Thursday, August 23, 2018

Walkways and sidewalks, Part 2

Earlier this summer, I posted some comments about the ubiquity of walkways and sidewalks in our everyday world, and how many modelers (yes, including me) don’t model enough of these features on their layouts. (The post, for background, is at: .) In the present post, I want to extend this topic.
     One of the more complicated industries on my layout is Pacific Chemical Repackaging in the town of Ballard. In addition to the two-story structure, there are nine or ten storage tanks and containers. The industry receives and ships in tank cars, and also ships from its warehouse. But in my first placement of the completed building, I merely plopped it down onto a surface of dirt (as so many of us do), without including any of the walkways. Below is an overhead photo. Tank car loading and unloading is at right.

In the lower right corner is the unfinished unloading rack for high-pressure tank cars, which has now been completed and installed (as described at: ).
     The simplest way to start work on this kind of project, for me at least, is to develop patterns for what comes next. I used some light card stock (printed with a previous generation of waybills), and simply put the building on top of it. I then used a pencil to sketch in where the walkways would logically go to provide pathways for employees between the building and the tank car loading and unloading facilities. (There will be additional walkways at the other side of the building, and behind it.)

Alongside the three-compartment tank car at bottom, you can see the top-unloading crane, which will be embedded into the walkway in that area.
     Once sketched onto the cardstock around the building, the resulting plan is removed and cut out to make the patterns. Rough patterns are then checked against the building and corrected as necessary, then transferred to Evergreen “Sidewalk” styrene sheet. Results are below.

At top and bottom are the two paper patterns, with the two center pieces being the styrene sidewalk cutouts.
     Both pieces of sidewalk were now painted a concrete color. To see how the work looked at this point, I tried an installation, including a check of the fit of the top unloader into the cutout shown above. That test is shown below, on the unloader side of the PCR building. Compare this view to the photo at the top of the present post.

     The concrete needs to receive extensive staining, etc. from spillage, and I will add some details, such as chemical drums, a workbench, a hose rack, and some figures. But I am already pleased with the improved realism of this area, compared to my original setting of all these components onto bare dirt.
Tony Thompson


  1. I worked for Shell in SoCal. All tanks were floated on cement
    pads by our distributors. If not surrounded by cement, they were surrounded by crushed rock to keep the weeds at bay and as a required fire break. All access points had cement pads as you are doing throughout their facilities-My area was LA-SB-Las Vegas and were completed after WWII.

  2. Thanks for that information, Joel. I was planning to put some of my storage tanks at Pacific Chemical Repackaging onto concrete pads, and your comment encourages me to continue with that plan. I might try a few on gravel too, as I have plenty of unused track ballast amongst my scenery material stash (grin).
    Tony Thompson