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Beginners Guide to Weathering Model Trains : Airbrush Preparation

Having briefly described the preparation process for basic detailing and weathering in my previous entries, I am now going to run through how I approach the process of replicating dirt and grime.

There have been a plethora of articles written, and DVD’s made by some extremely talented weathering experts, which cover all aspects of weathering for steam, diesel and electric traction.

I will try and not cover the same ground as these articles, but seeing as the approach and application is similar, there may be some cross pollination.

As I have mentioned previously, with weathering being such a diverse subject, covering so many different methods of application, I will cover the one that I use personally and that is the use of the airbrush in conjunction with enamel paints.

I am in no way knocking the use of other weathering methods such as dry brushing, washes, the ‘removal method’ and the use of weathering powders as these too provide fantastic representation; some of which I will cover in future write ups.

Items required for basic airbrush weathering work are as follows:

  • Respiratory protection (face mask)
  • Compressor (or propellant)
  • Airbrush
  • Hose connecting the compressor to the airbrush
  • Moisture filter
  • Paint – for this process I will be using enamels, from Phoenix Precision, and the ever faithful
  • Revell and Humbrol ranges.
  • Thinning agent – I use whit spirit, but proprietary thinners work just as well.
  • Paintbrushes (flat, thin, pointed etc.) – required for achieving various effects
  • Cotton buds – for removing paint and creating effects
  • Tack cloth (for removing fingerprints from your model prior to starting)

image001Not all of the above are absolutely essential, but make life easier when carrying out the preparation, mixing and final spraying process

Before starting, ensure you are in a well ventilated area – open windows, doors etc, go outside, or if you are privileged like me, make use of your spray booth and extract system. (This is one of the benefits of being a Building Services Engineer!)

Ensure there are no naked flames in the vicinity – put out that cigarette! Atomised high pressure thinners and heat sources don’t mix too well! Keep kids and pets away. This ensures that little Brian/ Tiddles/ or Rover is safe and does not inhale atomised thinners, or becomes a lovely shade of track dirt!

Keeping pets away will ensure hair will be away from your work, as the last thing you want is having created a masterpiece, you get a large hair on your work making the last few hours a wasted exercise……..!

Generally work in an isolated area, be methodical and safe and have fun!

Right then, on with what I like to call “The Dirtification Process”!

The application and appearance of dirt on rail vehicles is truly bespoke and is entirely dependant on type, use, paint scheme and ultimately age.

This write-up covers my approach to providing basic weathering the Hornby 00 gauge Loadhaul Class 56 that my previous articles have followed up to now.

Step one: Clean the airbrush.

I always clean the airbrush before starting, and this will include the removal and cleaning of the needle, the trigger and the discharge nozzle.

I always lubricate the needle upon replacement and tend to pass half a cupfull of thinners through the brush, sprayed into an old cloth.

Airbrush cleanliness is of the utmost importance. An airbrush will clog during a session – maybe a few times, and repeated maintenance is essential for good results.

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