Jul 1, 2017

June progress - static grass, scenery, backdrops

June has seen a little more activity outside the house, but some work on the layout as well.

I've finally gotten over my fear of properly using static grass, and have tackled basic ground cover for a significant portion of the layout.  My method turned out pretty simple, once I had tried a bunch of things.  It's all about layers - of course:
  • First, plaster was painted a light tan, matching the soil color of the area (approximately)
  • Then, 'traction sand' (from Menards) was sifted into a couple a grades, and the finest grade was sprinkled into the paint while wet (thickly applied paint, especially on the slopes).
  • I let that dry, then layered in several colors of ground foam, including some pretty bright fine green, a little tan, and spots of darker fine green.
  • This was heavily misted with 'wet' water (water and some alcohol), lthen soaked with diluted white glue (applied out of an old glue container).
  • Next was some spots of course medium green ground foam, pressed into the glue (especially on the slopes; it'd fall off without the glue first)
  • And finally static grass into the still-wet glue - 2mm dry green, followed by 6mm brighter greens, follwed by touches of 6mm wheat and 2mm dry winter grass.  The variation here is key - lusher in valleys, drier in other places.  If the glue started to dry out, I hit it with either more wet water, or hairspray.
    • By the way, I'm using a home-built static applicator, powered with a 9v battery, and have a nail I just touch into the area for grounding.  I use one hand on the nail, the other to shake the grass on - in this way I can move very quickly, moving the nail along as I go.  MUCH faster than fastening the nail into the scenery each time.
A sequence of this (from the Burns Canyon area near Rico) - sand first:

Then ground foam:

Then grass:

Here's some photos from the Hesperus and Ophir areas:

The road through the town of Ophir is very finely sifted 'pavers sand' (from Home Depot); I like the color.  It's just sprinkled into the wet water and diluted glue as described above.

A lot of areas on the RGS along the Ophir high line had large rock talus slopes.  I tried to copy that here by using the 'traction sand' again, but a larger size from my sifting activities.  Here, I started with a really thick coat of tan paint, and sprinkled the rock into that.  I followed it with the finer sifted sand, then finally 'wet' water, diluted glue, and static grass on the flatter bits.

The RGS was not known for a finely crafted roadbed; most of this layout will have pretty ill-maintained track.  But even for the RGS, I've got some cleaning on the railheads to do here before trains run again!

So, as I went along 'grassing' the layout, I finally came to Durango and Rico, and decided these really needed photo backdrops.  Working again with LARC Products, here's the beginning result in those areas.

This first one is a shot of Sunshine Mountain, peeking behind a gap on the Enterprise Branch scenery

And here's what things look like in Durango.  I kept the backdrops here pretty shallow (only 9" tall), mostly to keep the cost down.  Hopefully they'll work as distant scenery behind the yard.