Paving HO Scale Roads Part 2

So following on from my earlier post today, I decided to do the first bit of road paving on the layout. As with everything I am doing, slow and steady wins the race. Effectively, the first bit I was doing is a test section, to check I am still happy with my technique, and adjust for laying plaster around active tracks in making sure equipment still gets through and electrical connectivity is maintained.

Prepping Polyfilla with colour, from a suggestion in a comment earlier today, now the plaster is an off grey colour if it ever gets nicked in the future.

In my earlier post on getting set to do the roads, a commentor pointed out that you can tint the Polyfilla drywall compound with paint so that if it gets scratched in the future, it won’t be bright white. I had never thought of this in my past times using drywall compound for roads, so I decided to make a small batch with paint added, enough to do part of the roads I prepared today and see how that works.

The compound happily took some grey artists acrylic and quickly became a nice grey tone instead of the white colour it normally is. From here, its basically like putting a wall, get some on the knife, and start to fill in the area I’ve created for it, it takes some fiddling to get the technique, I find I get better as I do more. The drywall compound isn’t super wet, but it finds funny ways to misbehave as you try to spread it and get even coverage. I find I can go back over areas a couple of times, but eventually, you need to settle for what you’ve got, and start to work on smoothing. I use a moistened sponge after its started to dry to smooth as much of the surface as possible. As the roads I’m laying have level crossings, I need to focus on making sure there are not high spots along the rails, and clearing the flangeways I’ve created. Some of this can be corrected after the fact through sanding and adjusting, and based on the first coat, I suspect I will need to add a thin top coat (almost like paving a real road) for the finish sand before painting, but that will need to wait until I see how things are looking when it has set tomorrow.

Paving the road with drywall plaster, using the styrene edges as a base for the putty knife.

Having got a decent test area, including a 90 degree crossing set in the pavement, I had a little bit of compound left. I did another crossing further up the layout. I think based on this experience, I am going to start with doing just the areas where track is set in the pavement. This will make cleanup easier for the flangeways and making sure things don’t cause bind ups or operations issues with running trains. Then I can build up the road areas between the crossings which are a bit more flexible in terms of if they are uneven or need more sanding to get the finished look.

The are I’ve done is good, I’m mostly happy with it, trains still seem to run through it, so a good start. I will need to go back and do some more cleaning around the running rails to make sure they are clear and easily cleaned and maintained going forward after the roads are painted, but that can wait for now.

IMG_2314Doing just the crossing with some leftover plaster from the first batch.

To be able to install manhole covers and catch basins later, I made up two little stamps using 3D printed parts from a previous project, and pressing indents into the plaster as it dries. I need to print new masters so I can make resin parts for installing in the layout. The parts will be more cost effective this way than 3D printing them all. I will add that to my never shrinking list of things to do, but that can wait on getting all the roads paved, painted and weathered.

After the plaster has started to harden, I am stamping in marks for manhole and storm drain covers to be installed later.

Over the rest of the weekend, I will make another batch and do the areas that I have been able to block out before I ran out of styrene edging to at least complete this first phase of road paving. I won’t paint it for a while until I can work across more of the layout to keep a consistent look, but at least with the grey tinting, they still look half decent as is, which beats going back to the pink foam central a couple of months back.

4 thoughts on “Paving HO Scale Roads Part 2

  1. That looks nice. I’m glad the tinting is working out.
    Does the styrene come out, or is that now part of the road forever?

    • Hi, The styrene edge is part of the road forever, once its lightly sanded and painted, it won’t be noticed. You could in theory apply a mold release and try to have it be separate, but I don’t know how that will work. It will in places where there were curbs (which wasn’t everywhere in Liberty Village), be a clean edge to apply larger styrene to to be the curbing.


  2. I feel your pain! It’s the exact reason with I removed all plaster road on the club layout. They take a lot of dedication to look right, though they can be amazing. Given the complex geometry of tracks and roads, it was probably the most sensible option. Nice idea to stamp the man hole cover location!

    • Matthieu, It is definitely a technique that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Looking at the crazy angles some of my crossings in the road are at, it seems to be the easiest path to a successful paving job. It also when more styrene edging gets here, is something I can get in and then take as much time as needed to work on refining the surface appearance and painting before I move on to the surrounding scenery and buildings and blending everything together.


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