Economy made to look good….


Todays manufacturers are producing more and more beautifully detailed cars, but for a price. While these cars are beautiful in every detail, and yes, I have some of these cars, it can be quite expensive to collect a fleet of these.

If you need to equip a large layout with rolling stock, or put together a say 120 car train for that large club layout you may run on, this can be quite expensive. Especially for younger modelers getting started in the hobby. But all is not lost.

Two manufacturers stand out, actually three come to mind. Two are older, tried and true companies, while one is a relatively newcomer. The two older companies are Accurail and Bowser. The newcomer is Scale Trains. All three produce models at reasonable prices. All three produce models that run well in my opinion. Scale Trains with their Operator series has really raised the bar, with beautiful, reasonably priced models.

When I was building my original 4×8, I needed a fleet of hoppers quickly that were inexpensive. I also needed other types of cars as well. Before Scale Trains and some of the more higher end models were around, I went looking into Bowser and Accurail products.  Although these models have molded on details, they look decent with a little work and weathering, and look very nice when finished.

Today I’ll concentrate on Accurail, especially the SOO hopper shown below. What I did on this hopper as on a lot of my cars, I change out the wheels for semi-scale wheels, and change out the couplers for Kadee whisker couplers. To weather this car, I used a diluted dirt wash, then used oils to simulate the rust. I also weathered the underside, plus painted and weathered the trucks and wheels. The couplers I went over with a rust texture. To finish the car I added ACI plates.

I get a lot of compliments on this car, and for a $15.00 car, I think it looks great, and shows what can be done with an inexpensive model….



GP7 5675 about ready to join the fleet…

I’m almost finished with the conversion of ex-PRR # 8809 to PC #5675. This GP7 I’ve had awhile. I recently decided it was time to re-paint this one into the PC fleet. The locomotive is a Bachmann model with DCC and Tsunami sound.

All that remains is for the decals and decal solution to dry, then seal the locomotive. I repainted this one with grimy black, then weathered the bottom sill, pilots and trucks with a light gray.  I also added some rust texture to the stacks, plus some rust to some of the side vents. As you can see, the maintenance base for this engine is Collinwood shops in Cleveland, Ohio. Almost ready to go to work!


The locomotive before I started:


Update on weathered models…

Just a short post here concerning the models listed on The Weathering Depot page. I do have several cars listed now on the page for sale, with one more coming soon, a TILX tank car from Scale Trains, once I have finished it. I also have a pending possible offer on the hopper cars listed. If this offer falls through, I will also have these possibly available for sale, the hopper cars currently shown on the page.

Please remember several items with the cars I weather and sell. These are: I always change out couplers to better Kadee couplers unless the car already has these, unless the car has excellent metal wheel sets, I also change out the wheel sets to semi-scale wheels. I also apply brass ACI panels from BLMA if it matches the era, along with safety visibility stripes and other current day decals from Smokebox Graphics if applicable. Modern day cars I also apply graffiti when applicable. All these supplies cost me, so as in any other venture, I have to pass this cost along to make a profit. That being said, I do NOT sell my cars for an enormous amount as others do. I feel the price I ask is fair and reasonable that covers the price of the car, materials, labor, and a small profit.

More Weathering Part 2…

Another blog post continuing where I left off several days ago. Along with the weathering tips and tricks, there is also the consideration on brushes to use, other handy items to have on hand, plus decal tips if you’re also doing decal work.

What I didn’t mention in the previous post was first things first. When starting out on a model out of the box, I always disassemble the car, then wash everything in warm soapy water, and let dry thoroughly. This is to remove any residue from the molding/manufacturing process. I always use latex gloves as well when handling all phases of the weathering, washing, sealing, and decal work. Get the powder free gloves however! An older car that already has paint and/or weathering on it is a different story. I simply with those just handle with the latex gloves, then airbrush any debris, loose paint, and/or dust off the model.

Brushes are another matter. I have obtained most of mine from a craft/art store. In fact, I believe all of mine came from Michael’s, as they seem to have a larger selection of different size brushes. Get the camel hair brushes for oils and powders, as they are more stiff and I believe work better for this type work. You also want to grab a “fan” type brush for blending in everything. Otherwise I use different size sable brushes for painting and detail work. Don’t buy and use cheap brushes that will disintegrate with bristles coming off! Pay a little more and you won’t have problems. I always buy different shape and size brushes as well, as you’ll see in the photo below. Thin, tiny brushes for detail work, wider shorter brushes for other areas. Another item which I use occasionally are sponges, get the triangular shaped sponges. These work well with powders and pan pastels.

One more comment about brushes. I also keep on hand a full supply of micro brushes, from their superfine size up to regular size. These I use of course for extra close or fine detail, but also when applying gloss acrylic and decal solvents for decal work. As these are disposable, they work better for this type work.

Other pieces of equipment I use, or can use for all model work, is of course a self-healing cutting pad by X-acto. It’s indispensable for cutting decals out. A metal scale ruler also comes in handy for this work, as well as some type of magnifying glass or Optivisor for close work. Another piece of equipment that’s handy to use is a model holder, used when spray painting/airbrushing. All of this equipment is available at a well stocked hobby shop, Walther’s, and/or MicroMark. An X-acto knife is also necessary. Keep those blades sharp!

