Two cities layout.

Started by Random, April 08, 2018, 12:23:30 AM

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I've been a fan of the FSM for years and have always wanted to do some city modeling.  I have space right now for what amounts to a glorified around the room oval which will let me model two city areas.  The first will be inspired by the South Manchester station area of the FSM.  My intention is to model the station and the core surrounding area close to George's originals and then expand out working more on my own ideas.

This is all being built on modules that can fit though a bedroom door, around a corner and down stairs.  Hopefully one day they will move into a larger space that will let this become the core of a larger layout.

Here's is a shot of the area's design being worked out full size.

The core module is about 28" deep by 56" wide.  There is another module behind it that is 25" deep and 48" wide.   The station building (being detailed here: will be located to the left of the module.  Because the station is built on a plywood base I had to raise the surrounding sidewalks.  The wood strips you can see are two layers os 3/32 thick basswood.  The streets in between are poured using Durham's water putty. I'm using woodland scenics risers to lift the roadbed to the right.

Because of the depth of the road I built it up in several pours.  The first was a fairly thick mix (about like cake icing) that I worked in as best I could to fill the area.  After it set but before it was rock hard I used a straight edge to scrape down any high spots.  I then went back and filled in the low areas.  During each pour I taped off the wood frames and then pealed that away as soon as I was done spreading putty.  I lightly sanded with course paper once it was set and then filled again, each time being sure to keep the edges down even with the wooden bits.  If you look closely you can see some wood inserts in the roadway to the left and right of the station area.  This is were the footings for the railroad bridge support beams will be placed.  Finally, I sanded the roadway smooth with find sand paper.  You can see an area where I tested paint color in the upper left.

Here you can see the raised mainline turning off to the left and a riser for a siding.  The finished sidewalks will be installed on top of the wood strips.

The area to the right will be lifted with a combination of florist foam and woodland scenics sheet foam to create the base for the Railway Express building.

For the stone retaining wall to the right of the station I used 3 castings made from Sterling Models molds.  I had a supply of these castings on hand.  They were cast in standard plaster of paris and wow are they delicate. I backed them with card stock to try to give them some strength but I still have to be very carful handling them.

Here is the retaining wall set in place to test the fit.  This was the moment I realized that I had not made the notch for the bridge wide enough. 

The railway express building is one of 3 large buildings around the station that I plan to match as closely as possible.  This will be made from two Magnuson Burndout's Fireproof Warehouse kits.  I will also be modeling the two buildings directly behind the station from Magnuson kits per George's original.

I will need another retaining wall to the right of the stone.  This will be concrete.  The end wall will be reworked to remove the doors on the first floor.

While other bits and bobs have been drying I have also been working on the yellow freight building that will go on the raised station platform.  As its not part of the stone station itself I decided to move it's build to this thread.

I also plan to model the diner built from a rail car as well as the red and white auto repair building.  After these buildings I plan to vary from the original to create my own city area around the station.

Roger Hines

Is 5 layouts too many?  Yes, it is.   

Focussing on the 1941 Boston-ish layout and pondering a mid-70s D&H switching layout.  There are still a lot of airplanes and spaceships in the closet and who knows what else might pop up.


Off to a great start Roger , I will certainly follow this one closely.
I love photo's, don't we all.


What a cool project.  Interested to watch it all come together.




Great project! I will be following along.
John Siekirk
Superior & Seattle Railroad

Dave K.


Looks like a fun journey in your future Roger - neat start.....I'll be looking in.  :)
Gregory P. DeMayo
General Construction Superintendent Emeritus
St. Louis & Denver Railroad
Longwood, FL


This is really going to turn out great. I'm in for the long haul.

Tom ;D
"If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed."
Thomas Jefferson

Tom Langford


This is going to be an interesting project, will you be building fsm kits for this?
Ontario, Canada
The Great White North

My Layout Venture->


I also will also be watching.



I'm watching, too. I love just about everything about the F&SM and especially love big city scenes.

Protolancing the Illinois Central Chicago District from Chicago to Kankakee


Not much progress here as I've been glazing windows elsewhere but I did manage to get a base coat of paint down on the roads.  The paint is a mix of Fawn (tan) and Slate Gray Americana craft paint using a ratio of 3 parts tan to 2 parts gray.  This is a ratio George mentioned in one of his videos while he doesn't specify what tan and what gray.  Once weathered this one looks good to my eye.  It took 3 coats of paint to get good coverage over the water putty road.  Sidewalks will be painted separately and applied over the basswood risers.  Next I'll need to carve expansion joints and cracks into the road.  I'm also planning to drill some shallow holes and place manhole covers. 

Roger Hines

Is 5 layouts too many?  Yes, it is.   

Focussing on the 1941 Boston-ish layout and pondering a mid-70s D&H switching layout.  There are still a lot of airplanes and spaceships in the closet and who knows what else might pop up.


Hey Random:

This looks like a very interesting project. I shall be following along. You are off to A good start.



I've spent some time carving in expansion joints and cracks as well as drilling some holes to plant manhole castings.  I was not happy with the surface as I could see brush marks.  The roads were done with craft store paint over water putty.   So... I decided to try sanding the painted surface in hopes of removing the brush marks.   This did not go well.   The paint apparently did not actually adhere to the water putty.

I found that using a plastic drywall spreader the paint would roll right off with minimal pressure. 

There were a few spots that had adhered better but a touch of water fixed that in short order.   

I'm glad I realized this issue now rather than deep into weathering the streets.

The last time I modeled city streets I used regular plaster of paris poured into similar wooden forms, carved in details, painted with floquil earth (edit: I think it was probably aged concrete, not earth) and then weathered with charcoal.  Those roads came out just like I wanted.  Since I have changed both the material and the paint in this case I am not sure where the issue lies.   But I do know I am once again missing floquil paint.

I have had great success with craft store paints on wood and hydrocal models but on other materials not so much.  I'd hate to have to break the roads out and re-pour them but it may come to that.

Pondering my next steps.


Roger Hines

Is 5 layouts too many?  Yes, it is.   

Focussing on the 1941 Boston-ish layout and pondering a mid-70s D&H switching layout.  There are still a lot of airplanes and spaceships in the closet and who knows what else might pop up.


Hi Roger:

Looks like you are moving along. As I said will be following along.


Dave K.

I once tried using Durham's for roads but found it way too hard to work/sand once dry. Thoughts?

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