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Water, water, everywhere...

Adding a water feature to your layout can add interest and realism to your layout. In the old days, people would use a mirror or piece of glass for lakes or pond or just paint, but the effect was not terribly realistic. The water in the photo above was created using white glue (PVA) with bathroom tissue and acrylic paint to obtain the effect of white water in a rocky stream. White glue dries clear, but must be placed in thin layers to build up the water depth. Tissue adds substance that enables wave and ripple effects to be added.

Today, there are many ways of creating water and many products made specifically for that purpose. Resins and thermoplastics are commonly available.

In the shop I carry many of the Woodland Scenics water products. The simplest is called EZ-WaterTM. This product comes in the form of pellets that are heated, melted and poured into place to create a clear water feature. It has the advantage of being a single component that solidifies as it cools. It can be reworked with a heat gun to create ripples and other features and to repair damage.

Woodland Scenics also makes a product called Realistic WaterTM which is a clear self-leveling single component fluid that is poured into place. It is great for making lakes and ponds. This fluid can be tinted with custom tints to make the water muddy, or cloudy to fit the specific terrain you are modeling. It must be poured into a watertight cavity or basin. It must be placed in 1/8" layers, cured in between, up to a maximum thickness of 1/2". The final appearance is realistic as the name implies, but the surface is not hard and can be damaged by objects set on top of the cured material.

Another Woodland Scenics water product is Deep Pour WaterTM , which as the name implies, allows you to great deep water features in one pour. This is a two-component mix that requires and activator to be mixed with the Water Base that sets some time after mixing. It can also be tinted and can show submerged detail. This material sets hard and will not crack or shrink.

The key to using any clear water system successfully is in preparation. Preparing your lake or streambed with appropriate coloring and confining the water area to keep the synthetic water from running away is important. It is good to remember that deeper water appears darker than shallower water. Painting the bottom of the streambed or lakebed can achieve this affect with even relatively thin depths of synthetic water. A steady hand and some white acrylic paint can create whitecaps. Adding rocks, logs, or other features should be considered and planned before the water is placed.

The water materials vary in viscosity (thickness) and practice may be needed to develop the pouring technique to get the effect you want. This is true of the EZ-Water and Deep Pour Water systems where the water may thicken as it cools or sets. Woodland Scenics makes a River/Waterfall Learning Kit and provides how-to videos on their website to help with this.

Add a scene by a lake, a river crossing or a marine terminal to your layout. Your imagination is the limit.

Come in to CB Train Junction and see the possibilities!

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Interesting. I'm gonna try the toilet paper method. Thanks


Mike, Great article on water! Also, just a note: the RMR Christmas Model Train Show will be the 14 and 15 December this year. It now appears that we will recover the missing dealers this year. We hope you will attend!

Dick Merrill, RMR

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