Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Making better roads, Part 2

In the preceding Part 1, I described a project to improve a road on my layout. This is Bromela Road, in my layout town of Ballard. Since it runs alongside some track toward the back of the scene, it isn’t very prominent, but still deserves to be handled in a realistic way. Here is a link to Part 1 of the story: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/09/making-better-roads.html .

One issue I confronted in this road re-do is that it includes grade crossings. More specifically, there is a long stretch of Bromela Road approaching the tracks on one side. Highway marking standards specify an “X” and the letters “R” on each side of the “X,” 300 feet from the crossing in country environments, and down to 100 feet in more urban environments. My town of Ballard, where this crossing is located, is hardly urban but certainly is a town, so I decided to go with the shorter distance (selective compression,  if nothing else).

How would I do this particular pavement marking, I wondered. Then I had the thought that there is a good drawing in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices or MUTCD. I have copies of both the 1948 issue, and the following 1961 issue (these are all available on line), and the drawings are almost identical. I could certainly use the dimensions to lay out the features on the roadway, cut masking tape to outline them, and then paint. But the letter “R,” as you will see below, would be a challenge with masking tape. You may wish to click on the image to enlarge it; I realize the text areas are quite small, but for the most part have no bearing on the modeling issues.

I spent some time imagining how to manage making tape challenge work. Then the little light bulb over my head lit up. Why not just copy the drawing to HO scale, cut it out with a sharp blade, and glue the paper pieces onto the pavement? Here is the critical part of the drawing. 

I cut out the pieces you see above, and used canopy glue to attach the “X” and the two "R” letters. Word of warning: the little letters in paper form are kind of fragile. I tried applying glue to them, then applying to the roadway. Too much sticky in too many places. Then I scrapped those letters, cut out more, and this time applied glue to the roadway, then carefully applied the letters. Much better.

Shown below is the completed application, roughly duplicating the drawing above. The two letter “R” characters aren’t perfect, but will suffice. All the white pavement marking here is paper. It is more intensely white than I want, so after a coat of flat finish, I will add some gray weathering powder to blend better. (Surrounding scenery, as you can see, is incomplete.)

I also need to add one of the yellow Advance Warning signs, like the one below. These signs, and the other markings and signs at railroad crossings, were covered in some detail in my article in the online magazine Model Railroad Hobbyist, in the issue for July 2020. In fact, my article provided the cover photo for that month’s Running Extra edition.

These signs were specified to be 400 feet from the crossing in rural areas, and as little as 100 feet in urban areas. That means they were located close to or just before reaching the pavement marking I have shown above. I will add that sign, along with the crossbuck and associated stop lines, to accompany the pavement markings shown here, to this part of Bromela Road.

But I will defer those installations to a future post. For now, I just wanted to convey my method for making the pavement marking for the grade crossing.

Tony Thompson

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