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Clinic - If It Ain't Dirty...It Ain't Done Pt 1

Things to consider when starting a project.

  A)     Rolling Stock.
1. What does the car haul?
2. Where does it haul it?
  B)  All kinds of things coat, cover, stick to, land on and are spilled on rolling stock.
1. These cause the 5 Keys to good weathering:  Grease, Grime, Rust, Dust & Mud.

How do you do it?

  A)     Supplies
1.  Pastel Chalks (Grays & Blacks, Oranges & Browns)

Paint  (I like Floquil.  Acrylics don�t cover to well yet but they great for weathering.

3. Thinner  (I use Lacquer Thinner.  You can buy it by the gallon.  It is much cheaper and works as good as Dio-sol.  For Acrylics, use Distilled water.  The additives in tap water can effect the color of the paint.
4. Paint brushes - fine points, standard, and fan brushes.
5. Dirt.  The same that you use on the rest of your layout.
6. Airbrush.  Not a must but the effects are much better and most of the tips in this clinic will use one.
7. Dull Coat.  I like Testors.  It�s easy to find and cheap.
  B)     Misting.
1. By thinning the paint and dropping the air pressure on the airbrush you can get a cloudy effect.  The idea is to go over the area once, twice at the most.
  C)     Dry Brushing.
1. Dip just the tip of the brushes bristles in the paint.  Wipe most of the paint off on a rag.  Then apply the brush to the model.  This will produce a streaked effect.
  D)     Stain.
1. One of the most universal tools is a stain made with one jar of Rubbing Alcohol and 1 teaspoon of India Ink.  This stain is applied to EVERYTHING!!  It will create shadows on objects and makes the details stand out.  I also have a second jar that has 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of ink for darker stains.
  E)     Pastel Chalks.
1. To apply chalks, you rub some off of the brick and apply with a dry paint brush.
2. These add a nice effect, but there is a problem.  They have to be sealed with dull coat.  This usually blows most of the chalk off of the model.  You must either back way off the model (so the dull coat is almost dry when it lands and the pressure isn�t very high) or you must OVER DO the chalks and let the sealer tone down the effects. 
  F)     Rust All. 
1. This is a 4 step process of paint, stain, dirt, and sealer.  I often use only the first 2 parts that consists of a rust color paint and black stain.
  G)     Dirt.
1. Nothing beats plain dirt.  This can be added like chalks. You can use other colors of  dirt or chalks to represent other sources of dirt.  (i.e.: cars that have come from interchange traffic or other parts of the railroad.
  H)     Sealing.
1. Any clear FLAT paint.  Unless you are working on some passenger equipment the paints will be flat.  All weathered surfaces should have a flat appearance.

Rolling Stock.

A)     General weather principles for all rolling stock.
1. Freight cars are DIRTY!!!!!!!   Freight cars are beat up, banged up, rusty, muddy�This is where the 5 keys come into play.  You can use Grease, Grime, Dust, Rust and Mud to do most of the weathering.  Other things to keep in mind are faded lettering and soot.
2. Passenger Cars are, usually, pretty well cleaned up.  They are cleaned both inside and out.  Nobody wants a customer climbing into a filthy coach.
B)     Under Carriages.
1. The bottom of any car will have elements of the 5 keys.  Trucks and Couplers are a part of this as well.  Again, with passenger coaches being cleaner the trucks are not as dirty as freight trucks.  Passenger trucks are often painted to keep them from rusting. 


To achieve the effects of the 5 keys, I usually prefer to use paint for the most part.  You don�t quite get the coverage or color with most chalks.  With the car apart, spray the underside with whatever color is correct or the color you want.  Then mist a coat of Grime.  Mud is often kicked up onto the bottom of the car - usually around the trucks.  I used a couple of different methods for this.  You can dry brush or you can dip a brush into the paint jar, wiping off the extra on the side of the jar. Then aim the edge of the brush at the model, and drag your finger across the brush.  This will send paint flying onto the model�..and everything else.  Please remember to cover your work surface and anything else you don�t want to be �Muddy�.  I then use RustAll to rust any �metal� parts (ie around trucks, couplers, brake gear).  Next go over it with a mist of Grimy Black on any part that would move on a real box car.  After the paint has dried, rub dirt into the part, or mist on a very thin coat of Dust.

