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Discussion Starter #1
My backyard is relatively flat and I would like to have some good sized terrain to have bridges, trestles, etc.  I'm not really in a position to bring in 16 tons of dirt, at least not yet.

What are the thoughts of roughing it out with hardware cloth and covering that with concrete?  Kind of like monster scale of what the N/HO crowd does.  It would make things go a lot faster for me to get something up.  I'd arrange it so there would be plenty of dirt areas for plants, etc.

I've seen this done in exhibits for wildlife, etc. and it usually looks pretty good.

Any experiences, good, bad indifferent?  Any tips, suggestions, pointers?

Thanks,
Michael
 

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I have considered doing the same thing, but I am always scared off by the thoughts of what might decide to make it their home... spiders, bees, rodents, badgers, bears, sasquatch, etc. If you do it, keep me posted on the results!
 

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Michael

Here are some links to various MLS member's websites and links to the MLS archives, which can be accessed via the...
MLS menu-bar > Community menu > Forum Archives


You then can visit the various forums in the old software and use the Serach feature to locate topics posted over the last seven years.


MLS Member: TJ-Lee PDF format file 

MLS Member: Warren Willis Jr (MLS User ID: silverstatespecialties)

MLS Member: Craig Sheline (MLS User ID: sheepdog)

Gary's Mountain / MLS Members: Chris Walas (User ID: cjwalas) & Gary Olmstead (User ID: astrayelmgod)
 

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We used plastic cement, rather than concrete. Plastic cement can be worked like modeling clay if you get just the right amount of water in it. Note that plastic cement is used as the base for stucco, so if there aren't stucco homes in your area, plastic cement will be hard to find. Try mortar instead. If you do, let me know how it works out for you.

As for what takes up residence there, if you run the mountains all the way to the ground all the way around , or conversely, don't have any backs on them at all, there won't be much of a problem. I have a spot where I intentionally left a cave opening large enough for my Scottish terrier to get in and snoop around, and I haven't seen anything in there except spiders.
 

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TJ's PDF is the best article of that batch. I thought that there was another thread about the mountains that Chris, John and I built, but I can't find the thread.

One comment about TJ's and Craig's articles is that they both used re-bar as the basic form. That is not necessary. You can use anything that is handy. I have used 1x2 firring strips; Chris used Stryofoam on a later stage. We also used screws to hold the hardware cloth on the first time. But it turns out that poultry netting works better than hardware cloth, and hot glue works just fine to hold the wire to the frame.

When building the frame, you have to keep in mind that the only purpose of the frame is to set the shape long enough for the cement to set up. After that, the cement will be self supporting, and the frame doesn't matter.
 

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Works great!  Do it all the time.  I use crinkled aluminum foil to add texture.  I actually use mortar or mason's mix and for structures that are to be walked on, concrete undeneath the mortar mix.

What's to the left of the "crack" is man-made and that to the right is real.

 

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Michael,

I've used Gary's and Chris' plastic cement technique and really like it. As Gary pointed out I used rebar as my Cliffs of Insanity set right next to the house and termites are a consideration in my area. Feel free to ask questions about anything in the PDF.



Gary,

> TJ's PDF is the best article of that batch.

Thank you sir, but you helped. I could not have gotten anywhere with the technique without your help. Many thanks.

Best,
TJ
 

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Depending on the size of your mountain(s) why not make them hollow and use the space for train storage. Heck take a couple of feet of dirt OUT and make it deeper so you can stand up in it and use it for train storage and hidden operation(s),
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Lots of good info, thank you all very much. TJ's Mole Hill PDF is a wonderful, very well done document. I am having a bit of a time finding burlap locally. Everyone has plenty of the poly-whatever weed block fabric, but I don't think that will work. It always amazes me how much stuff I cannot find in the huge Dallas/Ft.Worth metroplex. I guess it is because there is so much it is hard to filter through.

