Great Lakes Lighthouse Diorama

Started by Jim Donovan, November 15, 2019, 11:26:43 PM

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Jim Donovan

I also applied to signs to the front retaining wall. One says No Parking and the other No Dumping, you can imagine how well that is going to work out.

While everything on the diorama was drying I worked on the lighthouse. Using brown heavy EZ string as vine stock I smeared Elmers glue on it. I then passed it though a tray of Scenic Express Super Leave. I had mixed a lite green color and dark green color together to produce variation. To cover any sections missing leaves I simply sprinkled leave over the line while holding it. When I made several lengths of the vines and let everything dry overnight.

Next day to add more color to the vines I airbrushed them just like I did the static grass. Using a toothpick I placed Elmers glue up the seam on the tower to cover it with the vines. I also had branches of the glue come off the main section so as to create a realistic pattern. The vine strings were placed carefully on the glue and worked into place. I made sure a couple hung down below the foundation so they could be continued on the front of the retaining wall. Here is what came out.

Holland & Odessa Railroad

Jim Donovan

With the grass in place everything was put back on but this time each has some glue holding in place. I also decided the lightpole was just to 'nice' for this scene so it was removed and a telephone pole (1/8 dowel that had been roughed up and stained brown with Hunterline) put in its place.

So here is were we are now. Starting to come together.

Holland & Odessa Railroad

Jim Donovan

Since my last post I was able to finish the diorama and have it reviewed today by NMRA judges for the Diorama AP. While the meeting was at the division level many of the national board members were in attendance, thus I truly had some of the best (all MMR rated) modelers in the organization reviewing. Through a mix up I had been told I need not fill out the normal required forms, turned out I did so the judges were only able to review and give their opinion on merit and make suggestions to for areas of improvement. Still the good news was the model would meet the requirements for the AP award, I need to fill out the required paperwork and bring it to another judging but it should pass, especially with all the suggestions I was given.  I wanted to see what I could achieve, and exceeding the required points of 87.5 (out of possible 125) was worth learning what is involved in the NMRA AP program. I am told I would have just met the requirements so I have a long way to go, but it was interesting.

Here is the finished scene (except for some reason the transformer on light pole decided to fall just before I took this picture.

Here is the same picture with the main observations and suggestions for improvement.

Here are the other sides of the diorama. Not seen are the actual lights, the Tower lights with a control board having the LED come on and off as if the beacon was flashing. The street light is a yellow color and the food stand front part is lit to show the interior.

Finally, here is a pretty good photo of the scene.

Thanks for following along.

Jim D

Holland & Odessa Railroad

Mark Dalrymple

Looks really good, Jim.

Lots of believable action going on without it feeling over done, and all looking very natural.  There is some really nice weathering and the signage looks especially well done.

I use 4"x2" for railings.  I think they would be happy with that???

Cheers, Mark.


Well done Jim.....great scene & detail.  8)
Gregory P. DeMayo
General Construction Superintendent Emeritus
St. Louis & Denver Railroad
Longwood, FL

Jim Donovan

Thanks Mark and Greg;

I appreciate the comments guys, thanks for the ideas and checking in. I fixed up all the improvements suggested by the judges and made a few more details. I decided to get the brass stanchions to work as railings for the staircase. In the pictures the railings are curved but will be straight come contest time. When all done made some backgrounds to reproduce a town and took some finished pictures.

In April we will have the diorama judged at the Sunshine Regional meeting. Now it is time to get back to the layout.

Holland & Odessa Railroad


Nice work ! Take the photos and this thread information of your build to the AP contest too. Remember 87 1/2 points is only a 70 percent grade.
Correct any items mentioned by other modelers to pick up those extra points prior to the event.
Good Luck !
Tom Boyd in NE Minnesota



Very well done. Love the little restaurant too.



Quote from: postalkarl on March 10, 2020, 05:42:09 PM

Very well done. Love the little restaurant too.


I agree, NMRA has standards but it is still nicely done.

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

Opa George

Very nice and effective lighting work, Jim.  I really like this scene.
--Opa George


Steve Drees


Steve Custer


I just found this thread. I love it. Great work!


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