Trolley Modeling in N Scale

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Sidewalks ~ Saturday, December 29, 2007

With tracks laid in plastic "pavement", lots laid out, and streets planned (see this earlier post), it's time to make this urban planning a reality by adding some sidewalks, and turning a blank sheet of plastic into streets and real estate.

Evergreen styrene makes sheets with squares scribed in the surface that can be used as "sidewalk" or "tile", depending on the size and your scale. I spent a little while wondering what size of squares would be most appropriate for sidewalks. Looking around my own town, I discovered there's a lot of variety. Some neighborhoods (newer commercial areas, maybe) have 10' squares, but a lot of older neighborhoods have much smaller ones, maybe 2-3'--I didn't use a tape measure, just my feet!

Since I'm setting my layout sometime in the first half of the 20th century, smaller squares seemed better--and might help make my selectively compressed city blocks seem a little bigger, anyway. So I used styrene sheet with 1/8" squares. With this size, six squares conveniently comes out to 10 N scale feet, and I decided that 10' is a reasonable width for a sidewalk.

I cut corners using my x-acto-in-compass tool (described in the previous article about streets). Next I added curbs. The styrene sheet is 0.04" thick, so I used 0.040x0.040 square styrene bar. This picture shows how I glued it on:

Put everything down on a steel sheet, brace everything with magnets, and start welding with plastic solvent (I'm using a gluing jig set from Micro-Mark, but it would be easy to improvise with stuff from hardware and craft stores). Attach the curb strip at the middle of the curve, let that set, bend it a little farther around, weld some more, reposition magnets, wait a bit, and repeat. It's important to start at the middle of a curve. At first, I tried what seemed logical--glue the curb to a straight edge, and work around the curve to the other. But every time, I would get half way, and the curb strip would snap. Starting in the middle of the curve, this just didn't happen.

Here's my one building built so far for this layout test-fitted in an L-shaped corner sidewalk.

For the central block, I made one big sidewalk piece out of two big L's.

Here's everything installed, waiting for painting. The garage sale signs I used for the streets are also styrene, so everything glued together nicely.

It's starting to actually look like a town!

Btw, after getting pretty far into this work, I visited a local train shop, and found a product called Easy Streets by Fine N Scale Products; basically, it's pieces of sidewalk already made up for you. The way I've build sidewalks was not particularly hard, but Easy Streets does have interesting extras like driveway pieces and other bits of detail that I didn't attempt. Definitely worth looking into for anyone else who might attempt and N scale trolley layout.

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