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PART 14 – Weathering
Section 1 : Materials
By Dan Spalding
  Weathering is one of those aspects of model trains that can really divide opinion. When done with care and attention to the prototype it can lift a model to new heights of realism but if not the results can be garish and unrealistic. Over this two-part article I'll set out what I think are some principles to follow before and during the weathering process, an overview of the tools and materials I've used (and whether I’d use them again) and then a brief description of the techniques I use for common weathering effects such as rust, dust etc. Usual disclaimer: I don’t have any connection with any manufacturers or suppliers other than being a happy customer / consumer.
Key Concepts
Firstly, I'm going to assume that we, as modellers, are aiming to create a mini representation of the railroads that we have seen in books, magazines, video or even in person, rather than a model railway to display our model collection (not that there is anything wrong should you chose). To me weathering your stock (as well as buildings, track etc) is as much as part of recreating that piece of history as scenery or the correct locos and stock. Weathering can also help in matching less detailed older cars in with more detailed recent releases and (whisper) cover up glitches in paintwork. What I can understand is the apprehension in taking your pristine (and probably expensive) model for the first time and attack it with a cocktail of paints and products, as I was that modeller back in the day. To help overcome this there are a few guidelines that can help improve the likelihood of getting a model you are proud of.
How Does Nature Do it?
What you might think in your mind’s eye of how a loco / car is affected by its environment is most likely to differ from what actually happens. If you can find photos of your chosen subject from one of the many railroad archive sites then use those as a guide for your model version. Also, don't discount the world around you – a builders’ skip will probably have some lovely examples of patchy rust and the variations of texture and colour within it. Also consider how natural forces like wind and gravity will affect how dirt collects or travels. For specific photos of rolling stock etc there are several dedicated websites including www.rrpicturearchives.net , www.locophotos.com and www.rr- fallenflags.org plus general photo sites like Flickr and Smugmug.
Practice Makes Perfect
After a first driving lesson it's unlikely that you will be able to compete in the British Grand Prix and the same is true of weathering. Before letting loose on the prized loco we considered earlier it's probably advisable to cut your teeth on a model that seen better days or is now residing in the scrap box. If you are really stuck then a primed piece of plasticard would work as a test
piece. Again, don’t expect to master a technique straight away and, as with anything in life, it takes a bit of practice. However.......
Fig 1. A couple of my sacrificial offerings to the art of weathering. The boxcar has been repainted several times to get a ‘blank canvas’ to try out new products / techniques.
Each to Their Own
If you are a member of any of the railway modelling web forums or watch YouTube you have come across any number of posts around weathering techniques and products with a good number saying it’s the panacea for all your weathering ills. This may be the case but if, after a few attempts, your results aren’t developing as you’d expect and you have a tried and tested method that does work for you then don’t feel bad about it. (Confession – I have a particular love-hate relationship with using pigments). This is worth considering when faced with the tide of new products being launched on the market. Some I’ve found to be a godsend, other not so much. As Chuck D said “Don’t Believe The Hype”.
Think (and look) Outside the Box
In the past it’s fairly safe to say that the model railway hobby lagged behind plastic scale modelling, be it aircraft or armour, when it came to realistic weathering. Where the railway hobby has come a long way in catching up it there is still a wealth of material in either the printed word or on-line of what our ‘cousins’ are doing with their ships, planes and tanks which we can also apply to our trains. As alluded to above a little filtering is required especially around product placements by the manufacturers but looking beyond that there are some inspirational tutorials either on the internet (YouTube) or in magazines and books.
Tools and Materials
We'll now have an overview of the tools and materials that currently reside around my tool bench. As alluded to previously you may get on with some products better that others and I'll include items that I've personally not got the best of results from as well as ones that have become indispensable.
            December 2018 - ROUNDHOUSE 15

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