Grade Crossings and Roads

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Gary S., Sep 16, 2007.

  1. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Well guys, y'all are going to get bombarded with my questions as I start into the scenery on the layout.

    Let's talk about grade crossings and asphalt roads. I've got 4 crossings on the layout. One of them I have made out of wood strips. Another one I have used the commercially-made concrete (plastic) grade crossings. The other two, I think I want them to just be asphalt.

    For the roads, I am attempting to use "foam putty" which is like lightweight spackling. Any advice on doing this? How to make the roads? Just smear it on and smooth it with a putty knife?

    How to make the grade crossings? Maybe put some plastic strip against the rail where the wheel flanges go, then smear in the foam putty and smooth it, let dry, then remove the plastic strips?

    I'd appreciate any commentary on the subject. How did you make your asphalt roads?
  2. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

    That's how I do asphalt crossings, just put some thin styrene along the insides of the rails, spread the spackle, smooth it with a damp sponge as it dries, sand and *carefully* pull out the styrene strips after slicing the joint between the plaster and the styrene with a fresh #11 X-Acto blade.
  3. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Thank you for the advice, Sir! I'll give it a try tonight.
  4. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

    No problem, let us know how it turns out will ya?
  5. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Gary, I used "wood" for most of my crossings, but Walnut St. in Dunnville got paved crossings. I used .060" styrene sheet for the roads and the crossings. The road surface was run right up to the outside of the rails, and is sitting atop the spike heads, while the crossing (between the rails) is more .060" atop a sheet of .020" shim cemented directly to the tie tops. Track is code 83, so this puts the top of the "pavement" just below the railhead. I cut the styrene to fit between the spike heads moulded on the tie strip, so there's lots of flangeway for fat wheels, although it makes for a bumpy crossing for the LPBs in their little autos. ;)


  6. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Hey Wayne:

    I probably should have used styrene for my roads, but for some reason I wanted to try the foam putty spackle stuff. I had seen this done by Gil Frietag at a train show down here last year. He made it look extremely easy. But now that I think about it, he used regular "sheet rock mud" instead of the lightweight spackle.

    I put another layer on the roads tonight, and it is looking better. As I build up the roads in thin layers, I am getting better at keeping it smooth. Once I get it to the proper height, I'll give it a mild sanding, perhaps with a wet sponge to make it look better.

    I did two more crossings tonight, out of strip wood. I am satisfied with the look so far. Maybe a stain to darken them up and some "bolts" added by poking a pin in for the stain to darken will make them better.

    Thanks for the two photos. I don't recall having seen those views before.
  7. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

    I use DAP brand "Fast & Final" for mine and it is a thin latex based spackle. It works well, but the key is to use the damp sponge to smooth it as it sets up.
  8. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I used "foam putty." The stuff is extremely lightweight. It actually seems harder to work with than a heavier spackle. I have to kind of smash this stuff on pretty hard to make it stick.

    It should be pretty easy to sand though, and hopefully I can smooth it out to a good texture for the roads.
  9. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I've only just skimmed this thread. I'm interested because I've just put down a new street/road on my layout and am trying to figure out how I'm going to create two level (grade) crossings.

    For my road, I've used a bottled product called "Top Coat" -- I've bought two of these at different times from two LHS's. I'm struggling a bit to get a smooth/even road surface. Has anyone used this Top Coat before?

    I think I'll try Wayne's suggestion about using .060" polystyrene strips for the grade crossings -- that sounds like a really good idea.

    I have the road starting from one extreme edge of the layout, crossing the main layout, and then disappearing off the other side. I'm very pleased with this effect. I can't believe how it's "opened" up the layout & made it more realistic. (Before, it felt very confined & fake.)

  10. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I'm happy to report that my road and crossing projects are coming along well. I cleaned up the edges of the roads this morning. I went out on my street (asphalt) and swept up a bunch of the tiny rocks/sand that accumulates. I sifted it through a strainer to get the tiniest stuff. Then I sprinkled it along the edges to represent gravel shoulders. I like the look so far.

    I haven't glued it down yet though. I may get to that later today, and hey, it will be good practice for ballasting track too.

    Once again I am proving to myself that a "Go For It" attitude is what is what I need to get things accomplished. All these techniques are new to me, and I did not take the advice of starting small, perhaps with a practice diorama to try out techniques, heck no! Jump right in with 130 square feet of layout, no need for practice, just do it!
  11. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Photos of the crossings, still needing paint and weathering, ballast, all that stuff...

    Attached Files:

  12. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

    Gary, you are doing an awesome job :thumb:. Hard to believe you are doing this scenery stuff for the first time. Please post many pictures of your progress, I’ll sit back, enjoy the show and applaud.:wave:
  13. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I like the broken-looking edge coming up to the crossing. Very convincing.
  14. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I appreciate the kind words guys. I've still got a long ways to go though!

    I'll definitely be posting pics as I make progress, it is gratifying to show off my work to those who are interested. I guess a bit of vanity is just being human, eh?

    It is amazing how long this layout thing takes though! It's been 2 years already since I got back into the hobby and decided I wanted a layout.
  15. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    It does look nice. In high school I did some tests with hydrocal for tracks in the street...only to decide that styrene was both easier (for me) and nicer looking (to me). Plus, the advantage of not using real asphalt is that I don't have to worry about melting my ties ;-)
  16. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I never thought of using REAL asphalt for the roads! Er... I'm GLAD I didn't!:mrgreen:

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