Muddy Waters

No, not the blues legend…

Lynn River - Poured photo LynnRiver-Poured-01_zpsfc5f65f8.jpg

 photo LynnRiver-Poured-02_zps9d10c782.jpg

I’ve always been hesitant when modelling water. I’ve tried several systems that have failed me for various reasons. But last night I decided it was time to Man Up and pour the two sections of the Lynn River depicted on my layout.

This time, I decided to use Magic Water – a two-part resin from Unreal Details. It was my first experience with this product, and I’m really pleased with how the water has turned out – so far. (I say “so far” because the resin is still curing. It takes about 24 hours to set, and it’s only been about 12 hours as I write this.)

I mixed the resin and hardener in several small batches, adding a few drops of Burnt Umber acrylic artists ink from Daler-Rowney to each batch prior to mixing.
Lynn River - Poured photo LynnRiver-Poured-04_zps1ff39d8d.jpg

As the Magic Water instructions say, mix well: I set a timer on my phone and kept stirring until the alarm went off, to ensure I didn’t shortchange this part of the process.

The instructions also warn that this stuff pours like water. It’s actually a little thicker: it pours like cooking oil. But I believe the instructions when they warn it will find even the tiniest hole in your river bottom and flow out. That said, even before I installed the riverbed I knew that I would be trying this system – so I planned, from the start, to create a water-tight riverbed. Here are some of the steps I took:

– I made sure the riverbed was as level as I could make it – not only front to back, but also side to side.
– For each section of riverbed, I used a single (un-spliced) piece of 3/4″ plywood as the base.
– I made sure there was plenty of plywood to either side of the actual, modelled piece of river. This gave me ample space to which to attach the foam board that I used to create the riverbanks.
– When the riverbanks were installed, I coated everything with a couple of layers of hydrocal.
– When adding scenery to the riverbanks, and detailing the river bottom, I used generous amounts of thinned Weld-Bond to make sure everything was solidly glued in place. The Weld-Bond also sealed the plaster and any holes I may have missed.

I obviously did a good job on my preparations, because the Magic Water stayed on the layout. When I checked this morning, the floor was resin-free under both sections of the river. Phew!

There’s very little wicking, although when the resin has cured I will have to add some bushes along the shoreline in a few places where the resin did wick into the adjacent scenery.

I’m especially pleased with the brown tint. I think the ink was a good choice. And I like the reflections I’m getting off the river.
Lynn River - Poured photo LynnRiver-Poured-03_zpsff953bf5.jpg

The truly magic part? I had just enough material in one package of Magic Water to do both sections of the river. It couldn’t have worked out better if I’d planned it!

14 thoughts on “Muddy Waters

  1. Nice.

    Any meniscus effect on things like the trestle bents? (If so, a thin layer of gloss varnish poured on top would fix that.)

    PS Thankfully I checked this comment before posting, otherwise you would have been puzzling over the “minibus effect”!

    • The “minibus effect”! I love it!

      Hi Simon:

      Very, very minimal meniscus effect – frankly, not enough to worry about. The instructions for this product say it flows well, but doesn’t like to creep up trestle bents, etc. and that appears to be the case. I’ve tried other, similar products that have been quite bad about this. I remember one product basically coated the puddle that I poured and the surface nicely reproduced each piece of gravel on the bottom of the puddle. I had a lumpy water surface. This stuff went on flat and while it has flowed into all corners and soaked into the banks in places, it hasn’t really tried to climb the trestle bents.

      If I decide to add some ripples to the surface – like the water in this example of Gordon Gravett‘s fine modelling – the very minor creeping would completely disappear. (For those who don’t know, Gordon details how he models water in Volume 3 of his series of books on scenery.)


      • Thanks for that, Trevor: good to know that at least one product doesn’t suffer from the minibus effect!

        I haven’t read Gordon’s latest book: it is on my Christmas list, so I have another two months to wait. I know it will be worth it.

  2. Looks great — I will definitely search for this product. Your water color is right on for the kind of relatively slow moving streams you see in flatter areas — lots of tannin in the water.

  3. Trevor,

    The water looks great & you did a great job concealing the stream meeting the backdrop. And thanks for the tip about coloring with ink.

    I used Envirotex on a module three years ago and the stuff is still tacky (evidently I didn’t get the mixture right.) That experience has me shying away from water. So I’m interested to see how this turns out.

    Greg Amer

  4. Looks great. I like those reflective cows! I have several products to test, though Magic Water isn’t one of them. WS Realistic Water, Envirotex and gloss medium, plus a gloss varnish overcoat to try. Nothing like a hands-on experience, will get to it.

  5. Nice job on the water. Color looks perfect. I have always used Envirotex . I like it, but it does creep up a lot an the banks.

    Mike S.

  6. Thanks for the post, Lynn River looks great. I’ve heard good things about Magic Water, but was unsure if I should go that route or with Woodland Scenics version. I should try both, like David said, but for the moment at least, I’m leaning more towards Magic Water. Thanks for the post and the suggestions as to how to make a water tight river!

  7. That water looks really nice, Trevor. You mentioned that the stuff has about the consistency of cooking oil. When you poured it around the trestle bents, did it flow easily around them without a lot of fiddling?

    I ask because I plan to do a long trestle in the future (HO scale, 3′ long) and the last thing I want to face is having to coax resin around hundreds of trestle bents!

    I also like the water color you’ve done. It is quite close to slow moving streams here in southern Louisiana (USA).

    Jack Shall

    • Hi Jack:
      Thanks for the kind words. And the answer is, the Magic Water poured very easily around the bents. In fact, I didn’t pour near the trestle at all – I poured to both sides of it and over the course of an hour or so, the pours spread and blended together under the trestle. I’m very impressed by this stuff.
      The colour took very little ink – a few drops (eye dropper supplied in the lid of the bottle). I recommend using an ink for this – it’s already transparent so it won’t cloud the resin at all.
      Good luck with the trestle and the water. Glad I could give you some ideas here.

    • My pleasure, Dave – it worked really well, and was very easy to use.
      I hope you get a chance to look around my blog while you’re here…

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