Thursday, July 6, 2017

Creating railroad service roads

The railroads maintain signals and other track side infrastructure with trucks and those trucks often use crude dirt roads.

I show this reference photo again, this time drawing attention to the dirt service roads.  I had always planned to include this in the layout and seeing this photo I thought my modeled scene of this area would be a good place to start.

Remember that as a first layer of base scenery I had used sanded grout then added layers of Arizona Rock & Mineral, and Woodland Scenics scenery materials.  Using a scrap of styrene about 1/2 inch wide, I scraped off these upper layers to expose the finer and lighter bottom layers

Then I sprinkled a thin line of the sanded grout and spread it along the path of the road with a brush but a finger also works.   The area was then given a coating of scenic cement or mat medium.
Besides using the contrast in texture to define the roads, adding some scrub brush in the areas where the road isn't also adds to the suggestion of a beaten path.  I have been using a combination of Woodland Scenics foliage clusters and Scenic Express prairie grass tufts.
There will be those places where ruts have formed when the ground was wet and remain long after the rain is gone and the soil hardened.   I wanted to represent some of that in a few locations.

Where I wanted to create ruts in my service roads I had applied a thicker than normal layer of basic landscape material (sanded grout).  After that dried I dragged a scrap of Kato Unitrack over the path of the road as shown here.

The roads done so far cross the tracks in 2 places.  I used angled wood grade crossings from Blair Line at these locations and added some RR crossing signs left over from the old layout and used those. My experience has been that these are the most vulnerable details so I had better make up some more for spares.


  1. Wow those service roads look fantastic Brad. I always wanted to do those on my SFRSD however never got around to doing them. When I get underway with my new RR I sure will add them.

    1. Thanks Rod, Glad to hear you are starting a new layout and am looking forward to your post on it.

  2. Nice looking Brad! Love the idea using the KATO track to make the ruts. Thanks for sharing, will keep that one in mind. :)

    1. Thanks Allen. I was looking around at what would work and saw that cut off scrap of track on the work bench. The key to the whole thing is the sanded grout as a bottom layer.