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Craftsman Boomer Trail - August 2010


Don Smith's expert treatment of this Atlas O Santa Fe boxcar makes us feel like we should probably go get that tetanus booster shot, just to be safe. Don is a member of an informal group known as The Weathering Shop who gather to display and discuss their techniques for creating realistic weathering techniques for models. Photo by Don Smith

A visit to The Weathering Shop

by Jeremy St. Peter /photos as noted

Railroads work in a dirty, dusty, greasy, rusty environment. Unique challenges come from replicating the effects of weather and age on railroad equipment. The Weathering Shop came into being in January 2010 when several model railroaders with a common interest in getting "down and dirty" came together to share their work and techniques. The idea behind the site is to give modelers a place to show, sell and speak about their weathering artistry. The work on the site includes rolling stock, locomotives, dioramas, structures and military armor in various scales. Right now "The Shop" consists of six members, myself, Gary Christensen, Jered Slusser, Rod Reilly, Rodney Walker and Don Smith.

Anyone can be a member of The Weathering Shop, the only requirement is a passion to create top notch realistic weathering. The main purpose of the site is to be an online gallery for some terrific artwork, but we also have a page where we detail some of our techniques as well. We also have a an area for folks to purchase some of our work if they like. Check out our blog called "The Rustbucket" where anyone can ask questions or to post comments about weathering techniques.

Please enjoy the following gallery of some of our recent work, along with descriptions provided by the modelers. If you like what you see, please stop by The Weathering Shop and say hello!


RBOX 43892: This Pullman-Standard boxcar started out as an Athearn ready-to-run HO scale model that came right on the money as far as accurate to prototype detail. I first shot the car with a liberal misting of Testors Dullcote from the spray can to give it tooth and next I used a mix of colored pastels that I shaved into powder into a small basin with a razor blade. I brushed on light amounts of the brown pastel to achieve the golden color of a well-worn Railbox car. I sealed the application of this with another misting of Dullcote. After this had dried, I applied scratches and dings and rust pits with a fine-haired artists brush and acrylic paint, then applied a small scale drybrushing of oil paint around the scratches and dings to represent actual rust bleed outs. After every stage in weathering to this car, I applied Dullcote to seal the work accomplished.

Next came the ghost lettering that is common on many older Pullman-Standard Railbox cars that are still in service today. This was simply executed by hand brushing an antique yellow acrylic over the Railbox logo. Same with the "bent arrow" heralds and the "Next Load..." lettering. This car was modeled from a real prototype photo that was taken by Mitch Reed of Ohio. I replicated the exact same graffiti tags that are on the prototype on my model. This was achieved by hand painting from left to right on the the lower car body, exactly what is on the real car. A light wash of a diluted charcoal gray and mocha brown acrylic mix was the final touch before adding the airhoses, cut levers and undercarriage brake rigging. One last sealing with Dullcote completed the job. This was a challenging but fun car to replicate in 1:87! Photo and model by Gary Christensen


PLMX 2840: This 33,000 gal tank car was another ready-to-run HO scale model that is really well detailed from the Atlas assembly line. It came out of box in a simple all-black paint scheme with crisp proto-perfect lettering and disclaimers. This was a real beauty of a car to put the weathering to. I began with a healthy misting of Dullcote from the spray can. I was trying to replicate the kind of "paint-to-primer" fading that can be seen on many tank cars that have been on the rails a couple decades. To achieve this look was not only difficult, but time consuming as it took over 8 layers of highly diluted acrylic "off white" paint to bring about the correct fade. I applied brush strokes at the color transition to give the effect of paint worn down to the white primer. When I was content with this effect, I sealed it with Dullcote. After this had dried, I applied burnt sienna oil paint to represent rust forming along the topside tank seams that would eventually spillover and streak down the sides of the car's cylindrical body. I used a gloss black enamel that I purposely "curdled" to replicate thick oil spillage below the fillcap that leaked under the manway to continue down the side of the car. When I liked the appearence of this, I sealed the car again with Dullcote. The car ends received their share of grime wash consisting of acrylic paint. I then added cut levers, airhoses, and the like to superdetail this car. The stock Atlas trucks and wheelsets were weathered with oil paint, acrylic and pastel powder. Photo and model by Gary Christensen


ALY 91738: This car started out as an Atlas Trainman model, which was re-detailed to match the prototype cars Allegheny Railroad has in steel plate service. Upgrades include etched metal coupler platforms, corrected grabs, ladders, and bulkheads, and new brake lines and air hoses. The car was weathered in layers starting by painting the deck a dark brown and then carefully masking during the painting of the actual car color. Before decaling, the car was then faded down to a more sun-bleached red. After application of the decals, additional layers of grime and washes were applied, with AIM weathering powders rounding out the final textures and tones. Photo and model by Jered Slusser


NP 75777: The old Proto 2000 kits are some of my favorites. There's something oddly therapeutic about assembling them. The real advantage to assembling a kit is that you can weather the parts before you put it together, allowing access to places that otherwise might be difficult. In this case, the slope sheets, roof surface, and interior of the end cages were all weathered as sub-assemblies before finally putting the entire car together. Showing a plethora of streaks, scrapes, and stains, this car was distressed before the final weathering was applied. Everything from airbrushing to oil paints was used to highlight the age of the car... Old enough to be unique and noticeable, but not quite modern enough to have reflective safety stripes and gobs of graffiti. Photo and model by Jered Slusser


