Transform Your Model Railroad Layout by Weathering

It seems almost savage to spend money on the best railroad stock and scenery and then make it look aged and well used by just making “dirty”. It is no good just doing the locomotives and rolling stock and not the scenery or the other way around because it will not look authentic and after all that is what we are trying to achieve here.

Go to your hobby shop and ask for some Weathering chalk, or you can simply buy colored chalk probably from the same shop. Now comes the fun bit.

You need to create several shades of chalk dust and to do this just get some course sandpaper and make separate piles of dust of a single colour. Then simply mix them together to get the desired color and brush it onto you models as you see fit. Do not use the same colour for everything because it will look contrived. When you are happy with what you have done spray dull-coat onto the chalk dust to anchor it.

You can weather, or age products, but they are not as much fun. They are quicker though and do contain a built in fixer instead of using dull-coat.

One of the advantages of using ready-made aging product is the vast array of colors that will immediately meet your requirements. Colors you’ll use most of, such as black, burnt sienna, and rust are ready to use and actually are quite difficult to mix consistently for yourself.

So there you have it, you have just started the process of making your trains and rolling stock look authentic so now is the time for the aging of the scenery.

So how does it run?

By the time a real train with 30 carriages or trucks have traveled a thousand miles, the locomotive and the rolling stock are going to be dusty at the very least, but they still run well. So don’t get the idea that your locomotive performance it to be compromised. Make sure that all the running gear, like wheels, couplings and pistons are clean.

It is not just the loco and rolling stock that needs attention but the scenery as well and arguably this represents a greater challenge. The same techniques are used but you need to consider the seasons if you intend to keep your layout current.

Scenery also needs to be consider in terms of the direction of the trains because that is the dirty side. Ask yourself when you last saw an event weathered signal box. Next time you see a railroad have a look and see which side of everything is the dirtiest. All this weathering comes under the heading of “system or layout distressing.” This doesn’t sound good but it is what you should be trying to achieve.

Here is a tip on how to distress a building:

Paint the initial base coat of your building with a lighter shade of paint. Let this dry. Then dab on some rubber cement in specific areas. These areas will appear “distressed” and beat up when you’re done. Let the rubber cement dry. Now, without removing the rubber cement, paint your darker, final coat onto your building. That’s right, you’re painting right over that dried rubber cement. Once your second coat has dried, gently peel off the rubber cement. This takes the dark paint with it, and reveals the lighter base coast underneath.

Looking pretty distressed, isn’t it? But you’re not quite done yet. Next, brush the area with a wash made from a mixture of thinned-out India ink and alcohol. Now your building looks distressed!

Don’t forget to add some soot to a few buildings. Soot builds up on smokestacks, over tunnel portals, and on engine houses, giving them a fine dusting of black. Soot is all over the real world railroad, it gets everywhere!