Re: Weathering freight cars

Jim Betz


When I got into model railroading (in the 80's, what I did as
a child was "play with trains") one of my first projects was to
try to create some GN FAs. I started with an HO shell and
was going to super detail it ... but wanted "see thru" fan
grills in the rear. I spent a couple of days opening up the
space between each of the blades grill - by first cutting thru
and then using the back of an Xacto to scrape them and
finally sanding to 'perfection'.
I was really proud of, and happy with the results ... so I
took them to work to show them to a model railroading
buddy of mine. I took it in and showed him and got the
praise I expected ... then took it back out to the car and
set it on the floor of the car where they wouldn't get
any sun (dash and doors keeping them in shade - and in
an Athearn blue box.
Came back out at noon to go to lunch. Opened the box
to discover that the shell had "wilted" due to the heat in
the car (this was in San Jose in November and was not a
hot day).

It was years before I finally was able to do an FA project.

One of the LHS had some Athearn Daylight cars in the
window for -years- and the boxes they were sitting on and
the models themselves did fade (morning sun only and
the window display was 'protected' by the air conditioning
in the store ... and the models still 'melted'.


Sunlight may be the same "fading agent" as what causes
those colors on the prototype ... but it just isn't feasible for
our models. It takes too long - and almost always attacks
the plastic and deforming the shapes before the fading is
even noticeable.
Furthermore - the result isn't really "right".


I have experimented with many, many different "weathering
agents" over the years - trying to get that "faded paint" look
that I think your son wants to do.
Vinegar, commercial stuff, acetic acid, lacquer thinner, bleach,
very thin acrylic washes, detergents, thinned out battery acid,
even some of my wife's hair products. I have never even
gotten close to the look of "paint that has oxidized due to
time". I have also discovered that "what works for one
model" (attacks the paint in any way similar to fading) does
not work for the next one (different paint formulas!).

When I say "never even gotten close" I'm talking about
not even usable. Most of my experiments have been done
on box cars and other such "expendable" models ... and I'm
really, REALLY glad I didn't use a model that I'd have to
strip and start over.


Some guys seem to have done "fairly well" with thin
acrylic washes that are "just a few shades off of the
color of the paint they are trying to fade" ... I have not
been able to do that. And those guys I'm talking about -
don't do it on "lots of models" ... one or two and then
they go back to "regular" weathering.


BTW - a guy I used to hang out with tried starting
out with a "faded" color ... actually painting the model
in "faded" paint. His color was acceptable ... but the
model wasn't "successful" ... and he didn't do any
others. He also said that guys who should know - would
tell him that he "hadn't painted the model the "correct"
color" ... *G*
- Jim Betz

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