Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fade Coat Weathering - How to

I can't take credit for this excellent fading technique, but I will explain in more detail about how I personally mix the fade "cocktail" and what materials I use.

For a simple white fade, I use about a marble sized amount of Liquitex brand acrylic paint.  Be sure to buy the "transparent" type of paint, and not the opaque.  I bought mine at a local Hobby Lobby store.  I am not an artist and don't know a lot about paint, other than the obvious water based vs oil based facts etc.  What I have observed is that this particular brand of paint has a transparent, translucent, and opaque, for just about every color hanging on the display.  If you choose to buy other colors to tint the mixture like I have done, the transparent labeling is very important.  The transparent property of the paint allows it to "fade" and "tint" the car, rather than "paint" or "cover" the car as an opaque paint might do.  Ok, I sound like I know what I'm talking about don't I?

I use a medium sized paint jar to mix the fade coat, and add roughly equal parts of Micro Flat and washer fluid to the jar.  I leave lots of air space in the jar so I can vigorously shake it to dissolve the thick acrylic paint.  It will look like 2% milk when ready to spray with your airbrush.  I mixed a batch too thin and it took many many coats to do a heavy fade.  It's best to experiment and get the right mixture for what you plan to do.  The reason the Micro Flat is added is to protect the coat that was just applied.  In the past I applied a diluted white paint with varying results, and would follow it up with Testors dullcoat.  Having the Micro Flat in the mix saves a step and avoids the fade from getting rubbed off or scratched during handling of the car.  I have played with the amount of Micro Flat in the mixture as well, and again depending on how you perform your own weathering, you may want more or less.  I find that I generally add a top coat of Testers dullcoat on the finished car after all weathering steps, or is a must if I plan to use oils or mineral spirits during the oil steps, to protect the layers beneath.  So in short, if the fade is the only weathering step, you may want more Micro Flat.  If the plan is to add additional weathering layers, you may not need as much Micro Flat in the mixture.

Here are 2 identical boxcars that I was working on tonight.  I applied graffiti to one of them, and safety striping to both.  The front car was given about 5 very light coats of the fade mixture.  I use a dual action airbrush which is great for this application.  Since the mixture is very thin and "watery", I like to make a spray pass over the car, and then blow some air from the brush to evaporate the liquid quicker.  This allows me to immediately go over the car with subsequent light coats all in one step.

There you have it.  This fading technique is very fool proof and difficult to mess up.  Really the only way I have found to mess this up is to spray too much at one time so that it begins to run.  In the past I have tried to thin Polly S reefer white acrylic, but found that it went on to grainy or splotchy.  With this fade coat, it really goes on super smooth.  Reminds me of that Keystone commercial: "Keith Stone, always smooth".

If you try to technique, please let me know how it works for you and share some results.

Monday, April 23, 2012

More Completed Weathering: CNW, BNSF, GVSR

Here are 3 more weathering attempts that I completed tonight.  They have been work in progress, and I put the final touches on them finally.  The CNW has a light fade followed by a hand painted burnt sienna oil.  The  BNSF has only a light dusting of chalks since it represents a fairly fresh repaint.  The Golden West Service boxcar was a project I had started awhile ago.  I applied a fade coat and grime coats with my airbrush, and just recently topped it off with some chalks.  The roof received a treatment of oils.

I also added a photo of the yard on Marias Pass, with several projects that I have completed in the past few months.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fade Experiment Continues - UP Centerbeam flatcar

I stated in an earlier post that after experimenting with my raw sienna fade mixture, I was going to try burnt sienna, and see if it gave me a slightly darker tint for all of the mineral red rollingstock that I have.  Using a very similar mixture, I tried fading a UP centerbeam flatcar.  I began applying the mixture directly to the factory paint, and noticed that it wasn't fading as fast I had hoped.  The tint was fine, but the car was still too dark.  I decided to fade with just white, and then use the tinted mixture as a top coat.  It makes sense since the two previous cars were both faded with white only before I began the color tinting experiments.  So I think what I am finding is that for a heavy fade, it's probably best to apply white first and then follow it with the color tinted mixture.  For a light application, I think the tinted mix could be applied directly to the new car.  Or, perhaps I could try to add some more white to the tinted mix.  I'll keep working on it.

I took this UP centerbeam a bit further than it probably needed, however, I find that the chalks and other weathering layers used after the fade tend to reduce the effect of the fade.

