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Streets and sidewalks: what material and method works for you?

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  • Member since
    February 2021
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Streets and sidewalks: what material and method works for you?
Posted by crossthedog on Saturday, May 13, 2023 10:09 AM

I know this is one of those questions that will generate widely divergent responses, and that's fine. I'm nearing completion of my first "downtown" building -- Carol's Corner Cafe -- and I just want to see what kind of ideas have worked well for you, whether things you spread like Sculptamold or things you lay down like a mat, or maybe you carve your civic surfaces out of Velveeta or black market walrus tusk. Let's hear how the streets run in your town!

Thanks in advance.

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by drgwcs on Saturday, May 13, 2023 10:39 AM

I have used a variety of methods but the best I have found is the flexible fun foam sheets at Hobby Lobby. The gray is a very good concrete color and texture. Also it could be weathered darker for aged asphalt or you could use the black and weather it more gray for newer. It is flexible and easily cut. Scribe expansion joints and cracks with the back of an exacto knife then drybrush weather with acrylic craft paints. 

Jim

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Posted by dknelson on Saturday, May 13, 2023 10:41 AM

For the urban parts of my layout I use the Walthers street system castings, with some modifications as needed.  I wanted that look of rather rigid uniformity that I associate with urban streets and sidewalks.  

More more residental areas I make my own sidewalks from styrene and have used various products for asphalt and macadam roads, including a product sold years ago by the now gone Three Brothers firm which seemed to be like shingle material without the granules.  

Somewhat OT but I also discovered that the city I model has, on their website, the specifications in their zoning code for size of sidewalks.  

Dave Nelson

 

 

 

Dave Nelson

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Posted by NVSRR on Saturday, May 13, 2023 12:36 PM

Depends on the results I want.   Old and aged I use a plaster to get the breaks, chunks and decay.   An epvc to get an aged with maybe a few sunken slabs and cracks.  To styrene for a decent condition side walk.    Epvc also allows me easy contouring for drive ways and wheelchair ramps too

 

shane

A pessimist sees a dark tunnel

An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel

A realist sees a frieght train

An engineer sees three idiots standing on the tracks stairing blankly in space

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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Saturday, May 13, 2023 1:38 PM

I use sheet styrene so I can have a uniform height and width. I've tried plaster and putty in the past and the results were poor. I have more control with the styrene.

 

Modeling a fictional version of California set in the 1990s Lone Wolf and Santa Fe Railroad
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Posted by kasskaboose on Saturday, May 13, 2023 4:49 PM

One thing you might want to add is the yellow or white lane/curb dividers seen on many roads.  Some cut a thin slice of colored electrical tape.  I like that idea over trying to paint a straight line.  

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, May 14, 2023 3:18 AM

Lone Wolf and Santa Fe

I use sheet styrene so I can have a uniform height and width. I've tried plaster and putty in the past and the results were poor. I have more control with the styrene. 

Same here. I glue down the thinnest styrene sheet directly onto the plywood surface of my layout and then use thicker sheets of styrene to form sidewalks and curbs. 

I have tried other methods in the past, particularly art foam board, but styrene sheet works best for me in "downtown" locations.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by selector on Sunday, May 14, 2023 10:42 AM

For my second layout, I used two-sided (twice sticky) thin foam tape. It was still too thick, probably rising about a foot in scale, but it served my purpose. I just had to cut it to length and round the corners here and there.

This is an overhead shot, so not particularly helpful, but maybe you can get the gist of how it worked:

That whole area with the 'village' was laid over a sheet of extruded foam insulation board, so it was nice 'n flat there.  For the street pavement, a thin layer of paint mixed with plaster of Paris, and then lightly scored when it dried.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, May 14, 2023 1:09 PM

If I ever get back to working on my layout, I'll likely have three reasonably-sized "cities" with paved streets and concrete curbs and sidwalks...

The streets and sidewalks, shown above, were all done using .060" sheet styrene, which I buy in 4'x8' sheets, rolled-up and secured with string, so that it easily fits into my smallish car.

Pretty-well all of the roads in the small towns were done using either Durabond-90 patching plaster...

...this view was taken with the camera on-layout, against the backdrop and pointing across the aisleway, as is shown by the structures to the right.  The road shown is Durabond, too.

...more Durabond...

...this view is with more sheet styrene, for both the roadway and the sidewalks...

...and a similar street in the same town, but dead-ending at the railway tracks...

...more Durabond, but with "gravel" too...

...more Durabond as dead-end streets, too...

...another small-town Durabond road...

...this road is an exception...

...as it's made from a piece of very smooth 1/4" plywood.  I have enough left to finish the road, which is about a 16' long to climb and cross the layout's peninsula, which leads to the layout's partial upper level...(the road leads to pretty-well nowhere, other than a four-and-a-half foot drop to the layout room's concrete floor).

I'll eventually add a centre-line to most of the shown roads.

Wayne

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Posted by HO-Velo on Sunday, May 14, 2023 4:36 PM

I like Sintra PVC board.  Has some texture and soft enough to be embossed with a coarse rock, as learned from Ray Dunakin's In-ko-pah RR post.  Scribes like butter, easily distressed with a razor knife and other tools.

Regards, Peter

  

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Posted by Doughless on Sunday, May 14, 2023 7:58 PM

doctorwayne

If I ever get back to working on my layout, I'll likely have three reasonably-sized "cities" with paved streets and concrete curbs and sidwalks...

 

The streets and sidewalks, shown above, were all done using .060" sheet styrene, which I buy in 4'x8' sheets, rolled-up and secured with string, so that it easily fits into my smallish car.

