Model railroads are more then just the trains, tracks and power supplies. They provide the enthusiast a way to study and recreate entire worlds and towns in miniature. Fulfilling this requires a variety of modeling skills and techniques or a large pocket book to purchase ready-made scale models and supplies, but many enthusiasts prefer to create their special worlds all by themselves and whenever possible to do so using easily available materials to mimic the larger scale world that their projects represents.
This can provide a challenge however, since finding readily available materials which can provide serviceable replicas for miniature items requires imagination and sometimes luck. A few common tricks that are often found to work well are listed along with descriptions below:
When applied correctly aluminum foil can be useful in a variety of miniature projects – from simulating metal and creating rusted girders to just forming specific shapes and framework to glue or paint upon this all-purpose readily available material can be a modelers best friend!
Properly cut and textured egg cartons can make excellent stone-work, and even be used to simulate stone flooring.
A Golf tee with it’s built-in flare provides an excellent starting point for free-standing posts or hangers and can be carved and painted to create a variety of items ranging from hat stands to traffic cones. When necessary gluing it to a penny or other larger base can help stabilize it.
Herbs such as oregano and Thyme can make excellent shrubs and bushes for miniatures.
Nuts & Seeds
Simulating small stones and gravel in a miniature environment can be very difficult because finding small enough items that vary in shape and texture realistically is hard. One solution is to crush nuts such as pecans or peanuts and glue the resulting powdered nuts into place with a spray adhesive. Since they will break up into various sizes and are textured organically they often provide excellent results. In addition many seeds and nuts can be sealed and painted as necessary to emulate fruits and vegetables.
There are many other products around the house such as toothpicks, hangers etc. that can be pressed into service. The limits is really only that of your imagination so start scrounging and looking through those junk drawers and see what wonders you can create when you transform leftovers into miniature wonders.
We’ll look at some more ideas for common household items you can use in your railroad layout in another article.