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Dave's Park!

Dave's Park!

Streets and Sidewalks

To explain the method I used for creating streets and sidewalks it is first necessary to take a quick look at the layout material. The base is 1/2" pink foam board. To draw the town plan (track, streets, river, hill, etc.) on the foam board I covered the foam board with sheets of carbon paper then laid the paper plan over that, taped it in place and traced the plan with an old ball point pen that is out of ink.

The important point here is that the carbon would not stick to the foam board. I first had to paint a coat of latex (acrylic) primer (flat white) onto the foam board so it would accept the carbon markings. The paint dried in an hour and it took less than an hour to trace the plan. Every other aspect of building the layout - creating the river, laying track, laying streets and sidewalks, building up terrain, placing structures - followed the plan drawn on the foam board.

Because I was unable to get as many photos as I would have liked during the street and sidewalk project, I have decided to do this tutorial as a mock-up. I have also recruited my wife who will take some of the photos that need an extra pair of hands.


With the primer painted onto the foam board and dry I covered the board with sheets of carbon paper. I laid the plan over the carbon paper and taped it in place. I used an old ballpoint pen with no ink to trace the plan.

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The carbon made a faint line drawing of the plan. I used those lines "as is" for laying track. Before ballasting the track the foam board was to be painted a brown earth color. To ensure the lines would still be visible through the brown paint I used the same inkless pen to emboss the lines for the streets into the foam board. It takes very little pressure. The metal of the pen rubbing against the primer also made the line slightly darker which might have helped for tasks done prior to painting the ground color.

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The ground color was painted on and left to dry overnight. The section of street that I have mocked up here is the intersection where Main Street becomes East Bay Road at Park Street. This was the trickiest section of street and sidewalk because Main Street is two traffic lanes, two parking lanes, two sidewalks. East Bay Road is two traffic lanes, one parking lane ending before the bridge, and two sidewalks. Park Street is two traffic lanes, one parking lane and two sidewalks. There is also a dirt road from the seafood plant entering the intersection opposite Park Street. And, all this happens on a curve.

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Lane sizes were pre-determined according to the following chart. For marking purposes later I had the dimensions marked on a card. All of the dimensions were worked out on paper long before tracing any lines onto the foam board and even if you do not follow my method up to this point it would still make life a lot simpler to at least figure out your street and sidewalk dimensions on paper before drawing them on the layout.

Dimensions for streets / sidewalks:

sidewalk: 1/4" = 42"
gravel shoulder: 1/4" = 42"
parking lane: 5/8" = 96"
car lane: 11/16" = 108"
truck lane: 3/4" = 120"

For street material I looked at everything from plaster to paint to paint mixed with plaster and every possibility in between. I wanted something I could cut and lay down like ... paper! I chose an art paper from the arts supply store. It is similar to the cheap construction paper we used as kids but higher quality and acid free (although I am not sure that matters).

The easiest way I know to transfer the drawing on the table to the street paper is tracing paper. In this case I "cheaped out" and used regular kitchen wax paper. Now, you may be wondering why I did not simply trace the plan like I had when I transferred to the foam board. There were minor adjustments made on the foam board. Also it is easier to see the exact section you are working on without the large sheet of plan paper draped across your work. I simply taped the wax paper in place and traced the lines.

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I then laid the art paper down, covered it with a sheet of carbon paper aligning the right edge and bottom, traced the pattern and cut it out.

IMPORTANT - DO NOT discard the wax paper at this point. You will need it later for making a template for your street lines, at least for the curves. You will also need it for sidewalks in areas where they are not simple straight runs.

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In the photo below I have laid the new street section for the mock-up on the layout so you can see where it actually fits in the whole scheme of things. I applied a generous coat of a regular office glue stick.

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With the street section firmly glued down I used my card to mark the street for lines, parking lanes and crosswalks. I used a standard mechanical pencil to mark the lines. Any excess pencil markings can be simply erased later. I used colored Crayola pencils to mark the lines.

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I have not shown marking the lines but it really was as simple as drawing lines. I waited until I had the streets for the whole downtown area laid before marking the parking lanes because they overlap sections. I opted for parking lanes because I have seen them in a few small towns that do not use parking meters and I really prefer that to parking spots with meters.

For the centerline on the curves I used the wax paper tracing, marked my lines then traced and cut a template out of card stock to match the curve and followed the edge of the template marking the yellow line onto the street.


For sidewalk material I used picture matte which I can buy in sheets at the arts supply store. Using the same wax paper tracing that I used for the street section I marked the lines for the sidewalk on the wax paper, laid carbon paper over the matte aligning the bottom edge, then traced the lines.

I cut out the sidewalk shape and marked it every 1/4" for expansion joint lines. I very lightly cut the lines into the surface of the matte with a knife and then embossed the lines with the inkless pen. I then painted the sidewalk section with a cement color.

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After it was painted I went over the lines to emboss them again with the pen because the acrylic paint seeped into the cuts and leveled my original lines. In hindsight I should have painted first and saved a step.

Once the lines were embossed again I used a charcoal colored lead in my pencil to highlight the lines and lightly weathered the sidewalk section with weathering powder. For some of the sidewalk sections I waited until they were glued down before weathering because the entrance to the service yard for example, would be weathered for truck traffic in and out of the yard. All that remained was to glue the sidewalk section into place. The final photo in this group shows the actual section that I have been mocking up.

The weathering of the streets was quite accidental. I intended to spray a light coat of dull coat on everything and then try to add waethering over that but the dull coat went on a bit heavy in some spots and turned milky so it has an effect that I had not intended to have but it looks okay. I will add a bit of darker waethering if I am able to find the powder but sooty black, grimy black and the darker greys are not available around here and not available from my usual online suppliers.

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