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How to Model a Decorative Fountain for My Layout

fiber light

Fiber light

Pam sent in this question for readers:

“Our new HO layout will have a small park with seating, ornamental trees and shrubs, and a flower garden. I’m in charge of the scenery, and Bill my hubby, is the boss of all the tricky electrical stuff. Just as well because I have no idea on anything technical. Anyway, I thought it might be nice to add a feature water fountain (not real water) in the middle of a small pond in the park. Has anyone made a decorative fountain that looks like it’s spouting water? I remember those fiber lights that were popular a few years back and wondered it they might work? I was also wondering what to use for the concrete fountain itself? Any ideas please.”

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3 Responses to How to Model a Decorative Fountain for My Layout

  • Ken Mylcraine says:

    My lay-out is 0-Scale and I could not find a fountain anywhere in that scale, so I made one. I used an 0-scale bird bath, a water bottle cap, and a flat washer. I did see some HO scale fountains on the internet. It was the best I could do with what I had laying around. I don’t have any sprouting water but that sounds like a cool idea.
    Ken

  • Henry Quinn says:

    The answer to both your inquiries are in 3 books from Hungary, by Lazlo Adoba,(I got mine through Peter at the Michigan Toy Soldier) Th books are small and not cheap but the information they hold is priceless. Building Dioramas one will have info you can adapt to making realistic fountains, volume two building Dioramas two will cover the making realistic water (sorry -two is for building furniture and accessories. OK -you could get by with just Number one but Number two also has some water info as does number three- so with all three in hand you will surly be able to make the scene that you want. The books do not have exactly what you ask for but has components that you can adapt. I.e. water running from a faucet can with a bit of work become a fountain and the water will definately look like it is flowing.

  • Melitota says:

    I think you may have a good idea with the fiber lights. I recall my parents had a decorative ‘lamp’, for want of a better term, as long ago as the late 60’s early 70’s that had some sort of light fibers with a central ‘bulb’ that could transmit pulses of light along the fibers such that the light pulses appeared to be flowing along the fibers. It was in the way of an update on the “lava lamps” popular at the time. The fibers were fairly thick for a model train installation of this description, say 1/16″, roughly 5 – 6 scale inches in HO. It would look more like the stream from a fire hose.
    However, I am quite sure that the technology still exists and miniaturized versions can be found at an electronics specialty house or on line if you are patient and can assemble the whole from components.

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Use Tiny Railroad Micro Controllers

A micro controller is basically a small programmable computer device to help hobbyists “make things operate.” It is clever way to realistically replicate the movements, actions and functions you are likely to see on a full size railroad.



Micro control technology can be used for:

Rolling stock and scenic lighting effects, street lamp lighting, lighting up of structures, emergency vehicle flashing lights, replicating a campfire or arc welding, tall structure tower lighting, block occupancy detection, turnout operation, motors/servos, solenoid, infrared, right-of-way signal lighting, current sense, crossing gate & signal operation, semaphores, flashers, turntable control, gate arms, draw/lift bridge control, fast time clock, DCC testing, scenery sound control, wireless controls, and lighting fixture day to night control. Read more...

The good thing is; a micro controller can be programmed to perform one, or just a few, simple tasks over and over again.

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Why DCC is so popular

A simple DC (Direct Current) transformer will give you a nice chugging locomotive going one way on your model train track, however, with a DCC unit you can have the flexibility of having an entire train-switching yard happening right in front of your eyes! That is the adaptability that is available with this coming-of-age technology in the hobby!



By using the Digital Command Control, you are opening up a whole new range of possibilities. A continuous electrical current is sent to all of the many things you have installed on your train layout, however, now you have a digital receiver installed in each various items. You can therefore control each and every one of them with the selectable controller and enhance the operation and, more importantly, the look and feel of your system.

The technical side of the DCC is, actually, not as complicated as you might think. In reality, a DCC system is usually easier to wire than a straight DC system.

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Deciding the Era and Location

The choice of scenery you decide on all depends on what era and location you are depicting with your layout. You will need to do some good research on the railroad and its surroundings to make sure you get the scenery perfect (if that’s what you want).



If you are depicting a historical train setting or a certain era, you will want to use old photographs to determine how the scenery should be built and laid out. Remember to think through all aspects of the scenery. This is one of the best areas to really showcase your talents, so take your time.

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It’s YOUR Railroad!

Your rolling stock and locomotives might actually be the center of attention on your layout, but the scenic features that surround and envelop your layout is what's likely to make your train setup stand proud of the rest. Your selection of scenery and structures will add an element of customization that will make your railroad truly unique.



Scenery, structures, and fine detailing is a fundamental aspect of any good model railroad, particularly if it is intended to replicate a true-to-life railroading scene. How realistic or authentic you make your railroad is entirely up to you... and you alone.

Some enthusiasts like to replicate every tiny detail so as to accurately depict, in every aspect, a miniaturized version of a real life scene.

Others in this hobby adopt a more "free-style" approach and choose to mix and match accessories and features they personally prefer. Even though the purist will possibly be unimpressed with unrealistic or out of context elements, it is YOUR railroad layout so you can make it anything you personally want!

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