Realistic Scenery from Aluminum Flashing!

by Geoff Green

I have developed a new approach to model railway scenery. Strong, light, pliable, realistic in appearance, inexpensive, transportable and easy.

Components needed:

* 0.3mm aluminum flashing – comes in 10 meter rolls @ $14.00 for 15cm width or $27.00 for 30 cm width.

* Any of the new texture paints - especially the Dura Max dark granite spray paint. Ebay has a large range at lesser prices. Texture paints by brush or roller are also now on the market.

* Extruded foam sheets: usually comes in 4 x 2 feet @$10.00 or $20.00 dependent on thickness.

*Optional components: Doubled sided tape – pop rivets.

Tools needed: Scissors – hammer – any rock fragment -other metal implements that come to hand.


Provide a base for the layout – trestle tables for example.

Start with hills or mountains. Cut the desired length of flashing. Go to your nearest rough bark tree. Place the flashing up against the tree and either mould by hand or bash away with a hammer. Hit as hard as you can - the aluminum won't split. Add further rock detail by pressing real fragments onto the flashing.

Spray etch primer. I don't bother but there may be long term issues if you don't so I put this in anyway. Spray primer – for my favourite granite I use matte black. When dry spray, roll or paint with texture paint.

Place painted hills/mountains/ rocks etc, on table.

Make flat surfaces use 0.3 flashing (or 0.5 flashing for greater rigidity) or the foam cut to size. Paint flat surfaces. Apply ground cover.

Lock it all together if you wish with rivets or tape.

That's it.

Forget plaster.

I call this type of construction “Monocoque Scenery Construction.”

Geoff Green


Comments for Realistic Scenery from Aluminum Flashing!

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Dec 29, 2015
by: Anonymous

I have finished my On30 / Oe scale RR and recently pulled it down. But here is another advantage of using alum flashing - it can be used again and again.

I have put some brief clips onto youtube "IDOL ISLAND RR" - there are about 15 altogether.

The next development is the use of hard foam batt sheeting. More to come.

Sep 09, 2015
Excellent article
by: Anonymous

Good day I just hopped over in your web site via StumbleUpon Not something I would generally read but I favored your emotions none the less Thank you for making something value reading.

Jul 08, 2015
useful information
by: clark

I am really enjoying reading your post because its very useful information for me. Thanks for this nice post

Jun 02, 2015
Getting Started?
by: Jeff Carr

This is really great info. Recently, I finally built my own model railroad after many years of wanting to do it. Believe me, it's never too late to live your dream! Just don't lose faith and know that it will be worth it in the end, despite all the hard work.

I was lucky to find some great advice that helped me make my railroad very realistic and detailed, and keep things under budget. Here is one of the resources that helped me a lot:

Let me know if you all have other places where you learn about railroading.

Apr 27, 2015
Just 2 other comments
by: Geoff Green

Two other comments:

1. There is also a need for seamless joins to avoid the panelling effect. Any ideas on this are welcome.

2. Is the use of the thicker 0.5 sheet suitable for the horizontal base instead of sheet foam?

Apr 27, 2015
Plaster no longer rules
by: Anonymous

I have changed my mind about plaster. There is still a need for it in several cases. For example outcrops of rocks that are highly detailed are probably better made of plaster. They are probably superior to the aluminium approach. But still it is early days with aluminium and no doubt someone will come up with a solution. Perhaps even thinner aluminium sheet pressed hard up against a former may do the trick.

I started building my layout 2 weeks ago, the first I have ever built (indoors that is) and after spending a day working with plaster decided that there had to be a better way. So I changed to the cold hard aluminium approach, setting off on a voyage of discovery.

Every few moments something new comes up. For example I sprayed rigid plastic foam sheets with a special etch primer for plastics only to find that there are plastics and there are plastics.

With horror I saw the whole top of the rigid sheet dissolve and melt. Ten dollars down the drain. But then the reaction stopped and what was left was a beautifully weathered expanse of terrain with little creeks, gullies, eroded ditches all textured instantly, far better than if I had spent a weekend on it.

So I hope that you start to explore the use of aluminium sheet as a basis for scenery and that you record your new ideas here. In fact why stop with scenery - structures maybe.

Good Luck.

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