Concrete Jungle

I’m having to relearn how to model large expanses of concrete and asphalt. On the IAIS Grimes Line I was able to construct the eight-foot long Swanson Boulevard that ran parallel to the PDM Spur out of a single piece of styrene, thanks to a local plastics supplier offering single-sheet purchases. For The Hills Line, it took numerous cuts and combinations to connect everything together around City Carton Recycling in Iowa City.

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Fortunately the same plastics supplier still offers single sheets of 4′ x 8′ styrene in .040 thickness. Keeping the middle of my layout space open has definite benefits when it comes to working on large stock. A drywall T-square and scoring tool come in handy when making significant cuts.

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Despite having to rearrange or eliminate portions of City Carton Recycling, I left space for the large concrete pad around the receiving and tool warehouses. Modeling embedding rails in anything but styrene requires precision, patience, and perseverance… three traits I generally lack in scale modeling. A quick paper template allowed me to rough in the sections so I could fine tune the clearances with sandpaper and scissors.

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South Capitol Street connects to the City Carton lot, and is also built from the same single sheet. Curbs and sidewalks were constructed and attached using lacquer thinner. The advantage of building them atop a base layer is that it creates a trough for scenic material.

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Areas were masked off and painted with rattle spray cans. I use two separate shades of gray to simulate concrete and asphalt, although weathering will decrease the stark contrast between the two. Blue painters tape works well in creating clean lines between the elements.

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For road striping I still prefer paint, since it better replicates the appearance of the prototype and won’t peel up or wrinkle like decals or stickers do. The secret is to keep the edges razor sharp. For dual divider lines, Tamiya makes narrow striping tape that makes the job much simpler.

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Next step is to weather and blend the individual elements together, then start adding scenery and other details.

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