I’m beginning to favour the technique described below as it gives me more modeling options. At any rate, I don’t end up with overly antiseptic look working with plastic.

The cardboard I use is from an old Priority Mailbox because it’s the thickness that works best. Using a carpenters square, I cut my slabs in rectangles 2′ X 2 1/2″. Sidewalks are installed first and can be made with thicker cardboard, Masonite or even soft pine paint stir sticks. The above picture has thicker cardboard. The gas station below is built on a thin Masonite base that includes the sidewalks, and the buildings to the right have paint stir sticks. Working with six slabs at a time, coat the layout base with Carpenter wood glue and press them in place. Because the cardboard will curl, now coat the top of the cardboard. Use a cardboard scrap to trawl the glue flat for both applications. Now sprinkle the #1290 Concrete powder on the wet glue. Use a pallet knife to trawl the powder flat. When the powder gets to gluey from the glue below, hit the area with a light water spray to make it workable. An occasional slab can be shimmed up slightly on one edge to model a frost heave, but don’t overdo it.

Before the glue sets hard, clean out the joints with a sharp tool. I use a piece of brass angle as a corner tool for curbs and gutters. After everything is dry, sand away any lumps and rough edges.

To model large cracks, I’ll cut some of that unfinished cardboard in random jagged pieces and then install in the method described above.

I photoed the scene before everything had a chance to dry and couldn’t sweep up the loose powder on the street. This does show how deep cracks in the concrete looks. I’ll try to find time next week and finish everything up. The switch leads off to where the bulk tanks for all those gas stations store their fuel products and that hasn’t even been started yet.


Similar scenes to the ones seen below can be modelled from the new book, MOUNTAIN to DESERT
by Pelle Soeborg
published by

#1203 #1205 and #1207 Cajon Sandstone Worked into a scene along Route 66 on Pelle Soeborg’s Desert Scene on his layout all the way from Denmark.
Over the last hill, this is where the highway flattens out through the Desert in anticipation of a big Semi baring down on us going way over the speed limit.

Campbell’s kit #353 LCL Freight House

You need one of these on the layout as they were common for Less than Car Load pickups and deliveries. Lots of little building add potential activity to your railroad. I believe the kit comes with those unpainted crates and barrels that I have not detailed yet. One could scratch build this for a couple of bucks, however, I acquired this from Campbell’s when I did some work for the company some years back.

Desert Scene

 A desert scene can host a variety of color and texture such as below. This example of the landscape has a few stony mounds with #107-03 Sand & Gravel. The low areas use #1070 Earth Silt Soil to enhance the illusion of water erosion. # 1025 High Desert Field Stone is this side of the fence line as rip/rap. A couple of cows eating the sparse foliage turn it into grazing land.

Trees, Chaparral & Low Ground Cover for Sandstone Canyon

A new section of scenery was created with my new “tough skin” method. It consists of two layers of paper bags with foam in between. This is made tough by a coat of Rock Powder Pigment and diluted glue. For this scene, #1200 Cajon powder was used for representing my Sandstone Canyon. Knowing that trees were to plant in this scenery, I wanted to have a scenery base with foam to make planting trees and chaparral easy. The areas adjacent to this use the foam method.

The area around this Campbell Scale Models “Tall Curved Trestle” (two kits end to end) was done with a single layer of paper bag scenery. Planting the pine trees worked out ok, but if foam were underneath, it would have been better.
Step 1.
The tallest features for this scenery are the pine trees and should be planted last. I decided that it would work out best if their locations are established first, then remove them for installing the low ground cover and underbrush.
The tall pine trunks were temporally planted for knowing were the dead needle litter (#16) should be placed. Some grass flock was glued in place and then a few Tufts of stand up grass. More of this is yet to be installed as it looks too barren for now.
You can see a tree at left with the Air Fern branches that are half-finished.
Step 2.
Adding a small pond
There was a flat area at the base of the canyon so I placed a small pond there. Micro Engineering ties are in place for the track leading to the Saw Mill.
More ground cover and trees
1375 Wood Debris, #2 Dead & Alive Ground Cover, #4 Yellow Grass, #5 Green Grass and a few rocks (#1205 and 1207 Cajon Sandstone).
Clumps of Sage Brush are at the far right and just right of centre are some Utah Junipers made with real Sage armatures.
Rails are laying loose on the scenic roadbed with the Mauve ballasted mainline in the foreground.
Every tree has been done by different techniques to see what looks best. My focus will be on what materials will have the best longevity over the years. Natural foliage materials will fade and become brittle with time. To avoid this, I’ll use Hemp Twine for the branches instead of the Asparagus Fern. You can see a tree with only the Asparagus Fern at far right. To the left of that tree is one done with Hemp branches.
Pine needles are short snips of jute twine I stained dark green.

A Lit Service Station Sign out of Brass

Bob’s Super Service finally got the high highway sign lite so the motorist can easily see where to fuel up at night. While I was at it, a few other lights were installed in the building and around the property. I photographed all the construction steps and will soon submit it to one of the magazines for publication.

