Thursday, September 3, 2015

Scenery Test Module, Part 5

On Saturday my friend and fellow Nickel Plate Road modeler Tim Moran came over with his homemade static grass applicator and some grasses to try out on my scenery test module.

The applicator was built from a small PVC pipe as the handle with the electronics stuffed inside and a recycled food container with a screen built into the lid for distributing the static grass. If you search on Google there are many how-to videos and guides for building your own.

Because I didn't take a good photo of Tim's applicator here's a good example of one, the popular factory built model by Noch. A lot of people build their own because it seems pretty simple to do and also store bought applicators tend to be pretty pricey, the Noch GRASmaster pictured retails for around $190.

Noch GRASmaster

For those that may not know about this scenery method, the static grass applicator applies a static charge to the rayon or polyester "grass" fibers as it passes through the screen. The fibers then fall vertically onto a surface coated with glue which is grounded to the static grass applicator by a wire usually clipped to a pin or nail stuck in the glue. The end result looks like grass!

We started with a small area so Tim could show Brendan and I how it worked. We mixed some Silfor 6mm late summer, early summer? and a brown grass together, brushed some glue on the module and went to work. One tip Tim had was mixing a few drops of water to the white glue to help it be a better conductor.

Gently shaking or tapping the applicator about 1 to 2 inches above the surface of the glue distributed the grass fibers and soon a little grassy patch appeared. After the glue dried any grass that missed the glue would be vacuumed up for reuse.

Tim showing us how to use his static grass applicator.
Brendan and I both took a turn extending the grass patch down the edge of the module. It was pretty easy and enjoyable with results you can instantly appreciate. Tim explained a few other techniques you can use like stacking the grass fibers or adding some ground foam on top make it look like more than a mound of grass. We also talked about the scenery and grass work of Jason Klocke which in my opinion is always worth talking about and is just incredible looking.

If you want to see some great scenery by Jason and others just just search the Yahoo Proto-Layout Group's Photo section and if you're not a member yet, this thread on Model-Railroad-Hobbyist has a couple photos he's shared of his work.

Anyways here's the humble results of my first experimentation with scenic grass.

At this point the glue was still drying so I hadn't vacuumed up the loose scattered bits yet, but this simple start still makes me smile when I look at it.

Since Tim needed to order another Ion Generator for one of his grass applicators, I piggybacked on his order for one so I can build my own.

For the time being this will be it on building my scenery test module. I'd like to build my own grass applicator and use it on the rest of the module for future updates.

Thanks for following along this far!

Quick links to the rest of this Series

Scenery Test Module Part 5a


  1. Chris,
    Y'all did a fine job of applying static grass ... looks great! I find it "fun" to apply this and do it rather frequently going over previously completed sections to achieve even greater depth and variety. For me, the secret has been to apply a liberal amount of glue prior to application and use 70% ISO to place the grounding pin in. However you are doing it keep it up ... looks terrific! jim talbott

    1. Thanks! Any tips are appreciated, I have a lot to learn still with this scenery stuff.

  2. The scenery module looks great. I like DIY projects like home made static grass applicators. Not only does it save money, but there is a lot of satisfaction out of making your own equipment.

    I saw some guys are making them out of a kitchen sieve and one of those hand held bug zappers which turn 3 volts of batteries into 1500 volts. I've got an old stun gun laying around here somewhere... haha... how to apply static grass while your friends dance around uncontrollably...

  3. Hah I'd love to see a static grass build from a stun gun instead of a fly zapper!

    I got my Ion Generator, now I'm just collecting other parts. I guess I should order some static grass too.