Saturday, 11 July 2009

Story of a Plank - Part 3: Road Building

Progress is coming along nicely on the plank. The road surface has been laid using the cork mat, which was cut to shape and affixed to the board with PVA glue. Large pieces of the cork mat are inclined to lift and peel up once laid, so it is essential to place several large items that will not move for several hours onto the mat while the glue is setting. I use heavy books for this purpose, but any large inert item, such as teenage offspring for example, work equally well.

Once the glue has dried overnight, the books are lifted off or teenage offspring are removed. This is easily accomplished by waving a £10 note around. There is now a lovely flat and smooth surface upon which to work. The task now is to plan the road, and cut holes into the cork wherever a gap is required – this can be for drains, manholes, and roadworks. This job is far easier when the mat is glued to the board rather than the seemingly obvious method of cutting the holes prior to fixing. By using a sharp scalpel, the required portion will simply lift out without tearing.

With the holes cut, the road can now be painted. I used textured tarmac paint from Green Scene; this is an excellent product in a range of textured paints for a wide variety of surfaces. Some of these work better than others – but the tarmac is a winner. The paint has extremely fine grains of sand to provide texture, and by mixing before use an even coat of texture may be applied. For a new main road, I’d suggest stirring very lightly so as not to make too rough a surface. For an older country lane, lay-by, or any road in Grantham I’d recommend a really good stir to get plenty of the sand mixed in and provide a rougher surface. The paint itself is quite thin, and I use three coats to get some colour onto the mat itself as shown here:

Currently the grey is far too pale to be totally convincing, but that’s no problem as the next stage is weathering, in order to tone it down. Should you wish for a darker grey from the outset, add some acrylic black paint to the jar. Any holes that were cut into the road earlier should be touched in with a drop of black paint; this will show through drain covers etc, and give depth to the finished model.

Since I last did some work on The Plank, I’ve had a change of heart about the cafĂ©. It was really too close to the railway tracks, so I’ve moved it to the far end of the lay-by. The concrete plinth is all ready for it – again, just cork mat with textured paint.

The last job in this phase is to drill holes adjacent to the main carriageway – these are to accept the working streetlights I plan to install.

A close up of a section of road shows the texture in more detail, to my mind this gives a very realistic impression of tarmac, especially once weathered and detailed.

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