Pavement in Winchester

Posted on March 30th, 2014, by Michael Rountree

I have been paving parking lots for the past few weeks.

I began with an industry, which needs parking for its employees as well as for the truck dock. Only about half of the lot is actually on the layout, as it angles off the front edge and suggests a much larger site that extends into the aisle. Beyond the industry, though, there is Winchester Depot, which was “modi-fly-ed” from a solid resin casting of the landmark Tenafly, NJ, depot. Both of these grew out of experiments in paving a road that occurs behind the main line. Basically, the technique is all joint compound, iteratively smoothed.

To do a broad expanse like a lot, I edged it first with forms that I mocked up with scrap cardstock and wood tacked in place with glue or pins. Then, I mixed up a soupy mix of joint compound by thinning it with some water. You want it to be just thin enough to flow, like a thick cake batter. I blend in some black tempera paint (and a small amount of brown) to give it an intrinsic gray color.

Formwork for Lot 1

The first pour will look good at first, but then will likely dry with some noticeable lumpiness, due to uneven saturation of water to gypsum. That’s fine. Take a sanding block to the high spots if necessary, and then just pour a second topping coat. If you have the patience to be there as it dries, you can coax it into flatness with your finger. Or, just let that second coat dry, and hit it with the sanding block again.

Lot 1 First Pour

On the final coat, you can just spread it thinly and get the top surface damp; you can even just use a squirt bottle to wet the top, rather than add any more joint compound. While it is wet/damp, you can just swirl your fingertip around (like the Karate Kid showing Mr. Miyagi “sand the floor”) to do a sort of wet-sanding, and as you work it, it will begin to dry out. You’ll feel it getting almost powder dry, and as you keep swirling at that stage, all of your fingerprints and “brush strokes” will begin to vanish.

Then, if you want some cracks, it is easy to score those in using a hobby knife. For my first lot, I wanted a concrete look, so I scored it into a grid of 20′ squares, plus I added a few random cracks. The plaster can crack of its own accord, too, if you’re lucky. Then, I went over this with a wash of thinned black ink, to get into those cracks and highlight them.

Lot 1 finished

Natural Cracks

To finish things off, I used colored pencils and a straightedge to draw the striping, and then I used a makeup brush to apply weathering chalks. Once I had it looking good, I coated it all with Testor’s Dull-Cote, or whatever the brand name is that they are using nowadays. This will seal the surface, and prevent deterioration of the stripes which in my case are done using water color pencils. Since I have yet to finish other scenery, I need to be able to get this wet without fear of ruining my hard work.

The depot lot is asphalt, which does not need control joint scoring. It needs to be a bit darker than the concrete, but otherwise it’s all done the same way.

Winchester Depot

Lot 2 finished

Grade crossing

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