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A Simple Guide To Weathering For Railway Modellers - The basics. | Model Railway Hints, Tips, How To Articles and Reviews at Model Trains Online

Welcome to the first in a new series of how to a new series of articles by weathering guru Trev Hurley from Weathering Services & Detailing. In this first article, Trev is going to walk us through the very basics of this rather in-demand subject… Hope you like it! Please feel free to post your questions and comments in the form at the bottom of the article and Trev will do his best to help you out!

Weathering can make all the difference when it comes to detailing a layout!

Weathering can make all the difference when it comes to detailing a layout!

What follows is a basic introduction to a subject which is rapidly gaining popularity within the model railway fraternity, and that has been extensively covered by authors with far greater experience and expertise than myself, in a myriad of articles, books and DVD’s, all available off the shelf.

I will break down this “Dark Art” into several articles to try and dispel the myths and get you started on your road to achieving better looking models that won’t look like they’ve sprung straight from the injection moulding machine onto your layout!

The ultimate goal in weathering I suppose is to make model locos and rolling stock appear more realistic with the application of paints, dyes and powders to replicate real life dirt collected whilst the vehicle is in traffic, replicating the real thing as closely as is possible, but in miniature form.

Railway rolling stock collects dirt in many ways, via brake dust and other such dirt flicked up and collected during non-stop work routines, exhaust stains, oil and fuel leakages and effects on the paintwork as a result of the battering received from being exposed to the elements throughout the year.

There are many ways of replicating the dirt effects mentioned above, but for this exercise I will mainly focus on airbrushing, and using paintbrushes for effect.

I will also briefly touch upon bufferbeam detailing and what function each pipe and cable has on a loco and how these differ from class to class according to each loco’s intended usage.

Basic equipment (generally) required is as follows:

  • Air delivery system – this can be from a car tyre, propellant can, or domestic hobby compressor. From personal experience, I have found that a good quality compressor is ideally suited to the task, but compressors are expensive items, therefore, use whatever means available to match your budget. I currently use an Iwata “Studio” oil-less machine.

    Compressor:

    Compressor:

  • Airbrush – there are many varieties and types to suit every use and expenditure. I currently have an Iwata Eclipse airbrush with integral gravity fed cup. I have used budget models in the past and have achieved good results.
Paints and airbrush:

Paints and airbrush:

  • Hose to link compressor to airbrush – a good quality hose will last a lifetime if cared for. I always hang mine up so any condensate will drain via gravity ready for the next session. I always advocate the use of plumbers P.T.F.E (polytetrafluoroethylene) tape – the white tape found in pipework joints. This helps maintain a good seal around threads.
  • Moisture filter – compressors always create condensate (water vapour and droplets) via the compression process, which unless trapped and drained off, will get into the airstream and will cause “spurts” and will ruin your work. I invested in an Iwata pistol grip moisture filter which I can drain whilst carrying out work. My compressor also comes with a condensate trap which I drain at regular intervals. You will also find that the levels of moisture collection will increase dependent upon the time of year that you are spraying, this is due to the amount of moisture vapour contained in the air that you are compressing.

    Hand tools:

    Hand tools:

  • Paints – I tend to use enamels. These are oil based paints which require “Thinning” (adding a solvent) to thin the paint so it can be atomised via the airbrush. I use a variety of paints, ranging from Humbrol to Phoenix Precision items, I have also used Revell. I haven’t used Acrylics (water based) much, and have recently invested in some Acrylic primer and BR blue for a class 08 that I am respraying at the moment, details of which will follow! The main downside of using enamels, as everyone will tell you is their toxicity. They are harmful if breathed in or ingested, so always make sure that the area in which you work is extremely well ventilated, and away from naked flame. ALWAYS spray with a respirator or face mask to protect your respiratory system! It is no good having great looking models if you are not around to enjoy the fruits of your labour! Stay well away from Pets too!
  • Thinners – A lot of people use custom made modelling thinners, however I couldn’t afford the costs associated with these and changed to white spirits. I have not looked back since!
  • Respirator – see above
  • Hand tools – I have a variety of tweezers, drills, cocktail sticks, wire, snips, whatsits and doo-dahs – these are essential when detailing.
  • Glues – also essential when chopping, changing and detailing.
  • Lighting – Good lighting is essential for basically seeing what you are doing!

Finally, make sure you have a flat surface on which to work, somewhere comfortable, out of the way where all of the above come into play. I have a large pine kitchen table, and a drivers chair from 37705 which gives me a nice perch from which I can gain access to all of my tools, paints and accessories at a moment’s notice.

Next Time: Caring for your airbrush and getting started.

Don’t forget, if you have any questions you’d like to put to Trev, please post them in the comments below or drop him a line through his Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/dirtymodels

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3 Responses to A Simple Guide To Weathering For Railway Modellers – The basics.

  1. paul harratt says:

    That was interesting, I’m more of a Scalextric man myself.

    • Justin says:

      Trevs tips and techniques will work just fine for slot cars and indeed all models 🙂 He’ll be back very soon with details of how to weather your first model.

      • trev says:

        To be honest I would like to branch out into other areas, and would like to attempt some military modelling and even unkown territory for me such as slot cars!

        Im currently gathering materials for a diorama and want to do a large brick wall which will need ageing, and I’m looking forward to that!

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