Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ganja Grasser

Ganja Grasser
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker

Once upon a time, railway modellers wishing to produce a grass effect on their layouts, the local model shop would sell them a big bag of dyed sawdust. Back home this would be poured onto a gluey hillside or cutting. Although the green would be luminous, it soon faded back to a sawdusty-yellow and our hero would just shrug his shoulders and go back to running his Triang Princess. To be honest, apart from a few pioneers, most people were happy with a train set that worked to worry about the fidelity of their countryside.

Fast forward a few years and the model railway world has changed. Now we strive to be accurate in all things. The day-glo dyed sawdust is still available but we also have various grades of coloured and colour-fast, foam. Better still, a few years ago Heki brought out a puffer system for nylon grass. In use you blew the fibres out of a polythene bottle. This imparted a charge to them and gave you nice sticky up undergrowth. The results were excellent, if a little messy in use.

A refinement of this system is the Noch electric grass tool which generates a static charge using massive voltages (minuscule currents though so it is safe) that did the same thing less messily and with even better sticky-upness. The only downside is the price - a Gras-master 2 will set you back £135.

Yes, £135 - that polythene bottle looks appealing now doesn't it.

However, over the mod-roc hill comes the cavalry in the form of the Double O Gauge Association. Among it's ranks there is a physics boffin, who in the Summer 2008 issue of the in-house magazine "The Journal", described how to make a similar tool using a metal tea strainer and electric fly swat from Maplin. Total cost, well under a tenner plus an hours modelling time. It's not rocket science, even though the technology is akin to that used in the large hadron collider. Basically replace the bat with the tea strainer.

Anyway, I made one and used it on the landscape. In use you simply earth the device with a pin, sticking it into the PVA painted on the earthworks, fill the strainer with grass fibres, press the button and shake the "grass" onto the layout. Result - nice sticky-up grass and relatively little mess. A result for science I would say.

Oh, and the artisits amoung you will want to know that I used 2 parts beige mix to one part light or dark green.

Want a back issue of the DOGA Journal ? Try Here.


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