Monday, September 22, 2014

A Tale of Two Boxcars- Part 3

This last post in the series will deal with weathering the RBL boxcars and placing them in service on the railroad.

Prior to weathering any car, I like to tone down the factory paint job and add a protective finish to prevent any damage to the graphics on the car. I sprayed the sides, ends and roof with a tiny bit of Floquil Grime added to a paint cup full of thinned Testor’s Dullcote. For this step I used a Paashe Model H airbrush and put a 50/50 mix of Dullcote and lacquer thinner in the paint cup. I then dipped the end of a paint brush into the bottle of Floquil Grime and stirred it into the paint cup. Doing this several times gave me a slightly tinted flat finish to apply to the car. The photo below shows the car once this flat finish has been applied and the ACI labels and tack boards added.

This car was shopped in December of 1975 and I’m modeling August of 1976, so I applied light weathering to reflect a car that had been recently repainted. I started by mixing some artist’s tube acrylic burnt umber and ivory black with some Windex. The mix for this car was about 50/50 burnt umber to ivory black. I like to get a small batch mixed to the consistency of paint and then thin it slightly prior to applying it to the car. After applying the thinned mix, I took another brush, dipped it into the Windex and wiped it gently on a paper towel. I then began removing the wash with vertical strokes on the car sides, moving from top to bottom. Gently removing the wash in this manner will give you lightly faded and slightly grimed look on the side of the car. The photo below shows how the car sides appear at this point.

For the ends, use the same steps as the sides but leave a little more of the wash towards the bottom. You can also take the brush used to remove the wash and dab it at the wash. This produces some of the blotches seen in the photo below.

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see a couple of areas where the wash dried in a small pool. Dabbing these areas with the end of a cosmetic sponge before the wash dried would have improved the appearance and added a little more texture to the weathering. Another lesson learned.

After the sides and ends were finished, I tackled the roof by making up a wash of burnt umber with a little bit of ivory black. I covered about half of the roof panels with this wash. Next, I went back across the panels with another brush that had been dipped in Windex and wiped on a paper towel. The idea is to get the look of a roof that has been exposed to the elements for a relatively short period of time. The photo below shows the finished roof.

The last step in weathering the car was to apply a light dusting of AIM medium grey weathering powder to the truck side frames. The photo below shows the finished car.

These two cars are now in service moving canned goods from the Libby Foods plant in Chicago to Mountain Food Distributors at Bass, WV on the Elkwater Branch. During a session, one car generally comes back empty into North Pierce on the Elkwater Branch Roustabout (AM) while the other. loaded car gets set out at North Pierce by an eastbound manifest. Later in the session, the first car will move west toward Chicago while the second car will move up the branch on the Elkwater Branch Roustabout (PM) and be delivered to its destination. The photo below shows one of cars headed up the branch on the Roustabout.

At some point, another source of canned goods will be identified to the east and a new waybill will be made up. This will provide for the set-out of one of the cars at Big Chimney to picked up by an eastbound way freight. In the next session, the car will move west to Big Chimney to be picked up for delivery by the Elkwater Branch Roustabout (PM). 

It was Anthony Hardy sharing the “CUSTOMER IDENTIFICATION CODES for WORK ORDER REPORTING” for the EK Subdivision of the L&N that got this whole project started. In addition to having a couple of nice new freight cars on the layout, I now have a few additional industries to be served on the branches. So thanks, Anthony!


  1. Great work as always Tom! For me a little weathering goes a long way. In addition I also enjoyed your step by step directions that made this as much a clinic as a series of blog posts. Your mention of Windex was also interesting and I guess I need to start using it too.



    Gerard J. Fitzgerald
    Charlottesville, Virginia

  2. Glad you enjoyed the posts, Gerard. These posts were originally intended to be an article that I was going to submit for publication, but it seemed to make more sense to post the material on the blog. I plan to do more of this in the future. I picked up the Windex trick from some forum and I'm really pleased with the results.


  3. Tom,
    Although I model Australian and not American (well, I have a few pieces of New Haven equipment, but that is another story ...), I really, REALLY enjoyed your short series on weathering and have already been able to utilise a number of your techniques - thanks so much for sharing!
    Kind regards,
    Anthony Palmer

  4. Anthony,

    Glad you found some useful information in the posts.

    Tom Patterson

  5. Hey Tom,

    Great post! I like the subtle tones on the car. I will try this technic on some of my rolling stock.

    Best, Scott

  6. Thanks, Scott. The techniques are really easy and produce some pretty good looking results.

    Tom Patterson

  7. Hi,

    I see you didn't install the air hoses included with the model. I found they hang very low, almost on to the track -- and will pick points.

    Did you leave these off for this reason, or?



  8. Colin,

    Unless the air hoses are already mounted on a car and don't interfere with operation, as with the Broadway Limited H2a hopper cars, I leave them off.