Sunday, August 2, 2009

Glue Shell Scenery

I know it's been a while since I've posted here.  That's 'cause I've been working on the layout!!  Here's a few shots with the styrofoam supports cut to fit around the spline roadbed: 

DC, Harrisburg Oct09 057 

DC, Harrisburg Oct09 058  

I wanted a spot where a local highway passed under the track.  This meant cutting through the spline roadbed and supporting the spline with plywood.  Unfortunately, the spline was only a scale 12' tall, so I had to drop the roadbed support a bit and shim to the underside of the spline.  You can see the shims on top of the 3/4" plywood on the right.  The best part was that this construction created a nice dip in the highway, which is built from a 1/8" piece of lauan plywood.
DC, Harrisburg Oct09 059

For the landforms, I tried my hand at my version of Howard Zane's glue shell scenery base.  Howard uses red rosin paper and straight white glue.  I used brown kraft paper cut into strips and dipped them in a 1:1 mixture of water and matte medium (Mod-Podge).  I didn't have a good source for large quantities of white glue, and I know that acrylic matte medium is plenty hard when it dries.  But at $7.50 per bottle, I figured I could get away with diluting the matte medium to spread it a little further.  More on this later.  The soaked strips were draped over the spline roadbed and foam pieces that formed the basic landscape.  It's alot like working with wallpaper.  The end result can be seen below: 

DC, Harrisburg Oct09 103 that one still has some spots that need to be touched up.  I used a very light cheesecloth to cover large open areas between the foam hill supports.  I really like the way that I could form ditches along the ROW in the cut. 

The area shown below will be a swampy area just on the outskirts of town.  I used a strip of plywood to support the spline roadbed where I had to make the cutout for a trestle.  A couple of carefully-placed styrofoam sheets created a dead-flat surface which will ultimately be covered with Enviro-Tex "water".  

DC, Harrisburg Oct09 104

And here's the shot of that highway scene again.
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So far, I love the glueshell scenery.  It goes fast and isn't too messy, especially with the $3 drop cloth underneath to catch anything that drops through.  You do need to figure on a good 10 minutes to clean the dried acrylic off your hands at the end of laying it up, but it's much less mess than cutting styrofoam.  When the Mod-Podge dries, I'm left with a firm-yet-flexible scenery base...not as firm as I'd hoped for, but perfect for a portable layout!! 

On a trip to Lowe's this evening, I spied a gallon jug (128 fl.oz.) of Elmer's Glue All for around $11.  I had spent $15 on 32 ounces of Mod-Podge and had to dilute it.  I've got a small amount of Glue All that I plan to use undiluted to do a few of the remaining sections.  My guess is that the full-strength Glue All will create a more rigid base.  If so, I'll be using Glue All instead of Mod-Podge in the future to save on the expense.

In other news, our local Wal-Mart now has RC's in the dispensing machines out front for $0.75....   :-)