Scenery Pitfalls overcome, at last

My previous segment on scenery pitfalls highlighted the risks with implementing water features in a layout. I’ve now finally managed to finish this feature after more agonizing trials and errors. After successfully rescuing the lake as described, the outflow with whitewater, the waterfall and river remained to be made.

I cannot stress enough to experiment with water features on a simple mock layout first before implementing them into your final layout. For the whitewater, I intended to use Woodland Scenics (WS) Water Waves with White Water Highlight as their videos show. Unfortunately, the Water Waves product was out of stock with no availability forecast which made me look for alternatives. As waves are not substantial in size in an N-scale layout, I resorted to use WS Water Effects that they recommend to fashion waterfalls. It is similar to toothpaste in consistency and can be applied with an artist’s paintbrush in a wave-like fashion. It shrinks while drying clear and I had to apply it more than once to achieve the desired wave depth. If applied too thickly, it takes days to dry clear. The Water Waves product would have likely needed only one application. For whitecaps on the waves, I used the White Water Highlight as shown in WS videos after experimenting with it first on a trial “river”. By the way, for some applications a cheaper alternative to WS Water Effects is clear-drying acrylic (not silicone!) caulking.

The waterfall proved to be quite another challenge. WS Water Effects produces nice smooth-running waterfalls as per videos, but I found it almost impossible to create a rushing effect and spray with it. Cotton wool came to mind at first, but it is somewhat too soft. I eventually stumbled across cushion stuffing in my wife’s sewing supplies. It is similar to cotton wool, but a bit more fibrous. I pulled thin strands the length of the waterfall out of it and combined them together until had the approximate volume of the falling water. Next, I soaked the strands with a mixture of 1 part white, clear drying glue and 2 parts water while laying them out on wax paper or a non-stick tray in the shape of the waterfall. While the glue mixture was still wet, I patted most of it off with paper towels and then let everything dry.

The result is a semi-stiff, fibrous column that can be shaped into the desired volume and shape by gently pulling the fibers apart. The final step is shaving off the protruding loose ends of fibers with an electrical hair trimmer or shaver. The “waterfall” can now be glued in place with dabs of Water Effects and still shaped to follow the contours of the landscape. For an added “wet look”, I misted the waterfall with a clear gloss spray lacquer before installation. So, there you have it should you want to experiment with this waterfall method.

Now I can finally proceed to planting the landscape and installing the home-made catenary. More on that later.

The tunnel portals, the bridge and block walls are made out of pink or blue styrofoam with the joints cut with an Xacto knife and then painted with the end of a paper clip dabbed in paint. Somewhat tedious but worth the effort, I thought. Weathering yet to be applied.

The bridge removed to show the lower portion of the waterfall.

The river and a shot of the Be 4/6 which was a lucky rare find as they are no longer made. The river was also made with about a 1/8” (3-4mm) depth of WS Deep Pour Water to partially submerge the rocks. Waves are made with Water Effects and highlighted with White Water Highlight as described.

Waterfall close-up shows the fibrous nature of the cushion stuffing material used for this feature.


  • Very convincing and nice work!

  • BR42BR42 Auburn

    Nice work!

  • Thank you Michael (again, as in one of your posts) and Ulrich very much for your generous comments, especially as you both are very accomplished builders with fabulous layouts. Positive feedback is always great encouragement that I will turn into action as the cooler months and building season approaches and the summer fun and chores fade.

Sign In or Register to comment.