View Full Version : Scale train sets ...help with water

12-19-2009, 08:05 PM
My son turns eight (8) in January ... I have purchased a new train set for him (HO scale).

We have trains sets ... and some from when I was a boy, but this one will be new to both of us/the whole family.

We are going to create a scene from a fishing harbor ... lobster boats ... an old wharf kind of scene at the edge of the land ...

I have made water before, but have seemingly lost my 'recipe!'

Any suggestions on new layouts ... ideas? Pics?

And I really need a recipe for scale-model water! Acrylic and what???

We did one a couple years back, but I cannot find (like I said) my water recipe! :( :mad:

Any layout suggestions, or pics, are welcome ...

But I am mainly interested in making water ...

He wants a deep-water layout ... with some wreckage/salvage at the bottom of some fictitious deep-water harbor!!!

Thanks in advance!

Vince Brennan
12-19-2009, 08:09 PM
Model Railroader (http://www.themodelrailroader.com/landscaping/how-to-model-water-on-your-model-railroad-layout/), or HERE (http://www.aglasshalffull.org/article-model-water.html).

12-19-2009, 08:18 PM
I have sold off all my model rail stuff except the scratchbuilt loco's and cars, but they are packed away and I haven't looked at them for years. I wen't back to boats.
My waterside layout was modeled on trhe Dolley Varden operations, there's a page of references here

I built a mountain along a wall, 6ft high with a water tank at the base with a rail-mounted magnet that towed a paddlesteamer on an oval path that circulated in front and behind the set. Cog railway, switchbacks, forced perspective, and a small motor driven propeller in the tank to give the water reality. You have to be very careful electrically, scenery not to actually touch the water if possible (wicking problems), an anti algyl agent and drain the tank if not in use for a while (a pump system is handy). It was fun, good luck.

12-19-2009, 08:26 PM
I used to have a fairly big HO layout but boats won over my interest. There was a good article about creating waves and water in one issue of Model Railroader though I don't remember which.

12-19-2009, 08:28 PM
You should be able to buy decent quality water modeling goop at your local hobby shop or Walthers (the model train catalog) probably has it.

12-19-2009, 08:36 PM
I don't remember what my brother used to use for water but I'm curious why you didn't go with N guage. You can do so much more in the same space and it's easier(in my mind) to make it more realistic.


12-19-2009, 09:46 PM
I find that water makes pretty good water....

12-19-2009, 09:47 PM
N guage is a bit too small for the five year-old ... even the eight year-old, really. Bigger trains seem to be the way my kids like to to it ...

Besides that, I've had HO since I was about six or seven!


12-19-2009, 09:48 PM
I find that water makes pretty good water....

Actually, real water makes pathetic 'scale' water ... ripples WAY too big ... flows WAY to fast, etc. ;)

My scene will be static ... so real water is out 100%.

Stan D
12-19-2009, 09:51 PM
I find that water makes pretty good water....

Spoken like a true.........boater.:D

12-19-2009, 09:52 PM
Well............. If you were a REAL man, you'd get yer kid a 100% scale train set, with a conductor and engineer and coal man to go with it..... Maybe some gamblers and a robber......

12-19-2009, 09:54 PM
Guess who broke into the likker cabinet?:rolleyes:


S/V Laura Ellen
12-19-2009, 09:55 PM
I see the makings of a great picture based DIY thread!:)

Garth Jones
12-20-2009, 12:08 AM
Take a look at Dave Frary's book on model railroad scenery: http://www.amazon.com/Build-Realistic-Railroad-Scenery-Railroader/dp/0890244707/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261285485&sr=8-1

He has a number of good methods for modeling water. There are several ways of doing it. Two of the most common are a) painted board coated with various gloss levels of acrylic medium and b) layers of resin, often tinted, with various stippling and dry brushing techniques for making ripples and waves.

Todd Bradshaw
12-20-2009, 12:38 AM
For smooth water, anything that can get you a nice, glossy finish will do - resin, varnish or commercial heat and pour water from the scenery companies (some sort of low-temp meltable plastic) or liquid acrylic water products. As long as your surface is smooth and clear, the trick is not the thickness, it's the base-painting under it that gives the illusion of depth. Just like in an airial photograph, the bottom starts to show through as you get near the shore. I used WEST epoxy for this "lake" because I was too lazy to go out and buy something when I had epoxy on hand. The resin layer is no more than 1/8" thick and poured over a painted pine shelf board.

This in N Scale, so it didn't take much resin. The real bear was carving the 3/16" tall eagle in the tree and the 1/8" long fish that the man on the left is holding and then painting them with paint on the point of a needle.

Creeks and rivers are the same basic deal. It's not as much the coating used as it is what's under it. I did this one with a base of paint, a bit of tiny gravel (glued down) some green paint for slime and then used old epoxy that had turned dark over it. The stuff running down the wall is just gloss varnish.


For waves, the acrylic you're thinking of is probably acrylic modeling paste, made by the companies like Liquatex who make artist paints. There is also a company called "Woodland Scenics" that makes a couple forms of really good commercial water products which are commonly available at hobby shops. They also have videos with instructions:

12-20-2009, 04:50 PM
Thanks for the pics, Todd!

Neat setup you've got!!