The Iowa River

Little known fact… The Hills Line is the first layout I’ve built where I chose to model water.

The Raccoon River on the IAIS Grimes Line

Let me clarify. Yes, it’s true that there was water on the IAIS Grimes Line. But the Raccoon River was an afterthought brought on when I decided to redo to staging yard into a model of Fleur Yard in Des Moines. The Hills Line is the first layout I’ve built where I planned for bodies of water, and the bridges crossing over it, from the get-go.


There are as many ways to model water as there are layouts that have water. As fits my personality, I went with the simplest version. The river bed is a piece of underlayment plywood (the same material used for the fascia) painted with a coat of Behr’s Wild Rice (the same paint used on the fascia). This gives me a consistent, level, and supported base that, by itself, does an excellent job of representing a muddy Midwestern river.


For the water itself, I’m using the old standby of gloss Mod Podge. One bottle will give me everything I need for this layout, and then some. Plus I don’t have to worry about trying to mix and pour resins or having it spill off the side of the layout.


Applying the Mod Podge is a simple matter of sloshing it on with a wide artist’s brush and letting it pool. It’s a somewhat cathartic, if repetitive process.


One applied, we wait… and wait… for the layer to completely dry. A full 24 hours is probably best, depending on the relative humidity of your layout room.


Because once that layer is dried, I’ll add another… and another… and another… and so on. Ultimately I’m planning on eight to 10 coats for optimal effect. But your mileage may vary.



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