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Making Dirt/gravel roads

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  • Member since
    January, 2003
  • From: Brisbane Australia
  • 429 posts
Making Dirt/gravel roads
Posted by Alantrains on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 3:14 AM

 Hi all,

I am having difficulty getting my gravel roads to look right. I tried doing them like ballasting track. lay the gravel then glue it down, but it doesn't look like a dry gravel road when i finish.Any ideas?

 

Alan Jones in Sunny Queensland (Oz)

 

  • Member since
    September, 2007
  • From: Charlotte, NC
  • 5,589 posts
Posted by Phoebe Vet on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 8:07 AM

I use a base coat of brushed on chocolate color paint and then a top coat of Rustoleum texture paint.

I tried using very fine ballast but it was still too big.

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

  • Member since
    March, 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 7,314 posts
Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 8:20 AM

I know exactly what you are talking about.  In my opinion the problem with most model gravel roads is that if you try to use separate stones they are as a rule way too big, way bigger than true road gravel is.  Gravel in a gravel pit is one thing -- more like ballast in size -- but they crush it more than that to use on roads or alleys.  There it tends to range in size from pea-size to maybe an inch or so, and that is incredibly tiny in HO. I mean, imagne the finger tip or thumb size of an HO scale figure!  So we are in essence trying to make rocks look like pebbles and stones. 

The other problem in my experience is that people want visitors to see the ruts so they make the ruts too deep in both dirt and gravel roads, without giving thought to whether anything other than an army vehicle could actually drive through.

If you could magically reduce a true gravel road to model railroad size I think we'd be surprised by how relatively smooth it looks.  Not glossy smooth, not poured concrete smooth, but smooth. 

On my layout I have a macadam street -- where they laid down hot tar and then small pebbles, with sometimes a roller pressing them in but often letting the traffic do that part of the job, and for that I used the reverse side of a roof shingle -- basically a textured but flat and even surface, and painted it appropriately to show more of the black tar where the wheel traffic is the highest.  On the edges and center line, where pebbles tended to gather and NOT get ground into the tar by passing traffic, I used the very smallest "limestone" ballast I could find, a Highball product intended for Z scale.  It is almost dust like.  The effect looks good to the naked eye, but a digital photo I took shows that even that ballast is a bit big.  But thus far I am pleased. 

The plastic that is used for milk jugs and cat litter jugs and some other household products has a similar, slightly orange peel like texture, and when cleaned and painted and roughed up a bit with a sanding block also has something of the look of a smooth gravel road, and use the real stones -- again I'd explore Z scale ballast or maybe the finest sand you can find -- for the non-compacted stones that tend to gather at the edges away from the tires, or should I say tyres?  The one problem with that kind of plastic is that getting paint to adhere can be a challenge. 

This may sound nuts but the textured plastic of such things as computer cases and other consumer products and product packaging, if properly painted and weathered, would have a pretty good approximation of the texture we seek - a suggestion of slight roughness but no separate rocks or stones to distract us.  A bit of dumpster diving may be in order! 

Another idea that I have thought about but not yet tried out is the finest grit sandpaper or, maybe even better, finest grit emory cloth (for its greater flexibility and, I assume, resistance to humidity).  Again what we are after here is a texture, a suggestion of separate stones. 

Dave Nelson (a proud descendant of Australia's Becker clan, mostly NSW)

 

  • Member since
    January, 2008
  • From: Big Blackfoot River
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Posted by Geared Steam on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 9:23 AM

Alantrains

 Hi all,

I am having difficulty getting my gravel roads to look right. I tried doing them like ballasting track. lay the gravel then glue it down, but it doesn't look like a dry gravel road when i finish.Any ideas?

Use the real thing,

http://www.sceneryexpress.com/prodinfo.asp?number=SE0403

http://www.sceneryexpress.com/prodinfo.asp?number=SE0413

I have used the medium and the fine, the fine texture is actually dusts up when I apply it with a spoon. The medium is the same with scattering of rocks and some larger boulders. I use it as a base for ground cover, then add other items later, but it could easily be use to define a gravel road over another texture.

 

 Geared Steam's Blog

Railroads West, Always the Best



  • Member since
    February, 2005
  • From: In the State of insanity!
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Posted by pcarrell on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 1:52 PM

On my last layout this worked well: http://www.pacificcoastairlinerr.com/scenery/clods/ 

Philip
  • Member since
    May, 2006
  • From: Brisbane, Australia
  • 777 posts
Posted by mikelhh on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 6:09 PM

  Some excellent advice here already

 I've used a couple of different materials for mine.  First one was made with artists modelling compound

 Before painting [compound still wet] 

Fine sand and sieved dust from a bag of ballast was sprinkled onto the paste.

 

Second one was made with water putty, sand and ballast dust

 

Mike

 

Modelling the UK in 00, and New England - MEC, B&M, D&H and Guilford - in H0

  • Member since
    January, 2003
  • From: Brisbane Australia
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Posted by Alantrains on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 9:28 PM

 Thanks everyone.

Mike, that's the effect I'm after, looks great.

Phoebe vet, have you got a photo so I can see how it looks?

Alan J

Alan Jones in Sunny Queensland (Oz)

 

  • Member since
    May, 2006
  • From: Brisbane, Australia
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Posted by mikelhh on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 10:01 PM

 Alan if you decide to use water putty, I used Agnew's from Bunnings. Come to think of it, I seem to remember buying artists modelling compound from there too, but it has to be a big Bunnings.

 

Mike

Modelling the UK in 00, and New England - MEC, B&M, D&H and Guilford - in H0

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • 529 posts
Posted by RFinch on Thursday, August 20, 2009 8:08 AM

 You may want to look at Joe Fugate's video on Scenery and Bridges Vol. 4 Part 1 in which he gives a very good description on how to build a very realistic dirt/gravel road.  The other information in this video on other aspects of scenery is well worth the purchase price.

Bob

  • Member since
    September, 2007
  • From: Charlotte, NC
  • 5,589 posts
Posted by Phoebe Vet on Thursday, August 20, 2009 11:32 AM

Alan:

I'll get a picture when I get a chance.

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

  • Member since
    September, 2007
  • From: Charlotte, NC
  • 5,589 posts
Posted by Phoebe Vet on Thursday, August 20, 2009 2:53 PM

Alan:

Here's a dirt parking lot.

 

 

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

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