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Building A Convincing Road Surface - Scenery - Getting You Started. - Your Model Railway Club
 Posted: Mon Oct 15th, 2007 02:51 pm
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Gwent Rail
Former Member


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Building a Convincing Road-surface.
(Even or not too even? That is the question)

I used to cut up 120 grit sandpaper, stick it down paint it and call it a road. It looked OK, as long as you assumed that the tarmac (asphalt across the pond) had only just been laid.
Next I bought a Woodland Scenics road kit and used that. About the same result as my sandpaper, but a thicker surface.
Then I tried using paint and various other substances to �distress� the new look and made a mess.
Clearly a different approach was needed, so I looked through my stock of scenic bits and pieces and came up with the following method.

Items required
Woodland Scenics Paving Tape -- Part No ST1455
Woodland Scenics Ballast, Fine Gray -- Part No B75
White PVA Glue, mine just happens to be Evo-stik extra fast
Black matt acrylic paint -- I use Tamiya Flat Black (XF 4)
White matt acrylic paint -- I use Tamiya Flat White (XF 2)
A couple of old modelling paint brushes, one medium, one thin -- No need for expensive �artists quality� here
An eyedropper tube or a modelling syringe
A couple of small jars or bottles with tight fitting lids

In the first jar make a paint mix of 85% black, 5% white and 10% water. Clip on the lid and give it a good shake to mix.
In the second jar make a mix of 90% PVA glue and 10% water, plus a few drops of washing up liquid. Shake and mix as with paint.

Now we�re ready to start.
1. Mark on your baseboard with a pencil the outline of the road you want. If you are working on an untreated board, paint the roadbed with a dark colour. The mix you made above is not a bad idea as far as colour is concerned. This will seal the surface and provide a base colour for your road if you end up with any �thin� patches. Allow time for the paint to dry.
2. Now take the Paving Tape, ignoring the manufacturers instructions on making a road surface and a pavement, and line the outside edges of the road with it.
3. Next paint the surface of the road, using the biggest of your brushes, with your diluted PVA glue and sprinkle enough ballast on top to evenly cover the glue.
It works best to do this bit-by-bit, working along the road in small lengths, rather than trying to do it all at once. Use your smaller brush to make sure you work ballast into all areas, especially up against the edges of the tape.
I usually run a pile of gravel down the middle of the road and then spread into the edges with the brush.
At this point your gravel layer should be just enough to cover the surface, but not enough to be level with the top of the tape.
Allow about an hour for this to partially dry.
4. Add another layer of gravel, this time thick enough to be levelled with the top of the tape and make sure you get an even surface.
I tend to lightly run a piece of plasticard along both tapes to get the level I want.
5. Using your syringe/eyedropper thoroughly soak the road with the PVA glue mix.
Do this carefully, or you will find you wash the ballast around and cause uneven patches. If this happens, you will need to lightly �tamp� the surface down to repair it, or even add a tiny extra amount of ballast.
I actually think that a small amount of this �repair work� helps the finished look anyway, so don�t worry if a small amount is needed. By the way, the best �tamper� is the top of your finger.
When you are satisfied with the finish, leave to dry for 24 hours. Yes that�s one full day!
6. When dry, you can start to paint.
A few streaks of very thin white (50% water), and a few streaks/patches of black first, allow an hour or so to start to dry, then cover everything, including your streaks, with the mix you made before starting.
7. Allow plenty of time to dry � don�t rush and it�s time to gently ease your tape off, leaving a nice, natural looking road surface.
Another tip here, if you have trouble getting the tape off without leaving bits of �sticky� behind (as I usually do) peel of with the aid of a brush full of plastic solvent glue (Mekpak) running along the peel, as you go.

That�s about it then. Sometimes I do a bit of �overpainting�, to add a little variation in tone, using a very thin wash (or even using my brush wash pot). Apart from that there�s no more needed, the job�s done.

Enjoy making your road and Happy Modelling :!:

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