More railroad layout pic and tips

“Hi Al,

here is a photo of my LMS Jubilee 4-6-0 Australia.

I weathered it using the water I used for cleaning my water based paints.

I made the its livery dirty as it would have appeared just after nationalisation.

It would have been repainted in BR liverythe next time it went to the workshop.


“Al, Every bodies tips have been very helpful.

We are building a layout of our own. Currently working on a mountain.

I used scrap plywood, screen ,spray foam ,spackle and some camouflage paint.

Trains will run on it and through it.

Thanks for your Emails I enjoy getting them,

Phil Lacy and Family”


I enjoy your website and daily tips tremendously.

I am developing an N-Scale U.S. Civil war era layout incorporating a river abutting a military loading dock facility.

In the past I’ve used clear resin to simulate ponds, streams, etc, but this is the first time I’ll be using water as a major element in the layout.

Please see the picture below, which I obtained from an online hobby shop. Can you or your readers offer any advice on how to recreate these realistic wave patterns using resin?


Can anyone help out Jeff?

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if you want to make that start – just like Jeff and all the others did – the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

37 Responses to More railroad layout pic and tips

  1. Mustafa says:

    I have a major lake on my N scale layout. You should be able to use
    The water effects product from realistic water to simulate the wave.

  2. Chris says:

    Hi Jeff, I have heard of some using hot air blowing over the resin when it is curing, by blowing the hot air over the surface of the resin.

  3. Golden Pirate says:

    @jeff: that lake (?) looks like it was laid down using a clear silicon sealer on a painted base board.

  4. One way that people use is do your base in Artex , with waves then just paint the colour you want, then add about 5 coats of gloss varnish

  5. Rick says:

    i use clear caulk to make waves and liquid water poured over the caulk

  6. Owen says:

    It can be done with resin although it will take a little while. put your resin down in thin layers. During each layer use a hair dryer to blow air over the resin. This will create a ripple pattern. slowly build it up and eventually you will have nice water. The other good one is clear sickaflex.

  7. As a newbie, I too am having a river/water problem. The fake look of resin stumped me for a spell. I scavenger for things that might work. I found a piece of plastic 1/4 inch thick with a smooth surface on one side and a ripple effect on the other. I put different shades of blue but was unhappy with results until I was a hobby store with all this paper for scrap-booking. I found a sheet of heavy paper, bright blue with little round circles that glitter and put it under neath the plastic sheet which I had cut to size. Either side works. I have a skeleton of a layout now and anyone that sees it, says,” oh look a river”. I put a small light above it for show. This may give you the effect that you want, but I would visit a glass shop and see what they have to offer, other than my garbage cans. I am sure this has been tried before. Good luck.

  8. Bob Miller says:

    I am with Rick on this one. Lay down a thin bed of clear silicone (comes in a caulk tube) and then lay down ribbons of silicone over that bed gently molding them
    into the desired shapes that you want. Allow the caulk to dry completely and then cover with liquid water or 2 part resin. Be sure to color the base first or color the resin or both.

  9. Peter Jones says:

    Nice tip on the weathering there Paul, will try it.

  10. Arnie Steiner says:

    Hi Jeff,
    Creating substantial waves in resin in not an easy thing to do as the resin readily seeks its on level and will smoothen out on curing. However, if you pour your first layer of resin to a depth just below the final depth you want to attain, let it cure and then add a final thinner layer and stiple it with a brush as it is curing, you can attain a rippled effect.

    However, I would instead recommend using Water Effects by Woodland Scenics. This is a white substance of a cream-like consistency. You can apply it over your cured resin (or use Realistic Water by Woodland Scenics instead of resin). Apply the Water Effects with a brush and stiple it with the brush edge in a downward motion to create waves and/or rapids. The product dries clear like the resin. If you want rapids/white water, just stiple on some white paint by dry brushing the crests of the waves or rolling waters.

  11. fred says:


    Use rerailers just inside (out of sight) either end of a longer tunnel opening. It could save you from having to dive inside to collect cars that have come off the rails.

    I just used Woodland Scenics water for a river. I was very careful to follow instructions but the water wrinkled up overnight. There was no temp. or humidity change. You may want to beware of this product.

