Building the corner of Yonge and Dundonald

For my structure diorama project of 587 Yonge Street, i’ve been making steady progress.  I’ve completed the 3D design on the windows and doors and other details, and they have been ordered from Shapeways and should, all things in production and the postal system being equal, be here by early June.  As such, I’ve used a very relaxing damp Sunday on a long weekend, to really start making progress on the base for the display.  While this project doesn’t have any tracks, its the same technique I use when I’m working on a diorama with tracks and trains, so its applicable to a railway project, and hopefully helpful to others out there.

Phase 1 – Using the printout, tracing the eventual layout onto the 12″x12″ project board.  I cut away sections from the computer printout to line out where different parts of the scenery will go.

From the CAD drawing or whatever base sketch I am using, I take the printout and start to cut away pieces, which I use to line out the parts on the base.  In this case, I have the location of the curb, manholes and drains, changes in the sidewalk/patio material, and the building locations.  I will lose these initial marks as i build up the roads/etc, so I try to make sure i save the key marking pieces.  In this case, the cutout for the sidewalk as that is where all the information on where light poles and other bits of street furniture will go is on the drawing.

Phase 2 – Glueing down different shapes and sizes of Styrene to create the pattern.

For this project, I am using a 0.125″ square styrene rod for the curb.  This was the first thing glued down, as the curve required the most care to get the styrene glued down and curved.  I used CA glue for this, however, there are numerous options if you prefer epoxy.  The trick us using something that will bond different mateirals, and not expand when it dries/cures.  I like CA, i’m familiar with it and its limitations and strenghts, but whatever you are familiar with should work.  For a larger project, i wouldn’t use strip styrene to create my edges, I’d use something cheaper and more cost effective, but its good for small projects.

I’ve used drywall compound for paving on a number of my projects before, often for concrete, but in this case, I am using it for the asphalt road surfaces.  I am going to use styrene for the concrete sidewalks and crosswalk on the street, this way, I get two different surface textures.  The drywall compound is easily applied, and smoothes nicely.  By laying an edge with a styrene L chanel around the road, I have a lip to slide a putty knife over after a rough application of putty to fill the space to get a generally smooth surface (as anyone who drives will tell you, Toronto’s roads are far from smooth).  I may or may not sand the road, I’ll make that decision after i see how it looks when dry, and if there are any shallow spots that need filling.  Unfortunately, working alone means I don’t have any pictures of applying the compound, but if you’ve ever used a putty knife to apply plaster, you should be able to do it.

Phase 3 – Completeing the Styrene concrete crosswalk and paving the road.

Before I could “pave” the road, I needed to get one large section of concrete done, a crosswalk that is concrete on Dundonald Street.  Once I had the styrene sized, I drew the expansion joints, and scribed them with a trianglular file.  You can see the joints in the picutre on the left above.  Once this was all down, it was a liberal application of drywall putty (actually, for this project, I managed a nice thin layer for a change!).  I suspect that I will be adding a second super thin coat to clean up the marks and level the road, but on initial inspection, its pretty good in most places.  Once the asphalt is sorted, I will paint it.  I’m going to base coat it with a grey paint of some sort, and I’ve picked up some Pan Pastels to use to weather and blend the colours to get a more realistic asphalt surface appearance, but that will be the next update on this project.

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