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Author Previous Topic: Tools and tips for scratch building Topic Next Topic: 36 / 42 TON SHAY DRAWING
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Frank Palmer

Posted - 08/04/2018 :  10:25:11 AM  Show Profile  Visit Frank Palmer's Homepage  Reply with Quote


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Posted - 08/04/2018 :  12:13:47 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks, Ray, Bill and Frank.

No problem, Carl. I don't put much effort into interior stuff unless I'm doing a detailed interior.

Ok, question: If one was to build this sidewalk, what material, concrete or asphalt?

It looks too dark to be concrete, to me, and I see no signs of the usual expansion joints.

Keep in mind, there's a 50% chance you'll be right.... but at least an 80% chance you'll be wrong.

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Premium Member

Posted - 08/04/2018 :  12:49:44 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Consider slate for the sidewalk (and granite for the steps.) In Mass, that's what I'd expect to see.


Modeling 1890s (because the voices in my head told me to)

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Premium Member

Posted - 08/04/2018 :  4:17:40 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hey Fred, I think Dave D, is correct'. Lots of slate walkways in New England'...


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Posted - 08/04/2018 :  10:37:03 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
its really difficult to tell what material the sidewalks were made of, but i have a few observations:
the edge of the curb appears to be a poured material. consistent thickness. clean finish, light coloration. those things lead me to thinking that it's concrete.
having said that, there are no expansion joints, but there's info out there that says expansion joints are not required in sidewalks

but, it is recommended to cut contraction lines in a long stretch of sidewalk, and i don't see any of those. i'm still betting it's concrete, but the repair appears to be asphalt to me.
[disclaimer] i haven't worked on a flat crew in over 40 years, so what do i really know....
not all that much as it turns out.....

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Posted - 08/04/2018 :  10:54:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Actually, there's no curb in the picture. I thought so at first but what you see in the foreground is a strip of turf/grass where the power pole is, the curb would be below that (out of the picture], then the "walkway".

Edited by - Terrell on 08/04/2018 10:55:12 PM

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Bill Gill

Posted - 08/05/2018 :  08:10:04 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Fred, I tried enlarging one of the original images of the tenements posted in higher resolution on the Library of Congress site to look at the foreground more closely.

There are some curious details that make me wonder what is there. Here's what I think I see numbered on the cropped photo:

1. This dark gray strip looks like it is the walkway to me. It runs the length of the image and is behind the utility pole. Whatever it is made of, it appears flat, smooth and uniform in color. I see no seams of any kind. If that is correct, then it doesn't appear to be concrete or slate. But the lack of seams may just be the result of the slightly soft focus there.
The strip looks about the same color as the area right in front of the front stairs (5). That dark area looks like the remains of what once was a semi circular entry walk to the building.
In the other original photo you posted on your page 1, the remains of that curved walkway looks like crumbling blacktop, so maybe the straight walkway in front is also blacktop?

2. The partially visible strip of dirt/dead grass in front of the walkway appears slightly irregular in height, mostly raised a little above the walkway. You can see that here because the bottom of the pole is not visible and the right edge of the shadow does not meet the right edge of the pole.
The bottom of the image cuts off the bottom of this median (see the original black bottom line), so we can't tell how wide that foreground edge really is.

3. This or these branches are curious. They appear too big in diameter to be some kind of small shrub(s) growing in a typical median that I would suspect normally would only be about 3 feet wide at most between walk and curb.
This makes me wonder if:
a. It is a large branch that fell off a tree from across the street and was dragged out the way off the street and left roughly parallel with the street. median and walk?( If you look at your original tenement photos, there is a faint shadow of a tree on the lower right bay window).
b. If those branches are actually growing there, they meet the ground closer to the camera than can be seen in the original photo. That would suggest it is not a narrow median at all. But what would it be then? City real estate is too expensive to waste on a wide median strip. Could it be part of some bigger unpaved land. Why there?

4. The three 4s mark a skinny lighter colored band running the whole length of far side of the walkway. I think it is lighter because it is a vertical face and the bright sun is shining directly on it, so the walkway is slightly lower than the dirt yard. The light band appears very straight and even. Again, curious since the circular walk (5) is so broken up. Did someone clean, shovel or sweep the straight walkway? The photo was taken in December. Maybe snow had been cleared away and with it some of the dirt that seems like would have usual spread onto the slightly depressed walk when ever ir rained or snowed.

So, after all that wild speculating - It'd be interesting to find out if the tenements are still standing and if so, look at a satellite view to see what the land in front of them looks like. But the walkway doesn't look like concrete or slate.

Edited by - Bill Gill on 08/05/2018 08:13:05 AM

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Michael Hohn

Posted - 08/05/2018 :  08:30:43 AM  Show Profile  Visit Michael Hohn's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Iíve been completely puzzled by the apparent sidewalk in this photo. I agree with Billís observations. Iíd be inclined to look at typical practice in this place and time and that suggests slate as Dave said, whether or not thatís what is in the photo.


