Freight cars aren't meant to stay looking clean forever. So after 18 months of watching my shiny new Australian HO scale models ply the rails during Philden's construction, I decided to get down and dirty with a pair of models on the dining room table. All jokes aside however, weathering a freight car can be a daunting prospect if you haven't done it before. I've tried many different ways in the past, from India ink, pastel chalks, and acrylic paint washes sealed with Testor's Dullcote. While all have given mixed results, when it comes to weathering a freight car or wagon, there generally isn't a right or wrong way, providing the end result looks believable. So after getting a pleasing result when weathering my railway station and goods shed using Rustall, I once more turned to what is quickly becoming one of my favourite modelling tricks, and weathered up a pair of Australian freight wagons.
|Step 1 is applying the brown rust solution.|
Rustall is a 4 part process. Bottles 1, 2 and 3 are in liquid form, while bottle 4 is a fine powder with semi-adhesive like qualities. I started with bottle 1, (the rust like brown wash), using a fine tipped paint brush to follow the raised line profiles and moulded seams on the On Track Models V/Line VLCX louvre van, (shown at the top) and followed with the SDS Models NRNY 38' foot ice-chilled reefer shown above. The solution magically pools in a somewhat sporadic fashion. Which is fine if you want to let the Rustall decide what areas it wants to highlight with concentrated patterns of rust, but it can also be manipulated by dabbing away at the areas where it has pooled with the same paint brush until you achieve the desired effect. Using real photos from the internet as a guide, I simply highlighted the areas on the model that I thought would be prone to showing rust, and waited a few minutes for the wash to dry.
|Step 2 is applying the darkened highlights.|
Bottle 2 is the darkened highlights wash. Using a flat 5 mm wide paint brush, I coated the entire roof area in a fairly liberal coat, dried the brush tip then simply brushed away any excess solution. For the sides of the model I used the same brush and worked in steady strokes from top to bottom, being sure to work the wash into any nooks and crannies. The solution in bottle 2 also tends to build up around the rusted pattern formed from bottle 1, simulating years of accumulated dirt, rust and grime. At this point it is still possible to go back to bottle 1 and add some more rust until you've built up to the desired effect.
|Step 3 is a coat of a clear solution which acts as a toner and sealer in one.|
Bottle 3 is a bit like a clear toner, which blends both elements together and gives the silver plastic roof line an even tarnished metal look. Once more, I used a flat 5 mm wide brush to apply it liberally, dried the tip and then smoothed away any areas where the number 3 solution wanted to pool. It also plays the part of a sealer, and when dry the model can be handled without the risk of fingertips wiping away any of the weathering.
|Step 4 is a dry brush finish of fine grey-brown powder that adds some earthen highlights.|
Bottle 4 is interesting in that it is just a fine powdery dirt. The instructions recommend placing the model with some of the grey-brown powder inside a paper bag and shaking it until you reach the desired effect. I just couldn't do that given the price of today's highly detailed and delicate model trains. So I used an old flat brush dipped in the bottle to dirty up the walkway on the white ice-chilled reefer. It worked okay on the patterned walkway on the reefer, not-so-much on the smooth roof line of the VLCX red wagon. To be honest, I achieved the look I was after with just bottles 1 to 3, so I'd be tempted not to bother with bottle 4 except for areas such as around the roof hatches on the white NRNY ice-chilled reefer, where the light dusting actually made a big difference!
So from this....
|Before photo of the SDS Models NRNY ice-chilled reefer.|
|After the same model has been given the Rustall makeover.|
|Before photo of the On Track Models VLCX wagon showing the toy-train-like silver roof.|
....to this, the Rustall provided an easy platform for even a first-timer to try their hand at weathering.
|After photo of the same model. Look closely and you will see small rust spots and rust showing through the lettering.|
While the product is as simple as 1, 2, 3, 4, the subtleness of the finished result is still determined by the modeler. With both the wagons shown above, I could have made them as rusty or grimy as I wanted. But for a VLCX wagon that is meant to look like it has had 15 to 20 years work since it was last repainted, I think I backed-off at just the right point. With a set of steel coil open wagons soon on their way, I plan to keep the weathering standard uniform with the VLCX wagon shown above. So for that, the Rustall will be kept within easy reach. As for the white NRNY reefer.... it has just been withdrawn from service on Philden to be auctioned off on eBay. For anyone interested in making it theirs, the link will be on my collectibles page this afternoon.
Review Card: The Original Rustall
Final Thoughts: Everyone has a go-to trick up their model railroad sleeve, and this has become mine. Just see the results I got with my NSW goods shed below to see what I mean!
See also; Goods Shed Part Three - let's rust this thing