I also use for cleaning my airbrush a set of pointed cotton swabs, which come in a multi-pack from Tamiya. These really come in handy when cleaning. Striping tape and scotch tape are other items I use for painting, when masking off areas. All of these I have found at my local Hobby Lobby.

For decal work, I use two types of tweezers, one longer type with thin pointed tips, and another short pair with rounded ends. Both work well in different places on the model, different size decals, and different situations. Use warm water for those decals. I always cut out my decals with a sharp hobby knife and metal ruler, then test fit the decal onto the model. I do this to see how much of an area I need to cover with gloss acrylic. I use the clear gloss acrylic from Model Master. Use gloss, as decals will work the best on a glossy surface.

Coat the surface needed for each decal, then let dry. I always let the acrylic dry 24 hours. I then use warn water on the decal to soften, then apply a tiny bit of Model Master setting solution to the area, slide the decal onto the spot, then any excess water, I roll off with a q-tip. The q-tip will normally work out any bubbles in the decal. Let this dry thoroughly as well. I then go over the decal with Model Master decal solvent. This snuggles the decal down tightly onto the surface. I let this dry 24 hours, then come back and seal everything with the flat or matte varnish. Your goal is to have the decal film completely hidden, so the decals look like they’re painted on. If by chance there is a bubble, or decal film showing, I’ll go back before sealing, poke the area carefully with the tip of my hobby knife, reapply the decal solvent, let dry thoroughly again, then seal.

That about covers it! Hopefully I’ve provided some information and tips that will help in your weathering and modeling efforts. Again, below you’ll see most of the variety of brushes that I use, at least for powders, paints, and oils….



Next up….

Here is the project I just started on the workbench. I have about 9 of these Bowser 100 ton hoppers, lettered both for   PC, and PRR. I just started to apply a dirt brown to the sides and ends of three cars with my airbrush.

I’ll finish the sides and ends on all the cars, probably applying some road grime as well along the bottom sills, paint the undersides, then rust the interiors. I’m currently awaiting delivery on several new rust mediums I haven’t tried as yet.

When all is done, I’ll pick up some more removable coal loads. In the photos below you’ll see what the cars look like straight out of the box, and the three after a dirt overspray…

Notes on Weathering….

I thought I would post this to give a little bit of an insight on my weathering mediums, and perhaps a few tips. Also how I got into weathering to begin with.

I guess it helps to be a railfan for decades, observing what the prototype looks like, and from working on the prototype and seeing cars and locomotives up close. It also helps to take slides or photos of the prototype to use as reference. There are also great websites for prototype photos of both rolling stock and locomotives such as, which is a resource I tend to use. Whatever the source, it’s good to have a reference photo on hand of the car you’re replicating, or a similar car.

As far as weathering mediums, I tend to concentrate on only a few now. I’ve tried quite a few mediums, including watercolor pencils, but never got good results in earlier weathering projects. They may work for others, but not for me. I used to use chalks long ago as well, until I found Bragdon powders, which I still use occasionally. They have, along with powders by AIM, have a self-adhesive quality. The more you rub these on, the more they stick. I really only use these powders now on couplers for a rusted effect, and this sometimes on top of a rust colored wash.

I discovered the medium of pan pastels right when they first came out, tried them, and love them. They have a quality all their own. They go on easy, cover well, and are easy to work with. Just be careful with their use, as they are so fine, they’ll go everywhere, so have some newspaper down under your project!

The two mediums I mainly use the majority of the time now are acrylic paints, and water based oils. Why water based? Being water based, they’re more forgiving if you do make a boo-boo. They’re also easy to work with as well. You do however have to dull coat each layer of weathering you apply. Another advantage of acrylics? They’re inexpensive, plus they, along with oils, are available at any craft store. One other advantage is the wide range of colors.

For sealing everything, I used to use dullcoat liquid by Testors.  This product though you really have to use carefully, as imo, too heavy a coat can ruin a model. Dullcoat in a rattle can is really not the way to go. The medium I love to use now instead is matte varnish by Vallejo. This product is a milky, thicker product that thinned with water goes on very smooth and even.

Btw, all of my weathering is done with an airbrush, or at least the base coats. I then apply as many coats and mediums as needed to get the desired look. I started out only using powders applied with sponges and brushes, but nothing beats having an airbrush. Best investment I ever made. However, shop around for the equipment you need. I first purchased a full set including a spray booth, airbrush, and compressor at a discounted price. The airbrush and compressor both however turned out to be inadequate for the job. I pretty much immediately had to purchase a better quality airbrush and larger compressor to get the job done. Another important piece of equipment to invest in is a commercial grade respirator. Whatever paints and sealants you use, be sure to protect those lungs!

Finally, I use two more mediums which for now I’ll keep a secret. Last but not least, accurate, prototypical weathering takes time, an eye for detail, and patience. I’m not a believer in weathering in a day….