Sunday, May 21, 2017

I'm a convert....

They say that you have to try something to know whether you like it or not, this is the only way you will find out. I tried mushrooms once and now like them. With regards to scenery I had always used the plaster method. I had read about this soft rock method, but the old South Coast Rail layout had utilised the plaster method. I was quite happy using it and over time, the end results were okay.
In the previous blog I had mentioned reading about the soft rock method. So I experimented with my old office cushion and was pleased with results.
The electric carving knife was duly located buried at the back of the cupboard. (It only usually came out at Christmas time to assist carving the ham and then retired inside till the next one) Thanks for the tip Jim, the electric knife works a treat.
The first use of the knife worked well until the switch fell off. All I could see were two contacts inside which equalled 240 volts. The only way I could use the knife was to put an elastic band around the switch. This had a down side which means that I had no way of switching it on or off. Once plugged in then away it went. Plugging in a plug usually required two hands, one on each plug to push them together, but what I really needed was another hand to hold the writhering knife blade once it made contact. So far I haven't managed to cut anything including me.
Another issue was that the valley walls were slightly larger than an office cushion. So the search was on for more material. The shed yielded no extra, nor did a quick search of the house. I was very close when the wife offered up a foam mattress that has been standing idle in the linen cupboard waiting for a visitor to try it out. I resisted hacking up the mattress but thought if I hacked off one end then it could be then relegated to a visiting child's mattress. But then I remembered if I couldn't cut a bit of timber straight what chance did I have of doing a good job on the mattress?
The prize x 2
So then I hit the stores and hardware stores. I even went to Bunnings thinking they are supposed to have everything invented but come up a blank there as well. In desperation and still sans foam, I remembered why pay for foam when someone is probably chucking it out on a council cleanup? Our local cleanup is not on for another few weeks but I just wanted to get this valley work done.
Strike me lucky, last Thursday I was driving my wife to her mums and all this junk started to appear on the kerbside. I spotted a chair on the verge and I knew that foam and chairs go together. I had to pull around a corner and walk back to the spoils. But when I got there there was no cushion or foam. So back in the car and headed back to towards her mum. Then all of a sudden we both spotted what looked to be a pile of foam on the opposite side of the road. I even pulled the car up in a non stopping zone (but left the engine running) and raced across the road to see what was there. Talk about winning the lottery, there was a big pile of at least four foam mattresses just sitting there. Bingo, I grabbed two from the bottom of the pile, raced them across the road and into the back seat of the car.
The foamous left hand side of the valley
I wasted no time once the foam was home in getting the electric knife into action. As it was very thick I cut each section into three slices. All that need to be done was to attach it to the chicken wire and fire up the soldering iron. I was lucky this section of board was near the roller door as the soldering iron produces a large amount of probably toxic smoke when it burns. I set up the summer fan behind me an blew the smoke outside.
Rock strata getting etched in
Most form of scenery work always comes together progressively, a few stages and its there. So looking at the above photo this is the first step and then paint is applied.
Paint now applied
I still have a bit of 'Harold' (the paint colour) left and this forms the base coat. You can see in the above photo where I have dumped a pile of black oxide which I paint over the brown to provide shadow and variation.
The left hand corner is getting greener
The left hand side will be finished off at a later date as it will be accessible in front when the trestle is in position. Doing scenery work is not a quick exercise. I have spent quite a few hours over the last week on this area.
More foam is added higher up the valley wall


Looking at the above photo it looks on the rough side, don't panic as it will all come together. The next step here is to get the soldering iron into action carving in the rock texture.
This bit caps it all off
If you don't have one large section of foam to do the whole section it is okay to use smaller sections as I have done. The sections can be glued together or wired together. Any gaps that show up usually get filled in with scenery.
The capping has now been painted and blended in
The above photo shows how the top bit has been coloured and some of the gaps have been filled with foam and other bits of greenery. You can see how close the trestle will be to the wall of the valley. What a co-incidence the curved trestle matches the natural curve of the rock wall!
Greenery is slowly added to take away the solid rock wall look
Rock wall now stretches over to the road area
The above photo shows that the rock wall is now right across the valley and ends over near where the road will go under the trestle ala Monbulk trestle on Puffing Billy. I have also added a few other colours to the rocks for variation. These are drybrushed on and give it a 3D effect. Compare this photo with photo number six to see how well the foam has been blended in with the existing foam. Hard to pick where the joins are.
Having tried the soft rock and compared it with the plaster method I am now favouring this method. It is certainly a lot cleaner method and lighter especially when doing mountains. This section of scenery (like most) is viewed from a distance and it all blends in to the eye. You can get in close and be critical but when the trains are up and running the eye generally follows the train through the scene, the background becomes secondary.
Getting there slowly
In the above photo can be seen the road scene on the right of the baseboard. Once I am happy with the scenery/greenery on the rock wall, then I will get the trestle ready for positioning.
Till the next update, happy modelling.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bob, Looking better every day. I used the foam on my Kamilaroi layout for all the scenery, but because Camden is almost flat all over, Poly will do. I thought the foam would break up after a while but it didn't. Also I used PVA to glue it together. Can only try it. How about a video on the rock work, start to finish !! Great stuff.

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