Saturday, March 20, 2021

Making better roads, Part 4

 In the preceding post, I described some of the pavement markings applied to the roadway in my layout town of Ballard, that is named Bromela Road. As with previous work of this kind, I drew the information for the markings from the standards document, the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD in its 1948 version, in use in my modeling year of 1953. My previous post can be seen at:

But I have not described how to mark the railroad crossing of this road from the south side of the branchline main. That is the purpose of the present post. On that side of the crossing, the road essentially makes an almost right-angle turn at the tracks before crossing. In Part 2 of this series, I showed the drawing for the pavement crossing marking (that post is here: ), and I repeat the drawing below. You can click on the image to enlarge it if you wish.

You may note in the drawing that it provides for tracks crossing the road at an angle. In my case, though, the angle is too sharp for the depicted markings. This possible situation is mentioned in the upper right corner of the image above. Here it is, enlarged:

Though I don’t have a crossing gate, it seemed clear that pavement bands can be other than parallel to the track, and my situation fits that well. For that reason, I decided to made the double stop lines perpendicular to the roadway center line, not parallel to the rails. 

(It’s perhaps worth repeating that the MUTCD, though certainly the national standard, was by no means required to be followed, and all states had a variety of variations in use. Gradually those variations have faded, and today they are uncommon, but in 1953 they were widespread. I gave some California examples in my article about railroad crossings and crossbucks, in Model Railroad Hobbyist or MRH, the issue for July 2020.)

Following my usual process, I used drafting tape to mask the road surface not to be painted, and used SP “Lettering Gray” for the markings, which I have done on other “darker” road surfaces. I only use white paint when the road is fairly light in color. This keeps the contrast consistent.

Another point regarding this sharp turn in Bromela Road is that it would often call for signs warning of the turn (the MUTCD makes clear that placement of these depends on the judgement of the highway engineer as to whether they are necessary). I decided to add them, as I already had the sign images in HO scale and could simply print out more of them. Here you see my warning sign, mounted on a styrene scale 4 x 4-inch post, with the crossbucks beyond it, nearer the crossing.

At the other side of the trackage in Ballard, there is another crossbuck, not previously shown, to which I added the name “Southern Pacific” vertically on the post, as SP did at more important crossings. I discussed this aspect of SP crossbucks in my MRH article, mentioned above. This location, right at the layout edge, is a good demonstration of why I built these HO scale crossbucks out of sturdy brass tubing and strip, as described in that MRH article.

This completes my Bromela Road crossing protection warnings and signs. I have one more interesting road crossing to describe, which I will take up in a future post. 

Tony Thompson

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