  12. Hi Jeff,
    I’ve not used a water feature in a layout for sometime now, but I did one a number of years ago and from memory I used a 15″ (inch) wooden ruler in the following way!

    When the resin was curring and well on it’s way I used the thick edge of the ruler and placed it onto the resin with an “Up & Down Motion” wherever I wanted a wave, and to get a ripple affect I used the thin edge of the ruler, with the brass strip removed. I hope this is of some help to you and I wish you good luck with your finished project.

    Stemar, Downunder!

  13. Dingo Sharp says:

    Do U know how I deal with water, I don’t have any it’s just plainly too hard.

  14. Tom says:

    The tips on making rivers, etc. was well payed attention too. Never did water on any layout. very interesting!

    Agree with Fred rerailers inside of tunnel … I use 2 rerailers 1 1/3 way in 1 1/3 way before come out of tunnel. Works for me!

    Thanks everyone and Al for sharing!



  15. Grant says:

    I use Woodlands Scenics Liquid water as a base, then detail in WS Water Effects. This can be laid out in strips and moulded to effect using a flat knife or small spatula. I create currents in rivers by brushing it on in the direction of flow. I then dry brush in white to highlight.
    Another option, depending on your area, is that you can buy rippled clear sheets of plastic for modelling this effect. you can add to that using either caulk or water effects. More than anything, make practice runs away from your layout to make sure you like the effect before you put something down that will be damaging to remove.

  16. ray says:

    I believe there is a section on one of the Woodland Scenics instruction videos which deals with the modelling of waves

  17. Martin Wood says:

    I havent yet attempted a lake but have done plenty streams & rivers. I found Woodland scenics water products to shrink alarmingly. And the one that you have to warm up to melt & pour, take care as if left where the sun can shine on it, it will quickly re melt and if not level, it will seep away.
    Best to use silicone crystal clear.

  18. THOMAS says:


  19. paul Otway says:

    With an express loco like the jubilee Don’t over weather unless you are modelling the last years of steam. i have since put real coal in the tender, it was crushed before it was purchased and installed. All I need is a crew for it. plus marker lamps and fire irons.

  20. Ed Macomber says:

    As a former artist’s Material dealer I know exactly what is the ticket for anyone with minimal experience in acrylic gel mediums. It is called “self leveling” acrylic medium. It is made by the company GOLDEN or Liquitex. You pour it using either clay or any non porous material to “border” the area you wish to pour a water-like lake, or body of water. It will appear almost milky white, but once dried it is crystal clear. You might add water based dyes or color to create a blue/blue-green/brackish effect. Unlike many acrylic mediums that have a slight semi- opacity to them this medium takes color very well before pouring when mixed.. After pouring you should apply white “caps” to your waves, or deeper hues for depth to your larger water beds. Please ask any questions or product info, and I’ll answer them.

  21. Ed Macomber says:

    I would add that it might take 24 hours to get the ultimate “curing” of this material, which gives you moderate open working time. It is durable, flexible, and light weight. It is quite non-toxic of course.

  22. Desert Rat PHX AZ says:

    question? you speak of resin,what is this product and by what manufacture?Thanks for your help DRRR

  23. I have used Stemar’s method, at least the part about the narrow end of the stick. In Liquitex resin I let it cure for 4 hours and stab with a paint stir stick a lot, may be 3-4 times per inch to get a smooth ripple effect. I assume the longer it has cured the bigger the ripples or maybe a thicker stick.

  24. Craig Burton says:

    To Jeff,I would use woodland scenics water,on their web site are how to videos. You can’t beat it! I have had real good luck with their products! woodland

  25. Lou Caputo says:

    Can’t wait to see the N scale Civil War layout!! Have been preparing YEARS to do that in HO. Early steam era is an exciting theme and when you focus on 1861 – 1865 you have US history in front of you — the Civil War was the most significant period in our nation and there are countless books and photos of that time to give us ideas for innumerable dioramas and track plans! The Central of GA was a major force in that period.