Weston train crews

The family of train crews are back together again after a long absents and posed for this picture. Pictured are Engineers, Firemen, Brakemen, Conductors and Dispatcher. I also learned how to make pigeons out of brass with one of them on the Geep cab. Mrs Spumoni and baby Pistachio are now in their new house as she checks out her new clothes lines. The checker players are on the second floor and well into a new game as the old hound dog sleeps. To get a large image like this, the camera lens had to be four inches away. The detail of Weston Figures is hard to believe as the masters were carved from beeswax over sixty years ago according to Leo Campbell.

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Weathering A Few Freight Cars

The same pigments I use for scenery and used for weathering all the structures you have seen on this web-site have now been applied on these freight cars. Call this “The Art of Model Railroading” as I wanted to make my weathering very obvious. Someone made a statement recently on the internet that Athearn’s rolling stock is not selling anymore and gathering dust on the hobby shop shelves. Consider using them for these extreme weathering techniques and I’m sure they will get as much attention as those highly detailed ones at six times the money.

You can’t believe everything printed by the model press. One of their highly endorsed techniques for weathering was to use dirty thinner. The results on plastic were very bad and the models looked horrible. Floquil’s weathering sets don’t cut it either as their to shiny. What you see here is my pigments applied over the tacky paint. Old paint turns to chalk and therefore not glossy looking.
Floquil’s Grime was applied to all these cars and then different combinations of my powder applied.
In some places, Dull Coat lacquer was applied to further distribute the pigment to make it adhere.
Only Dull Coat and black pigment were used on this car.
Care was taken not to hide the car logo’s so you could still read them. A little orange pigment was used to simulate fresh rust right of the door.
A stock car according to the late John Allen, will have a lot of “white” at the bottom to show the user of disinfectants.
Take a good look at the next freight train rolling by and notice the extreme disrepair of some units. I saw a couple up in Flagstaff a while back that were so bad one could hardly believe they were still in service.

Pistachio Goes Missing

The base is 1221 Yard Mix.

Pistachio heading home
The “Loafer” has just sent a pigeon to “Rosy” with a note that Pistachio is on his way home to Bootjack in uncle Tony’s car. (Rosy is Mrs Spumoni’s identical twin sister). The Pigeon has roosted on the church stoop and is waiting to see what happens next.

The base is 1303 Black Cinder HO Mainline with 1172 Mauve and 110-03Low Desert Soil as the earth on the right.

Cowboy and the so-called train men are sheepishly heading back to Bootjack empty-handed. They got duped by taking the wrong track in search of Pistachio’s train. However, he notices some activity up ahead.

Finally, baby Pistachio is back in the arms of Mama Spumoni. That Grandmother on the train put his diaper on really good, It must be he’s so active it won’t stay on very long.

BootJack Mine and Water Tower

Mountain snow, valley rain. Four to six inch’s above four thousand feet
This is the way the weather forecast is given to us in Arizona. The elevation determines the temperature and thus, rain or snow is forecast Statewide. When moisture moves in, the Desert will get rain and the “high country” snow.
One of my favourite Campbells structures is the Northern Water Tank with the Old Man walking down the tracks. Bootjack is a mountain mining town with occasional long term freezing temperatures so this gave me a good reason to have the model on the layout. We have very cold weather in Arizona today so why not have a permanent snow scene in the mountains.

The out of print Campbell catalogue #eight has many inspiring colour photos like this. Thirty years later, and I finally built the model.

You can’t always have a model turned in the direction for head-on viewing like the photo above. The scene looks much better than this camera shot because the lighting and depth of field just aren’t there.

A light dusting of snow actually makes the dark structures and scenery look more inviting because of the contrast of light and dark.
Why don’t you ask for a bag of #1320 Marble Dust Snow?

So-called railroad men head out

The railroad men decided to head out down the line to catch up with Pistachio’s train as they are reminded of the command by Mrs. Spumoni.
Products used is 1090c Earth around the base area building, 1221 Yard Mix, 1220 ash, and 3000 Kinzua as the base.

“Cowboy” has hopped on the engine that is chasing down baby Pistachio’s train. He claims his ability to read sign will aid in the effort. The train slowly approaches a junction when Cowboy yells “STOP.”

Cowboy notices something on the track up ahead and goes to take a look.
He holds up something for everyone to see and declares, “this must be baby Pistachio’s diaper and it looks dirty to me.” He further exclaims, “If you didn’t have me along, you fellas may have taken the wrong track at the junction.”
The red is 1040 Red Sadona and the ballast is 1303 HO Mainline

Little Pistachio is having the time of his life. When he got on the train, an old Grandmother spotted him as he seemed cold and bewildered. She quickly wrapped a blanked around him (that came just in time as the Conductor didn’t see him when walking by). Conductors hate little kids anyway.

The grandmother then pulled off his dirty diaper and threw it off the back of the train. She deliberately tossed it on the adjacent track, (she didn’t want to be accused of being a litterbug). Grandmothers always have a couple of spare diapers in their handbag just for such emergencies. Then she had the dining car waiter bring him some hot soup as the little darling seemed dreadfully hungry.

Life for a little guy can’t get better that this, but how long will it last?