Important scenery question

Discussion in 'General' started by patrick flory, May 21, 2020.

  1. patrick flory

    patrick flory Member

    My covered outside air layout at the second house is coming along.

    The problem is that in coastal Mississippi the humidity is 110% a lot of the time. Plus in one area I want to expand into, misting rain can blow in, although I’ve got a plan to address that.

    The question is, how does excessive humidity and possible light rain on the layout surface affect scenery materials? I’m especially worried about how scenic cement is affected, basically a white glue. I’m afraid I can’t ballast the track or put any ground cover down. That humidity will make the ballast soft after it dries and that any rain that gets on the surfaces will turn the scenery to slop. I know that lichen really absorbs the humidity and gets very soggy, it happens on my main layout when I’m gone for days and the AC is turned off.

    I have zero other space for my layout over here, but I really do want basic scenery. I already know I have to use plastic buildings and that EVERYTHING has to be picked up if I’m not right there. There’s cats around plus at night we also have raccoons and possums in there at night. I’ve already found evidence of nocturnal wrestling matches on the layout.

    This come back to a question I asked awhile back. How bad do you want a layout? I want one here in MS pretty bad. It’s either this or no layout. No other options. It’s pretty pleasant down there a lot of the time but the extreme extenuating circumstances make this one a pretty hard case.
  2. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Since this isn't a normal layout, I'll give you an abnormal recommendation: does it get enough natural light to grow plants? Could you put down soil and grow actual scenery? Just throwing that one out there, I don't see how the normal products would hold up in the elements.
  3. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    I’m trying to imagine your layout area. Is it like a carport with one or two sides open? I honestly can’t imagine any meaningful scenery working out well enough to be worth the time and effort. Try out a test area using different scenery techniques like carved foam painted green or some of that fuzzy fabric like I use. Experiment and maybe you can teach us all something.
    Having said that, I have seen a video somewhere of an HO garden layout. Experiment and report back.
  4. Joe Lovett

    Joe Lovett Member

    Is there any way you could make a removable cover?

  5. patrick flory

    patrick flory Member



    This is it. It’s almost all EZ track I had left over and with its plastic roadbed it is ideally suited for this soggy environment.

    This is a raised house 10’ above grade because of area flooding history. It’s all open air except for a laundry room at the back. The rest of it is a parking place and storage which includes the layout area.

    The track design is all different and much better now. These photos show an initial quick and dirty snap together plan just to run something.

    The first photo with the widely spaced tracks looks out towards the street. The parking spot is to the left on the other side of the lattice, and the street side beyond the lattice is set 8’ in from the edge of the house above so no rain gets in on this part.

    The second photo, with the NCE cab, is the other part of the L looking towards the side of the house with the parking space at your back. That lattice is flush with the side of the house so some rain does blow in on the last foot or so of the layout.

    I can continue the layout for 14 more feet along the outer edge to make a U shape and actually have a believable point to point short line, but rain will come in unless I build a combination backdrop/rain stopper. But that and nothing will ever solve the humidity issue.

    I’m over here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast 4 or 5 days of the week since I retired. It’s beautiful in every dimension except for all the !#%<~€>!! factors that make a layout difficult to have in our present house. I’m operating switching moves now and put up with unloading / repacking the equipment and the NCE every time I want to run a train but boy does that ever get old, uses up 1/2 hour every time I want to run train. I’m really afraid this is a permanent Plywood Pacific. The track is fine, just needs daily wipe off with an old piece of cork roadbed, but I don’t know if anything else can take the conditions.

    Attached Files:

  6. geep07

    geep07 Member

    That wafer board or particle board that your EZ track is on won't last in that high humid environment. sealing it with paint or some sort of sealer will buy time.
    Is there a model railroad club within a reasonable distance that you can join and participate in? Seems like a lot of time, money and effort to have a layout in that type of environment that will cause you to not enjoy your objective.
  7. patrick flory

    patrick flory Member

    No real club. There is a nearby toy train museum with Christmas village layouts. My buddy, also layoutless, we have been offered some space for something there but with everything that’s happened the situation is unknown, I want my own layout. The wafer board is sealed but has sagged slightly, I’ve got the track relatively level at this point. Plus this layout has a 3-5 year life at most before we move again.... probably in with the kids which definitely means no layout.

    This isn’t Pennsylvania or California with 3 model railroaders on every block. My friend who shares my branch line / shortline steam interests is the only such serious modeler for hundreds of miles, there are other “model railroaders” around but they run Super Chiefs and old Tyco stuff at supersonic speed on ovals through Christmas villages, not my thing.
  8. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    Hi Patrick:

    I know we all must do what we feel we need to do in order to enjoy the hobby, but I agree with John: The conditions are going to conspire against you in view of the objective of enjoyment. That is not a good environment to fully enjoy model railroading.

    Have you considered making your space waterproof and temperature controlled?

