Follow the Neoprene Road

A few years ago I wrote an article for Battlegames Magazine on making roads – I made them from Neoprene, but these were aimed at 15mm gaming.

I’ve now found that I need some new ones suitable for 28mm games. I chose neoprene because it will bend and can be used to run up or down a hill, following the contour nicely but also because it doesn’t have an high step perhaps so noticeable with other products. Its also easy to work with, cutting with a Stanley knife or even a scissors is easy, no need to saw your way through wood and it also comes in various widths.

I chose a roll of Neoprene with a thickness of 1.5mm and a width of 75mm for the straight portions of roads I intended to complete. I bought around 4 metres and also bought a small 0.5 m piece of wider Neoprene to allow me to cut curves more easil easily.

As I have a good quantity of narrower widths that I can use for tracks, the intention was to produce mainly straight roads. Of course if I’d wanted to make them less straight it would have been easy to buy a wider strip and produce some minor asymmetry in the straight portions by cutting out a 75mm track on this.

The most important purchase apart from the Neoprene itself is the glue. You have to get this correct, PVA with crack and lift if the road is bent. You need a glue that is designed to be compatible with or that has the ability to stick rubber. I used a Bostick brand pictured below that was sold in the same shop as I bought the Neoprene. The Neoprene roll costs me around $NZ9/metre and the  Bostick adhesive  around $NZ 25.

The rest is easy really :-

Firstly I cut the Neoprene into strips of varied length. Because I’m using TSS boards that are 24 inches wide I cut these into lengths of 24, 18, 12 and 6 inches (Yes I know working in metric and imperial at the same time does not make sense). I suppose I could have made a much longer lengths as I could have stored these but for the moment have kept it simple. Please note I’ve never tried to store a completed road in a rolled up fashion . Its also handy to cut a few short segments from off-cuts at an angle to allow a straight to change direction. Cut any curves or T junctions from the wider roll ensuring that they match the width of the straight pieces.

Give the Neoprene a wipe with a rag soaked in turpentine or Meths to clean away any grease.For some longer lengths its easier if you pin the Neoprene into an underlying board

I then applied a liberal coating of glue but worked quickly as this dries rapidly.

Next I added a grit/sand mix, though with a higher ratio of sand than I would normally use on a figure base.

Press this mix down into the glue and set it aside preferably under something heavy like a spare board and continue the same process with the remaining strips

I found I needed to add a second coat to quite large areas of the roads once these had dried by the following day.

Paint the dried roads in your chosen base colour – I used an earthen colour as mine are intended for the H&M period. (I think once could do tarmac roads like this but by using sand only – i.e omitting the grit and painting black)

Next dry brush according to taste – I used Vallejo Iraquian Sand and later Pale sand. Remember to use an old brush for painting as the sand and grit mix will wreck them.

Finally if desired add a static grass verge using the same glue and dry brush the grass if you really want

Have Pike will travel and will defend the crossroads!



About valleyboynz

A Welsh wargamer living in NZ
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5 Responses to Follow the Neoprene Road

  1. Chris Gregg says:

    This looks very nice indeed. I do remember your Battlegames artivcle but thank you for this tutorial reminder.

  2. So you’re a road worker now Valleyboyo. I can just picture you leaning on a shovel admiring the work of Antz and co!! 😀

    Something’s working right though as you’ve now got some very nice 28mm roading. Most photo worthy.

    von Peter himself

  3. nickcouldry says:

    brilliant – just what i needed! – i got a sheet of 1mm neoprene rubber and cut out my roads, wiping the ‘road side’ with turps. i then experimented and found that this worked: sprayed a base colour (i used khaki which is what i had to hand), then coated with pva glue followed by a sprinkling of dry sand to cover it. once this had set (i gave it a couple of hours), i painted over with pva glue diluted one to one. once this had dried (another couple of hours) i stuck scatter to the edges and a rough broken grass line down the middle using undiluted pva glue. it seems to have taken ok and no signs of peeling. much more flexible than my plastic card efforts – thanks for the post!

  4. valleyboynz says:

    Thanks Nick
    Best of luck with your efforts – the only problem is that I started off with PVA and found that it would peel, crack and come off though I didn’t spray it with paint beforehand. To be honest if you’ve only done one piece it may be worth bending it a bit to really try and make sure it doesn’t crack – the key for me was the bostick glue designed for bonding rubber. Hope yours works because PVA would be easier ad cheaper!

    • nickcouldry says:

      of course i didn’t do a test piece – just plunged in with fingers crossed! 😉 well, been a week now and they seem ok – been flexing them and no lifting of the pva. they look good on the board and ideal for both ecw and ww2 – cheers valleyboyo!

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