A Southwest Trains Clas 442 EMU (Electric Multiple Unit) seen heading west from London at Wareham on the south coast. I took this after a visit to the Swanage Railway waiting on my train to take me back into London on a vacation. I took two weeks in 2004 as my first vacation after starting work after university in 2003. I travelled England visiting railways and museums from the south coast to the Yorkshire Moors, all by public transit and staying in cheap hostels. I miss those days, I can’t travel like that anymore!! I need a real bed these days!
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.
Doing 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.
I’m working to make the most of the days of working from home as I can. While I’m mostly being work productive at my job between 9am and 5pm, I am finding that my days have changed. My old routine was up at 6am, on the bus to the subway at 6:40, at my desk by 8ish, leave the office sometime between 4:00-4:30pm and home by 6:00pm or so. Then make dinner and such, and it would be 8pm before I’d even think about heading up to the layout room. Now, even though I’m not starting working as early, by 5:00pm I’m done, and sitting at my workbench ready to go immediately from day job to building models. I’m doing some work, then making dinner. The hour and a half gained from not commuting home is becoming super productive hobby time, but, making progress quickly is exposing an issue that I’ve had as my modelling supplies are a bit of the “just in time” delivery model, where I am used to buying things as I need them, a paint here, glue there, a single package of styrene strips, etc. In an era where you can’t just pop out to the hobby store, I’m finding that I’ve been placing regular online orders as I discover things I need from my local hobby shops to try and help make sure they are still here to pop out to on the other side. So far, I’ve ordered from The Credit Valley Railway Company, Meeplemart and Sunward Hobbies, and I have friends who have ordered from Wheels and Wings and I likely will at some point as well.
That said, I am still advancing the layout, and will continue to do so so long as I have supplies or can get them online. As I work to move scenery out of the closet and into the main layout room, the next thing I want to start to do is start to pave the roads. This will set the areas for buildings, and once I have the materials to make the building foundations, do scenery around them, even while the buildings remain matte board mockups for the most part.
Starting to build up boundaries for laying roads.
My technique for building roads is well developed, I’m happy with it, and it works well and looks good when finished in my opinion. I “pave” the roads using drywall compound, then sand to get a smoothish surface, add in cracks or joints, paint and weather with Pan Pastels. I wrote about it on building a diorama here. I like to use Polyfilla Big Hole Repair, it has a grey lid if you’re looking for it. It can be spread deep as its designed for large holes, and doesn’t contract when it dries. It can be sanded, and paints nicely. To create the roads, I am using 0.156″ x 0.060″ styrene strip (Evergreen 157) as the 0.156″ gets me to the track height, so when I put in putty, I can bring it smoothly to the rail level.
For the roads, which cross the tracks in many locations, in order to make good flangeways and have reliable operation, I am adding guard rails, then I can plaster between the guard rails, and keep a good clear flangeways. It will wind up being a bit over scale, but I can live with that compromise for operational reliability, plus, most of the track is viewed parallel to the rail, so it won’t be that noticeable to operators. I have a supply of Micro Engineering Code 70 rail left from my friend who built my switches (though inevitably, not enough for the whole layout – see above comment re my supply situation).
Using up my stock of Code 70 rail from my hand built switches to create guard rails for paving the roads.
While I had no drywall compound when I started at this on Wednesday, we placed a pickup order at Canadian Tire for some gardening and cleaning supplies, and I tacked on some more glue and a tub of drywall compound, which we picked up on Thursday, so now at some point this weekend, I may pave some roads!
Pictures showing the road edge rafts and guard rails glued in place at Liberty Steet and Atlantic Ave and Hanna Ave intersections.
This morning I’ve been working on getting the guards down and installed, running test trains through to look for any possible impingement’s, and getting them filed down and ready for paving. At some point I will switch and do some more ground cover in the closet to advance out, but it’s nice to have options for projects depending on what I feel like doing to keep moving forward. I’ll report back in due course once the roads are laid as to how its going.
The Brant Railway Heritage Society is a recently formed group, working to raise funds to restore the Lake Erie & Northern station at Mount Pleasant Ontario and build a new museum there. As a fund raiser, they have cast resin replicas of Canadian National Railway steam locomotive number plates. I believe they have done all three of the northern’s preserved in southwestern Ontario, 6167 in Guelph, 6218 in Fort Erie, and now when I saw them at the Copetown Show two weeks ago, the Toronto Railway Museum’s 6213. Obviously, while I passed on the others previously, a donation to the museum for a resin 6213 number plate was a must.
The plates are provided unpainted, so I took this as an opportunity to see what I could achieve using cheap craft paints, not just because I didn’t want to search for complex or expensive hobby paints, but as an opportunity to learn on something that at the end of the day, didn’t cost me a lot of money, and doesn’t need to be perfect.
Cheap ($2-$3) artists paints from Michaels.
I decided that I would spray the brass base colour with my airbrush, and thin and run in the red to allow it to find its level inside the plate, much like how a real plate would be done, except with the real plate, paint was applied to the brass, then polished off the facing surface!
The cheap craft paints are not the best for airbrushing. They don’t have super fine pigment, so they didn’t want to spray well, despite a lot of thinning with water and upping my air pressure from my normal 30psi to 40psi. It did work, but it wasn’t my best painting experience. That said, part of the reason I did this this way way to learn. Its good to know what it takes to try and spray these paints, as you never know when a project will actually require a crazy paint choice like this.
Painting Process (clockwise from top left): Unpainted; in Tamiya fine grey surface primer; spraying the back; spraying the front; and dried brass finish.
After a day to cure, I thinned some red down so that it would flow, and used an miniature eye dropper to get the paint dropped into the plate. One advantage of this, is when I determined my first approach didn’t work, and I was getting paint in places I didn’t want and in ways I didn’t want, a quick run to the tap to rinse off the water soluble paint and start over happened. The second attempt, having learned from the first to work from one side and go across the plate so I could pick it up and tip it to get paint to flow into corners and it worked out much better.
With bright red run into the plate to surround the brass. With a shot of the real locomotives number plate on the right for reference.
The real 6213 at the Toronto Railway Museum has recently emerged from her chrysalis with a new paint job, though the detail work of painting the cab numbers or the CNR wafer on the tender isn’t done, and details like her number plates aren’t back, she looks light years better, as the paint she had been in was looking long in the tooth. My little number plate is for display with my True Line Trains CNR 6213 in HO Scale, I’m super happy with how the plate has turned out, and it makes a nice addition to the models on display in my layout room.