Articles - Streets
03/13/2012
This page describes how I built a two-lane road for my S-scale layout. I determined how I wanted the road to look and then cut some pieces of 1/4" scrap strip wood to mark off where the road is to go. I laid them directly on top of the scenery base. I used Aleene's glue to keep the wood attached to the scenery base. Roads had 9-foot wide lanes in the 1940s, so I measured a scale 18 feet in between the wooden forms.
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Next, I used some masking tape to cover the track and ballast that I didn't want to be covered by the road.
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The front edge of the layout where the road "dead-ends" is higher than the layout front fascia board, so I put two layers of masking tape to hold back the road surface while that sets.
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Now comes the exciting part; filling in the street. In the past I have successfully used vinyl spackling. I would have done that here, but I didn't have any on hand and I didn't feel like running to the store just for that. I did, however, have "Ready-Mixed Concrete Patch" in the garage, because I had just recently finished remodeling the garage where I used this material to patch holes in the garage's floor before painting it. I decided to try that on the layout. If it didn't work, I could just rip it out when it dried. The next photo shows the tools I used.
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Just like in the real world, I scooped the concrete patch material into the area and leveled it with the tools. Since I put it directly on top of my uneven scenery base, I had to work it a little, but eventually it all settled down. I finished all three sections and then left it alone for 24 hours.
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The concrete patch material is really only intended for small areas, so, as I expected, there were some serious cracks in the surface after the drying time. However, my thinking was that I could use that to my advantage and make the road look old and patched by later coming back and highlighting those cracks.
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The wooden strips are just forms, so I removed those as well as the tape. They started to tear at the thin concrete patch, so I used a utility knife to cut a cutline between the wood and the concrete. This made it much easier to remove the strips. The edges of the concrete all sloped up to the where the wood strips were, so I used a rough rasp and filed them down (the lighter gray color is where I did the filing).
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The cracks were quite pronounced and deep. Some cracks were so severe that parts of the concrete were actually loose from the rest. I decided to fill in the cracks with Aleene's tacky glue. At first I carefully used a toothpick to insert the glue, but later I just held the bottle against the top of the crack and squeezed the glue into the crack until it started to ooze out. Some of the cracks were quite deep, so it took a good amount of glue. The glue is white initially, but it dries clear. It does sag, so I had to apply it several times to get a satisfactory fill depth.
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I let the glue dry overnight. You could leave the road in the real concrete color, but I wanted to have mine have a different color. I figured Floquil's "Aged Concrete" would be a good color for an aged concrete road. I painted it with that color and let it dry overnight. The next morning I decided I really did not like the result. I didn't even bother to photograph it. I had previously used Delta's Ceramcoat "Charcoal" (an acrylic paint) for a set of roads I had done, so I went back to that. While the paint dried, I applied some Sculptamold to make the road match up to the surrounding scenery base.
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After another night of drying, it was time for some scenery work. I mixed up some acrylic brown paint and applied that to each section of Sculptamold. As soon as I was done painting a section (and you have to be quick with acrylic paint), I applied the scenery material. I had recently bought some Scenic Express "Forest Floor Blend" material (a first), and tried that here. I sprinkled it on the painted area and then lightly tamped it down with my finger.
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The next day I took the vacuum to the area and cleaned up all loose stuff. This is what it looked like.
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I model the summer of 1950, so the center line on two-lane roads were still painted white (as opposed to the modernday yellow). I didn't have any official measurements, so I decided on a 4-inch wide stripe. I used a scale 4"x4" piece of strip styrene. The road has a bit of a curve to it, so I used some weights to hold the styrene strip in place (in the center of the road). I then put masking tape on either side of the styrene strip.
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Some parts of the line I wanted it to be solid (indicating that cars cannot overtake slower moving traffic), and some parts are dashed. For the dashed sections I decided on a 3-foot spacing (again, I just guessed). After applying the masking tape for the dashes, I painted the road surface with white paint. I first used Polly Scale "Reefer White", but the paint is so liquid that it flowed under the tape (the concrete surface is not smooth, of course). I then switched to using a white acrylic paint, which didn't have that problem. Lesson learned!
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The acrylic paint dries really fast, so I could pull up the masking tape right away, and then went back and did some touch-ups with the Charcoal (road surface) paint by hand. And now for the cracks. I used a toothpick to apply some black paint into the cracks. It was the only black paint I had and it is glossy. I may over-spray the whole area with Dullcote, although the glossy cracks look like they are wet from a recent rain.
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Next, I cut, shaped, and glued scale 9"x6" boards that provide the car traffic safe passage over the tracks. I used Aleene's glue to glue the boards down to the ties. I used the automobile to make sure the boards provided support for the wheels, and I used my see-through track inspection car to make sure the wheels didn't get caught up in the wood. As a final check, I also ran one of my engines through each section of the two turnouts in both directions.
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I used "Red Oak" Minwax stain to stain the wood boards. When that was dry, I used white acrylic paint and dry-brushed the wooden boards to age them a bit. Next, I applied Bragdon Enterprises' weathering powders to the road surface and over the boards. I used a light gray powder along the edges and down the center of the road, and then a black powder down the middle of each lane representing oil dropping out of engines.
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Some street traffic brings the road to life. Update: I've been informed that wooden boards should also be used leading up to the outside rails. These should cover the ties outside the rails. This makes it possible for the railroad to replace the ties under the track without having to break up the concrete paving. However, this means that I would have had to have done the outside boards first, before applying the concrete patching. Something to consider for the next road I make.
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