1954 IHC R-190 Snow Plow in Pennsy Livery: The truck cab and chassis are from Classic Metal Works I kept the paint and lettering on the truck stock, but added a Life-Like dump bed instead of the fifth wheel that came with the model. The snow plow is a Roco product, but the frame work just above the truck bumper, and the side plow hardware and frame are all scratchbuilt. The model was sprayed with Dulcote. Then an oil paint and turpenoid wash was applied overall. That was followed by Rustall and MIG pigments applied to create a rusty appearance. Lastly a Pentalic woodless pencil was used to make the appearance of bare metal in the high use areas. Woodland Scenics rock and a brass driver wheel were added as ballast in the dump bed. Mirrors, mud flaps, dump bed headers, horn, safety beacon and other small details were also added to finish off the truck. Photos and models by Rod Reilly


1949 Ford F-8 Seven Brothers Farm Tractor Trailer: When I model 1:87 HO scale vehicles I like the challenge of taking toy-like trucks and adding detail and weathering to make them more realistic. I started with the cab of a Ford F-8 flatbed from Imex models then kitbashed the cab on the chassis of a CMW R-190, keeping the CMW wheel set. The trailer is a Roco U.S. Army trailer that that has been shortened about a third to fit the tractor size better. The trailer was painted, then decaled for the fictional 7 Brothers family farm. The trailer has molded wooden slats, so I softened the decals with setting solution, then picked at them with a hobby knife to make them look old and worn on the wood surface. All other paint and details were added, then the model was sealed with Dulcote. Various washes of oil paint and turpenoid were applied. Then I worked Rustall and MIG pigments into the most heavily weathered areas. I wanted the trailer to look like it was filled with leftover junk from last years' season, so I raided my spares box for parts and pieces. Photos and model by Rod Reilly



ST&LH 5448: To replicate this unique Canadian Pacific unit (lettered for subsidiary St. Lawrence & Hudson), a Kato SD40-2 undecorated model was my choice along with many commercially available detail parts. My goal was to employ painting and weathering techniques found on many military models, and to add delicate prototype detail below the walkway which is usually ignored in HO scale. Part of the charm of this model is the mismatched numberboards and cobbled together primer paint job with corporate logos and lettering. Shadows and highlights are forced and enhanced using a painting process called color modulation. The method is popular with military armor modelers, and is based upon layering successive shades of color to simulate depth using contrasting lights and darks keyed to how the real thing would appear under a natural light source. The grimy weathering effects were achieved with the usual artists oils, gouache and pigments. Photos and model by Rodney Walker


ATSF 37586: I started with a Santa Fe Berwick-built boxcar from Atlas O. First I dulled and faded the car with washes made from Model Master flat finish mixed with white acrylic paint. This one was done to match a prototype which was especially grimy, so I next mixed up a wash made from black acrylic paint and flat finish. After bathing the car in it a section at a time, I wiped off the excess with damp Q-tips allowing it to settle in all of the cracks. Next I took a heavy body burnt umber artist's acrylic paintand did lots of rust accents around the edges of just about every side and end surface of the car as well as the logo. The next step was to blend those in with a diluted lighter shade of rust mixed up with burnt sienna and umber. Next I began work on a faded but clean steel roof. I used a combination of heavy body burnt umber for darker rust and lighter burnt sienna to create the illusion of older and newer rust growing together over a bare metal surface. The key is your use of water to dilute the paint right on your brush as you apply. Try wetting only part of the brush to get interesting effects. The last step was to paint in some grime lines on the roof and call it done! Photo and model by Don Smith



GATX 26585: Here is an O scale three-dome tank car from Overland Models. First I dulled and faded the car with washes made from Model Master flat finish mixed with white acrylic paint. The rusting was done with a variety of shades of burnt umber artists acrylics applied with a brush. The paint is diluted on the palette giving different shades. The grime is also applied with a brush and is a mixture of acrylic black paint and flat finish. The flat finish provides a great vehicle to allow the color to be applied with transparency as opposed to just diluting the black paint. The bottom was airbrushed with a diluted mixture of rail brown and water. I also applied highlighs with a mixture of black and flat finish.
The trucks are finished with a mixture of several Bragdon Weathering Powders rust colors applied over an ultra flat surface. Photo and model by Don Smith


SM 4202: This model of an old St. Mary's Railroad shortline boxcar started life as an Atlas Trainman series car. This was the third weathered car I ever attempted and it was probably my favorite project to date. I used a rusty old freezer that the previous inhabitants of my home left behind as inspiration for the rusted white. Since I try to weather from the perspective of someone standing at ground level and looking up at my cars, I weathered much of this car upside down in order to get the paint into the bottom part of the details on the car. I used many of the techniques I developed for realistic weathering effects in my later IATR boxcar project (seen below). Photo and model by Jeremy St. Peter


IATR 13146: I described this project in detail in the October 2009 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. This car started life as an Athearn ready-to-roll double plug door boxcar. I faded the car from the original Grand Trunk Western blue by using titanium white artists oil paint and dry brushing it on with a wide brush. I then applied a layer of Dullcote and got down to the weathering. I attacked the car with with raw sienna, burnt sienna and raw umber artist oil paints. The reporting marks were patched and restenciled for Iowa Traction (IATR). Details on this car include a fully custom underframe, Proto 2000 trucks, Intermountain wheels, cut levers, kitbashed side and end ladders and coupler platforms. The car also features Kadee #158 scale couplers. Over all, this car took me almost three years to complete! Not three years of continuous work mind you, because life has a funny way of interrupting even your favorite, most time consuming and exciting projects. I’d say that I have at least 50-60 hours in this car and I think a lot of that has to do with most of it being a learning experience. I had never attempted anything on this scale as far as detailing or weathering and it just shows what can be done when you take your time and enjoy the ride. Photo and model by Jeremy St. Peter


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