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As part of the layout planning process the baseboard construction method should have given consideration to the scenery. This may simply involve the provision of a drop baseboard to allow a water feature, or may be as complicated as an open frame baseboard with scenic profile timberwork. If you have chosen to use flat baseboards or are already committed to flat boards then all is not lost. The Woodland Scenics Sub Terrain Lightweight System is designed to add scenic features to a flat baseboard. This method of structural scenery is not covered in this website as we suggest you visit the manufacturer at http://www.woodlandscenics.com We can supply and install Woodland Scenics Sub Terrain Lightweight System if required.
If you wish to add simple tunnels or hills to a flat layout we have added a simple guide to scenery at Simple Guide
THE STRUCTURAL SUPPORT
The nature of the structural support depends upon the type of model railway under construction. The railway companies and engineers of Great Britain were fortunate that most of our population centres are not in remote areas and therefore connecting these centres was often easier than some of their European and American counterparts. Railways of the UK feature cuttings, embankments, tunnels and bridges simply to keep the gradients as shallow as possible, we do not have the need for some of the extreme engineering used in other regions of the world. As such most UK based model railway layouts scenically are simple featuring undulating terrain which does not require extravagant structural support. This can usually be achieved using polystyrene sheets or a weave of cardboard strengthened and waterproofed with varnish. The image below left shows this method under construction integrated with plywood track supports. A more expensive construction foam can be used as shown in the images to the right. This foam has a greater density when compared to polystyrene and does not suffer from the 'debris' problems shown in the left image. Both types of foam can be cut with a hot wire cutter to reduce debris - please follow manufacturers instructions regarding foam vapour.
European and American model railways tend to be more extreme in terms of the scenery due to the wide variety of landscapes available to model. The more spectacular locations tend to impress and influence the model maker. The following images show the joinery involved in the construction of baseboards with scenic features for a large European layout. The change in height from the bottom of the baseboard frame to the top of the scenery is almost one metre. The design of these baseboards can be seen in our scenery planning section Scenic Design These methods are frequently used on UK layouts but with less severe height gains unless some very remote locations are chosen.
COMPLETING THE STRUCTURAL WORK
Once the structural support is in place a covering is required to form the base landscape. Where timber supports have been used we prefer to form the landscape from 6mm square galvanised pet mesh covered with plaster bandage. This mesh is more expensive than chicken wire but is fine enough to prevent the plaster bandage sagging into the mesh which may show on the finished product. Where mesh work cannot be used we follow the method outlined above using sheets of 50mm polystyrene sheet obtained from builders merchants. The images below show how the above baseboards move towards completion using these methods.
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