 

Wayne

 

Wayne, do you use .040" styrene for in between the rails?  Lays nicely on the Atlas ties?

I remember you described in more detail how you get the street running look so well done.  It seemed fiarly simple the way you described it...PROVIDED you work with the right material.

- Douglas

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, May 14, 2023 9:39 PM

Doughless
Wayne, do you use .040" styrene for in between the rails? Lays nicely on the Atlas ties?

No, the .060" material doesn't quite match the height of the code 83 rails, but it's close enough to not look out-of-scale (I should have used a piece of .020" sheet styrene on the underside of the .060" material, which would have made the crossings almost flush with the tops of the rails).  The between-the-rails .060" material sits only on the ties between the oversized spike heads, allowing clearance for the wheel flanges, but the road surface outside the rails has the .060" material abutting the spike heads, with a strip of .040"x.040" styrene between it and the top of the rails, which makes for a very smooth crossing for road vehicles.

I'll be adding some more road crossings on the layout's partial upper level, but rather than springing for a 4'x8' sheet of .080" material, will add some suitably-sized strip styrene to the .060" sheet material, in order to make the crossings even smoother than the original ones.

I also have some code 70 rail for a couple of small towns with road crossings, along with quite a bit of Central Valley tie-strip material, and their turnout kits, too.

Wayne

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Posted by crossthedog on Monday, May 15, 2023 12:29 AM

Thanks fellas. Great stuff here, and I appreciate the specific product names, so I can go look them up and see what they are. I'm unfamiliar with all of these materials so far, except Plaster of Paris, which we always had a big bucket of when I was a kid. We used it for everything, from mountain topography to between the rails industrial cement.

selector
For my second layout, I used two-sided (twice sticky) thin foam tape. It was still too thick, probably rising about a foot in scale, but it served my purpose.
Selector, granted it's late and I should be in bed, but my puzzler is puzzling over why you would use foam that was sticky on both sides. Why would you want the top of your roads to be sticky?

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Heart of Georgia
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Posted by Doughless on Monday, May 15, 2023 11:19 AM

doctorwayne
 
Doughless
Wayne, do you use .040" styrene for in between the rails? Lays nicely on the Atlas ties?

 

No, the .060" material doesn't quite match the height of the code 83 rails, but it's close enough to not look out-of-scale (I should have used a piece of .020" sheet styrene on the underside of the .060" material, which would have made the crossings almost flush with the tops of the rails).  The between-the-rails .060" material sits only on the ties between the oversized spike heads, allowing clearance for the wheel flanges, but the road surface outside the rails has the .060" material abutting the spike heads, with a strip of .040"x.040" styrene between it and the top of the rails, which makes for a very smooth crossing for road vehicles.

I'll be adding some more road crossings on the layout's partial upper level, but rather than springing for a 4'x8' sheet of .080" material, will add some suitably-sized strip styrene to the .060" sheet material, in order to make the crossings even smoother than the original ones.

I also have some code 70 rail for a couple of small towns with road crossings, along with quite a bit of Central Valley tie-strip material, and their turnout kits, too.

Wayne

 

Ah.  To be flush with the Atlas code 83 rails, put 0.80" atop the ties and 0.40" atop the spikeheads.  I could see using a strip of .020" below some sheet 0.60" on the ties to clear the edge of the ties and allow for some pitch to the street.

- Douglas

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    December 2021
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Posted by NScale4x8 on Monday, May 15, 2023 11:56 AM

I wrote a short article about may technique for modeling concrete roads in N Scale. My protyptype, the Cleveland Flats Industrial District is full of pured concrete roads with and without curbs.

I use styrene plastic for roads and sidewalks. Styrene is a versatile material that’s non-toxic, dimensionally stable, used in building kits, and a first choice for scratch building projects. Sheets of styrene are available at hobby stores in small sizes and shapes. You can buy sheets with patterns like bricks, stone, or shingles.

Special purpose styrene sheets can be expensive. Even in N Scale, roads may cover many square inches. To keep the cost down, I buy inexpensive styrene signs from big box stores like Walmart or Home Depot. The signs are made from the same material as craft sheets and seldom cost more than a few dollars. Signs are available in a wide range of thicknesses and sizes.

Concrete roads and retaining wallsRoads in progress

 

These pictures are a couple of years old. The scenery has progressed a lot. I posted these pictures so you can see the styrene signs cut up prior to paining. I'll post more up to date images if there is interest.

https://nscale4by8.github.io/nscale4x8/

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Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, May 15, 2023 2:57 PM

For downtown sidewalks, I have used mostly Smalltown City Sidewalks because they are cheap:

HO Scale Smalltown USA 699-7000 City Sidewalk Kit pkg 6 400699070009 | eBay

They come 6 sections to a package. There are left and right corner sections, two plain sections, one section with a driveway, and one with a sewer cover. I wish they would sell a package with just plain sections because I end up with far more driveways and corners than I need but you can cut off the parts you don't need and get partial sections. The are fairly thin so you probably want to put some plain styrene underneath them. 

For residential sidewalks, I use Evergreen styrene in sheets of 1/2" squares. That gives me a 43 1/2" wide scale sidewalk in HO. I use their styrene strips for curbs. 

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Posted by Soo Line fan on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 7:01 PM

I use the 0.30 Evergreen sheets also. Both squares and plain. I am not much for rattle cans but do use the Testors grey to paint them.

I use automotive pin stripe tape for road lines.

Jim

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