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Building a mountain dio

May 25 2002 at 10:27 AM
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Hi to all,

I have a little problem,

I want to build a little diorama of a vehicle on a mountain pass. My problem is that I dont know how to start and which materials are the best to use

Any help or suggestions would be nice.

The mountain pass should have a vertical en horizontal plane. Also the weight should not be to heavy (handeling).

Tnx for the reply


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Peter Williams
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Building a mountain dio

May 26 2002, 1:34 AM 

Ronnie, The new 'Terrain' book by Osprey has a section on doing mountain dio's, the idea is worthwhile, however the book cost me $60.00 Australian so it's not real cheep, also there are some really good ideas in the 'Model Railway' books, they also have good idaes on doing water. If your unable to get the 'Terrain' book, post another message and i'll send some info. - pete

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May 26 2002, 2:37 AM 

Hi Peter,

Tnx for the reply.

Sorry to say that that book is not availuble here (as for I can find)

Any info you could send me would be verry helpfull.


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Mountans and hills

May 26 2002, 5:31 AM 

The easy way to make a mountans is make it from paper!
You should to make newspaper's balls to fix its each to other,then cover it by medical bandage with white glue filling with some plaster powder to make surface.
It is a really easyiest way and no weight for dio!

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foam core board

May 27 2002, 7:39 AM 

There is a material called foam-core board, a layer of styrofoam sandwiched between plasticized paper. There are several grades, from that used by students for dsiplays, to construction grade. It glues together with water-based woodworker's glue.

You can build a three-sided box, then use smaller pieces to mock up the slope on the front. Rocks and such can be made from plaster and glued on. Then use whatever material you normally use for the ground surface, but punch numerous holes in the board to give something for it to "grip" onto.

It's all as light as yu could hope for, since it's just a hollow styrofoam box!

I did a diorama for a local museum of the retreat from the Chosin Reservoir. It involved a one lane gravel road cut into a cliff, with a slope above. It was about 24 inches wide, twelve inches deep, and the "mountainside" was about twenty inches high. (One inch = 2.54cm) It has held up well for several yaers and through a facility remodeling - no cracks, or anytyhing else.

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building mtns

May 28 2002, 6:39 PM 

All are correct. It is just your personal preference. A good place to get info on building mtns is your model train store. These guys build mtns like crazy and have six different ways to do it. I have built mtns using the plaster over cardbd or chicken wire as well as the blue or pink foam board. i prefer the foam board due to its lightness, durability & carvebility. i stack mine on top of each other to get the desired contour and height. Then I glue on the rock castings, paint and add dirt, etc.

Good luck.


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(Login les8404)

Use Plumbers ExpansionFoam

May 29 2002, 1:56 PM 

Buy a can of Plumber's Expansion foam at your local
hardware store. It expands about 6 times its original volume and you control the depth and heighth etc. of the project by controlling how much you spread. At $3.75U.S. it's cheap enough to experiment with.
The beauty part is it can be worked with a sharp knife, dremel tool etc. to any shape you want.
Les White

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May 30 2002, 4:18 AM 

Les is absolutely right. I have recently completed the general shape of my Monte Cassino dio using that foam. It allows you to build large (24"X24" in my case) and super light at the same time. Expansion foam is a second best invention since gun powder!
You can get it under different brand names at most hardware stores. One thing to keep in mind is that stuff is SUPER sticky before it sets in,... so be careful what you spray it on.

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And I've been trying to figure out how to get a 4'x8' sheet of faom on the bus!!

June 1 2002, 4:38 PM 

I've got a can of foam in the closet and it would never have occurred to me to use it for building up terrain. Excellent!

Okay, time to finish that Schwimmwagen project.


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How we used to build mountains/hillsides...

May 31 2002, 2:53 PM 

I built some architectural models while in Architecture school and while interning at an architect's office.
One way to build a hillside that actually follows topography lines is to do this:
Either take an existing topography map of a mountain you want to model, or make your own. THe trick is the topo lines, be it foot elevation or two feet or whatever must match up to the thickness of the sheets you will use to make your dio base. Then make two copies of this map to the size you want to make your dio. Tack glue the maps to two sheets of foamcore board or whatever it was you decided to make a scale step from your topo map. Now make strips by cutting every other topo-line out of your board. Do not forget to number the strips or you will really have a jigsaw puzzle on your hands! Now simply glue the bottom strip from the one mat, bottom strip form the second map, next strip from first map, and so on and so on. You will also need to add supports below the strips as you go higher and higher. When done, you will end up with a 3D stepped map in exact scale of your topo map! All that's left to do is fill in the steps with your favorite groundwork filler.
This works best if you want to really work off of a real map, but can be used for any slope.

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Mountains or molehills?

June 8 2002, 5:10 PM 

How big and how detailed do you need? A trick I learned along time ago from a master figure painter is pine bark! yep, the stuff you see strewn about on peoples lawns, flower beds and flower pots. painted it has a beautiful natural layered look and it is light, inexpensive, and glues up with white glue. Slice it, dice it, carve it or smash it for rubble. try it, you may like it!

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