Something I have always always thought about.

John Moore Sep 23, 2018

  1. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

    Something I have always thought about and I see the HO folks have done it. Real water on a layout and operating vessels including a mini sub.
  2. WM183

    WM183 TrainBoard Member

    I have daydreamt about a Great Lakes harbor scene with oreboats that could sail about a bit in an inch or two of water! But that would be really difficult to do. No doubt that it would look amazing though!
  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I recall reading that the great John Allen even experimented with this idea. He found the expected leak issues, but also humidity a problem. These days, probably more attainable for many of us. I have pondered a running stream....
  4. Eagle2

    Eagle2 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    From what I've always heard when this comes up, one of the issues is that unless the water remains dead still any movement (ripples, waves, wakes, even vertical drop) is almost invariably far out of scale and detracts from the overall appearance
  5. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

    I think the secret to the leaks is a troweled on material similar to tar that is used to coat HVAC trays that collect condensation. With the miniature motors now the propulsion would not be an issue but that submerged mini sub is one heck of some fine engineering. My big issue would be my large pride of miniature lions using it for a watering hole and a play spot. I have some that like to play in the water and all my big waterers have trays around them for that behavior.
  6. Dave McDonald

    Dave McDonald TrainBoard Member

    Close to thirty years ago, the joint venture with Marklin and Franklin Mint produced the Norman Rockwell Celebration of America Z-scale layouts with running water. I have had a couple of them in the past and can tell you the amount of attention they generate at a train show is unparalleled. It had a water pump built in and pumped the water to the top of the mountain where it ran down and into a little trough. There is also a working water wheel on that layout. There is rubber tubing and a brass drain valve in the bottom of the layout. Water may not scale correctly, but is a really cool feature on a layout.
  7. SLSF Freak

    SLSF Freak Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I've been thinking of a different direction lately... if you've been to a science museum in the last decade you've probably seen those interactive projection displays. It would be cool if there were a pico projector setup of something like those displays for our water surfaces. Your boats could be dragged (or remote controlled like a car) along the smooth surface but the projector in conjunction with some clever software gives the illusion of wakes and waves. Check about 45 seconds into this video for something sorta/kinda similar to what I'm thinking:

    Then - you can overcome the physics that typically kills the illusion when using real water and have simulated scale physics with convincing computer graphics do the trick??
    mtntrainman likes this.
  8. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

    Over in Europe, the Z scale modelers are heavily into real water with R/C boats and ships running around. Of course, they can also buy individual bicyclists pedaling along.

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

    This would be cool to do but my biggest fear wouldn't be leaks, it would be derailments.
  10. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

    Back in the 60's when I was just a kid I did a real-water log pond in HO and a working log chain. Interesting experiment, basement layout. I remember using contact cement to seal over the plaster, wow, it was toxic air for weeks. One key issue was also finding a way to drain it and designing it to drain. I got it to work, and put it on the list of 'things to never try again'. It was kinda fun to sort logs in a real pond though and watch them going up the chain.

    Considering how much of an enemy humidity is to everything we're working with, it seems like a truly awful idea.

    I had all kinds of fun with battery and RC boats growing up, happens when you live by a river. My triumph was getting the "Battlewagon" (remember that monster??) to actually float and run under power.
    My youngest son, however, set the record for truly ill-advised concepts by developing an remote-controlled boat using Lego Mindstorms and the RCX block in a Lego hull (20 years ago it was $120!) and it took on water and sank with all hands and wallets.

    I'd be curious if the Europeans only fire the water system up for big shows and displays, and the rest of the time its drained and dried. That's what I ended up with even on a very small situation. I can believe you can make it work, but considering the degree of difficulty, you'd end up actually running the thing as intended on an extremely limited basis.
  11. NScaleKen

    NScaleKen Permanently dispatched

    Miniature Wonderland runs that water feature daily, year round. It's a full theme park for HO scale miniatures of all kinds. They do things on a scale far beyond anyone not generating revenue with fairly large numbers of paying customers coming to view the massive diorama they have created.

    They have a totally automated transportation system, trains, cars, airplanes and boats, all running on location of every moving object with image recognition that allows software to view layout with cameras and identify markers on all the models. They are doing HO scale F1 race cars, too small to hold engines and electronics, so they are halbach array magnets driven by a track made of digitally linked magnetic coils. The entire track is a circuit boards backside, the underside is all coils controlling the movement of the cars on top. Pretty amazing level of making it happen to get the effect they want. Highly recommend their videos, most in german with subtitles.

    So want to go there, going to happen one of these days. The videos the post to YouTube are one of the things that got me into this.
  12. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

    Yes, I know that they drain the water between shows. That's not Hamburg--I doubt they drain that, just treat it regularly and replace a bit at a time.
  13. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

    What is water at 1:1 scale winds up looking so thick in a 1:160 setting that it looks less like a body of water and more like a body of jell-o.
  14. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

    I don't understand this. Usually the argument is the opposite--water on N scale layouts looks too thin.
  15. TrainboySD40

    TrainboySD40 TrainBoard Member

    The problem is that it looks both too thick and too thin. Water tension scales up, but wave transmission scales down. A wave moving across a pond or a trickle falling down a cliff moves far too fast, but the bulk goes the other way.
  16. Carl Lawson

    Carl Lawson TrainBoard Member

    IMO, live water doesn’t work, even in the larger scales, due to the speed of the water movement in relationship to the scale speed of the trains. It doesn’t do anything other than reinforce a toy train look we are trying to overcome with visually realistic scale speeds and detailed scenery. The same problem exists with other forms of layout animation if you don’t get the scale speed exactly right, such as crossing guard arms that move too quickly or have a jerky motion.

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