Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Making a depot platform

 Passenger depots almost always had a paved platform of some kind. Concrete, brick and asphalt were common, sometimes a replacements for older wood-plank platforms. I even know of a couple of examples where the platform was partly gravel, but this must have been less comfortable to walk on or to move baggage carts. 

Looking just at Southern Pacific practice, plenty of depots had asphalt platforms in later years, but concrete was common too. I only know of one SP example that was brick. Most depot photos are taken from ground level, making it hard to distinguish platform materials, so research is challenging. There are a great many depot photos in Henry Bender’s book, Southern Pacific Lines Standard-Design Depots (Signature Press, 2013), for example, but few offer a clear view of the platform.

On my layout, I have tried to simulate asphalt platforms at Shumala, using plaster painted a faded asphalt gray.

The depot at Ballard has a platform intended to resemble concrete, scored with squares as is done in sidewalk. This is easy to model, since Evergreen makes a styrene  “sidewalk” sheet with various sizes of squares. That’s what was used here.

But so far, the depot at Santa Rosalia doesn’t have a platform. The depot itself is one of SP’s standard designs , as fully described in Henry’s book, a Common Standard No. 22 (an American Model Builders kit no. 134), as I’ve described (see this post: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2015/05/sp-depot-santa-rosalia-part-4.html ). The trackside area is now represented as dirt.

Whatever material I choose for the platform, it will be a uniform surface, and needs to fit the space. The simplest way to accomplish that is to make a pattern. I used some waste cardstock and cut and trimmed it until I was satisfied with the fit. I also made the pattern a little longer to the right of the pattern you see here.

Next came the choice of materials. I decided that concrete seems sensible, and I have some Evergreen no. 4517, “Sidewalk,” in 3/8-inch squares. Now it was just a matter of transferring the pattern to the styrene sheet. My pattern is 13.5 inches long,  longer than the Evergreen sheet as supplied, so I needed to splice two pieces together. I glued some 0.005-inch styrene sheet to the back of the joint.

Next came coloring. This platform represents concrete, so should look like that material. The usual “modeler’s version” of concrete is a gray that is darker than medium, a good representation of freshly installed concrete, but not what concrete looks like after it’s been in place for a few years.

With age and wear, concrete tends to take on the color of the sand and gravel that it contains, which is rarely gray, and often a warmer color. One option is the Model Master “aged concrete” color (no. 4875), though it is a pretty warm color. I decided to mix it, about 2:1, with Light Gray from the same manufacturer. My “concrete” surface was then given a dirty-gray acrylic wash. 

Here’s how it looked. As it always does, the wash tended to deposit pigment in the grooves in the styrene, highlighting them somewhat and making them more visible. The big notch is for the bay window of the depot.

Next came installation. Although I don’t glue down or otherwise attach the structures on my layout, I do glue things like platforms. This one was attached with canopy glue.

This finishes the immediate depot area at Santa Rosalia. Another item on the “to do” list that’s checked off. Progress is always fun!

Tony Thompson

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