Sunday, December 4, 2022

Small project: grade crossings

 Awhile back, I posted an update to my “walking-around list,” as I call my notes on things that need to be done on the layout. In it, I identified several specific projects that were needed, including a pair of grade crossings for minor roadways. You can read it at: .

I decided to have a go at the grade crossings. First step, measure how wide the roadways are at each location. This will then determine how big of a between-rails “filler” to make. Since these are not important roads that cross the tracks, I assume the likeliest material would be timber for the crossings. This is not a particularly durable material, but in light use can last a long time, and is quick and inexpensive to install and to replace.

I made the same decision on the layout when designing the grade crossings where Laguna Street in my town of Santa Rosalia, near the end of my Santa Rosalia Branch, enters the team-track area, as I showed in an earlier post (it is here: ).

Here again, I chose to use scale 1 x 8-inch Evergreen styrene strip. This is of course much too thin, compared to prototype crossing timbers, but I like to ensure that the crossings will be absolutely below the rail head, to make future track cleaning easy. I simply cut enough strips to length, placed them on a length of masking tape (attached to a kit box lid), and painted them with Tamiya Red-Brown (TS-1).

In an effort to give some texture to these strips, particularly with the idea in mind that such timbers often crack with age and use, and may also take on a gray tone, I made some shading and strokes with a Prismacolor pencil, 30% warm grey.  This is something I often use for freight car running boards and other uses of that kind.

Since the strips are already cut to the necessary length for the grade crossings, and all sides were painted with the rattle can, these are ready to install. I used canopy glue to attach the boards, both inside and outside the rails. The location, as I showed in the previous post (link in first paragraph, above), was along Bromela Road in my town of Ballard. Here’s how one of them looked then:

Once I had installed the styrene strips that I showed above, this looked a lot more like a grade crossing (below). The dirt road still needs some texture, but otherwise this is how it ought to look.

Now, I would be the last to describe this as a good model of a grade crossing. But it’s located over two and a half feet from the layout edge and accordingly is not easy to examine from the aisle. As such, it’s a representation of a grade crossing, something that should be where it is, even if it’s not a fine model. It fills the need.

In my description of a preliminary “walk-around,” as described in the original post (you can find the link to it in the top paragraph of the present post), these two grade crossings were only part of the topic, which was small layout improvements. I will return to some of the others in future posts.

Tony Thompson

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