weathering rail

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by bigsteel, May 25, 2007.

  1. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    hey yall,iv been wondering.this is kinda a noob question but i've never done do you weather rail! i never did it before and havent found a tutorial on the net.i was wondering if you guys could tell me how you did it or point me to a tutorial on the net.if it hels im using C80 rail and peco turnouts.TIA--josh
  2. berraf

    berraf Member

    I'm too are about to do some weathering of the rail so the answer would be of great help :)
  3. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Some folks like to use an airbrush filled with their favorite rusty brown/black paint.I prefer to brush paint mine with my favorite (at the moment) rusty colour.

    After that I will brush paint the ties with a gray/black colour such as Poly-Scale tarnished or oily black.I will then go back and drybrush the ties with a light or dark gray.Sometimes getting a little white into the mix.

    You will find that almost everybody that weathers their rail (some folks don't) will have their own favorite way to do it and have their own favorite colours that they use.The above is simply the way I do it .:)

    The most inexpencive way is to start at your local craft store and look through their selection of craft paints as there are many that are usful in our little hobby.

    My last suggestion is that if you decide to brush paint that you buy a good qaulity small size brush to use,and be sure to clean the top of your rail.
  4. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    There are a lot of methods to weather your rails, but they all boil down more or less to the recipe: Paint the rails a rust color. But then there are many ways to do that - here is my preferred method:

    Since I hate the overspray from an airbrush which is ALWAYS dispersed across the whole room (am I doing something wrong??? :mrgreen:). I use the good old paint brush. You have a wide choice of paints, but they should adhere well to metal and plastics (when you are using commercial flex track) or wood (when you are using handlaid track on wooden ties). In most cases Acrylics (e.g. Floquil Polly S) are ok, but lacquer paints (e.g. Tamyia lacquer paints) could attack plastics - so be careful and test the paint on a scrap piece of track first.

    Living in Europe I prefer Humbrol enamel paint which is widespread here, but not so well known in the USA, I think. I use paint #70 (brick red) for track weathering (and other rusted things).

    Pic 1: I take a not too small brush (No. 1-3) and load it with paint which is a diluted somewhat (about 2/3 paint and 1/3 thinner). Then I slop the paint on rather carelessly, not trying to be very exact. Here you see a stretch of PECO flex track mounted on cork strips. The paint covers the rail sides, but also the track nails and a bit of the ties. What I try to do is to leave the center of the ties free. This gives automatically the impression of spilled oil and soot along the track center.
    After painting about a meter (3 ft) of track I wipe off the still wet paint on the railhead with a piece of household tissue paper. The railhead should be absolutely color free and shiny - otherwise you'll get contact problems.

    Pic 2: Next step is ballasting the track. I use bird sand, a sort of granite sand which I got dirt cheap (a 2 kilogram bag about $1.50) in a local pet store. I fix it with the usal mix of 'wetted water' (i.e. water with a few drops of dishwasher rinsing agent added, or a water/alcohol-mix) and white glue (water:glue about 3:1). But then I'm also adding a shot of black india ink to the water which helps to tone down the clean ballast.

    Pic 3 shows a short piece of double track with additional weeds in the ditch between the two tracks.

    Hope this helps you a bit! :)


    Attached Files:

  5. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Beautiful results Ron! I weather track before installing it by using a quickie method I saw in Model Railroader years ago. I spray paint the rails from an angle with inexpensive brownish red spray paint to paint the side of the rails and not the ties. Then I randomly spray a little gray and a little black straight down on the ties to give them a varied appearance.

    Attached Files:

  6. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    As an addition: A few remarks about rust-painting turnouts:

    Try NOT to get paint between the switch points and the stock rails (--> WHITE arrow). This is e.g. quite important for PECO electro-frog turnouts. On the other hand, the inner sides of the switch points SHOULD be rust colored and not glossy (--> 'RUSTY' arrow).

    And finally you should also paint the upper surface of the guard rails and the wing rails near the frog (--> GREEN rings) a rusty color. In reality, the parts of the rails which make actually contact with the train wheel are the only shiny rail sections in a turnout.


    PS: Thanks for the compliment, Ralph! :)

    Attached Files:

  7. berraf

    berraf Member

    Inspired by your pictures Railron, I encouraged my self and have done my first attempt to weather a rail.
    I used Humbrol number 70 enamel diluted with white spirit and a small brush.
    What's your opinion?
  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Looks great!

