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Walls from real stone

Page history last edited by Ian Stock 11 years, 10 months ago

Bill Winter

No claim here to originality the methods I have used are described, together with others for miniature landscaping, in John Constable's book ‘Landscapes in Miniature’ 


My first attempt was a small wall as a practice run and test piece for some stone buildings, the original method has been refined slightly and so far has stood the test of time and weather.


There is now track in front of the wall so the ballast has brought the ground up to meet the base of the wall!  The wall is only seen from the front so it only has a single face, more work was required on double faced walls.


A simple mould is required to support the stones during construction, for a flat wall a plain board with a timber border where straight edges are required is all that is necessary.  My wall is curved so I cut the curve along a piece of old skirting board and fixed it either side of as piece of hardboard


John Constable suggests double sided tape to cover the mould but he works at a smaller scale.  I had a piece of Fablon so I stuck that to the mould with tape, sticky side up.  In practice it worked for the wall but I do not think that it is sticky enough for a building, that probably needs double side tape!  The stones were selected from the full size gravel path that I have made to access the railway, I used about five tons of gravel for the paths so had plenty to choose from but it is available in smaller bags. (Looking for stone that is local or, if modelling a railway from a different area, local to where the railway is situated, contributes to keeping everything consistent and contributes to the sense of realism.)  Stones with a flattish face were stuck down to the mould with as small a gap between them as possible.  Stones with a flat face and a square edge were required for ends and corners.  Stones were trimmed with pliers and an old pair of side cutters when things got desperate. 


The wall was pointed from the back with Mangers filler coloured with cement colouring powder at the end of each session, this prevented the completed section being disturbed as I had to rotate the mould to work with it as flat as possible.  The filler is claimed to be suitable for outdoor use but not constant wet, I sealed the surface with a silicone waterproofer when it had eventual had chance to dry out.  On some later attempts I have pointed with cement and sharp sand from the Garden Centre this seems more durable so far. The grout was mixed to a paste the consistency of thick cream and buttered onto the stones.  I then nearly came unstuck, literally, my normal moulding procedure is to vibrate the mould with a pad sander to settle the filling and drive out any air but the stones started to move, the Fablon was not up to it.  I settled for tapping the mould with piece of bar and left it to set.


The moulding was later reinforced with a mix of 1 part cement, 3 parts builders sand and 3 parts agricultural grit and again left to go off.  John recommends further reinforcing with plastic mesh but I did not think that it was necessary for a low wall.  I have used the mesh from orange packs and the stiff green type for garden windbreaks on some larger walling.


Once cured the base of the wall and the existing concrete base were primed with builders PVA and the mould was placed in position on a bed of cement and a fillet of cement laid along the back.  On a flat surface I would have just made the base square and stuck it down with mastic or, on soil, made the concrete run beyond the base of the wall itself and buried in the ground. 



I have also cast another wall in situ using a second mould and pouring the concrete in between the two.  If stone facing was is required on both sides this would have been the way to do it.
















A few days later the mould was removed, there were a few gaps in the pointing and there were places where the grout had crept onto the face of the stone this was removed with a wire brush and the gaps filled with some more of the grout.  I had taken the precaution of colouring enough filler to allow for this, smart eh!



Finally the top capping of cement was added.


I have cast small buildings as a solid lump though fitting the stones into the mould is a bit of a fiddle.  The alternative method that I have used is a pair of 'L' shaped moulds with one wall and a gable end  each with some means of fixing them together after the stone has been placed and pointed.



For larger buildings a mould that can be laid flat while the stones are placed and grouted then set up for plastering is John Constables method which I have still to try.  














The building being hollow allows for the fitting of windows and interiors if required as well as reducing the weight of larger buildings, though they will still be pretty hefty.  For lightweight construction alternative materials are needed.  My station shelter, which is only seen from the ends, was made using a variation on this idea.


The two ends were cast flat, like the wall, with plastic mesh in the backing layer left sticking out at the back corners.   The ends were set up vertically in a board with a batten at the top and bottom of the rear wall.  The back was cast onto the board resulting in a U shaped casting.  Before removing from the mould a piece of UPVC soffit board was bonded into the building at ceiling level, I doubt the corners would have held without.




The roof was eventually made from the same UPVC material bonded between the walls and covered with slates. 



Slate is quite an easy material to work, it can be cut, split and drilled with basic tools though cutting requires care and dust protection.




(More on slate to follow eventually, Keeping checking back to see new developments and ideas as they appear.)





Bill Winter  Feb 09



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