usually insert a pin – sharp side down and glue it with superglue – attachment to the base will depend on what the base is made of.

Using scissors trim up the outer surface – remove the long woody bits from the base of the `tree`. You can also trim away some of the sides to give a less even appearance.

Then using a spray adhesive – I use a mounting adhesive – which is good enough. Spray all of the tree liberally, and avoid the trunk and pin.

Roll the sprayed up tree into a fine powdered scatter material of suitable colour. Could use a variety of colours to indicate season – or indeed add some red pieces for fruit.

Stand tree up to dry.

With this method it only takes a few minutes for each tree to be made to completion.

The finished article – `Completed tree` & `Completed orchard trees` (If you look hard you can see advancing confederate troops beyond the orchard).

When I get the chance I will show how I made a wheat field – again using teasels, glue and scatter material.


Impressive stuff from Tom.

And lastly, Lou sent this in. Looks like it’s going to be a monster layout. Can’t wait to see it finished.

“Here’s some if my layouts. I just started 4 weeks ago.


Hope I’ve helped!

And please let me know about your latest ‘steals’ in ebay (cheat sheet here).



PS Martin has sent in some more tree pics which are amazing. But I’ve run out of time today. Next time!

35 Responses to More on model railroad trees

  1. Mike says:


  2. david j howarth says:

    That sure is going to be some layout of Lou`s

  3. Fantastic ideas abound. Keep them coming everyone, it is amazing what you can do for next to no cost!!

  4. James Stewart Taylor says:

    Amazing layout…..such a substructure! Can’t wait to see the finished result.

  5. Len Lainsbury says:

    Who needs a TV, film, or a book,
    When with a computer, and Al, you can look,
    At genius displayed around small railway lines,
    By inventive enthusiasts, sharing their finds.

    “It is a privilege to be part of `The World`s Greatest Hobby` with such a terrific group of people, ladies as well as men, with no limits on age”.

  6. Steve Thurston says:

    This layout is almost identical to the one I am working on. I am interested to see how all of the open space will be filled in as this is a confusing thing to me right now….as to how to do it.

  7. paul starr says:

    Great layout can,t wait to see it running.The trees look brilliant.

  8. Eduardo Millan says:

    Fantastic, idea.
    Can you show your layout completeli, not finished.

  9. David B says:

    I really like the rock wall with the gate opening in the tree picture. It is a great detail. Layout looks great too.

  10. Brian Clauser says:

    I like that idea.

  11. paul Otway says:

    realistic trees, best of luck with the monster layout, can’t wait to see it finnished.

  12. Don says:

    Only four weeks… WOW! It’s coming along very nicely.
    I’d be interested in an explaination of your road bed construction. I see cork road bed but can not determine the next layer down. I’d also be interested in seeing a track plan.
    Thanks for sharing.

  13. Gary Lynn says:

    I am starting on a 6′ x 10′ table but having trouble coming
    up with a lay out idea. What is the best
    way to come up with the idea?

  14. Eldon Heinz says:

    Does anyone have any information on assembling a Walthers manual turntable model #933-3203. I have the electronics figured out but cant figure out how the manual turning arbors and spindles should be mounted. There are no diagrams or instructions in the kit. Thanks.

  15. Frank P says:

    Are teasels available here in Florida? Haven’t seen them. Those are great looking trees. Thanks.

  16. R.L.Klaus says:

    Great idea with the trees. Most of mine so far, use Sage stems, but these would make a nice contrast to what I have. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Darwin Bruce says:

    Re; giant layout, What are the dimensions? When did your wife leave?

  18. Dennis says:

    The “orchard” looks great.

  19. Ron says:

    He has done great, I will be doing it myself soon, it will save me pounds, well done, keep up the good work.


  20. kimo says:

    That’s going to be some great layout, please keep us in the loop as you move ahead. kimo

  21. Archie R. says:

    Great looking trees…….I’m going to have to Google “teasel plants” to find out what they are! 🙂 and Lou’s layout is great! A lot of building time on that one it looks like….

  22. Archie R. says:

    Wow!! I did Google the teasel plant. In the U.S. it is considered an invasive plant. The part being used as the trees is actually the seed pod of the plant. They do grow along the roads in Wisconsin according to the video I watched from the University of Wisconsin. They make great looking trees I must say!

  23. david lorenzo says:

    looking to see more as you go, well done

  24. Wayne Sund says:

    They look great, problem is, we don’t have those trees in Australia – but, it has given me an idea to look more closely at the trees we’ve got here and maybe something similar will turn up. Thanks for the idea.

  25. I love this layout. I think I may adjust my table setting to address the tree structure shown in the illustrations. And your curves have given me a new idea for some changes to my layout plan. Thanks for the photos.

  26. ed says:

    Thanks for the trees

  27. William says:

    For the question of what is under the cork on the layout, it looks like he has done a full size diagram of the track and is building right on top of it. So the answer is, thats paper under the cork. A very good idea so as to not get things too out of alignment. It looks like that is going to be a very interesting layout. And being from the South, I did look for the advancing Confederate soldiers. Very interesting trees.

  28. Bill says:

    I like the trees and I would sure like a track plan for your layout….?

  29. JP says:

    Thanks for sharing, awesome benchwork..

  30. dan o wiseman says:

    very good , do you have use the cork road bed? I do have the patience but I will admit my lay out building is creating more . doing a wood build 6ft bridge to conect to helix tracks , there no finished yet either

  31. john eaton says:

    Double WOW to Lou`s layout and the tree ideas so simple but so effective!

    JohnE UK

  32. Peter says:

    Best tree making i have seen well done and thanks for sharing it, now to find out if a Teseal plant is around sydney… We may call it something else
    Thanks peter

  33. Marty C says:

    I am starting on a 6′ x 10′ table but having trouble coming
    up with a lay out idea. What is the best
    way to come up with the idea?

    Try using the free design program SCARM. Just Google it and download.

    Does anyone have any information on assembling a Walthers manual turntable model #933-3203. I have the electronics figured out but cant figure out how the manual turning arbors and spindles should be mounted. There are no diagrams or instructions in the kit. Thanks.

    If that’s the 120’ turntable then it’s the same as the Heljan/Con Cor. Did you figure out how to assemble the handle and pulley? If I knew how to attach pictures I’d attach a copy of the diagram but at least here is the text part of the instructions:

    Drill hole for turning handle 1-1 /8” in diameter. The cord allows a maximum distance of 13-1/2” from center of turntable to center of handle. NOTE: We recommend using nylon or wax cord.

    Wrap cord around each pulley twice. Check that no binding occurs and make knot. If using nylon cord supplied, carefully melt knot with lighted match to prevent slippage.

    Glue contact wires on underside of turntable making sure they don’t interfere with cord. Connect ends to lead track going into turntable.

    For best performance add small amount of LaBelle 108 oil to areas indicated in large diagram. (The large cylinder that fits through the 1-1 /8” hole you cut previously and the top edge of the pit where the plate the bridge is attached to rides on it.)

    I was lucky enough to find the Heljan motor assembly for mine which attaches directly to the turntable shaft and eliminates all this.

  34. Ron Green says:

    Why Did”i not think of that (Reason For This Message I worked in a botanical
    Garden many years and these seed pods &were dried and used for xmas decerations) brilliant thinking
    Ron Green

  35. Big Al says:

    I think all the tree contributions are more more just outstanding, however this is perfect for indoor layouts. Has anyone got suggestions for similar results but for permanent outside large scale layouts. I think using wire armature is the way to go, but what about bark and foliage?

    Thanks to everyone for sharing of all ideas.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *