Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pismo Dunes Road, East Shumala

In my column for Model Railroad Hobbyist or MRH, the on-line magazine, in the issue for October 2014, I showed schematic maps of most of my switching locations. These were intended to help visiting operators understand what waybills were telling them. I showed one of those maps, for East Shumala, in my blog post referencing the MRH column. You can read that previous post at: . In that map one of the roads shown is Pismo Dunes Road. In this post I take up the installation of that road.
     I intended from the outset of construction at East Shumala to make this road take a broad curve across the layout area, near the aisle. The simplest way to achieve a level and smooth road is to make it out of one piece of styrene. This idea has been used by many modelers over the years; I personally discovered it in an article by Marty McGuirk in Model Railroader, May 1997, page 92, but there are lots of such sources. In my case, since the road would have considerable extent, I needed a big piece of styrene sheet, bigger than what Evergreen or other vendors sell. But any commercial plastics supplier has really big pieces for sale, up to 4 by 8-foot sheets. In my area, the convenient one is TAP Plastics, and I went there to get some 1/16-inch sheet.
     My next step was preparation of a cutting pattern. I just used a sheet of newsprint, spread it out on the layout area which would receive the road, and traced a rough line with pencil, then went over it with a Sharpie (any felt pen would work) to make sure I had a good line. Note in the foreground I have also traced the layout edge.

At right you can see the beginnings of the road to the rear of the roundhouse (see: ).
     Naturally the sheet of newsprint was not the right size and shape for my intended road, so after cutting out the first section, shown marked above, I used the cut-off pieces to combine with tape into a single large pattern for the road. Here it is, clearly showing the road curve I had originally envisioned.

     Now the cut-out newsprint was traced onto the plastic sheet. I use a pencil, as this draws well on the white styrene. This doesn’t have to be exactly traced.

     Next step is to cut out the shape drawn. I use a utility knife, and this is pretty quick and easy, with styrene of this thickness. My view is that I can always trim the styrene piece if necessary, but adding material onto it would be much harder — thus I would make it oversize if in doubt anywhere on the cut. Here I am cutting the straight part of the road, with a steel straightedge as a guide.

It isn’t necessary to cut clear through the styrene, as the “scribe and snap” technique works equally well with curved cuts. Below, you see the entire roadway cut out as a single piece from the sheet.

    Once cut out, the piece does fit where intended on the layout, so this process did what I wanted it to do.

     Next comes a coat of primer, then attaching the roadway, and blending its edges with a kind of shoulder to transition onto the surrounding landscape. Probably I will add a center line to the road. Finally, I will weather with acrylic washes. Those subjects will be included in a future post.
Tony Thompson

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