A couple of weeks ago, a reader from Germany sent me a few links about weathering cars. One of them was the website of Mellow Mike, which I had visited and bookmarked years ago. If you have never heard of Mellow Mike, make sure you check out his extensive photo gallery of artfully weathered freight cars many of them with custom graffiti. You won’t believe your eyes.
Speaking of graffiti… The same day I got the email from Germany, I picked up an awesome book at the The New York Public Library called Freight Train Graffiti. The book is a great resource for any modeler interested in weathering American freight cars of the modern era. On over 300 pages and more than 1,000 photos, it chronicles the development of freight car graffiti.
Many of the images are close-ups of the artwork but there are also numerous larger images that show rust and weathering patterns on entire cars that can serve as inspiration for your own modeling. I just ordered a used copy and look forward to doing some perfectly legal freight car graffiti of my own.
Recovered from last week’s disappointment with my first salt technique results, I tried adding Bragdon weathering powders which I had bought a few years back.
I first applied spots of light rust, medium rust and dark rust with a small round paint brush which I trimmed down to about 1/16″ (1.6 mm) stubble. Then I used a soft bright brush to spread the rust.
Hopper weathered with Bragdon powders.
Once I was happy with the results, I added the soot powder on top and spread it all over the side of the car. The picture above shows the side of the car with less soot. Below is the side with a thicker and more even layer of soot. Not sure which one I like better.
Hopper with a thicker layer of grime.
The trucks first a got a layer of soot and then a mix of medium and dark rust which I applied with the bright brush. I held both trucks in one hand so that a got a matching look for each side.
In summary, I think adding the weathering powders saved the day. It brings out various shades of colors and works very well with the pattern created with the salt technique. Even some of the remaining salt crystals no longer bother me. In fact, they give the weathering job a realistic three-dimensional feel.
Let me know what you think and which side of the car is your favorite.
My first airbrushing experiment continues. After successfully applying a first coat of rust color, I tried to use the salt technique to achieve a weathered chipped paint look.
Hopper in covered in salt.
I let the salt fully dry – it’s best to do that over night – and then sprayed the car with the final color. I chose a dull gray in this case.
Hopper with gray coat.
Allowing ample time for drying, I then carefully washed off the salt. The salt didn’t come off as easily as I thought and I used a soft brush under warm water to get the salt chips mostly removed. After another round of drying the car looked like this.
Hopper after removing the salt.
As you can imagine, I am not happy with the outcome and here are a few things I think went wrong:
- The underlying rust layer was too even (this could still be remedied with weathering powder)
- I wet the entire car instead of using small amounts of water in fewer spots
- Using the salt mill gave me not enough control on where the chips fell
- The salt mill produced tiny chips of salt which I wasn’t able to fully remove after the final coat of paint was dry
Luckily, I only spend three bucks on the kit so I don’t feel too bad about this mishap. If you have any suggestions to help me improve my technique, leave a comment below.
A box car will be my next victim… Stay tuned.