Lance Mindheim, modeler of the Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville likes to have a dead flat black finish on most of his structures and rolling stock. He came up with simple model railroad weathering techniques. He starts with a bottle of ordinary rubbing alcohol, either 70 or 91 proof, and Polly scale steam power black, which is dead flat black. The wash of color should be quite diluted, since it’s harder to take away color than add. He sticks the handle of a brush into the black and dips a small amount into the alcohol to get his wash, repeating the process three or four times. This small bottle will last him a long time.
There are two ways Lance applies this wash. Half of the time, he will use an airbrush, and the other half a standard brush. When he applies the wash with a paint brush, he starts at the top and works down horizontally. He will build up the colors, adding three or four coats. He uses a hairdryer to speed up the drying process. After it is dry he is left with a flat black finish, dulling the paint on the brick building face, the black lining the cracks. Allen Keller goes on to ask Lance how he would compare HO scale to the N scale of his layout. Lance believes N scale provided the opportunity to create a much more realistic looking layout because it stretches out the modeling space. Broader curves, longer turnouts, and wider, more open scenes creates a more prototypical look. For more on weathering cars or applying and weathering decals on a structure, visit the Model Railroad Academy archives.