Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Finished paving the hotel area

[The layout looks a lot different when the photo isn't carefully staged and the scenery is pulled back.]
I spent a few hours last weekend finishing laying down the styrene ‘concrete’ in the hotel area. It was sort of a tricky job getting the various curves and angles properly laid out on the styrene sheets, but in the end it turned out to be a fairly pleasant task. Three tools that came in rather handy were a profile gauge for transferring some odd track curves when the curve wasn’t too long, a drafting spline for transferring long curves, and a sliding bevel for transferring angles. 
Originally I started paving the various concreted track areas on the layout with Walthers’ Street Track Inserts product. It’s basically just a box of styrene pieces shaped to fit in various sizes of track: straights, curves and switches. After painting it looked passable and made the job rather easy – just trimming and gluing into place the various pieces; no messing with plaster. Well, after awhile I ran out of certain pieces and went looking for another box. No such luck. It’s out of production. So, to finish off, the concreted track areas are a mix of remaining pieces from the Walthers kit and others I’ve cut myself from styrene sheet. No big deal really. I’ve had to cut a number of styrene pieces anyway to build roads, sidewalks, squares and other pedestrian areas, but the convenience of the Walthers kit was hard to beat.
[Rubber cement was used to hold the paving to the layout board. Containers of screws acted as weights to hold things in place while the glue dried.]
One thing I should point out if you plan to pave streets and track with styrene. Make sure you keep the styrene pieces a bit below the top of the rail as well as leaving some clearance for the flanges. With my first attempt last year I was a bit careless on some installations and had some styrene pieces level with the top of rail, and in some cases, where the plastic butted against the outside of the rail, it was a little higher than the rail top. This was a painful lesson because some streetcars would ride up on the plastic, lose contact with the rail, and stall. Much grinding of plastic, restoration of clearances, and prying and replacing of plastic paving ensued – as well as periods of unrestrained cursing   -  to get things back to operational. I took this lesson to heart with last weekend’s work.
[Rocks also made for some handy weights.]
In the end the hotel area grounds were paved, a long sidewalk was built to connect the grounds to the shore, and a disguise was made for the program track power terminals. Just need to paint them all. The whole job took around 4 or 5 hours. I got slowed down a bit camouflaging the program track terminals. Basically, I just built a square cap for the terminals and will place an electrical box (a nostalgic relic from my ‘70s layout) on top. It’s removable if I need to get at the wiring. 

I pulled out my old Red Garland records to play while I worked. Paving and piano seemed to be a good combination.


  1. Good post...I used Tomix track and (it sounds like) similar Tomix sections to lay inside the track for most of my trolley line, but I still some odd curves made from Atlas flex track and some straight-aways that need to have their center's filled in. Its a job I've found to be not very fun at all! And I totally agree about how important getting the styrene BELOW the track head is! I've been there! Your's is looking really nice! Good color for the streets too!

    1. Yeah, I also find that it's not a particularly fun job paving the track. I need to be in the right frame of mind before I begin - and put on some good music. As soon as I notice a change in my mindset that things are seeming like drudgery, or I notice I'm making a lot of mistakes, I stop, and leave the rest of the job for another day.