Another important note about Red Caboose centerbeams is that they ride plenty high on the trucks.  I took a dremel tool and ground down the bolster pad on the frame to lower the car slightly.  It isn't much, the the overall effect is noticeable.  I'll share some final shots once I get these projects completed.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Weathering Progress - Red Caboose BN Centerbeam

After experimenting with my raw sienna tinted fade mixture on an SP boxcar, I decided to try it on a Burlington Northern centerbeam flatcar.  I recently acquired several of these cars made by Red Caboose, which led to the development of my lumber load collection.  Like the SP boxcar, I had started to fade the BN centerbeam with a straight white fade mixture, but it was far from the yellowish fading that takes place on older green BN rollingstock.  It actually was beginning to turn to an evergreenish color.  I gave it a heavy top coating of the raw sienna mixture, and it began to look more appropriate.

I'll share some photos of the progress that I made with this car tonight.  I am far from done, but I completed the fade coat, then I got out my chalks and gave it a rubbing of reddish/brownish colors.  I sealed that with Testors dullcoat, and then started hand painting with oils, starting with burnt umber.  So this is really the first weathering try where I am using all of my current techniques.

In addition, I picked up some burnt sienna transparent acrylic today, and will try this in a mixture for mineral brown cars.  While I like the effect the raw sienna had on the SP boxcar, it is pretty yellow.  I'm not concerned, as I will be adding a lot of additional colors with chalks and oils, which will change the overall color quite a bit.  Burnt sienna is darker and should give it more of an orange tint.  I'll post some more photos as I make progress on that beast.  I have several other cars that are in progress and stacking up on the work bench.  I need some focused attention on these projects so I can finally wrap them up and put them into service.  As much as I love this hobby, I seem to only be able to scratch the surface of the projects that I would like to do.

Here is the BN centerbeam after a heavy fade coat of my raw sienna tint that I explained in my previous post.

After the fade coat, I brushed on some chalks to dirty the model.

Here is the car with some burnt umber applied by hand with a small brush.

Comparison photo of my weathering progress and a factory version of the same car.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Weathering Inspiration from "Caddyshack"

I have been using a fading technique in my weathering that I learned from Gary Hinshaw that involves a mixture of acrylic white transparent paint, flat clear, and washer fluid.  This has been a fool proof means of taking off the unrealistic sheen of plastic models, either lightly for newer rollingstock, or a heavy fade for rustbucket jobs. He took this approach even further and began adding in other colors to "tint" the brew for specific color applications.

Well, staying on the 86' boxcar path, I started to tackle my Southern Pacific version.  When I researched prototype photos, the chalky faded brown color just seemed to be a big ole doody on wheels rolling down the tracks.  Since many boxcars are mineral brown, I needed a good method to turn the factory paint into a faded, chalky brown.  I took a quick trip to the local craft store and bought a tube of raw sienna acrylic "transparent" paint.  For my mixture, I added equal parts of the white and raw sienna, added some microflat, and topped it off with washer fluid.  It has the consistency of 2% milk, or fat free if you prefer chocolate.

I had already given the SP version a heavy fade with just a white mix, and decided to try a top coating of the new mixture including the raw sienna.  I am quite pleased in how it fades the car, yet the raw sienna provides a nice brown tint, without covering the car.

I thought I would share some photos of my progress.  The first shot is the car with just the white fade that I did the other night.  The second shot is after the raw sienna mix.  It gives the car a much more realistic faded brown color than fading with straight white.  The third photo includes a CNA car as comparison which is close to the original SP car color.  I have a lot of work to do on this car still, but it is looking promising.  I am really appreciative of Gary sharing his techniques, which have offered me a great starting point to test.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

May/Jun 2012 N Scale Railroading

Part 4 of the Marias Pass project just arrived in the latest issue of N Scale Railroading.  I cover track and wiring in this article.  Congrats to Daryl Kruse for his Mississippi River project, and the cover shot.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Big Ugly's - Weathering 86' Boxcars

I recently discovered the 86' Auto Parts boxcar made by Trainworx although they have been on the market for a few years now.  I don't know why, but I have a particular interest in big rollingstock, and the 86' boxcar is anything but average in size.  After doing some research I decided to acquire an SP version, UP "Building America" version, and an SSW Cotton Belt version.  I wanted to try varying levels of weathering on each, and had decided that the Cotton Belt could be a personal weathering challenge for myself.  Once you see the level of "rustbucketness" I applied to SSW 65034, and compare it to any similar Cotton Belt still rolling on the rails today, you will understand what I mean.

