Building a swamp...

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Active Member
Really haven't been overly active on the boards lately, but I have been doing some work. I have decided that a "Temporary" structure on my layout is no longer going to be temporary and I figured I needed to dress it up a little bit.
Starting point:

I built this turn around area as a temporary structure as the long term plan has this being just a regular corner in the basement. The plan is to leave enough room for the dart board and work bench pool table. Well, after having the turning area built for a while, I cam to the conclusion that there was plenty of room for all three and no real need to take it down right away. Then I got the idea to scratch build a turn table, which I did and you can see. I then built a round house our of a simply balsa skeleton and cardboard walls and roof (covered with regular paper printed to look like brick walls and a roof. And that's pretty much where it has been for the better part of two years.
Fast forward a bit, and I built the next extension to my layout and a nifty little corner piece that was all decorated and pretty. This left me a problem of a "finished" section right new to a bare section.
Rather that re-design and rebuild, I figured I could just make do with what I have (that's the great thing about building a fictional RR). The big hole between the boards will become a swamp/pond. That big square board that sicks out for no reason shall be the parking lot for the round house workers.
Step one was to build the swap floor. I took some old screening that I had and stapled it to the underside of the boards. Then I took a few layers of drywall compound to the screening to seal and stiffen it. On top of that was some brown latex paint. I hit some other areas with the paint, too. I took some foam and cut out a few corner fillers and whatnot.
Then I needed a way to blend in the parking lot. What do crews do if they need to fill in a wet area? Fill it with stone! I literally took a small gardening shovel and a buck to the cemetery across the street from my house and scooped up some of the road gravel and used that. With the same technique used for ballasting, I built up the sides where the crews would have had to fill with rock.
And this is where I am so far:

Next step is some clean up of the rocks at the bottom edge and painting of the pond bottom. The pond is pretty multi-leveled, so that will be interesting. Then epoxy for the water. This may be a slow project, but I'll get it there.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
This will be an interesting part of the layout. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out and how you put it all together.


Active Member
Painted the bottom of the swamp in anticipation of adding water and then sanded over the parking lot and part of the road leading in.

Then some ballast work and little greenery for a small touch.

Then 3015 had to wait for the westbound freight to pass before heading out with some empty hoppers.


Active Member
Little bit of work done on the swamp tonight.
Got some of the ends blended in with a bit of adobe:

Also planted some saplings. Those will most like grow into nice big pine trees eventually.
Then I laid some sod to help blend in the front section a little bit.

That's when I remembered the old advise of working on the back section first so you're not leaning over work you've already done.
That's alright, though. I wasn't going to get it all done in one night anyway. ;)


Active Member
I built a little woodland piece to sit in the back corner. In theory I could take it right off as it is just sitting there. But I used enough glue for the ground cover, that it won't surprise me if it stays put fairly well.

Then I got it blended in:

And, since everything looks better with a train...

Slowly but surely, the corner is coming together.

(Ignore the trees on stilts. Just not ready to glue them in just yet.)


Active Member
Got some painting done on the floors of the ponds and ready to add the water:

Then I started adding in the two part epoxy. There will be several layers. The upper pond, being smaller, was easier to fill and is basically full with just two layers of epoxy. I brought some of the paint I used on the floor of the pond up onto the rocks around the edge and the effect came out great (the picture not so much, but...):

With the second layer still liquid, I took a little trick I found online and added in some algae around the edge of the upper pond:

The effect is really slick (in my opinion) and I was trying to get a better picture when Patience and I had another little spat. You see, Patience likes to say things, "You really should stop, wait, and let that dry before you do anything else." And then I tend to do things like stick my fingers in my ears and chant, "I'M NOT LISTENING TO YOU! I'M NOT LISTENING TO YOU!" Anyway, in my quest to get a better camera angle, I ended up dropping my phone into the epoxy. :mad:
A.) This is why I can't have nice things you should always put your cell phone in a good case that protects the screen.
B.) This is why you should always read the instructions so you know how to properly clean different materials up.
C.) This is where an active imagination can come in handy by doing things like creating a new story to explain mishap. :rolleyes:;)
When all is said and done, the case protected the phone and the rubbing alcohol cleaned up the case. And for the pond, the worst of it was the algae streaking a bit further into the pond than I had planned. We'll just have to blame a rouge otter for swimming through the green and trailing it across the water. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Looks GREAT! I wonder, however, if you shouldn't have some kind of small tanker truck parked next to it with a guy in uniform (service station attendant's would do), holding a "wand" while he sprays oil on the swamp to keep the skeeter breeding under control! ;) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to