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Model Railroad Terrain - Making Rock Molds
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Model Railroad Terrain  -  Making Rock Molds

You’ll love making your own model railroad terrain. In fact I’ve found most people can’t help but love it. There’s nothing high tech about it, no absolute dimensions, it doesn’t take a lot of artistic skill - just plain ole messy inexpensive fun.

The best way to add realism to any railroad terrain is to create rock outcroppings and weather-hewn mountain faces. The easiest way to do this is by applying rock castings. For this I like to use my own castings. Of course there are numerous pre-made molds you can buy at any decent hobby shop, but if you’re like me you’ll the uniqueness you get by making you own rubber molds.

Your rocks will be one of a kind. Isn’t that our actual goal in model railroading, the uniqueness?

You can copy rock faces found in the field that are too large to carry home or you can take smaller rocks home and make molds from them. The best rocks to use are the ones form the actual area you are modeling. That may give you an excellent excuse to visit the area if you’re modeling a distant location. Research your model area as much as possible for added realism.

Let’s get started creating your own “rocks”.

What You’ll Need:

A rock of your choice to mold

A quart of liquid rubber latex

Several inexpensive 1” paintbrushes

Pair of scissors

Several square feet of gauze

Plain old tap water

Begin by removing any loose debris, then clean the rock using tap water and one of your cheap brushes.

Then, paint on the first coat of rubber-latex, being careful to work the rubber into the cracks and crevices to capture all the detail. Allow this to dry, usually around 20 minutes with the brand I use, your drying time may vary. The rubber-latex will change color when it’s dry.

Apply a second coat evenly and again allow it to dry. Rinse your brushes after each coat

Cut your gauze into enough 4” squares to cover the rock face twice. Brush on the third coat of rubber-latex and immediately work in one layer of the gauze. Add another coat of rubber-latex and work in the second layer of gauze and cover with more rubber-latex. The gauze will reinforce the mold making it less likely to tear.

Add another layer or two of rubber-latex. You want it thick enough to hold wet plaster without losing it’s shape or collapsing, yet it needs to be flexible enough to conform to your layout shapes. With some practice you’ll find the thickness that works best for you.

Allow the mold to cure overnight. Next day, peel the mold from the rock and trim the edges as necessary with scissors to create a neat mold.

That all there is to casting your own rocks. It’s super easy to use these molds, once made - simply mix the plaster, pour, apply and peel to create very realistic looking rock facing in your model railroad terrain.

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