Modeling Spanish Moss : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

Dumb question I guess, but since Spanish moss is common to many regions served by the ACL and SAL, I was curious if anyone has ever developed a way to convincingly model the stuff?

In order to keep this ACL/SAL related, I recall seeing an old article on the ACL's ongoing battle with spanish moss down in Florida. Seems the stuff grew like crazy on the telegraph/signal line poles. One of the additional duties of an ACL signal man in southwest Florida was to travel his section of railroad and remove spanish moss from lineside poles before it grew too thick. Vaguely seem to recall reading that if left unchecked it could grow to the point of making "weaker" poles top heavy resulting in the pole falling over. Also wonder if wet moss lying across two or more wires could weaken or short ciruit the electrical signal on uninsulated lines? I'll try to locate the article for anyone interested.

-- Buddy Hill (, August 20, 2002


Again, thanks to all for the suggestions. Sounds like dryer lint is the way to go.

-- Buddy Hill (, August 29, 2002.

Buddy -

I posted your question on a message board for the Southeast Region of NMRA - here are the responses. Hope it helps.

Excellent review of techniques...What about filter floss? Perhaps not the floss used for home systems, but rather aquaria? I think it might be too thick, but it might work. ------ I just happen to be experimenting with Spanish Moss and Cypress Trees...

Results so far:

Cotton balls: far too course for HO, but can pass in O scale. Coloring cotton balls is tough and its hard to get the color right. Doesn't drape as well as I would like. This technique: B-

Steel Wool: Drapes very well. Tests show that it gives a very good resemblence to Moss. Problem is that it rusts. In order to get it coated you have to put paint on in such thick quantities that it kills the appearance. Also it falls apart and leaves metal filings for motors.

Damage to the locos is not acceptable, but Kudzu made this way looks VERY realistic.

Dryer Lint: Drapes very well, looks very realistic, color can be matched dead on. Problem is you have to produce it. I washed my grey t-shirts and sweat pants on high heat after washing sure to THOROUGHLY clean the lint trap or you will get color flecks in the moss. I glue the moss both directly to the tree limbs in clumps, and also to fine brown tread to resemble vines. After the glue dries I mist the tree with water just enough to wet the moss and make it drip. Effect is very good, but getting the right color is hard.

-- Bill Parks (, August 26, 2002.

At the Florida State Museum in Tallahassee you'll see a beautiful HO scale diorama of Silver Springs circa 1902- the steamboats, the two railroads and the structures. The cypress trees are draped in Spanish moss. Russ Oder and I went to the Museum's workshop when the display was under construction to see how it was done- and I used the technique on the Gateway Club in Jacksonville. Send me an e-mail for information. It's ordinary cotton; the method is pretty simple, though

-- Larry Brennan (, August 25, 2002.

Good question and something I have been wondering about for awhile. I have never tried this but 000 steel wool might work and it's about the right color. By using a strong magnet, you could could get the strands to point straight down and then spray them with dull clear coat to keep them that way. If anyone has success with this, let me know.

-- Jim Coviello (, August 23, 2002.

Thanks guys. I remember reading that article. The cotton ball fibers seem a little too long for HO scale. I've been trying to find a source of shorter fibers. This may sound crazy but dryer lint looks like it might have potential as a spanish moss stand in - esp. for HO scale.

-- Buddy Hill (, August 21, 2002.

Buddy, I can not speak from experience but an article by Bob Miller in the May 1991 Model Railroader on modeling a Florida swamp suggests using “plan old cotton balls” dyed and then formed on the tree.

-- Rob Jones (, August 20, 2002.

Hello Buddy,

I grew up around the stuff, and had a thought on modeling it. Try spray painting some shredded cotton balls with medium grey paint. I am betting it will look like real spanish moss.

Good Luck, Marc

-- Marc L. Hamel (, August 20, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