Weathering Your Model Trains Without An Airbrush

If your new to model railroading everything you experience initially is fresh and a unique experience of one type or another. One of the things which you will hear with great frequency is that the most effective approach to making your model railroad look authentic and realistic is through giving attention to detail when it comes to modeling all of the components of your railroad, and also in weathering structures, rolling stock, and any other type of detail which can be weathered.

Where there is arguably a great deal to be said in favor of weathering through using an airbrush, there are also those model railroaders who are just as satisfied with their weathering results without using an airbrush.

Given that there is equipment which must be purchased that isn’t inexpensive, taking a serious look at how to weather without using an airbrush can be a viable option in a hobby which can become very expensive for the enthusiast. With that said, the following information should prove to be helpful:

We weather our model trains to show the effects of time and use in the most realistic way possible. We strive in our effort to achieve the appearance of soot, grime, dirt, rust, patched paint, or even faded letters. One of the most forgiving methods for creating these various effects is through the use of chalk. Chalk is forgiving because if the work that you’ve just done isn’t satisfactory you can remove it just as easily as when you applied the chalk to surface of your model train. You just wipe it off with a damp cloth!

Here’s how to model with chalk:

Again, the great thing about weathering with chalk is that it can be removed if the finished result is not satisfactory. Just as important, the modeler does not have to spend hour upon on hour working to perfect a specific skill. Chalks which come in stick and powder form can be purchased at most any hobby or craft store and always at model train hobby shops. They can, for your convenience be purchased online as well.

Tips For Using Chalks:

1. If you purchase stick chalk you will have to grind the stick to create as much chalk as you will need in powder form for your current project. This can be done by rubbing the stick with fine sandpaper.

2. Make sure that when you purchase your chalk it does not contain wax and is non-magnetic. Chalks which contain magnetic properties can damage locomotives, and chalks that contain wax will not adhere to the surface of your rolling stock.

3. Keep in mind that chalks work best on non-glossy surfaces. You can deal with this problem by applying a light coat of Testors Dullcoat to the surface of the model you are working on.

Because working with chalks can be a little messy, you may want to change into some work clothing which you’ve specifically set aside for those model railroading projects which can get your clothing dirty. Also, it would be a good idea to wear some type of plastic gloves to protect and keep your hands clean as well. Another good reason for wearing gloves is that the natural oils found in our skin tend to leave fingerprints on the surface of a clean model.

Now, begin by applying the chalk you’ve selected to the clean and dry surface of the model you are working on with an old toothbrush or a small paint brush. Do this by dipping your brush in the chalk and then by rubbing the chalk on the surface. Make sure you apply the chalk in the direction the weathering would form naturally.

If you go out and take a look at prototype cars you’ll clearly see that not all cars accumulate dirt and grime uniformly. To achieve this type of effect choose a chalk color which is similar but a little lighter in color than the car you are working on.

Apply the powder liberally over all the sides, roof and ends with a soft brush for an even coverage. Don’t worry about avoiding printed lettering or details, the total coverage will make these look thinned as well. Add additional colors on top to simulate other weathering effects.

When you weather to create rust spots they tend to be located in individual spots or locations. To achieve this effect try applying the chalk directly from the stick to the spot where you want the rust to appear. Use colors such as deep brown or orange which will create colors which are pretty realistic. Try using a stiff brush to drag the rust streaks vertically down the side of the car.

If you are completely satisfied with the results of your weathering you can make these results permanent by spraying the car you’ve been working on with a light finish. Just remember to apply the finish directly or it will wash off the chalk.