The hollow train storage cavern rpc7271 suggests opens the mind to all kinds of entertaining possibilities. I can just see the fright at an open house when a hand mysteriously crawls out of a tunnel portal :)

Since everything here is covered with brick or rock, you have to go much farther west to see any stucco, so no one carries plastic cement. Maybe I'll try to different types of mortar mix instead.

Thanks for all the good responses, keep them coming. I may build something yet!

Michael
 

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That grade of burlap is generally used to slow water runoff on slopes. I've been to Dallas; there aren't enough slopes there to bother with. so I wouldn't expect every garden center to carry it. Come to think of it, only Lowe's carries it here; HD does not.

There is also a burlap that you can get at some fabric stores; that stuff is so densely woven that the cement can't soak all the way through it. For the same reason, old bed sheets, etc, won't work at all.

Let me know how the mortar works out; I know others who can't get plastic cement either.
 

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I have been reading the posts on how to make mts and they are very helpful. We are going to add some mts and a tunnel to our layout this spring and summer and i see you have painted the cement structures. Has anyone tried adding dye to the cement, if so how did it turn out.
 

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Yes, I always add dye to the mix.  And while the "rocks" do receive subsequent color, the dye helps in the case of areas that don't get much paint, or the paint of mortar chips off.

Terra cotta dye and ruddy red primer used for red lava rocks and sandstone:



And black dye and black and grey paint for black and grey volcanic rock.

 

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I remember seeing an article by Russ Larson in Model Railroader some years ago, in which he described building a hollow mountain of concrete on chicken wire. I think that he called it 'ferrocement'. If I can locate the article, I'll post the source. I do remember that the mountain was so strong that Russ could sit on it.
SandyR
 

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There was a article in garden railways 1997 or 96 i think it was by jack verducci. He talked about forming mts and the cement mixture he used it was pretty detailed and he talked about using dyes and coloring the cement.
 

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Michael, The article by Russ Larson was called "Building the Impatiens, Begonia and Northern. It appeared in Model Railroader, April 1990, and the article started on p.95. And here I thought it was only a few years ago...boy, time flies when you're having fun!!! If it is not available from Kalmbach as a back issue, there is a site, I think it's called railroadtreasures.com, that has old model railroading magazines. This is a statement of fact, not an ad.
SandyR
 

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The articles is also reprinted in the book, "Beginner's Guide to Large Scale Model Railroading by Mark Horovitz and Russ Larson". starts on chapter seven. You can still buy this book used on Amazon.com.
 

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Hmmm... real or fake mountains. I know how to add fake mountains to layouts, but adding real ones seems like a bit of a stretch. I have to admit that real mountains would look much better on any layout, so if you decide to go that way, please tell us how you moved the mountains of your choice to your layout.
:)

Mark
 

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Posted By MarkLewis on 02/14/2008 1:18 PM
Hmmm... real or fake mountains. I know how to add fake mountains to layouts, but adding real ones seems like a bit of a stretch. I have to admit that real mountains would look much better on any layout, so if you decide to go that way, please tell us how you moved the mountains of your choice to your layout.
:)

Mark



I, along with four guys who were painting the house down the block on their lunch break moved a "real" one on the T&LBRR.  I gave them $20 each.  ;)  (Weighs over 500 pounds and about 25% of it is below ground.) 



After it had been inplace for several years, I decided to make it into an active volcano.  This meant boring a hole through the center, carving it out to be the cauldron, and sealing it water-tight.  I then had to dig under it to run the hose and electrical wires.  This was all done using hand tools (and blood).

 

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Awesome volcano!!! There are two more really good articles on making concrete mountains. One is 'The Snow Creek Railroad' by Bob Treat, which appeared in Garden Railways Feb. 2005, p.74 ff. The other is 'Make Natural-Looking Rocks from Concrete', which appeared in Garden Railways Aug. 2001, p.62 ff.
SandyR
 
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