Weathered NKP gondolas

Eric Hansmann

A couple HO scale gondolas have been moving through construction stages. Both went through the weathering factory in the last week. The models follow Nickel Plate Road wood gondolas built in the early Teens and were the backbone of the NKP gondola fleet into the 1930s. They have steel centersills and eight truss rods. The one-piece bodies were designed and cast by Dave Campbell. He also did the decal art. Grabs, sill steps, brake hardware, need beams, queen posts, truss rods, turnbuckles, weight, floor, trucks, and couplers were separate items.


I model 1926 and wanted these to look weary. Based upon the few prototype images, these gondolas hauled for many different loads and were rarely in pristine condition. The cars were primed then painted with Vallejo Dark Rubber from the Panzer Aces line. The interiors were brush painted with Vallejo burnt umber. My finishing process follows these steps.


Prime > paint > gloss (Future) > decal > gloss > flat (tinted with car color) > weathering


I usually apply a wash to start the weathering layers, but decided to use Pan Pastels and color pencils. A couple shades of cool grey pencils were used to lighten individual interior boards. A cool grey 10% pencil was used to simulate streaking under the larger lettering.


Pan Pastel raw umber (780.5) Pan Pastel was daubed onto the panel surfaces then rubbed into place. Downward motions pulled excess material toward the sill.


Pan Pastel neutral grey extra dark (820.1) is my go-to soot color. It was streaked into exterior surfaces with a micro brush. A triangular sponge was used to apply it to interior surfaces and push the material into corners.


I tried something different on NKP 4385. I used a micro brush to apply neutral grey (820.5) along a couple exterior boards to convey paint failure. I also accentuated the lettering fade with the same material. I traced over the reporting marks with the cool grey 10% pencil.


Lastly, I used the cool grey 10% pencil to add a few chalk marks and to highlight corners and details.


I had covered the repack and weigh stencils with Tamiya tape before the weathering process on NKP 7985. When I removed the tape, a couple of decals came with it. I have extras on the decal sheet that need to be installed. Both cars also need air hoses and I’m finishing up the deck for NKP 4385. Both cars will have route cards and a few route card remnants applied.


I rarely see fresh looking freight cars in 1920s photos. There is a faded appearance to almost all cars. Lettering takes a hit on many cars as it is fading away or covered by dirt and soot. I have several images where the only legible lettering is the weigh data. Cars built within a couple years of my 1926 focus will receive lighter weathering but everything will have a weathered appearance.



Eric Hansmann

Murfreesboro, TN

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