Scenery for Small Corners

27 03 2013

When the LCCA and Lionel designed the new FasTrack Modular Railroad, a narrow corner module was added so that it could be used in either an inside or outside configuration. This is great if you want to have “L” or “U” or other shaped layout while still maintaining the geometry and operating qualities of an O-72 minimum curve. The downside of this module is that you have less room for scenery than our full-width corner as seen in the previous two scenery articles.


A simple country crossing adds a little character to the narrow corner modules.

But less room for scenery doesn’t mean no room for scenery.

Even some basic scenery can help these small modules blend into to rest of the layout. Best of all, they don’t take a long time to complete and they’re are great way to experiment if you’ve never tried scenery before.

For one of our narrow corners, a simple country road crossing offered a good solution. Most of the scenery on this section was completed using the techniques for gluing ground cover and ballast already described in previous posts.

Country Roads

The rural road adds a little something extra to the module without overpowering the small scene or more prominent visual highlights on neighboring modules. It also provides a reason to blow the whistle – always a plus!


Drywall compound makes a convenient plaster base for the road. For better operations, plaster was kept back from the rails

To reduce the amount of material needed, a base for the road was made from some scraps of foam core board. Cardboard, bass wood or other scraps could also be used. With the base in place, it can be covered in drywall compound.

When working at home, I prefer to mix my own plaster from dry mix. Since this module was completed in the middle of a trade show, I opted for the ready-mix form. Building up the contours in smaller layers will reduce cracking and speed drying time.


Culverts are inserted in the wet plaster to simulate drainage control along the right of way.

If this were a paved road, you could smooth the plaster for a proper finish and paint. See the post on modeling roads for a step-by-step guide. Since this was going to be a dirt road, a perfect finish was not required.

While the plaster was still wet on the shoulders, some culverts were installed near the track for drainage. These were made by wrapping aluminum foil around a bolt (see last week’s blog.)

Once the plaster has dried, dirt is applied to the road surface just like the rest of the scenery. Rather than build up the profile of the road across the tracks themselves, dirt was simply glued directly to the tops of the ties / ballast. Although this would certainly make a rough crossing for any autos, it keeps the flangeways clear.

Finish the scene with weeds, cross bucks and any other little details you’d like to add. A simple little corner like this doesn’t take long to finish, but it looks a lot better than bare plywood. In future blogs, we’ll be building some more new modules from scratch – some with much more dramatic scenery. Stay tuned to the Modular Railroad pages for more information and updates.



4 responses

27 03 2013
Dick Hutnik

These tips are fantastic for the beginner. Keep them coming!!!

27 03 2013

Great tip! Because of limited space, my FasTrack railroad is going to have to be on a very narrow shelf, and this is an interesting way to add character. Would like to see more of your thoughts along these lines, as I’m sure there are others in my situation. Thanks, and keep up the great posts – I’m really enjoying this blog!

29 03 2013
Andrew Falconer

The railroad crossing signs were not inserted into the scenery. Even basic crossbucks and a stop sign would be seen at a gravel road crossing. Thanks.

22 04 2013

Awesome Tip! Keep up the great posts….Thanks

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