The evolution of a weathered car….

In this blog post I’ll discuss the weathering of a Walther’s Mainline HO scale boxcar. This is pretty much the process I have used to weather all my “rustbucket” type cars. First and foremost it’s helpful to have a prototype photo of the particular car or a similar numbered car that you wish to weather. In this case, I’ll be discussing how I weathered this particular car:


This car looked like this out of the box:

It helps in this type of weathering to have a good airbrush, one you can adjust the flow with. I personally use a Paasche Talon airbrush, with my compressor set between 35 and 40 psi. Next is to have a good set of paints. I’ve found Model Air paint by Vallejo to be the best. They’re relatively inexpensive, they go on smoothly, and cover well.

For this project, I decided to turn the GB&W car into a close resemblance of this prototype car:

To start on this project, I had to come up with a way to fade the blue paint. What I used was Vallejo pale blue paint mixed with white. The car started out as such with a first light coat of the blue/white mix:

I then masked off the larger patched areas:

In the second photo you’ll notice the variation in the blue. I didn’t get the first fade light enough, so I went back over the entire car as these areas were taped off. I have to add here that between each step I sealed the finish. Also notice the patched areas are now too bright a color as well, after being done with flesh color and white. This was solved by going over these larger areas with a short, stiff brush loaded up with white pan pastels, and the result turned out so:

I then turned to masking off the smaller patched areas which were done with grimy black:

I should back up a bit here. Before going too far into the sides and ends of the car, I painted the undersides with a dark brown/ grimy black mixture, then sealed it:

I also went ahead then and turned my attention to the roof. The roof on this car was done with a product from Vallejo called “rust texture”, a tip and product I picked up from several military modelers. This product when dry looks and feels just like rust. While wet the roof was enhanced by adding several different colors of rust powders as show below:

In the meantime the trucks were painted with roof brown, while the wheels were painted with a roof brown and just a touch of rust plus black. Next came the most fun part, but by far the most tedious part of the project: adding the rest of the grime and numerous rust spots. Have the prototype photo up as you replicate this. All the rust areas on the sides and ends were done with the same rust texture using a very fine tipped brush plus the tips of toothpicks. Photos below of this work:

In the bottom right photo you’ll notice a layer of grime along the bottom of the car. This was done with a watered down wash using the same rust texture product. Btw, this product is an acrylic, so it’s very easy to work with. I almost forgot the couplers, which were switched out with Kadee whisker couplers which were also rusted with this texture. Last but not least were the decals.

The areas to be decaled were sprayed with Vallejo gloss medium and allowed to dry overnight. Decals from Microscale were then used on the car. After the decals were allowed to dry another 24 hours, the car was sealed one more time with a flat coat, trucks and wheels were put back on the car, then one final step. Once the car is put back on its trucks and wheels, I always take a small pointed swab and clean the tread with alcohol to remove any paint residue. The car was then ready for revenue service. Photos below of the decal work:




Another unit joins the fleet….

I’ve added another unit to the fleet. This one to add a bit of color and variety to the railroad. These units were leased as I recall late in the PC era when they were power short, I’m assuming when a lot of power was bad-ordered perhaps.

These were leased from Precision National, and were Paducah shops GP10’s rebuilt from older GP7’s and GP9’s. This model was made by Intermountain and purchased from the great folks at Spring Creek Model Trains in Nebraska.

I weathered this over the past two days using Vallejo model air paints, pan pastels, and rust texture by Vallejo for the couplers and rust spots on the unit. Except for sealing, this one is ready to go to work on the layout!

Photos below of the unit when test ran right out of the box, and today taken outside:

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….