At a previous meeting, we discussed the requirements of a small diorama project. The purpose of this project is to have any of our interested members build a small diorama in whatever scale they choose. A small rail related subject should be chosen. There is no specific size, just large or small enough for the subject chosen. The intent is to gather and photograph all of the completed dioramas at our September meeting for an NER Coupler magazine article. It was suggested that they also be displayed at the NER Convention this Fall. The only requirement is that they be self-contained on a light base. With that in mind pink foam and green foam material is available. You can also supply your own. If you are interested, please drop Bob Earle a line.  This project should be completed in time for the September meeting (bring it with you to the September meeting). Any members who would like to share the progress of their dioramas with the others, please send photos and/or text to this site’s web administrator. These will be posted on this page for all to see.

The following four photos represent my work so far on my Diorama. These photos show my representation of the Hammondsport New York end of the Bath & Hammondsport RR in upstate New York. The base is 23″ X 23″. So far, the track and the two-story station are in place. I still have to add scenery and the water for Keuka Lake which is nearby.

The following three photos are of the actual two-story station at Hammondsport at various times in its history. I believe that today the depot is used to house village services.


An example of Bob Earle’s Division Project scene appears below.

This module depicts a siding on the Erie/Erie Lackawanna Crawford branch in Pine Bush, New York. Starting with a foam base, the track was laid first diagonally across the piece. The road was built up using thin foam. Electrostatic grass was used. The road and truck pull-off areas were painted with acrylic craft paints. An Ulrich Erie 2 bay hopper with a Walther’s coal conveyor and truck with model coal came next. This diorama was made with a commercially available fall foliage tree which had plenty of excess leaf material in the box which was sprinkled under the tree. The model has been in a box in the basement for several years. The once bright fall “leaves” have faded, and the tree had apparently been attacked by spiders using the branches for nests. Thanks to Henry Kramer and Bob Demkowicz for the photographs.



Scott Meyer continues to work on his portable layout project. Completed structures are in place. The stockyard is finished. Scott is adding pink foam to the backdrop and using the foil method for the rock escarpments. Roads have been put in place, grade crossings have been paved and painted, and are waiting to be finished with pan pastels. Scott anticipates that his portable layout will be ready for the Kingston Train Show on March 26. He plans to display it at the NMRA booth.

Following on this page is a series of photos showing Scott’s work from the start of the project up to its present status. Next is a photo of the completed grain elevator and the drawing it is based on.

Hudson Valley Division of the NMRA recognized the need for a portable lightweight layout that could be setup relatively easily at train shows and train meetings. Scott Meyer took on the task and began constructing a lightweight layout that met these requirements. The layout itself weighs 9 lbs. and an additional staging area weighs 2 lbs. The layout section is 66 inches by 18 inches and the staging module is 36 inches by 6 inches. Both sit firmly on a 6 ft long table with a little overhang on both ends. Thank you, Scott, for spending the time to plan, build and demonstrate this layout. The following ten photos are the most current as we follow along with Scott.

The following series of photos represents Scott’s initial work on this project. He started with a sandwich of 2 one-inch-thick pieces of Styrofoam glued together. Layering the foam base enables you to easily model depressed, flat areas like watercourses or in Scott’s case, an abandoned quarry. Cut the top layer before gluing.

Scott uses Liquid Nails for Projects exclusively for wood to foam, Styrene to wood/foam, cork to foam and track to cork or foam joints bonding. 

Four cross pieces of 1×2 topped with a 2″ wide strip of 1/4″ plywood were spaced out evenly and glued to the foam (drill wire holes first!).

1/8″ styrene is used for the fascia and backdrop. Scotts was ordered pre-cut to 4″ and 8″ wide strips. These are now glued and screwed to the cross pieces and the foam. Yes, you can use screws in foam! They hold surprisingly well but will strip easily. Scott predrills and countersinks the styrene and tightens them until they just touch its surface. You can use 1.5 ” or 2″ wood screws or wallboard screws. Aluminum channel protects the corners and reinforces the backdrop ends.

Scott did go back and reinforced the handles. Lesson learned.   

Next, Scott put in cork roadbed for the mainline. 

The plan calls for small radius Peco code 72 switches. These switches were paired with Micro Engineering code 70 flex track. To keep things simple and save weight, the switches will be “finger thrown”. No issues with dead frogs yet.

Wiring is as simple as possible for DCC using 22AWG solid wire. It is anchored by cardboard strips glued to the underside. Scott uses NCE at home, so he bought their Twin Starter Set for a lightweight base station and 3-amp power supply. By plugging the antenna module in its port, he gets wireless control with all functions on his Procab.   

The layout is fully functional and, as mentioned earlier in the article, weighs 9 lbs. With structures and scenery, the estimated end weight will be less than 15 lbs. It is rigid and stiff. With staging, the 8 1/2-foot structure can fit on a 6′ table firmly, but an 8′ table is better to minimize overhang.

The staging module was built similarly. It is hotwired through a jack on the layout. Rail joiners physically connect the track.


Harbor & Harbor Cliffs Construction Project

So, let’s follow the progress of Steve M as he kicks off his project to add a harbor and cliff to his HO Scale layout.

First step – Cliff Construction

Steve begins this phase of his project with cardboard strips, hot glued top and bottom, for a solid foundation for the placement of foam squares, which is to follow this step.

Next Steps – Foam squares (in the upper left of this next photo) are ready to be attached to the cardboard strips. Prior to this step, Steve had measured, cut, numbered and test fit each foam square to ensure accurate placement on the cliff.

The foam squares were numbered for easier placement and location around his cliff area.

In the following photo, the foam squares numbered one and two, are hot glued to the cardboard strips and carved to represent the shape of the rock formation Steve is trying to capture. Steve used a Zyliss knife with a very sharp 3/4″ blade purchased on eBay.

All the remaining numbered foam squares are hot glued into position.

Now Steve is at the point of carving the cliff formations as he wishes. With all the foam squares fastened securely to the cardboard strips, he can just work from one end to the other until satisfied with the appearance.

The pieces at the bottom of the cliff were just pieces left over from carving the rock face. Rather than throw them away, Steve picked the best ones, cut the bottoms straight and hot glued them in place.

Steve was able to use longer pieces as he came around the bend. The sections on the left were trimmed with a hot foam, hand-held, wire foam cutter.

More carving and carved in a small wall. I used spackle to fill in gaps and mistakes. Yes, I do make quite a few mistakes as I go along!

A closer view, looking down the line.

Saved scrap pieces of foam are used to simulate rock slabs and boulders that have worked loose from the formation. A work train with a crane and gondola come by periodically clearing the track (foam strips under the track).

More to follow…..