  9. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    Never mind about my suggestion of making the space weatherproof and temp controlled. Just read your latest that you posted while I was typing mine.

    Seeing as you think any layout in that space will have an expected life of 3-5 years changes a lot of things.

    Any layout is better than no layout.

  10. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    May I offer a sharp stick... In all seriousness, without protection from weather and humidity, I think you are not going to have much to enjoy.
    William Jackson and Jim James like this.
  11. patrick flory

    patrick flory Member

    I’m going to ballast the track a few sections at a time on the workbench. Then reinstall. It’s all been painted a nice dark brown since those photos were taken. That way the track isn’t glued to the layout but is free to relocate as needed. Then maybe a light application of ground cover and grass with some basic roads from the rubber rolls you can buy. No fancy weeds or anything, just enough cover to not be plywood. If it works, it works. If not, NBD. The layout isn’t big enough to lose much on anyway. I already have scenery stuff left over from the main layout.

    Speaking of the layout. It’s 87F and 70% humidity downstairs on the railroad right now. I’m going to man-up! Go down there for some Deep South railroading! Authentic climate! A 36” floor fan helps. But! We’re going to be over 90F and 110% humidity in a few weeks! That, my friends, will be nap time! In a cool 70F 45% house!
  12. patrick flory

    patrick flory Member

    The track got painted the right color - Rustoleum cocoa brown chalk finish. Even EZ track looks pretty good. The “scenery” is lichen covered twigs that snapped naturally from the oak trees in the yard.

    In the immortal words of Linn Westport - “Model railroading is fun!” No matter what! The fan is on and it’s great to run a train at all! Except I had to “educate” a wandering cat just now.:LOL::ROFLMAO:

    Cars on the interchange


    Freight cars plus RAV4!

    Joe Lovett likes this.
  13. gna

    gna Member Supporter

    Hmmm...This is tough problem. Here's what I suggest...I have never tried anything like this, so take this with a healthy dose of salt...

    The 2" thick insulation foam would be good to build on, but that's nearly impossible to find in the south. If you could find it, that would be good to build on. Simple wood frame with foam glued down with foamboard adhesive, painted with exterior latex, should be ok outside. If not, good coats of paint on what you have or exterior grade plywood.

    Scenery material, earth colored exterior latex paint. Ground foam, you can glue down with carpenter's wood glue. It doesn't always dry clear, but it is mostly waterproof.

    I saw a layout where someone had EZtrack, or the Atlas or Kato Equivalent. He got one of those spray paints that creates a stone texture, make it stone or stone creations, and sprayed the sides of the track, to look like ballast. You can always use thinned carpenter's glue on real rock.
  14. patrick flory

    patrick flory Member

    I think the waferboard in place is pretty stable now. If I extend along the outside face of the house I’ll use exterior grade CDX plywood. And I’m probably going to do that extension to get a decent run between ends.

    “Earth colored “ paint has always eluded me. Whenever I buy some, when it gets on the layout it looks terrible. And my language becomes “earthy.” :coffee::ROFLMAO:

    Carpenters glue is a good tip. It dilutes with water but dries water proof right? If so it’s good for ground cover and ballast outside the rails. Scenic cement is probably good enough for the little bit between the rails.
    gna likes this.
  15. patrick flory

    patrick flory Member

    Another view of the interchange and the wood yard. There’s eventually going to be a backdrop on 3/16” plywood that hides the lattice.

    Joe Lovett likes this.
  16. gna

    gna Member Supporter

    I had the same problem with earth paint. My daughter and I painted some brown paint--it looked like chocolate when it dried.
    My friend bought "goofs" from Home Depot that are earth tones, apparently the style a few years ago, and just uses them. He mixed a few together to make a dull brown.
  17. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    I think that one of the most difficult colors to match is local dirt. Like you guys, my attempts have been barely acceptable at best. Even the real thing doesn’t always “scale down” to a realistic result. Accurate model railroad colors is a bit of hit or miss science unto itself.
  18. patrick flory

    patrick flory Member

    The dirt where I grew up was Mississippi river delta blackland dirt, rich beyond belief and almost actually black. Sugar cane was the crop, it was being grown everywhere. Some corn too. It pains me when I pass through there from time to time to see how so much of that unbelievably beautiful land is now wasted under crummy malls and tract houses.... but I guess that’s everywhere now. But I’ve never seen that black dirt anywhere else and most dirt seems very light colored, sometimes almost white. I wish someone would make some kind of regional chart showing what color paint best represents such and such a place. Whenever we travel and I see a field with really good looking dirt, I realize that I forgot the bucket and a garden trowel.
    Jim James likes this.
  19. geep07

    geep07 Member

    If There Is A Will, There Is A Way!
  20. gstout

    gstout Member Supporter

    I think Keith is right with this one. Your layout is exposed to the outdoor elements and it will be extremely difficult (and frustrating) to keep it running correctly.


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