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Author Topic: Building the scenery first!  (Read 747 times)

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Offline Paulwhitt20

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Building the scenery first!
« on: January 10, 2018, 07:01:34 PM »
On real railways, the scenery is already built and the railway engineers have to put the tracks through the scenery.  But on model railways we put the tracks down first then the scenery.

I was wondering if anyone has tried building the scenery first then adapting it to put the tracks through. E.g. Build some countryside then excavate to make cuttings and embankments etc. Would this give a more realistic look.

May try it on my next layout.

Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: Building the scenery first!
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2018, 07:51:55 PM »
Likely to be wasteful of material I'd have thought.     

You should certainly consider the landscape the line is going through as part of the construction phase though, otherwise you end up with the dreaded flat top with hills sprouting out of nowhere and nothing below track level.  This is why I much prefer open-frame construction.
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Offline daveg

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Re: Building the scenery first!
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2018, 08:15:31 PM »
During the planning of my layout, I had an idea of what the terrain should be and then added track to see if it would 'work' visually as well as practically.  Adjustments to both were frequently made before a final design was set.

I did find using a software package helpful (AnyRail) but I know many folk create their layouts completely freehand.

As mentioned, constructing the full scenics to then excavate, cut and cover, etc., to lay track may be a tad expensive with regarding to materials. Interesting concept though!

Dave G

Online njee20

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Re: Building the scenery first!
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2018, 09:01:27 PM »
I’d maybe do that on paper - think of the landscape and then how the railway  interacts with it, seems needless to build a landscape and then destroy half of it.

Offline NeMo

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Re: Building the scenery first!
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2018, 09:12:58 PM »
I was wondering if anyone has tried building the scenery first then adapting it to put the tracks through. E.g. Build some countryside then excavate to make cuttings and embankments etc. Would this give a more realistic look.

Others have commented on the cost and practicality. But I'll add something with regard to the aesthetics. A model railway is a caricature of real scenery, not a scale model of actual scenery. Hills and cliffs are much steeper, tunnels are narrower, and trees are much smaller.

While individual cameo scenes (for example, the clutter around a goods shed) might be realistic, most everything we make is highly compressed so that it evokes the feeling of real scenery while being crammed into a much smaller surface area. Bear in mind that something like a cricket pitch (around 500 ft in width) would scale down to about 3.3 ft in N gauge, which is about half the size of the average layout! In other words, a typical 6 x 4 N-gauge layout is less than twice the length of a cricket pitch, and yet we're fitting into that space hills, a tunnel or two, some sidings, a station, and probably a little village or the edge of a town!

So while the idea of cutting through a polystyrene hill sounds good, and might even be fun to try, it isn't what most modelling is about. Instead, you've got a trackplan that fits into a certain space, and what you want is to plonk a series of objects that suggest hills, tunnels, embankments and so on. These will all be far smaller, and more cramped together, than the real thing -- but done right, they're impressionistically good enough, so that the aesthetic is right, even if the measurements are ridiculously wrong.

Cheers, NeMo

Offline NinOz

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Re: Building the scenery first!
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2018, 10:32:28 PM »
Read a magazine article (US) a couple of years (decades?) ago.
Built scenery in extruded polystyrene then used hot wire to cut track base and earth works.  Looked ok.
Interesting concept but didn't seem to catch on.

CFJ
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I tried so hard to be snobbish and haughty.

Offline LAandNQFan

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Re: Building the scenery first!
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2018, 11:11:59 PM »
I remember talk of using builders' expanding foam sprayed into a shallow tray, letting it expand "naturally" and then carving the railway into the terrain produced, but never saw an example of the idea put into practice!   :hmmm:
Perhaps the proof that there is intelligent life in outer space is that they haven't contacted us.
Layout thread: http://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=23416

Online The Q

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Re: Building the scenery first!
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2018, 07:38:57 AM »
I must be odd, not a piece of track goes down until the scenery is finished. I know from experience of rebuilding Tiree, that I end up damaging track, dripping paint and filler all over the place. So on new build,  the track stays in it's box until the Navies come along.
 Admittedly the cuttings and embankments are built at the same time as the scenery, but often by carving down into the shaped Extruded foam by knife, saw or hot wire.

