Saturday, June 19, 2010

Making a road

I know most of us have our own ways to make roads for our layouts. Well some use paper, plastic, plaster or some other mediums. Well I use plaster or joint compound. I happen to have a very big bag of joint compound here at home and decided that I would use that to make my roads with. I have some of them drawn out already so I thought that I would show you step by step how I did this.

I selected a container to mix the joint compound in. Be sure not to use that good mixing bowl in your wife's kitchen unless you plan to replace it. I used a discarded milk jug. Already in the house and didn't have to look hard for it. I cut the jug into 2 halves. I used the lower half and discarded the upper half. Not needed for this project.

I now was ready to begin the road work. I took some WS track foam and cut it in half. I needed to know how wide to make the road so I measured the deck on my bridge and went with that. Maybe a hair smaller. I cut out a template to use. I then take one half of the WS roadbed and tack in place with some track nails to hold in place. You can use T pins, thumb tacks in place of the track nails. I used them because it was on hand and readily available. Once I did that then I took my road template and then repeated this precess on the other side of the road. Now we are ready to pour the plaster.

I went and got the bag and cut a small section out of the bag up near the top so that way it was easy to pour into the milk jug bottom half that i have already prepared. If you have wood or carpet, I recommend that you pour this outside as the dust may spill on the floor. Once I have the plaster in the jug I now add some water. I use the consistency of a thick milk shake. If you get the mixture too runny add more plaster. Stir again and repeat process until you get it to your liking.

Next step is to pour the plaster into the road mold that we have already made. I do so and then take a piece of scrap plastic and use to spread the plaster to my liking. Once I get close to the tracks, I gently shape it so that the road will go up to the tracks. I will come back later and add the actual crossing material.

Once the plaster has set up for about an hour I take and remove all the track nails from the road bed. To remove the roadbed, I gently pull it away from the road in a curved fashion. This reduces any ill side effects of any dried plaster tearing up the wet plaster. But I had only one spot that this happened to.

After I remove the roadbed mold I then cleaned out the milk jug and added some tap water to the jug. Please do not do this step in your sink as the plaster can clog your pipes, I washed out the jug outside. Once I had the tap water in hand, I then did some wet sanding to the side of the road. By this I mean that I wet my finger by dipping it in the fresh water and gently moved my finger across the edges of the road to smooth them down and out. As when you remove the mold there will be very high road edges. You could skip this if you wanted to add some scenery right up to the hard edge of the road. I prefer to slope them down. I proceeded to wet sand with my finger until all my poured road was smoothed down along the edges.
Once the plaster had sat for at least 24 hours and had time to completely dry, it was time to color the road. I mixed a India ink wash using black ink and alcohol. I then started the wash process by working on one side of the road and going across to the other side. You can do this by any means that you choose. I work in straight lines and curve with the road. You can choose to sand the road surface if you choose to do so. I would recommend that you use fine grade of sand paper or you could wet sand the surface to your liking. The material that I chose to use, dried to a nice smooth surface and I chose not to sand the road surface.

After staining the roadway, I took some left over wood material that I had from a laser wood kit that I built in the past. I then proceeded to measure how wide to make the crossing boards. Once I had them marked, I cut them out and test fit them in the position that they needed to go in. Once I was satisfied with the position, and clearance issues, I super glued them into place. As we know if we have been in the hobby for awhile, you can purchase ready made laser cut crossing boards or you can use more modern products such as the rubber or concrete style. I do not have any of the laser cut versions on hand and that is why I decided to make my own. Also, when you do make your own, you can use wood or plastic or any other material that you choose to use. You could even use the plaster and make your crossing that way if you so choose. A word of caution must be said for making your own. Ensure that the height of the material used will be below the trip pins on the couplers. Same as you would do when installing turnouts and checking for any low hanging trip pins. If you do not do this, and the material is too high between the rails, it will snag on the trip pin and cause a derailment or cause damage to your rolling stock. Another word of caution, also common sense to most of us who have been in the hobby for any amount of time, also ensure that you leave a gap for the wheel flanges to pass unobstructed. Otherwise the rolling stock could ride up on the obstruction and derail.

Now all that remains to complete the scene, is to touch up the plaster to the edges of the crossing boards, stain the plaster and mark the roadway. Also, now that you are to this point you can add either crossing signs (cross bucks) or crossing gates. You can also take it a step further and add the road markings for crossing ahead. Or you could make it as simple as placing a stop sign on both sides of the tracks and making a stop line.

Some simply super detailing ideas.
As we all know roads get worked on from time to time. At this point, once the road has been stained you can create patched areas by masking off a section and painting the patched area with any darker shade of of black you choose.
You can all take the edge of an xacto knife and make some crack marks and patch them by simply painting the area the crack with black paint to simulate that the road department simply filled the crack with tar. That is a very common fix found on roads even in today's modern times.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Current track plan

Here is a copy of the latest track plan that I have for the layout. If you will compare it with the other track plan that is posted, you will notice the addition of track in the Griffin area.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

This is the track plan for my layout. I am thinking about adding a passing track and some industry on the back side of Raymond. Then the only hidden trackage would be the staging yard, the back side of Griffin and the back side between Newnan and Raymond.

A view of the local in Griffin.


I thought that since I am in the process of building my layout, I would share the progress with all that wanted to see. I will try to post updates as I can as I make progress. This will be a slow process here until I learn how this site works.

Currently the layout has all the track laid and operational. The main method of train control for the current time is DC. I will be converting the locomotives to DCC as time and money permit. As the layout was built, it was pre-wired for DCC operation. I do not get into all the blocks and such for the wiring so it is basically all one block. The layout is designed for up two crews to operate the layout. It can be operated easily by two, one man crews. Others can join in on the fun by either taking the engineer or conductor job duties.
The layout is set up as a continuous run but the towns and work is set up for point to point operation. During operation sessions, it will be loosely set up on time table operations. For switching, it will be replace like cars at worked industries. I am going to keep it simple and will slowly work in some form of car card system.