The Weathering Depot

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. Also, I usually take two to three weeks to complete a car, as I tend to take extra care between mediums and layers, usually sealing each layer. I do the tiniest of detail work to insure a prototypical looking car. Below you’ll find the current cars available for sale direct.

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!


I inadvertently got my wires crossed earlier when writing this post, as I was thinking about the car below and actually posted this SOO hopper which is an inexpensive Atlas car! The Accurail car is this one:


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:

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 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.

New Weathered Car Joins The Fleet….

I recently weathered one of ExactRail’s bulkhead flats, lettered for a Rock Island. This is my first Rock Island car, and boy, is this car a beauty! However, as in all of these beautiful, highly detailed cars, they are also VERY fragile.

I started out spraying this car with a rust/roof brown mixed with a touch of white to not only fade the paint, but to dirty it up a bit, as shown below:

With this done, I sprayed the laser cut decking with the same roof brown/rust color, then let it dry for twenty-four hours. The next day I came back and went over the decking with light brown and grey Pan Pastels, then sealed these parts. Photos below:

I then painted the wheels, then added brass ACI plates by BLMA to the sides of the car, then sealed the wheels, trucks, and car and let everything dry another twenty-four hours. Finally, I added my wrapped lumber load from Jaeger Products, and the car was ready for service as shown below:

Gallery of Weathered Cars


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