I’ve started my weathering project at last. The goal is to produce nicely weathered and realistic looking rolling stock. Easy to say, hard to do well – especially for someone like myself with almost no artistic skill. I’m less worried about the result as much as finding a bunch of different methods to produce different effects when I need them. Therefore any rolling stock will do and the items don’t have to be expensive and may get painted over and over again. Once I have a grip on what I’m doing whereby I have a better understanding of paint, thinners and chalks I’ll then turn to figuring out how to create the infinite weathering effects of time and nature: rust, dirt, paint fading and chipping etc. After that I’ll be able to work on detailing – adding grab irons, breaking equipment, ladders, stirrups, and so on. The detailing project may grow into a scratching project whereby I build boxcars from scratch but let’s not get ahead of myself.
My starting point was to choose a piece of rolling stock to be my first patient. My favorite piece of rolling stock is the boxcar: modern or classic. However I do have a special place for the 40′ boxcar – especially those built between the wars. I’ve had trouble finding books devoted to boxcar history but I was able to find more generic freight car books such as those written by Jeff Wilson: Freight Cars of the ’40s and ’50s, The Model Railroader’s Guide to Freight Cars, and Detailing Freight Cars.
I also several color books of boxcars which I’m using to base my weathering on.
The item of rolling stock that I decided to begin with was the Accurail Pennsylvania Railroad 40′ single-sheathed boxcar kit. I really like the wooden slats that make up the single sheath and I looked forward to chipping away the wooden structure to weather the wood even more.
Before starting any painting I looked through my various books to get a group of pictures together to work from. I used my phone to photograph the photos I thought would make an interesting subject and had them printed at my local Walgreens. I find it helpful to have photos of the prototype next to me to stop me going off on some artistic tangent: I simply want the weathering to look like a smaller version of the real thing.
I sat with these photos for a while to really try to understand what is happening to the subject of each photo. I find it useful to create a theory of weathering and therefore a framework to work within to keep me from straying to much into impressionism or an over-reliance on artistry. Although weathering can be a very artistic endeavor and can result in some very aesthetically pleasing models, in this project, I simply wanted to create a miniature version of the real thing.
I decided that:
- Different types of rolling stock weather in different ways – boxcars as a group weather differently from tank cars as a group.
- Within those groups weathering on cars can vary depending on a number of factors such as:
- wear and tear
- type of usage
- Weathering events therefore fall into three categories:
- Long term general weathering
- Short term specific weathering events
- Long term specific weathering events.
- In model terms this can be represented by:
- physical changes
- color changes
- texture changes
I’ll add/edit this list as I proceed but for now this gets me started. By creating lists such as these I tend to be much more disciplined about what I’m doing. In the past I would throw every technique I had at the project till something plausible emerged but this led to a hit or miss result. I feel that a more thought-through technique and plenty of practice would benefit my modeling and get me closer to a result that I’m much happer with.
Am I overthinking this? Maybe, but it works as a good starting point.