Mountain Tunnels - Part II

By Ty’s Model Railroad - 6/12/2011 08:29:00 PM

Crumpled paper balls being placed on top of a foam tunnel structure to form a mountain shape

I started building the basic mountain structure by bunching up news print into various sized balls, held together with masking tape. I then started placing the crumpled paper balls over and beside the tunnel structure.

Crumpled paper balls being placed on top of a foam tunnel structure to form a mountain shape

I started with the largest pieces first, and worked my way up with the smaller pieces. I crumpled paper into specific shapes in certain areas and rearranged the paper balls until my mountain was the basic shape I was looking for. Once everything was in place, I used long pieces of masking tape to hold all the paper in place.

Crumpled paper balls being placed on top of a foam tunnel structure to form a mountain shape

Using plaster cloth that I cut into 4" strips, I started to cover the crumpled paper, overlapping each strip by about 1". I started at the top of the mountain and worked my way down, ensuring there were no gaps. I used my finger to smooth out any rough edges and to blend the strips together. I put my tunnel portals temporarily in place so I could ensure the plaster cloth and portals fit together correctly. Once the first layer of plaster cloth was dry, I put on a second layer to make it extra rigid.

Plaster cloth being applied to crumpled paper balls on foam tunnel structure to form a mountain

Plaster cloth being applied to crumpled paper balls on foam tunnel structure to form a mountain

While the large mountain was drying, I built a second small mountain at the opposite end of my layout. I used the same method as before, arranging crumpled paper to get the desired shape, then covered it with 4" plaster cloth strips. I also added rock castings that I previously made using a Woodland Scenics rubber mold and plaster of Paris. I held the rock castings in place temporarily with toothpicks while I placed the plaster cloth around it.

Crumpled paper balls being placed in the corner of model railroad layout to form small mountain shape

Plaster cloth and cast plaster rock outcroppings being applied to crumpled paper balls to form a small mountain structure

Once the plaster cloth was dry, I used a soupy mixture of plaster of Paris to cover the entire mountain structure to give it its final shape. Now I must admit, using plaster of any type is probably my least favorite thing to do. Plaster of Paris is difficult to use as it sets extremely quickly, so there is only a small window to work with it. Therefore, you must use small batches at a time. I would have loved to use Sculpt-a-mold, but the one hobby store here in Lethbridge that sells it is closed for a month as they relocate.

Completed plaster cloth mountain structure over two tunnels with styrene tunnel portals

I attempted to carve rock faces out of the set plaster, and found this to be very difficult and mostly ineffective. The carving worked in some areas but the plaster was either too soft or too hard and just chipped away from the plaster cloth. In the problem areas, I used shallow molds that I made out of aluminum foil. This was also problematic as they need to be placed on the mountain at just the right time. If not, they would crack and crumble or the plaster would ooze out of the bottom of the mold.

Completed plaster cloth mountain structure over two tunnels with styrene tunnel portals

First layer of plaster being applied to plaster cloth mountain structure over two tunnels with styrene tunnel portals

Plaster rock outcroppings on the side of a plaster cloth mountain structure

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