A few words about weathering

It wasn’t that long ago, when I used to visit exhibitions, I found myself constantly marvelling at all of the wonderfully detailed, resprayed and weathered locos running around the various layouts. The desire has always been with me to be able repaint, and weather locomotives and stock to a decent standard, and produce something a bit unique and more individualistic than something straight out of the box.

I purchased an airbrush a good few Years ago, but as is the case with no doubt the majority of people who purchase them, poor results just led to frustration, and the thought I couldn’t produce the quality of work I desired.

During the last couple of Years, I learnt a few very important things that helped me   to get where I am now.  The main ones consisting of 3 P’s. Practise, patience, and perseverance.

There are no short cuts to learning how to produce decent results. I was impatient, and expected decent results quickly. Big mistake! It ended up taking me a rather long time, getting to know intimately the airbrush, the characteristics of the various paint types, and a million other factors.

It’s now an absolute joy to be able to forget about the technicalities of airbrush, compressor and paint, and just be able to use it without thinking about it. It’s a bit like riding a bike or swimming….very hard to learn, but once you’re there, you wonder what was so difficult!

So what is the point of messing about with all of this equipment, smelly paint, and sometimes frustration? The answer is to produce a finish as close as possible to the prototype, but with any number, name, or livery that one desires. Something a bit different, and ultimately, realistic.

Speaking of factory finishes, why do we need to spend time and money weathering, when the big names now offer it out of the box ready to plonk on the layout? Well, manufacturer’s factory weathering is undeniably getting better, but it still cannot attain the realism obtained from a reasonably competent provider of the service. Let’s consider some of the reasons why.

Factory weathering is just that, a particular colour, normally just one, maybes two if you are lucky, applied in a quick blast with computer controlled precision on a production line. A bit of roof dirt, the dreaded lower bodyside misting of brake dust, and if you are lucky, a few bodyside grilles dirtied down. Another one of my motivations for wanting to do it myself was the fact that I didn’t think factory weathering looked very realistic.

Spend some time looking in detail at a few photographs of in service locomotives or items of rolling stock and the penny starts to drop. There are so many variations to take into consideration. The type of merchandise the locomotive is used for, coal, oil or steel, can all have an effect on its weathering. Oil stains from faulty components, the weather conditions the stock has been subjected too, perhaps a cab end has been part cleaned, the list is completely infinite. But what we can do is find photographs of what we want, get it down to a particular week or day, and then try our best to replicate what we see. I would go as far to say it’s almost like painting a picture, an art form. To try and recreate in miniature form, something that is weather-beaten, and careworn. No machine or production line will ever be capable of producing this.And I guess that is where I come in. I enjoy our wonderful hobby immensely, but take great pleasure in producing locomotives and pieces of rolling stock that hopefully look like realistic replicas of the real thing. If you have had a look at my website, and read through my ramblings without falling asleep, please do get in touch to have a chat about any projects you have in mind. Perhaps a locomotive that was remembered from childhood, the first filthy Deltic you first heard and then saw romping along the mainline, a dirty and nondescript blue class 47 that always seemed to follow you around the network, anything that needs re-creating!

Contact me for a chinwag.

Best, Lee


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