“Nous voila, Lafayette”
By far, the scene that I was most proud of on my IAIS Grimes Line layout was the NW 86th and Swanson Boulevard intersection in Clive, Iowa. The combination of narrow benchwork and photo backdrops, punctuated by the Industrial Spur’s stop-and-check crossing, made it an excellent introduction to the layout. Ultimately the way that scene turned out gave me confidence to repeat the design for Lafayette Street on The Hills Line.
Lafayette Street runs parallel to the industrial spur between South Capitol Street and Ralston Creek in Iowa City. As befits a former interurban line, the spur hugs the road with little to no clearance alongside the line. Since a majority of the rail-served structures in Iowa City are on the south, or aisle-side of the spur, I decided to run Lafayette Street along the rear of the scene to act as a transition to the backdrop.
The road itself was cut from a full sheet of .040 styrene using a scribe tool and a straightedge. While only 3 inches wide, the street is six feet long. Fewer seams to fill are always an advantage.
The entire street was roughed in between the backdrop and the track, then trimmed for a better fit. The multiple cross streets were measured and marked for the grade crossings, as well as the future photo backdrop.
The grade crossings themselves are Walthers Modern Concrete kits, cut and trimmed to fit as needed. I paint the panels with Testor’s Flat Light Aircraft Gray, then spray them with an India Ink and rubbing alcohol wash applied with an airbrush. As with any item that covers and crowd the rails, I triple check for clearance with an NMRA gauge.
The one exception (and there always is one) is the alleyway at the east end of Lafayette Street alongside Ralston Creek. The grade crossing is asphalt with wooden flangeways. I used scale lumber cut with my NWSL Chopper II to size. Styrene fills the gaps between the track.
Next time I’ll paint, stripe, and weather the road and begin to construct the massive photo backdrop that’ll complete the scene.