C)     Bodies  (Sides, Ends, and Roofs).    
1. The lettering will look faded on any car that has been in service for a while.
2. The 5 keys apply here as well.  On tankers and covered hoppers, you will have spills around the top which will often run down the side.


For the sides and tops of a car, the first step is to make the lettering look faded.  This is achieved by misting a thin coat of paint that is the same color as the car�s base color.  So if the car is Red Oxide then mist Red Oxide over the lettering.  The color does not have to be a perfect match, but it is important to get it as close as you can.  Then I add some rust, usually by dry brushing.  Remember anything on a vertical surface that streaks or runs will do so up and down due to gravity.  Chalks also work well for this.  You will want to add something to represent dirt around the bottom of the car.  This can be done with Dirt or chalks.  It can also be done with the airbrush.  Remember to use up-strokes so it looks like the wheels have kicked up dirt.  If it�s a wooden boxcar or a new 60 footer it�s going to rust.  Rust any metal supports and parts on the older wooden cars and the entire side of the metal cars if you wish.  Rust colored paint can also be thinned and misted onto the sides.  Stock cars will also have a white-ish stain around the bottom of the car.  The lime placed on the cars floors causes this.  If the car is a double deck car (For Sheep and Pigs) you may want to have this stain start at the bottom of the top deck and continue down the side of the car.  For this, you can thin white paint, or you can use chalks.  The roof, or top of the car will have soot of some sort regardless of which kind of motive power you use.  It is heavier on steam era cars.  Cinders and soot can be done with chalks or the airbrush. Take a bottle of Grimy Black and use it full strength.  You will have to add some air pressure to pull the thick paint out of the jar.  Back away from your model and spray.  The idea is that you want the paint to be almost dry when it lands. Remember to rust any metal parts like break wheels and stove pipes (on passenger coaches and cabooses).  You will want to add the rust before the soot.  Once the car is weathered to your liking you will need to seal it with a dull clear coat.



A)     Steam Engines
1. These are the dirtiest of all railroad equipment because they create it.
2. Soot, especially on engines that are coal or wood fired, is EVERYWHERE.
A)  Newton�s Law.  What goes up must come down!  Sides of smoke boxes and boilers are filthy.  These will streak down.
B)  The water that produces the steam will leave behind calcium deposits.  These will build up around pipes and fittings.  These, like rust, will also run down following seems, joints, and pipes.  Providing that the engine is in constant use and sees very little shop time.  Most lines kept a fine eye on their engines...most of the time.  This effect is more useful if you are modeling little backwoods railroads where maintenance wasn't as important as moving freight.
C)  Coal is dusty!  Its dust will be all over most of the tender and the cab.
D)  The 5 keys apply here too.
B)     Diesel Engines.
1. Exhaust stains.
2. Fuel spills.
3. And as always...the 5 Keys.


Like weathering a boxcar you use the same principles.  Cinders and soot are put in place as before.  The calcium deposits on leaky fittings can be created with chalks.  When making an old stain that has run down to a joint, seem or pipe you can first dip a small brush in water.  Place a drop of water on the model and let it, or help it, run where you wish.  Dry off the brush then dip just the tip of the brush into a jar of white acrylic paint.  At the highest point of the water you just put on the model touch the white paint to the water.  The paint will then mix with the water and run down.  This will dry and leave a nice thin white stain that has run just like the real things.  Coal dust should be heavy around the cab, tender floor, and around the front part of the tender. Remember, tenders tend to overflow and spill when they are being filled.  This will wash the coal dust off and cause rust.  Again, the 5 keys apply.  Faded lettering also applies.  Most steam engines where black with white lettering.  Either by dry brushing or with chalks you can create the illusion of the paint washing off and down the side. Using the same color as the lettering dry brush down the side starting at the top of the letters.  On diesels you will also use the 5 keys, faded lettering, a small spill on the fuel tanks, and exhaust stains on the top of the engine.  The spill can be done with chalks.  The exhaust stains can be done with an airbrush.  By using full strength paint, adding more air pressure, and backing away from the model it will create a unique effect.  The reason is that the paint falls onto the model.  It is also dry when it hits.



