Model Railroad Weathering Techniques for Rolling Stock

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For most things, sharp and new and freshly painted is a great thing. On a model railroad, you want the exact opposite. To make your model as realistic as possible, you want your trains to look used, dirty and weathered. After all, trains are meant to be beat up as they conquer the tough terrain and great distances no one else wants to travel.

With this idea in mind, we’re going to show you how to take that fresh, brightly colored stock car that you just pulled out of the box and turn it into a well-traveled veteran of the rails by using some model railroad weathering techniques. To help you give your trains a nice coat of rust and wear, modeler Bill Withers teaches you some of his favorite expert model railroad weathering techniques that can be applied to any kind of train, whether rolling stock or locomotive.

Model railroad weathering techniques for all types of train

To get started, Bill shows you the difference between a fresh, ruby red Western Maryland stock car and the same model that has been weathered to look like it’s traveled the tracks for decades. One looks realistic, the other does not, and we think you can guess which is which. So, to make the fresh car look more like its ancestor, Bill demonstrates a variety of model railroad weathering techniques that will add years in seconds.

First in his demonstration of model railroad weathering techniques, Bill shows you how to make the trucks and leg frames of your stock cars look older using real rust, as well as stainless steel and burnt metal paint. You’ll apply coats of rust to add aging and wearing to the wheel wells and frames to make them appear beaten up, then use small strokes of the burnt metal and stainless steel to give hints of detail.

Once you’ve touched up the trucks and underbody, Bill shows you how to use similar model railroad weathering techniques to give the sides of your stock cars the same appearance of age and wear. Again, these techniques can applied to any type of train!