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Model railroads - model railways and trains > Model train scenery
Model train scenery
Every model railway owner wants the railway to be as realistic in appearance as possible. The question arises what are the qualities which make for realism? Most people would say, "Correctness of scale and completeness of detail." But that does not cover the whole story.
Correctness of scale is a very important feature, for there is nothing that offends the trained eye more than clumsy or disproportionate detail. When the locomotives and rolling-stock are purchased from a good firm, correctness of scale in this department is usually well assured; but, however good this feature may be, the realism of the whole system will be lost if the stations, bridges, signals and other details are not in close keeping with the scale.
One of the details where scale is frequently departed from, is in the length of station platforms. This is a real difficulty on many working model railways model systems, the total length of track is necessarily very short from a scale point of view, and if station platforms were extended to full scale length, two or three stations would fill up the whole system. On the other hand, a short, stubby station does not look realistic.
Small scale railroad stations are easier to model in this respect than the more extensive structure in populous centres. The real art of securing realism lies in knowing what; to put in and what to leave out in the way of detail, and in securing representative finish.
The features necessary for the operation must go in; the non-essentials should be added with judgment and care. The question of representative finish is a very important one, and it does not always receive the attention it deserves. Take, for instance, a brick wall. This is probably a piece of painted wood, with all the bricks carefully marked out in black or white lines. Compare the average "brick wall" on a model railway with the real thing and notice how glarng hard and formal it usually is; it is probably too bright a red to start with, and the marking of the bricks is, much too mechanically perfect.
When an artist paints a tree or a field of grass, he does not paint in every leaf or blade. By a suitable use of masses of colour and light and shade he conveys to the mind of the observer the idea "that is a tree." He can even paint so deftly that you can tell the exact kind of tree, even from a few casual splashes of colour. Just in the same way, a brick wall, or a slate roof, or a paved platform can be indicated by a broad colouring, without the over-introduction of minute detail. A model railway builder may not be an artist, but he would do well to study real station buildings, bridges, embankments, and other features from the point of view of "general effect," as well as for their details of construction.
A great aid to realism is a well-painted back scene, especially when the railway runs around by a wall. A well illustrated background, which can be painted on ordinary white lining paper if "poster colours " are used. These colours are handled in the same way as water colours, but have more body and are, as a rule, much brighter or more luminous.
Station buildings can be made up very readily with model bricks, and look very attractive because the bricks are made of artificial stone, and there is a wide variety of shapes to utilize.
Many buildings suitable for a model railway can be constructed from cardboard and, when nicely painted, are extremely attractive, and offer good scope for originality and an expression of personal taste. This sort of work is not expensive, and makes an agreeable change.
Landscape modelling, including such items as hills, cuttings and embankments, is another attractive aspect of model railway work and worthy of greater attention. Crumpled brown paper pasted over a light wooden framework is the usual method of representing natural features, and the result is quite good if the colouring is thoughtfully done. A good plan is to sprinkle sand over patches of wet glue and to add bits of rock and stone, and then to paint the remainder with green paint and while wet to sprinkle over it some shredded and powdered green cloth. This can be prepared by rubbing a wad of the cloth on the old-fashioned metal nutmeg graters, and using the resulting fluff.
Another way of representing grass is to get some surgical lint and dye it, but it is as well to vary the tint a little to avoid the monotony of a uniform colour. Shrubs and trees can be represented by loofah, dyed with green "Batik" dye and cut to about the desired form and then worked to shape with tweezers.
Thanks largely to such publications as the Model Engineer and the Model Railway News, there is no excuse for any model railway being defective in this respect.
The material known as "Stripwood" can be utilized in many ways on a model railway as, for instance, in the construction of the No. "0" gauge buffer stops. This is simply a short length of track on two sleepers to which the parts A and B are glued, pinned or screwed as shown. The buffer beam is glued to the front uprights and two discs of wood added. The whole is painted grey, except the front face of the buffer beam, which is bright red.
A simple island platform can be made very easily from thin wood. The surface of the platform represents tar-paving achieved by painting with black varnish and sprinkling the wet surface with emery powder and pumice powder in equal proportions. The sides and edges are painted red and white respectively to resemble brick and stonework.