WonderBoard Roadways

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080601_girr_road_pics_4998.jpgOnce I had finished the Mission style station, I needed some way to get traffic to and from the station, the freight house, and the rest of the yet-to-be-developed town. Since the era of the GIRR is more or less placed post WWII, real roadways were fairly common. I could have gone cheap and used dirt, but I wanted to make some real asphalt roadways.

There are lots of ways to simulate roadways. Since I have been recently working in WonderBoard, I elected to make roads from pieces of Wonderboard. The stuff comes in limited sizes so that some joints are inevitable but I considered them acceptable considering the weather resistance of WonderBoard. The joints are a good place to allow changes in grade too.

1/4" Wonderboard is an almost perfect thickness. At grade crossings, it can sit on the tie strips and get right up next to the rail without fouling anything as the rail is just a little taller than the Wonderboard.

However, the natural color of WonderBoard is not acceptable. I first tried to tint RapidSet a dark gray but all of the tints that I found were just not the right color. Instead, I used untinted RapidSet as an overcoat to provide some texture and to hide the pattern of the nylon cloth in the WonderBoard. Then I simply painted the surface with flat black spray paint, but I only dusted the surface to darken it. Non-uniformity of the coating is actually good as the color of real paving is not uniform either. Further, if the paint fades in the sun, this is ok. Real asphalt fades in the sun too.

080601_girr_road_pics_5000.jpgSo far, I've done a small parking lot behind the station, a road to the freight station and a parking lot at the freight station. Eventually, the road will cross the tracks, make a 90 degree left turn into the town and run down the middle of the town.

080601_girr_road_pics_4999.jpgThe striping could be done with paint, but it would fade. I could not find any spray paint of the right color either and I don't have access to the epoxy paint that the highway department uses. Instead, I used tinted cement. I found a tint that was yellow-orange. It took a 30% concentration of this stuff in RapidSet to get the color right, but it looks pretty good. All I need to do was mask the road surface with painter's tape and slop some of the tinted cement on. If water is not used on the surface, the tinted cement won't underrun the masking tape. After 5 minutes or so, enough excess water is leeched out that the painter's tape can be peeled up leaving a nice yellow strip behind.

080531_girr_road_pics_4997.jpgThen I got overly fancy and installed some cement curbs. The road is masked again, about a half inch from the edge, and a bead of untinted Rapid set is formed by hand along the edge, allowing the Rapid set to run out to the masking. A small tool was cut from a scrap of door skin to final shape the curb. Once the hand formed curb has set for a few minutes, the tool can be run along the curb to skive off any excess material. However, it can't take off too much excess cement as it also tends to dig in and peel up the whole curb if too much needs to be taken off.

080601_art_lizer_socal_grs_open_house.jpgOn the same day as I finished the front part of my roadways, I went to an open house. Art Lizer in Riverside, CA had his layout on display for the SoCal GRS. He had yet another method for making asphalt roads which produces very good results. He uses #10 black chicken grit held in place with Quikrete Concrete Adhesive (available at Home Depot). Chicken grit dyed green and red are also available as well as undyed which makes and acceptable ballast if it is glued. It is too rounded to hold together by itself, but with the addition of the adhesive, it holds together well.

Art buys his chicken grit from an unmarked, unadvertised rock quarry somewhere in Riverside, but it is also available at A-1 Grit in Irwindale CA. On one of my trips by there, I'll pick up a bag and try it out.

This road surface could be striped with the same technique as I used on the WonderBoard roadway. However, the concrete curbs would be more difficult.

080707_girr_asphalt_experiment_5227.jpgArt used A-1 Grit C51, black grit. I tried C71, dark gray grit but in this experiment, I've applied it differently. I dry mixed 2/3 grit and 1/3 RapidSet and dry spread it on a scrap of WonderBoard. Then I wet it throughly with a pump spray bottle. This is an acceptable surface for a WonderBoard base and it doesn't require any paint or adhesive other than the RapidSet itself.

080708_girr_grade_crossing_5235.jpgThe grade crossings shown in the previous pictures were made of loose WonderBoard pieces. They didn't work out so well because they get in the way of track cleaning. Instead, I've used the dark gray chicken grit between the rails bonded with TiteBond II and water.

080707_girr_skive_tool_5229.jpgThe profile of the grit is formed with this styrene skive tool that leaves the level of the grit just a little lower than the railheads and also clears out a flangeway.

080716_tortoise_and_lizard_bash_rr_5361.jpgTodd Brody uses asphalt roofing shingles and roofing paper for roadways in the town on the Tortoise and Lizard Bash Railroad.

../../girr/090923_girr_road_striping_done_7753.jpgThere is yet another way to build roads, this time with colored rock grit and wood glue.

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© 2008 George Schreyer
Created 31 May 08
Last Updated September 23, 2008