Modeling scenery elevation with insulation foam

Discussion in 'Modeling Tips' started by Joe Lovett, Dec 12, 2015.

  1. Joe Lovett

    Joe Lovett Member

    To model elevated scenery on your layout start out with at least 1/2 inch foam before laying any track. This will allow you to carve small gullies or a ditch. If you want a deeper depression go with thicker foam. This works great for below track level scenery and you will notice the improvement right away. For scenery above track level simply add more foam in layers till you reach the desired elevation. Next carve away the corners to make the levels blend together and then add your ground foam to finish.
    You can go to my "Boston Mountain Sub Division" and"Double Track Layout" albums to see what this suggestion looks like on a flat track layout.


    Edit: Added links to layouts
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017
    gjslsffan and FriscoCharlie like this.
  2. William Jackson

    William Jackson Bill Jackson Supporter

    How do you do your bridges, do you lay your track and then cut away for the bridges or put the bridges in first? The results look nice. I have not tried that yet, but I am going to on my next layout.
    Joe Lovett likes this.
  3. Joe Lovett

    Joe Lovett Member

    I want to build a steel trestle on the south end of module 08. The plan at this time is to assemble a Micro Engineering steel trestle so I can get the actual height then build the module and foam stack up.

  4. Joe Lovett

    Joe Lovett Member

    The thing to remember is how the water flows on your layout. We spend a lot of time determining how the tracks go so spend the same time on water flow. Try to avoid the "Dead Sea" scenario. Go with the flow.

  5. Joe Lovett

    Joe Lovett Member

    I like to use blue 1/2 inch and pink 3/4 inch insulation foam on top of a 3/4 inch Birch plywood base to model scenery below track level. The foam is easy to carve with a keyhole saw and a rasp file. A foam stack up of 1 1/4 inch equals a little over 9 feet in HO scale and just shy of 17 feet in N scale, enough for a small stream or ditch. The blue foam acts like a warning track to keep from carving too deep, to barrow a baseball term. To add more elevation above track level, stack more foam on top of the base layers, round off the edges and corners and pay attention to how water would flow to avoid standing water situations.

    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  6. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Joe, I'd missed this a couple of years back but it's a really good modeling tip. This reminds me of reading - maybe in a MRP issue - of one of W. Allen McClelland's V&O layouts. He'd modeled the ditches, cricks and other assorted drainage quite accurately: so accurately that water from a ruptured water pipe in the layout space drained away from the track.

    I'd have to double-check all of the details, but that's effective modeling.

    Best Regards,
    Joe Lovett likes this.

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