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This is the third project related to creating a ghost train for Halloween. There won't be any train, but spectators will see and hear things creating the illusion that a train is passing. The goal of this project was to create a couple sections of rusted rail, part of an abandoned railroad line. There will be a few feet of track visible on each side of the road, with the rear portion of the tracks fading into weeds. The other completed projects were a railroad crossing signal and a crossing gate. I still have a few projects to go.

 

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Looks fantastic, you going to make some fishplates to join the lengths together and tie plates and spikes to seat them on the sleepers?


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Typical Ghoul Next Door
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Holy attention to detail, Batman... that looks incredibly realistic!

I only hope the TOTs appreciate the level of work you've poured into your props. You are definitely going the extra mile with the iron bits added and the coatings that are really rusting to make authentic looking props. (y)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Looks fantastic, you going to make some fishplates to join the lengths together and tie plates and spikes to seat them on the sleepers?


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I won't be joining any lengths but will make the tie plates and spike heads. (Thanks...didn't know the names for those things.)
 

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Holy attention to detail, Batman... that looks incredibly realistic!

I only hope the TOTs appreciate the level of work you've poured into your props. You are definitely going the extra mile with the iron bits added and the coatings that are really rusting to make authentic looking props. (y)
I tried applying a couple different rust-colored spray paints to give it an authentic rusted appearance but couldn't find the right combination. The iron paint was expensive (about $27 for a pint on Amazon), but one pint was enough to cover all the rails. The iron filings from Ebay were very cheap. But, yeah, probably too much effort considering that most of trick-or-treat here takes place after dark.
 

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Typical Ghoul Next Door
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I tried applying a couple different rust-colored spray paints to give it an authentic rusted appearance but couldn't find the right combination. The iron paint was expensive (about $27 for a pint on Amazon), but one pint was enough to cover all the rails. The iron filings from Ebay were very cheap. But, yeah, probably too much effort considering that most of trick-or-treat here takes place after dark.
Don't get me wrong; I don't think any effort that makes you happy and makes your display/props look good is "too much" at all. I just think it's fascinating the level us haunters are willing to go for to get the look we're seeing in our imaginations. First and foremost - YOU need to be happy with your creations.

But it's also pretty cool the effects you're working on and how you're getting there. Your experimentation is going to help others with things like surface prep and appearance. I would never have thought about adding metal filings to a paint surface and then treating to get a specific look, and now I'm wondering what else that could be used for. ;)

I've always thought that the detail work is missed by 90% of the people that view our displays... but that small percentage of people that notice and appreciate it - those are the ones that are especially satisfying. That's why I commented in any case. I know sometimes we end up going pretty far sometimes pursuing that ideal, and only folks like you/me/Halloween Forum peeps are going to really apprieciate your hard work, experimentation, and creativity. :)
 

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I only hope the TOTs appreciate the level of work you've poured into your props.
But, yeah, probably too much effort considering that most of trick-or-treat here takes place after dark.
I think this is one of those areas where who we are, and how we haunt comes into play. There is so much that goes unseen and under appreciated in any haunt. Darkness hides things. Distance fades almost every fine detail. Kids are really thrilled by haunts, but they're on a mission, and that mission is candy. Knowing our audience lets us decide just how far we go in realizing the vision we have in our head of any prop or decoration. That said, I firmly believe the most important audiences in Halloween displays are those making the props.

I have seen posts online here of incredibly detailed props. This post is one of them. I love what you've done. You certainly can find an appreciative audience here for all your efforts. But we all know that come Halloween night most of the kids will speed on by anything we make. Their adult guardians may take a bit more time, but really, even they are going to miss most of what we've done. We try to create an atmosphere, a feeling that say this is Halloween. If our visitors get that much from our efforts, it's worth it.

However, when you spend hours and dollars creating a faux rust that rivals the real stuff, that's for your greatest and most important critic of your haunt. Come Halloween night, you'll be able to look at your prop and smile. You nailed it, and we're talking big ol' honking train spikes nailed it. There's no such thing as too much effort if you win over the one creating the prop.
 

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You mentioned in your video that you weren't quite happy with your foam railroad ties. While it's a tragedy that many of the Halloween forum posts lost their photos in the transfer of ownership of the site, there are a few places that might help you out a bit if you really want to work on making the foam ties a bit more realistic.

Static: - My newest tombstone - wood is where Oak Lane Cemetery once posted about his foam wooden tombstone. The photos in the thread no longer exist here on the forum. However, as you can see from the pictures below, it's really a remarkable piece. Ironically, while the photos did not survive the changeover here on the forum, they still exist online thanks to Pinterest folks who posted the pictures as part of their favorite things.

731018
731015


If you read his post, he started off much the same way as you did with a carved foam piece that he painted black. He followed that with a number of dry brush and wash techniques to create the illusion of wood from a foam block. You're recreating a creosote soaked railroad time like the one below.

