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Home  >>  Articles  >>  How To

Cheap Trees for Your Slot Car Track

Published: February 25, 2002
How to cheaply make trees for your slot car track




Before we get started, if your reading this thinking you are going to learn how to make very detailed, realistic trees, this is not one of those articles. Our Model Railroad brethren have already done this for us, and have done it quite well. There are literally hundreds of articles covering the creation of all different types of trees, from simple shrubs to mighty oaks. These trees are not just scenery; some of these are works of art. With that said, it posed the question to me: "Will they work for a scale model raceway as well?"

 

The answer is yes, of course they can. Nevertheless, I also thought that some of these trees are a little fragile for slot racing use. That may sound a bit ridiculous at first, but bear with me. Every once in a great while, one of your finely tuned hot rods comes de-slotted. I know it's very rare, but it happens. One thing I sure don't want to see is this happening and possibly the car careening into one of these highly detailed and sometimes expensive trees. So I chose a different approach and feel I struck a good balance between realism and durability. In addition, this method is incredibly inexpensive, leaving more funds for another slot car or 2 down the road.

First, a trip to Wal-Mart or your favorite home center is in store. There I discovered a furnace filter that once I seen it, I knew I could transform it from its intended purpose to some decent looking pine trees. The brand I chose was by American Air, #383-716-601, it comes in a good size 20"x30"x1" piece that you can get a lot of trees from at a thrifty $3.77.

Next up was finding a good source for the trunk of our new trees. The craft department had the answer as I heard my wife yell, "Found it!" Wooden dowel rods used for all kinds of different crafts was just what we were looking for. We chose ½ x 36-inch long segments. This size looked very realistic, easily painted, and again a great buy at $0.92 a rod.
Now of course was the color. Although the filter by itself is almost a good match, I felt it needed some "greening". So back over to the paint department and for $0.96 for one can of green spray paint was the answer. So now, we are at a grand total of $.5.65. Under six bucks for enough material to make 5 to 6 trees, not bad huh?

Construction is about as simple as it can be. First, I take the dowel rods and cut off section 8 inches in length, then make both ends pointed for easy installment of the filter and the same on the other end for easy placement in the spray foam material I used for my "hills".
You can go larger or smaller; I just chose this as a good middle ground to work with. Next is taking those "trunks" and giving them a quick coat of brown paint. I used standard latex paint I had already mixed for doing other scenery projects, it had a good effect and once again, not expensive.
Once all this is completed, form the filter material with your hands until you have a shape you like. Now comes the simple final touch of spraying the tree with a good coat of green paint. And that's it. You are finished, and you have a very nice tree that gives a lot of life to your layout, and you did it in one afternoon. These trees are pretty tough and will stand up to the hardest of crashes, and there is no ground foam or small debris to fall off and get into your track or picked up by your cars, and they are friendly to the bodies of your models as well.
Inexpensive, durable and a good combination of realism and what I like to call "raceability". Don't wait until spring to get these planted on your layout.


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