Nobody living can ever stop me, as I go walking that freedom highway -- Woody Guthrie

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Bill Gill

Posted - 08/05/2018 :  09:07:04 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I think Dave and Mike are on the right track suggesting slate as an appropriate sidewalk, regardless of what is in the prototype photo. Slate does fit the time and location of the tenement.

Here's a slate walk about 125 years old in a Connecticut village.

Here's a slate walk probably between 100-150 years old in upstate NY city.

Here's old slate at a pretend mid-late 1800s 'village' outdoor museum

And here's HO scale slate walk I made for my Vermont town.

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Posted - 08/05/2018 :  09:12:16 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This is what I believe. The color matches the blacktop in front of the steps, I believe that's what it is. Maybe that walk was kept edged by someone during the summer? If it was concrete or slate there would be joints, I miss-spoke above, I should have said contraction joints as kebmo pointed out. I can't believe in that whole length of walk that not one joint is visible.
I believe Bill is right, the limbs visible in the foreground are from a downed tree or large limb between the photographer and the tenement. Especially since they aren't pointing upward but to the left.

But I'm not really sure it really matters. If I do the walk I'll do it to fit my other builds, the same with doing weeds/grass. All my other builds are spring/summer settings. I don't want one building sticking out like a sore thumb. I'm trying to keep the essence of the building while at the same time making it mine.

As I did with this other Shorpy image.

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Premium Member

Posted - 08/05/2018 :  10:57:17 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I remember a lot of streets in Pittsburgh having granite cubs, then a grassy patch (for dogs, etc :-) with the telephone poles in that patch. Then the slate sidewalks. I've seen that pattern elsewhere, including in Boston.


Modeling 1890s (because the voices in my head told me to)

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Posted - 08/05/2018 :  11:32:11 AM  Show Profile  Visit wvrr's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Bill Gill

And here's HO scale slate walk I made for my Vermont town.

What a tease, Bill. How did you make that? That looks terrific. If you tell me that you shaved thin slivers of slate from different slate pieces to get a variety of color, I'll fold my tent now. But, I do want to know how you made that!


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Bill Gill

Posted - 08/05/2018 :  11:40:30 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Fred, Definitely if you decide to add a sidewalk, make what goes with what you envision. And yes, there'd be some green stuff (barely) hanging on somewhere in that trampled front yard in the summer, so go for what works for you :)

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Posted - 08/05/2018 :  11:41:04 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Me, too, Bill.

We cross posted earlier.

And we did it again !!

Thanks, Bill.

Edited by - Terrell on 08/05/2018 11:42:43 AM

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Bill Gill

Posted - 08/05/2018 :  1:34:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Chuck, I actually do have small pieces of extremely thin slate that flaked off an old sidewalk over a winter freeze-thaw cycle; BUT their texture is too coarse for HO scale, so didn't use them for my sidewalk.

Fred & Chuck, Here's how the sidewalk was made:
The base is a solid piece of Evergreen 0.04 in. styrene cut to the shape of the walk.

The "granite" curb is pieces of 6x8 in. HO scale Evergreen strip cut to length, dinged up with a knife and sanded and glued to the outer edge of the walk AFTER the slates were added on top of the base. (Near the right end of the curb you can just make out a small dark square piece with an oblong cut out. That's the backing for a storm drain. It matches the size of Walters storm grates from its sidewalk set. I think it's too small and plan to replace it.)

This is the building side of the walk. If you look near the lower right side of the walk you can see the base under the slates. What you can't see is a strip of styrene set in from this edge, after curb was added to the outer edge, to shim the walk level.

The slates are pieces of 0,01 in. styrene cut to sizes and shapes of slates Ive seen (This varies a lot depending on age and location, prototype photos can help for your time and place).

The edges of the slates were chipped and nicked with a knife. Then I stuck the pieces to a strip of masking tape - sticky side up - and taped the strip to a piece of glass. Next I pressed the cutting edge of a single edged razor blade held vertically against the top of each slate and lightly turned it left and right a couple times, letting the blade chatter as it skimmed across the surface of the piece. I also used a #16 X-acto blade with the tip rounded over to chatter smaller parts of some pieces.

Next I cut the corners off a few pieces and lightly chipped them. To emphasize those broken slates I either shimmed one edge of a broken piece with 0.01 in. styrene to raise it, or scraped the bottom edge of a broken slate to lower it slightly.

I glued the slates to the base, also shimming a random edge or two to vary the overall flatness of the walk a tad. If adjacent edges of two slates were too closely aligned, I slightly altered one edge before gluing that slate down.

I painted the slates with acrylic craft paints to approximate colors of slate I've seen (Again, this varies quite a bit with age and location, so look at prototypes). I gave all the slates several thin washes of acrylic generic slate colors to blend everything together.

Final step was to dust baking soda between the slates and carefully wick thin cyanoacrylate into the baking soda. This created the dirt between the slates and made sure everything was securely bonded to the base. I used an eyedropper to carefully dribble dirt colored acrylic onto the baking soda.

Edited by - Bill Gill on 08/05/2018 1:42:27 PM

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