Christopher Brimley updated October 14, 2011

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  • Modeling Streets and Roads Part 4A - Concrete

    by Doug Geiger, MMR

    Photos by the author

    Model Railroading - September 2002 - Page 30

    The last three parts of our Roads and Streets series is concerned with making concrete highway surfaces. Concrete roads and streets are as prevalent as asphalt ones. The first concrete slab highway was US Route 1, built between 1910 and 1920. It ran between Maine and Florida and was just one-lane wide with dirt shoulders. Many modern highways are constructed from concrete. For the modeler, making a concrete road is much easier than making the equivalent asphalt highway. Almost all sidewalks are concrete, so you can use these techniques for adding sidewalks to your towns and cities, too.

    The key to making an effective concrete road is its coloration. Two colors that work well are Testors Model Master Light Sea Gray and also their Flat Gull Gray. Both come in spray cans and bottles. Most paint labeled as "concrete" is much too dark and brown. Three alternatives are presented to model a concrete road. The first (included in this part) uses drywall compound, the next uses a commercial product and the third method uses plaster. Step-by-step instructions allow you to easily duplicate these three techniques. Also included are some tips for adding pavement striping to your concrete road.

    Drywall mud makes an excellent, tough and hard surface. Glues will not migrate within the mud, so foliage bits can be added easily to simulate an older road with grass growing in cracks. By using a damp sponge to smooth out any bubbles or dips, the technique is quick and fast. If a hole develops in the surface during this step, just apply more drywall compound, wait for it to dry and begin the smoothing process. The new application will feather perfectly into the surrounding mud surface.

    After the subgrade is applied to the basic scenery, add a layer of drywall compound. Use the pre-mixed type to avoid improper blending of dry material.

    Spread the drywall mud using a butter knife. Occasionally dip the knife in water to maintain a wet surface. The drywall mixture should be applied no greater than 1/8” in thickness to avoid cracking.

    Model Railroading - September 2002 - Page 31

    When the mud has dried, smooth the surface with a damp sponge. Each light pass of the sponge will remove a tiny bit of the mud. Continue with the wiping until the desired smoothness is achieved.

    Two recommended concrete colors are Testors Model Master Light Sea Gray and also their Flat Gull Gray. Camouflage Gray can also be used, but it produces a browner and darker shade of gray. Many older concrete tends to become brown with age.

    After painting, apply the striping. E-Z Stripes from Scale Scenics were added on this sample. A bead of cyanoacrylate (CA) glue is added to keep the stripes firmly attached to the roadway surface since the adhesive used on E-Z Stripes is weak.

    Since CA glue dries shiny, a coat of clear flat is needed on the surface of the highway. This can be either brushpainted or sprayed on using cans or an airbrush.

    No chalk weathering was added to this concrete road as it is relatively new. Note that asphalt shoulders have been added on both sides of the highway.

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