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Suggestions for lightweight rock face


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I'm looking to add to the scenic part of my layout by adding a backdrop of a rock face to the straight section of line running along 'Buttlebank' which is at the bottom of the garden.

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With this section being on elevated boards I obviously don't want something that's heavy so I'm looking to build something that's light in weight but that will stand up to our weather. It could even be attached to the uprights clear of the actual baseboard but would still need to be lightweight.

Where the track curves onto the bridge section in the foreground I wouldn't mind something resembling the Loch Nan Uamh viaduct where the line passes into the tunnel cut into the rock face so a rock face along the fence and tunnel entrance? at this end. I might then add a passing loop/closed station along the edge of the board along with some more of my 'sprung' points.

I wondered if anyone had any suggestions for a suitable material before I start mixing concrete!

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4 hours ago, ba14eagle said:

If you had some of those rock moulds, could you use that expanding foam spray?

I've had some messy experiences with foam spray in the past but it could be useful in another way I suppose.

A little earlier I was watching a YouTube video of someone creating large rocks out of polystyrene shapes covered in chicken wire which was then thinly coated with a cement/peat/vermiculite mixture. Something like that would probably do what I was looking for. Maybe the spray foam once dried and covered in chicken wire would allow me to do similar? I've even seen rolled/scrunched up newspaper used in other videos. I guess anything to shape the chicken wire would suffice. I just need something that's tall and narrow rather than being in the shape of large boulders.

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Thanks Barry. I'd considered fibreglass for its weather resistance but I do prefer the more natural look and feel of stone/cement - something along those lines. I'm not sure even with just a thin layer that I'll be able to keep the weight down sufficiently. I wonder if there's anything similar to plaster bandages that can be used outdoors? Concrete bandages would be ideal!

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I wouldn't have thought a thin layer of cement over fibreglass would add too much to the weight? Certainly less than the weight of getting enough cement etc. to cover chicken wire.

I guess whichever means you try is a gamble that it might not work, might be worth trying a few ideas on a small scale before deciding? There are small patch repair fibreglass kits in Halfords.

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I've seen a lot of different scenic materials that are light weight. Of course the problem is that you are outside.

Your best bet may be to get some latex and build molds yourself from rocks. I did it on a layout about 30 years ago and it was easy. As long as you make the castings thin they will look fine. Making rock castings and casting plaster is really fun too. You learn to blend them before they harden and no one can see where one casting ends and another begins.

I used water putty which is a hard material, you may explore using that as plaster can be too soft.

Another option would be to gather the white packing foam things come in and use that to make your base which you can apply the plaster castings to. You could round the the foam by spraying it with any kind of solvent base spray paint.

Your biggest issues will be getting the plaster rocks to stick to the light weight foam and sealing the outside of your plaster castings. I think you could embed fabric, or even paper towels on the foam while it is still soft after being sprayed. Then all you need is a good paint on the plaster rocks to seal them. Maybe go a little light on the color so you can then brush on a dark wash to enhance depth.

No idea if this would work, yet it seems like you are in uncharted territory - good luck. 

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