Jim’s been back in touch with his N scale steam layout:
I modeled the Pacific Northwest in the 1950-1970 years, so I could include steam engines authentically.
Since getting the layout far on the road to what I had dreamed of, we moved from Washington State to Florida, and the layout didn’t come with us, though I have everything except the scenery, of course.
Here is the up to date picture of the hills and river that I showed in progress in my first post (in which I sent pics only and NO explanation—I apologize, everyone).
I built the trestle from scratch using small dowels and popsicle sticks I bought at a hobby store and am very pleased with how it turned out.
It was fun to build. All the trees were purchased, but in my next layout, I’ll make them using the great advice from other modelers on this site.
I am pleased with the way the river turned out, but I made a rookie mistake trying to make the river look deep by adding more and more of the water product to it. Total cost of all that water? About $150! Live and learn.
Another rookie mistake: I built this layout on 3/4 inch plywood, and to make the river be below the level of the town, I had to add more plywood about an inch below the rest of the layout. It worked, but was really kind of a mess. In my next layout, I’ll do what all the rest of you sensible folk do and put some kind of foam on top of the plywood. Sheesh.
This is the whole layout, from the river end.
This is the “industrial” end of the layout. The road that was intended to run along side it, to the left of the photo, never got made.
An overview of part of the little town and the business part of the layout. You’ll notice that the roads and the parking lots aren’t glued down—I wasn’t ready yet to commit to that step—and then we moved! Main Street isn’t captured very well, and I never took a picture of it, but its the street with the donut shop. to the far right is the church parking lot, with a milk farm above.
A view from the town to the river and hills beyond it.
Another view of the town, and once again, I didn’t shoot the store fronts of Main Street! It’s really nice and I’m proud of it, but can’t show it. On theleft is the milk farm and farm house and the milk store.
Notice the black paper that is under the buildings and roads. It’s roofing tar paper; I painted several colors of diluted paint on it to age it and make it look like black top—greens, browns, yellows, anything to keep it from looking uniform in color. Then I glued it down.
This is a part of the layout that turned out the way I wanted it to — though you’ll notice that the parking lot and the road behind it aren’t glued down. Again, not ready to take that step.
The parking lot and road are made from sheets of fine black sandpaper washed with paint — I just experimented with different mixtures of white wash and a very little bit of dirt color until I had a result that looked like asphalt to me, and then I brushed it on and rubbed it gently with a cloth to make it look worn, and to keep it from looking uniform.
The stripes for the parking spaces and for the roadways were made with a pen that dispenses white paint. Measuring was a stinker for the parking spaces, AND it was hard to get the stripes right the first time. I worked really slowly after a few attempts that went badly.
All the buildings were from kits—a very expensive way to go. Next layout I’ll try some of Al’s offerings.
Last are two pictures of the coal mine building and the hill behind it. The kit was made of light gray plastic, looking like a brand new metal building. I weathered it with several layers of wash, including black, earth color, rust and a mix of a few browns and so on.
Then I used a tip I got, maybe online, suggesting that cinnamon would make a good rust color on a model. So, I went to my wife’s baking shelf, got cinnamon and applied it. It worked, and added a kind of very small texture that I find very pleasing.
The hill/mountain behind the mine was made from crushed newspaper and plaster strips—the way I prefer to do landscape (hmm–the only way I’ve ever done it, actually).
The rock formations were made with forms bought from Woodland Scenics–I bought each of their two sets—as well as all the ground cover materials. They work great. The key to it looking real is taking lots of time to look at real scenes, watch lots of YouTubes, get lots of tips from Al’s fans, and develop layer after layer with different colors and textures.
This hill was made for a previous model, and so doesn’t really look realistic—it just kind of juts up out of nothing. But, I really like the way it turned out, and I needed a tunnel SOMEWHERE, so it went on the layout.
Thanks for looking, and thanks for all I’ve learned from Al and everyone else. I’m hoping to start a new layout with my 10 year old grandson in the fall—after getting the garage in order first.
Like all the rest of those who receive your blog I am very, very grateful to you – and to all the other modelers you post – for all the good advice and beautiful work you pass along to us every day.
I read your blog first thing every morning!
God’s blessings on you.
A huge big thank you to Jim for sharing his N scale steam layout.
Sharing the mistakes we all make is just as important as sharing the wins.
Hope you enjoyed Jim’s post as much as me – I think using cinnamon for rust is very clever, it really looks spot on.
Lastly, a couple of you have asked if there is a way to search through the blog. Yes, there is, it’s called the Golden Key.
That’s all for today folks.
Please do keep ’em coming.
And if today is the day you decide to stop dreaming and start doing just like Jim, the Beginner’s Guide is here.