Nearly all model railroads will incorporate a road of some sorts, whether it’s an old dirt road running alongside the track or a bitumen road that leads up to that freight depot.
It doesn’t take long to do a quick search online and find out there are literally a hundred ways to make a road, some are easier than others and some obviously look better than others! As a general observation you’ll probably find the quicker and easier it is to make the road the less realistic the end result will be and for the more difficult and time consuming techniques the end result is usually better.
But that’s not always the case! Woodland Scenics have a great road system that is easy to use yet very realistic and it doesn’t require any special knowledge or techniques.
Overall there are 7 products on offer from Woodland Scenics that greatly simplifythe process of making roads and in the video I demonstrate 6 of these products.
The system itself is for the most part self-explanatory. You’ll find instructions on the boxes of all the items detailing how to use each one and some of the packaging has additional information like specific road measurements depending on the type of road you want to model.
There are many methods for marking/drawing the road width but the one I found easiest was making a foam template using pencils, just set them to the desired width in the foam and draw away!
The paving tape goes on easily and once the Smooth-It has been mixed simply apply it to the area and spread it with the supplied spreader. You’ll probably find you get a lot of over spill, don’t worry it’s easy to remove, just wait an hour for the Smooth-It to become firm (but not completely set which takes 24 hours) and brake it away.
Just as easily as the paving tape went on, it comes off as well. Unlike some of the cheaper alternative tapes that are meant to be applied to window and door frames and not come away easily…
You may find after sanding the road back you have some small (very small!) air bubbles that leave very small holes, you have the option of making a very thin mixture of plaster which can be spread over the surface again using you finger or a cloth, then once dry sand the surface back to make it smooth, however I found the small holes added detail to the road.
The holes from the bubbles are barely noticeable to the untrained eye! But for people like me who get up EXTREMELY close to inspect the road you will most likely notice them. Once road texture and detail has been added they are almost invisible even to me!
Adding texture to the road can be done with a sponge, after painting the base coat on I mixed some asphalt paint with the concrete paint to get a color I liked and lightly applied it to the road with the sponge. This is a very easy technique but it certainly makes the biggest difference in the overall realism of the road.
Other details like cracks are simply drawn directly onto the road using a felt tip marker and repair patches are made with a paper template, a sponge and some top coat ‘Asphalt’.
And don't underestimate the usefulness of the Flexi Edge... A fantastic tool in my opinion especially if you plan to do a number of roads on your layout. This tool will be getting quite a lot of use on my future layouts!
The final detail to add was the road shoulders, the Woodland Scenics 'Gravel' made this job very easy. It’s similar to sand however I’ve always found it hard to get sand that’s the perfect color and I also find sand often has shiny particles that reflect similar to glitter. The Woodland Scenics Gravel doesn’t have any shiny particles in it.
Overall the Woodland Scenics Road System is well worth the investment in both time and money. Sure there are cheaper alternatives but for simplicity and realism it’s hard to go past this system, not to mention consistency and ease of use.
There are not a lot of products on the market that provide the results that the Woodland Scenics Roads System consistently provides and that’s why I’m giving the products as a group a 9 out of 10.
If you really want to see how easy it is to make great roads that look amazing then I urge you to watch the tutorial and see just how easy it is!