731017


They're mostly a brown/blackish color anyway, but maybe a bit of dark brown and gray dry-brushing will help make your carving pop a bit. Right from the git go, are you really that far off the mark? Me, I probably wouldn't care that much because of that whole "who's going to notice" aspect. But you seemed unsatisfied, so I thought I would pass along some of the places folks have shown their painting techniques to make foam look like wood. :)

The videos below just explain a few of the techniques if they're new to you. If you already know all that stuff, you can bypass them entirely.

A fun little video where the host uses torn sheets of cardboard to paint in the appearance of grain.

A video that is more akin to what you're doing with carved grain as a part of your boards. I skipped to the part where she starts using the drybrush technique to make her boards look more like wood. I like the fact they frequently mention that it's going to be in the dark so they're not too worried about the fine detail so much as the overall look. I still struggle with that part of haunting from time to time.

Lastly, a fairly popular technique awhile back that uses a specialty brush for making the wood grain. The brushes are harder to find nowadays, but it is an approach that can work for your boards as they're already painted in black for a base coat that will come up through whatever top coat you use. The grain it creates is much larger than the actual creosote ties, but it's all about illusion, and they do make establishing that illusion much quicker. And again, I'm jumping to the actual effect, rather than just posting the video.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You mentioned in your video that you weren't quite happy with your foam railroad ties. While it's a tragedy that many of the Halloween forum posts lost their photos in the transfer of ownership of the site, there are a few places that might help you out a bit if you really want to work on making the foam ties a bit more realistic.

Static: - My newest tombstone - wood is where Oak Lane Cemetery once posted about his foam wooden tombstone. The photos in the thread no longer exist here on the forum. However, as you can see from the pictures below, it's really a remarkable piece. Ironically, while the photos did not survive the changeover here on the forum, they still exist online thanks to Pinterest folks who posted the pictures as part of their favorite things.

View attachment 731018 View attachment 731015

If you read his post, he started off much the same way as you did with a carved foam piece that he painted black. He followed that with a number of dry brush and wash techniques to create the illusion of wood from a foam block. You're recreating a creosote soaked railroad time like the one below.

View attachment 731017

They're mostly a brown/blackish color anyway, but maybe a bit of dark brown and gray dry-brushing will help make your carving pop a bit. Right from the git go, are you really that far off the mark? Me, I probably wouldn't care that much because of that whole "who's going to notice" aspect. But you seemed unsatisfied, so I thought I would pass along some of the places folks have shown their painting techniques to make foam look like wood. :)

The videos below just explain a few of the techniques if they're new to you. If you already know all that stuff, you can bypass them entirely.

A fun little video where the host uses torn sheets of cardboard to paint in the appearance of grain.

A video that is more akin to what you're doing with carved grain as a part of your boards. I skipped to the part where she starts using the drybrush technique to make her boards look more like wood. I like the fact they frequently mention that it's going to be in the dark so they're not too worried about the fine detail so much as the overall look. I still struggle with that part of haunting from time to time.

Lastly, a fairly popular technique awhile back that uses a specialty brush for making the wood grain. The brushes are harder to find nowadays, but it is an approach that can work for your boards as they're already painted in black for a base coat that will come up through whatever top coat you use. The grain it creates is much larger than the actual creosote ties, but it's all about illusion, and they do make establishing that illusion much quicker. And again, I'm jumping to the actual effect, rather than just posting the video.
Wow, you're right--that tombstone is amazing! I still have several other props to make for the display, but if time allows, I might revisit the ties. Thanks for giving so much time and thoughtfulness to your responses.
 

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This is the third project related to creating a ghost train for Halloween. There won't be any train, but spectators will see and hear things creating the illusion that a train is passing. The goal of this project was to create a couple sections of rusted rail, part of an abandoned railroad line. There will be a few feet of track visible on each side of the road, with the rear portion of the tracks fading into weeds. The other completed projects were a railroad crossing signal and a crossing gate. I still have a few projects to go.

On the contrary, in the video you’re boards look quite real.great job.Would love to see the whole affect put together.
 

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OK I just watched your two other videos regarding your phantom train. You are seriously talented with a great imagination.Your videos and music are also done well.
 

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Very impressive work and attention to detail. I have not created anything on that level (yet, lol). You should be VERY happy with what you have accomplished 👏 . I watched other videos and just wanted to send my admiration.
 

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Fantastic! A train with no train. I added tracks to my trains the last two years, but not this level of amazing detail. I strive to make displays that look great in the daylight and at night. Every year I get asked by (mostly dad's) if they can come by during the daylight to discuss the finer details and see the innards! I welcome it!! I will be sharing your work with my technical consultant (my son) tonight!
 
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