Street Markings in N

On my last update on my layout progress, I had just started on adding markings to my streets.  For the most part, this project is done, although I still have a few touch ups to make.I've been preparing for this project for quite some time, so fortunately I was prepared to get in and get this job done!  Part of this preparation has been the collection of various street marking products, and I thought it would be interesting to share some of my observations about these products and what other things I've learned.The primary 'stuff' I planned on using for my street markings comes from Faller (#272451):
There is one small sheet inside each of these Faller boxes, and a plastic tool to help with decal application.  The sheet of decals is only about 3 1/2 by 5 inches, so you don't get a lot in each box.  Unfortunately, each sheet only includes one complete full street crosswalk section, so I needed quite a few of these for my city streets:
I began with the Faller product as that was all I was aware of at first, but then I discovered that Busch also makes some street markings (# 7197).  Pretty much the same markings, and another plastic tool to apply the decals:
TGW from Japan was the other supplier I came across. Not surprisingly, being Japanese rather than German, their markings are quite different, but some of them are 'generic' enough to work well with the German markings.
In addition to rub-on decals, I also decided to use 1/32 Chartpak graphic tape which comes in 1/32 width which seems about right for road markings.
Laid out side by side, the differences between the two German brands was pretty remarkable.  Either the Faller stuff is more appropriate for Z scale, or the Busch stuff is closer to TT.  Either way, the Faller is noticeably smaller than the Busch decals.   Annoying, so now I had to plan to use both in areas where a comparison of the two would not be obvious.
The TGW decals are shown on the left, with the Busch decals on the right with the Faller decals behind them.  You can get a sense from looking at these three sets of the disproportionate scales involved.
The obvious Japanese style crosswalks were modified to fit in with the Faller and Busch versions by simply trimming off the long lines on the ends.  This works pretty well and nearly matches the look of the Faller crosswalks except for the width. 
After some initial / test applications of the decals, I found the arrows, crosswalks, and similar markings to be easy to add.   The lane markings and parking stalls were much more difficult to get to apply consistently or correctly.  For this reason I had the Chartpak tape.    The tape works okay, but it is a noticeable 'lump' on the street, and I was a bit concerned about how well the thin adhesive of this tape would hold up over time (even with an application  of a clear coat to seal everything in). For this reason I ultimately decided to mask out the majority of the lane markings and parking stalls and use an airbrush to get the markings applied.  This was a method I first heard of from Don at Akihabara Station and turned out to be easier and more succesful than I expected!  Note that the masking tape WILL remove any decals you've already applied, so if you use both, do the airbrush first, then apply decals!  Below is post-airbrush photo of the city:The final steps are to seal everything in with a coat of matte acrylic paint, and then the buildings can go back on the layout! Whoohoo!


  1. I'm very glad to hear the masking/airbrushing not only worked, but was easier than you'd anticipated. I actually still haven't done it yet, for a variety of excuse-making reasons…Your roads are looking really great!

  2. Yeah, it was a really good suggestion! It also helped that there are some masking tapes from Tamiya that are almost exactly correct for road lane widths, so the amount of cutting with an Xacto is not as bad as I thought it would be! The only challenge is trying to be really precise with the line widths...it doesn't seem that difficult, but even the slightest deviation is pretty noticeable after you've painted it. Great suggestion!

  3. I second Don's comment, those roads look great. One thing that wasn't clear, are you masking the gray road and spraying white, or using the technique that was mentioned a few months ago where you spray white, mask the lines with narrow tape, and spray gray. It sounded like the former from the comment about masking tape removing things, but I'm unclear why you need narrow tape for that.
    One reason I ask is that I'm working up the nerve to do some of my streets, and I was going to use the white-tape-gray approach.

  4. Hey Ken! I sprayed white on gray. I think that actually may be an easier way to do it since you don't have to be so concerned about the width of lane markings being precisely right! Especially if you use a really thin tape like that Chartpak stuff it should work great. Wait, i just thought of something...that Chartpack tape probably won't do a very good job as masking tape, but I think I've seen some really thin tape from Tamiya that might work! Good luck! I have to tell you, it was nice to get this part of the work done...amazing that its been a year since I started on my tram line!

  5. Jerry, this looks so awesome! Great job. thanks for sharing these techniques too. One tool I still need to buy is an air brush. One of a few actually! :D

    Also what did you use to fill in the rails to match the road? It looks great. Also does this material affect the operation of the the trains at all?

    Again..fantastic work. I'm so looking forward to seeing pics of the buildings back. Also have you drill holes for all your wiring in your buildings yet?

    Thanks again, Bob

  6. Bob - The street material in the track is from the Tomix Tram kit. These are just basically strips of plastic that Tomix makes that fit in the track...it works out very well. When I started this, it was before the Unitram track was announced so I used the older Tomix Tram kit.

    The buildings all have long leads coming out with their wires...what I need to do is drill holes in the block sections/layout to get them to power up!