Also my scenery on my layout of a lifetime is to scale, hills and embankments are the correct shape, the few trees will be the correct height.  I'm working from Photographs and some measurements to get it right. (there are no tunnels).
this is in EM Gauge.

Back to Tiree in N gauge, it's a fictional railway I've inherited, however as my rebuild is going along I'm again working from photographs (and some Knowledge of the Hebridies), to get the impression of the scenery correct. This along with the buildings, which are being Modified to look like those from Tiree to get the correct feel of the place...

« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 07:52:21 AM by The Q »

Offline Newportnobby

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Re: Building the scenery first!
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2018, 09:55:09 AM »
I would venture only tunnels would be an impossibility* as, even having created a hollow hill/mountain that portals could be cut into, laying and affixing the track inside said hill/mountain would only be possible from underneath - therefore making it very difficult.

* No doubt someone, somewhere has achieved it

Offline NeMo

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Re: Building the scenery first!
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2018, 10:53:22 AM »
Also my scenery on my layout of a lifetime is to scale, hills and embankments are the correct shape, the few trees will be the correct height.  I'm working from Photographs and some measurements to get it right. (there are no tunnels).
this is in EM Gauge.

No question that it's doable. But such a layout has to be huge. Assuming a station with a platform length sufficient for 8 coaches, that's around 500 ft, or about 6.25 ft in OO, or 3.5 ft in N. Throw tunnels, bridges, and embankments into the mix and you can easily end up with 20ft of modelling space for an OO layout aiming to finely model a small country station and its approaches.

As you say, this might well be viable as a "layout of a lifetime" if you've got plenty of space, money, and an understanding spouse (this latter being the crucial factor in my experience). But most of us end up with smaller layouts where things have to be compressed, if only to make the layout interesting given the space available.

I'm always reminded of Heckmondwicke when these discussions come up -- a P4/S4 layout modelled to striking precision, but also one of the dullest layouts ever made.

Cheers, NeMo

Offline LAandNQFan

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Re: Building the scenery first!
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2018, 11:40:54 AM »
I would venture only tunnels would be an impossibility* as, even having created a hollow hill/mountain that portals could be cut into, laying and affixing the track inside said hill/mountain would only be possible from underneath - therefore making it very difficult.

* No doubt someone, somewhere has achieved it
Woodland Scenics should be paying me commission for getting back on this hobbyhorse, but sadly they aren't.  If you build shells of Shaper Sheet you could get your scenery, cuttings embankments and tunnel mouths right and then lift them off to fit the track without any mess at all.  I've done it the other way round (threads below and in Layout Construction) and now do not bother to cover the tracks below where I am applying the plaster to the Shaper Sheet.  Get the mix right and the plaster stays where you put it.
Perhaps the proof that there is intelligent life in outer space is that they haven't contacted us.
Layout thread: http://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=23416

Offline Jerry Howlett

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Re: Building the scenery first!
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2018, 03:14:09 PM »
Having ripped up the last layout and moved it to a new room, I have a major town on various boards. So I as I start to lay track I have to stop to see if I can fit the scenery in.  Mrs "H" likes the scenery more than the railway...
That's probably why progress is slow.

I have just spent last week building cutting walls and a tunnel mouth but haven't even got the track all laid or wired up yet.   :doh:

Jerry
Some days its just not worth gnawing through the straps.

Offline Newportnobby

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Re: Building the scenery first!
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2018, 04:05:37 PM »
I would venture only tunnels would be an impossibility* as, even having created a hollow hill/mountain that portals could be cut into, laying and affixing the track inside said hill/mountain would only be possible from underneath - therefore making it very difficult.

* No doubt someone, somewhere has achieved it

 If you build shells of Shaper Sheet you could get your scenery, cuttings embankments and tunnel mouths right and then lift them off to fit the track without any mess at all.

Ah, but that's 'cheating' as IKB was good but not even he could lift hills/mountains to fit the track ;)

Offline LAandNQFan

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Re: Building the scenery first!
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2018, 04:13:42 PM »
 :laughabovepost: but he would have done if he had thought of the idea.
Perhaps the proof that there is intelligent life in outer space is that they haven't contacted us.
Layout thread: http://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=23416

 

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