    Remember that for steamers, there was a lot more mess outside the rails than inside... The greasy streak down the centreline is characteristic of diesels and other locomotives with fuel tanks and moving parts under the body between the rails. Steamers had a lot of lubricated, moving parts outside the rails, and left a corresponding mess on the ends of the ties...

  9. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    One step before you start: go down to the tracks and see what they look like. I think you'll find that most "rust" paints are too red for rail colour; they seem to be more to the dark gray shade or even dirt tan. Red rust shows on the top surface between a rain and the next train.
    I tried using a Sharpie marker on the rail sides. Took weeks to find a brown marker that wasn't in a pack of 12 other colours. Colouring was fairly fast but lots of missed bits around the spikes and the colour was a bit translucent and light. I may use it a a first coat, but follow up (eventually) with acryllic in the sienna/umber shades (both rare and well-done), plus grays.
  10. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi...I use our now absent friend Shaygetz's method of "slathering it on..". I was very apprehensive of going this route as I had never done it before, but Shay made it sound so easy, I couldn't help but try it. I use a flat, angled cut brush and Folk Art paints "Nutmeg". I dilute it very little otherwise it'll just run down the rail web and not cover well. I use a good amount on the brush and spread it by first wiping the brush against the rail head and let it run down a bit. I then spread it along the rail. When the brush is almost dry, I dab the ties on the side and in the center kinda' like dry brushing them. I feel the color is more like the rails I see everyday on my way to work. Try it...the difference it makes makes it well worth your while. Check it out...
  11. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    I use Tamiya spray can paint. Once the track is down and soldered and tests out ok, I spray from very low each side heavily with "NATO Brown", then spray fine amounts of black from exactly on top (so it hits the ties and not the sides of the rail). Depending on where it's going to be representing, I also spray bits of dark green and sometimes dribble gunmetal or a similar semi-gloss black/grey over the top randomly (by only just holding down the button so it drips out). These represent moss/algae and diesel/dirt respectively. A minute or two's work. Once it's all dry, the ballast will hide all the overspray, and a quick wipe with a bright boy cleans all the paint off the top of the rails.

    You should really take the trouble to wire the movable point rails to the fixed ones, which will give you a much more reliable railroad. The main reason is that then you won't be relying on the very flaky connection between the main rails and the point rails to conduct power.

  12. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    This is looking really good! :thumb: 8)

    You are right! I never thought about this aspect of dirt/grease/grime distribution along the track. Since Swiss railroads are (almost) 100% electrified, here we see much 'cleaner' track than in dieselized countries. I'll do some experimenting with dribbling an alcohol-black ink mixture ('inkahol' :mrgreen:) along the outside of the tracks, too.

    Didn't you have problems with overspray settling around the whole room?
    I once SPRAYED the track on a diorama (about 4 ft long), and then I found that &%#!* paint dust also on my workbench, about 2.5 meters away. :mad:
    That's why I only use brushes for track painting. (For spraypainting models I use a spray booth).

  13. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    RailRon, Ralf + Berraf, all your methods look stunning!
  14. 0-4-0 Steamer

    0-4-0 Steamer New Member

    Wow! Almost as many methods as there are modelers! LOL! Myself, I use dollar store flat brown spray paint. I tape of and cover everything i don't want paint on. The points on the turnouts for sure. I spray from the side and then spray from the other side. The flat brown actually looks very good and a little less red than a rust color. Then I ballast. Then I carefully use a new metal putty knife with no chips in the blade and scrape the paint off the rail heads. You don't ever want to scratch them if you can. After that I use the brite boy and then I burnish with a quarter. I also run the quarter at an angle to clean the inside of the rails. Oh, the quarter fits HO really well, if you are doing a different gauge you may want to try a different size coin. Then I use ink and alcohol to stain the ties and ballast. All done! The burnishing actually help smooth what ever fine scratches there are in the rails and promotes cleaner track for a longer time. As I said, as many different ways as there are modelers!
  15. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    WOW,lots o responses! sorry i havent responded,my computer at home was on the fritz.great results guys,there are apparently a lot of different methods! well,im gonna test this out and see if im doing this for 108ft of mainline,or im buying pre weathered track :D--josh

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