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Offline Profpetrof  
#1 Posted : 27 November 2019 16:17:50(UTC)

South Africa   
Joined: 07/04/2015(UTC)
Posts: 11
Location: Cape Town, Western Cape
I have been toying with the idea of making an abstract model railway layout. One without any detailed buildings, roads, cars or people, and indicative scenery, with mountains done as contours.

Recently I acquired a Z gauge starter set, with electric turnouts, and added on the T1 and T2 expansion sets. I started with the basic layout, and modeled it in AutoCAD. From there I designed each of the layers to get the contours:


I then sent the AutoCAD file for laser cutting out of 6mm MDF (Medium Density Fibre Board):


I then assembled the layers and glued them together:


Tested the layout inside the coffee table:


Added the rails before starting the paint process:


Note that the mountains can be removed leaving all of the track flat and exposed. This will alleviate cleaning the tracks.

I am busy spraying the sea gray to match the apartment colour scheme, all of the mountains and ground level will be satin white, and the buildings black.

I would love to hear feedback from others on ideas or similar projects. I am also planning a very big HO version for future.
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Offline DaleSchultz  
#2 Posted : 27 November 2019 16:24:12(UTC)

Joined: 10/02/2006(UTC)
Posts: 3,161
looks very nice! Nice concept!
Intellibox + own software, K-Track
My current layout: https://cabin-layout.mixmox.com
Arrival and Departure signs: https://remotesign.mixmox.com
Offline husafreak  
#3 Posted : 28 November 2019 00:19:31(UTC)

United States   
Joined: 09/04/2019(UTC)
Posts: 80
Location: California, Bay Area
When I was younger and working as an Architect in NYC I started a side job as an Architectural model builder. I found I could command a great deal more money as a model builder than as a young Architect! In any case I specialized in "abstract" models. I didn't have the time or resources for highly detailed buildings and scenery and that wasn't really what my employers needed anyway. They need a tool to explain quickly and simply in 3D what was going on in large developments. Your layout reminds me a great deal of what I was doing at the time. Buildings were blocks, contour terrain, flat surfaces, monochromatic color choices for defining types of objects or terrain to aid in recognition. I even made trees out of wooden balls sold in craft stores by the bag and mounted on round tooth picks. The response was always very positive. So the thing is even though your layout bucks "traditional" approaches to model train layouts it can convey a great deal of information very easily. It's not something to search for hours looking at all the details but if done well a casual observer is definitely going to be charmed and excited!
You may want to play with color choices a bit, I like your colored rendering very much (it reminds me of a Greek Island scene) but satin white may not look right, just one of those things we'll have to see. A brighter white may be the way to go, or a sand color. And dark grey instead of black for those buildings. For sure filling and spraying the entire surface with primer grey is a good idea, sandable grey primer and a lot of elbow grease with fine sandpaper will get you a nice smooth surface that will look like plastic after painting. And I would use flat acrylic model hobby paints airbrushed on as they will get natural colors and that plastic look, and they don't reflect light, while accentuating shadows. Of course just an overspray of flat clear could do that too. But I always considered the use of flat modelers paints and perfect textures to be a secret to my success with these abstract models. Water excepted.
I really like your track layout, contours, and landscape choices. Very harmonious.
Well done!
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Offline Profpetrof  
#4 Posted : 28 November 2019 14:16:28(UTC)

South Africa   
Joined: 07/04/2015(UTC)
Posts: 11
Location: Cape Town, Western Cape
Thank you Husafreak,

Very good advice and comments. I have already run into problems with the Medium Density Fibre board, absorbing the paint on the sides. Everything I try simply disappears. I am going to try to seal it with a paint brush and wood sealer, and then spray over it.

The reason I went with white for the landscaping is so that it ties in with the coffee table. It will end up looking like an architectural model (such as you are very much familiar with).

I am also in the built environment, engineering side, and have taken inspiration from the architectural models...


Thank you for your reply and advice, hope to send a finished photograph soon.

Kind Regards,
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Offline kiwiAlan  
#5 Posted : 28 November 2019 17:18:01(UTC)

United Kingdom   
Joined: 23/07/2014(UTC)
Posts: 4,671
Location: ENGLAND, Didcot
I am intrigued with what you are doing, and will be interested in the end result.

The 2mm scale group at the club I attend have built a 1/10th scale model of a layout they have planned, and are now building, using this same method. It allows the concept of the contours and placements to be ascertained, and the view perspectives to be seen. It also allowed them to see how the layout comes together as modules. One of the group has access to a laser cutter that he used to cut out the shapes for the planning modules.

Offline Profpetrof  
#6 Posted : 02 December 2019 09:11:02(UTC)

South Africa   
Joined: 07/04/2015(UTC)
Posts: 11
Location: Cape Town, Western Cape
This weekend was spent sanding and spraying.

I could not believe how much spray paint is needed, especially to get a smooth sheen.

Herewith an updated photograph of the layout in its home location.

Once final layer of paint is on, I will glue everything together, and then wiring can start.

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Offline Johnvr  
#7 Posted : 02 December 2019 11:03:06(UTC)

South Africa   
Joined: 03/10/2010(UTC)
Posts: 1,153
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Hello Andries

Looks great !
I shall have to come and see it when it is finished !

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