The Start of the Model Train Riverbed

Barbara’s model train table had to have a river, so Rob got out his handsaw, drill with a wire wheel attached, and his shop-vac.  Carving the foam with the handsaw, he roughed up the surface with the wire wheel while dragging the shop-vac hose back and forth.

Next, he mixed up tile adhesive, Elmer’s glue, and reddish colored grout and spread it one place and another.  Its primary purpose is to secure the platforms the trestles will rest on.  The trestles themselves are not glued down at this point for easier painting access.

Natural flat rocks from the slope outside his workshop will be added later.  He is still experimenting with various goops and will eventually paint the riverbed with acrylics and add the final clear coats to make it look like water rushing through the canyon.

As he put it. “This is only the start, there is a TON of work to do ahead.”  Next on the agenda will be to create a wire frame for the canyon walls.  Keep coming back for more developments.

The early stages of building the HO scale riverbed

The early stages of building the HO scale riverbed

Another view of the riverbed

Another view of the riverbed

Yet another view of the riverbed

Yet another view of the riverbed

Rob has also begun the early work on the little canyon on his own N scale model train layout.

Rob's N scale canyon - the early stages

Rob's N scale canyon - the early stages


A Drive-In Theater for Your Model Train

What is a model train layout without a drive-in movie theater where movies actually play?  Barbara wanted her little people to be able to enjoy getting out on Saturday night dates.

After cutting a hole in the 2 inch foam base, Rob continued cutting a hole in the table itself.  Adding spacers, he installed a support board for a DVD player which will serve as the movie screen.

The removable parking lot was cut from scrap lumber and placed so as to hide the lower part of the DVD player.  Black paint sprinkled with sand gives the desired parking surface.  More sand will be added later along with tire tracks.

"Movie theater" in place

"Movie theater" in place

Unfinished removable parking area set in place for drive-in

Unfinished removable parking area set in place for drive-in

Roads and theater parking lot getting surfaced

Roads and theater parking lot getting surfaced


Rob’s Model Train Tunnel

Rob’s – actually Barbara’s – HO model train layout continues to evolve.  What is a model railroad without a tunnel?  Again, Rob used left over building materials to create one.

A piece of leftover blown foam insulation was cut to fit the end of the table.   Glued down to cut sections of 2 inch pink insulation to raise it up, it was then scooped out to create a tunnel.  A section in the back was cut out to allow easy access in case of a derailment and the underside was painted black where it could be seen when in place.

The painted tunnel ready for placement

The painted tunnel ready for placement

Once the floor of the tunnel was painted black as well, the mountain was glued in place and held down with bricks until the glue dried.

The mountain with tunnel being glued down

The mountain with tunnel being glued down

Rob is considering using the leftover tile adhesive and/or wallboard compound to create a pasture area the Mrs wants to have on top.

Barbara has decided to delete most of her Old West style structures in place of new ones.  In the two photos below it is indicated where she plans to add some structures.

Meanwhile, Rob has cut out the tarpaper used for road base and is holding it flat with bricks until he can mix up the goop to cover it.  Soon the roads will wander across the layout!

Further development of the HO model train layout

Further development of the HO model train layout

Another view of the HO layout

Another view of the HO layout

I am getting closer to diving in on my own Z scale model train project.  Perhaps next week!


Your Model Train Layout Is Personal

My brother, Rob, while stating that his N scale model train scenes may not reflect the detail his artistic talent is capable of (time will tell if they do or not), does believe that scenes should bear some appearance of realism.  This includes allowing for space and not crowding a scene into an “unrealistic” area.

The Early HO layout as Rob envisioned it

The Early HO layout as Rob envisioned it

In planning his wife Barbara’s HO table, he designated an area for her lumber mill which included road access for lumber trucks.  She decided to move the mill into a much smaller space at another location where there was no way for a lumber truck to get to it.  Does a scale model really need such access?  Of course not!  It’s a model.

Rob went on to note that Barbara “squished 3 mobile homes between two curved tracks with hardly any room for the little folk to hang their laundry”.  Her answer… “They live on the wrong side of the tracks.”  Again, he was opting for “realism” while she was approaching it from a viewpoint that would satisfy her.

What I see in these examples is the wonderful capacity of model railroading to appeal to different preferences.  Whether one aims for duplication of actual locations, imaginary but realistic scenes, flights of fantasy without ties to the real world, or just a display for an engine and a couple of cars… a model train layout is a very personal proposition and there is no right or wrong way to build it.  It only needs to satisfy the one who owns it.

The current HO model train layout

The current HO model train layout

As Rob mused, “Hey, what can I say (let alone do), it is HER layout, right!?!?  Guess I’ll be thankful she is interested.”  In planning and building a model train layout, the best advice is be yourself and have fun.


Rob’s Model Train Layout

It was with great anticipation that I learned my brother, Rob, was going to build a model train room as part of his art studio.  While he says this project will be for fun and not to expect much, Rob is a very talented and creative artist.  I can only presume that what he constructs will be very interesting. This blog will follow his progress in the buildout.

robslayout1As Rob’s interests lie with N scale trains and his wife’s interests lie with HO scale trains, there will actually be two model train layouts in the room.  Barbara’s will be freestanding, and Rob’s will be against the wall.  As with any typical marital relationship where each partner gives in to the other’s wishes, Barbara’s set up will be worked on first.

The planned layout will have some interesting features.  Being movie buffs, there are a few scenes from movies planned.  I will reveal these as the tables develop.  Space will be an issue, but I hope new and would-be model train builders will be motivated by seeing what can be done with limited space and a bit of creativity.

As with any project, I am sure changes will be made as problems arise and new ideas come to mind.

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Having just built his studio and an adjoining residence, Rob had lots of left over scrap lumber with which to build his tables.  While you can purchase a table prebuilt for a model train layout, such as what I had as a kid in New Jersey, a nice base for a layout can be built inexpensively from scrap lumber.

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One of the first things received was a truckload of foam from the same company who supplied the insulating foam for the studio.  This is is to be used for building up the topography or landscape on both layouts.  It will be carved and treated for realistic appearance.

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The following are some pictures of the layout so far.  There are some questions as to the scene elements, but they will be worked out as the layout develops.

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