    Lou in Savannah GA

  26. Hemi says:

    Well this is timely! I’m sort of in the same position as those here getting ready, or DOING “Water” on a layout….. See, my application is different, in regards to time of year. (I’m working on a transportable “Christmas tree” village layout in HO Scale. Sadly, the water that the river will have needs to look semi-frozen…. and with that, I’m NOT sure how to go about doing the “base” color. Because it won’t be seen as a summer river bottom would look… Plus to add insult to injury, I’m also needing to incorporate a short water fall into it as well…. -That said, only some of the top surface of the water needs to look frozen (sides?) and the center needs to look “unfrozen” that leads out to the water fall and then theres that portion too, needing to look Semi-Frozen as well as “falling” -ANY advice/help on this one would be GREATLY appreciated! ~Hemi

  27. steve JOyce says:

    Jeff: Woodland Scenics makes a couple of useful products Realistic water and Surface water waves. Plan on doing a D-Day landing diorama in the future and plan to use these 2 products. add a little acrylic coloring to the mix as well as painting your base oughta do what you want

  28. Ed Bassett says:

    Someone posted the conversion numbers for going between guages and I lost it trying to copy it. Can anyone repost this please. It involved going from O to HO etc

  29. T. Carroll Cobb says:

    To make rivers. I have a long one representing the Black River near Georgetown, S C. I use thinned Elmers glue on styrofoam then take squares of toilet paper lay them in the thinned glue form waves with a small paint brush until Im happy with the texture. After it dries, I paint it with craft paints from Walmart then coat it several times with Modpodge. I think it looks terrific.

    I recently made a small beach scene using the same technique but with more aggressive wave. Painted it then tipped the tops of the waves with white paint. Im also happy with the results

  30. Berniedoc says:

    I used the toilet paper over glue and then modpodge and paint my to make a reservoir. Worked very well, costs a lot less than the water pouring stuff. Can make lakes and rivers this way.

  31. Robert Brady says:

    Love the wind water effect! Pushing that boat right up against the pier.

  32. Larry Baucom says:

    Me and my 4 year old great grandson are just starting a HO gague I have an engine and coal car I bought for my son back in 1965 cars and track disappeared in numerous moving my question is we now have 6 passenger cars we want to put lights in can anyone help us with the wiring not light up we bought 2 different kinds of light kits neither works on our track you can touch the wheels with wire from the transformer and the car lights up but on track with engin pulling the car no lights, I thought putting more weight in the car no luck any help or diagram to go buy would be a blessing thanks for the help

  33. Dave says:

    I love to make water features on the HO layout I am building, with most of what I learn by making mistakes. I made a large mountain with a train tunnel and used spray foam for the first time and was very happy with the results. I then added a small lake by carving out an area of the foam, painting it various of shades of blues and green, then pouring in the heated Woodland Scenics water. After a few drops I realized the heated water solution was melting through the foam! Big stupid mistake but little damage done. My solution was then to use plaster of paris on the bottom of the lake, repaint it and then put the heated resin solution in with very good results.

  34. Craig Persons says:

    You have good advice on the water but the boat is not civil war era. It needs to be a side-wheeler or a paddle wheeler (rear). The buildings look really good. I will have to research but I think there were ferries carrying railcars at Memphis and maybe Vicksburg. One would make a nice addition.

  35. What is “Modpodge”?
    The best place to answer is at the forum, scenery
    Find the forum at:

    Larry Baucom The bet place to ask you question & get an an answer is also at the Forum:


  36. Stephen Hill Woodstock GA says:

    Jeff, I don’t know if this will be the solution for your waves .
    I have taken joint compound, you know for repairing walls, I mix this in a dish with whatever color water you’re aiming for and stir the two together . Once mixed I simply have brushed it over the surface where I want the effect. My experience has been that the consistency of the mixture spreads in such a fashion that when it’s dried it appears wavy . This has been effective for streams , haven’t applied it to larger bodies such as a pond or lake to see how the effect looks . Hope that helps .. good luck sir .

  37. Roger Jenkins says:

    Hi Jeff, here’s a YouTube link to “Marklin of Sweden” to show how he makes water with diluted wood glue, toilet paper, paint & clearcoat. Pretty impressive and inexpensive.

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