A)     Mother Nature�s Effects.
1. Rain will cause several stains to any building.  It will cause stains where the rain runs down the roof and walls.  It will also cause a dirty/muddy stain around the base of most buildings (Unless surrounded by concrete).
2. Any exposed metal will have rust.
3. You can�t go wrong with Dust and Grime.  Both will age any structure and should be misted over the entire structure unless you are trying to achieve a special effect.  
4. The black stain, again, for the details.
5. Use the dry brush technique or an airbrush to fade and weather signs.
B)     Man�s Effects.    
1. Soot stains should be added to buildings that are close to the tracks.


The alcohol stain is wonderful for making water stains on any surface.  I use the light stain for the general weathering and for details.  For water stains, I like to use the darker stain.  If the stain is a little too dark you can dry brush over the stain with the same color as the wall.  For the dirt around the base of the building you can use the real dirt or chalks.  Start at the bottom of the building and pull the chalk up the side.  You don�t want to go very high.  Remember, this is representing dirt that has been kicked up by rain.  It shouldn�t go much over 2 - 2 1/2 scale feet.  Rust any exposed metal.  On older buildings use a general misted top coat of grime and or dust.  This will add age to the building and give it character.  On buildings with a painted surface you can make the paint look like it is peeling.  There are several methods to doing this.  My personal favorite is the dry brush.  If you are working on a house and you want it to look old, the walls first need to be painted a light gray color.  Then dry brush the paint color over the gray.  The gray will look like the wood has been exposed to the elements.  Follow that with the stain and you have it.



A)     Quick Notes.
1. The alcohol stain applies to everything here as well.  People, sidewalks, and vehicles�the effect you can get from this alone is dramatic.
2. Cars leave oil on the streets.
3. All the junk and detail parts that are tossed about need to be weathered as well.   Take into consideration what the detail part is and where it is.  What will it be exposed to.


For oil stains on the streets nothing beats chalks.  You can brush the stuff up and down the road.  It is easy to correct mistakes.  
Always keep the 5 keys in mind.

I have recently started using a weather technique that I read about in the Jul/Aug 1982 Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette. In the article written by Keith Brown he talks about a scratching method to weathering. This is used mostly with styrene molds. First he adds the �wood grain� and other details to the styrene with Exacto knives and Files. Next he paints the model with successive coats of paint that are mixed 50/50with thinner and allowed to bleed through. Between each coat of paint he using a scratching process with a tool called a fiberglass eraser. It looks like a large mechanical pencil with a rod of fiberglass in it. This is �scratched� along the model to expose the color below. 

For freight cars as an example you start with a base coat of paint is Grey Primer followed by Roof Brown, Depot Buff, Grimy Black And lastly by what ever version of box car red you use.   For any other type of car or structure you simply substitute the box car red coat for what ever color you choose. 

I have found that this creates a great effect but you want to be careful about your hands and your work surface. This will leave small strands of fiberglass around and will have to be carefully cleaned. The eraser tool that I bought came from PBL (The Sn3 people) Micro Mark also has this tool available from their catalog. Mine also came with a brass brush that you can load into it that is handy for cleaning locomotive wheels as well as the scratching method of weather.

PBL also makes a wonderful product called Neolube.  If you model steam you need this product.  You paint this onto your drive rods and tire edges.  It will turn them a good looking dark gray color and it works as a lube for the rods.

Weathering is a handy tool to age and dirty up your little world.  It's also handy for hiding blemishes.  You can't really make a mistake.

If you find model railroading to be a frustrating experience just remember...The problem is only 1/87th scale...and that isn't very big at all.

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