One other thing of note before I explain my weathering technique is that these cars come ready to run with body mounted MT couplers.  While I was surprised to see this and concerned about the length of the car, it operates flawlessly on my 15" mainline curves, even when coupled to shorter rollingstock.

Here is the SP version which I will begin soon.  It will get a heavy fade and lots of rust.  The UP version (not pictured) is a fairly fresh repaint and will get a light fade only.  It already has the safety striping which is a plus.  

Here is the SSW Cotton Belt boxcar right out of the package.  Even when it was new, it was an ugly beast in my opinion.  

The first thing I did was take off some lettering with a small piece of sand paper.  A nail file works well for this too.  I roughed up the large "SP" to match the wear and bleeding of the white seen on the prototype today. 

I used a very heavy fade on this car to dull the red paint.  It turned the car pink, but that will be corrected in later steps.  Next I added some brown and rust colored chalks to the grey stripes.  I was hoping that the grey was painted on top of the red, but it is not.  If it was, I would have rubbed away some of the grey color to expose the red below.  On the prototype, the grey gets worn and thin, letting the red show through underneath.  Instead I used chalk to replicate this.

After a coat of Testors dullcoat, I painted the entire car with slight thinned burnt sienna oil.  I rubbed the excess color off using a q-tip and small paper towel pieces.  The color is starting to look correct now.  Let the body sit for a day or so before moving on.

Here is the finished car after applying burnt umber over the previous step.  I'm not yet finished with this car, but this is about 95% complete.  I added safety stripes, painted the brake wheel platforms silver, and painted the trucks with Polly S grimy black followed by some chalks.  The other side still needs safety stripes as you will see in later photos.

Overall I'm happy with how it turned out.  I don't want all of my rollingstock to look like this, but having a few crusty pieces in the mix is always good.  It makes for a more authentic fleet.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Weathering with Pastel Chalks

I acquired a hefty HO scale collection from my cousins several months ago, and included in the boxes of stuff were two sets of weathering chalks.  I have never owned any weathering chalks, and hadn't given chalks too much consideration until recently when I began working on some weathering projects.  I was looking for a way to give some newer rollingstock a light and subtle coat of grime, without going overboard like I tend to do when working with acrylics and oils.  I remembered these sets of chalks, found the box that they were stored in, and decided to give them a try.  I simply used a soft bristled paint brush, and rubbed it over the stick of chalk to pick up some color and lightly dusted the plastic model.  This was after a light fade coat using an airbrush.

I was very impressed how well the chalks worked, and they gave me exactly the light weathering that I was looking for.  The weathering victims this time were a pair of LBF hi-cube boxcars.  I feel like I am well equipped now for my future weathering projects, using an airbrush, acrylics, oils, and now chalks.

My weathering steps were:

  • Graffiti
  • Fade coat using an airbrush (includes flat clear to seal during this step)
  • Dusting of chalks using brown, red, and black.
  • Dullcoat
  • Safety Stripes
  • Chalk touch-ups
  • Dullcoat
  • Trucks received a mix of Polly S rust and grimy black.
  • Fox Valley Models 36" medal wheelsets.

I don't know anything about this brand of pastel chalk (Alphacolor by Weber Costello), but it seems to work very well for light weathering applications.  I only used the top 3 colors so far, and just a touch of the orange on the TBOX black doors.  I haven't used the set of grey's yet.

Here are the completed models in front of a BNSF prototype photo that I was using for reference.

This is a photo of the TBOX body prior to any weathering steps.

Here is the BNSF body with only graffiti decals applied.  The difference between the shiny out-of-the-box model and the completed weathered version is significant.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

N Scale Union Pacific Piggy Packers

Wheels of Time recently made available their piggy packer model in N scale.  I acquired two Union Pacific versions for a future intermodal yard (hopefully).  The detail is fantastic, and this model features movable components to allow you to stage a scene however you would like.  These along with a Mi-Jack crane or two will make a very nice intermodal scene.

This model is pricey, but the detail is well done.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Next Weathering Victim: SSW (Cotton Belt) Boxcar

I just completed another weathered boxcar.  This time it was a Fox Valley Models FMC 5283 double door boxcar lettered for SSW Cotton Belt.

Here's the treatment that this boxcar received:

  • Fade Coat
  • Burnt Sienna Oil
  • Burnt Umber Oil
  • Graffiti
  • Yellow Safety Stripes
  • Polly S Rust/Grimy Black mixture on Trucks + 33" FVM medal wheelsets