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Last Update: Oct. 20, 2014

Tech Support:
Painting / Weathering Rolling Stock
© Copyright TrainAidsA & Contributors to the section.
Matthew Davis, Peter Sainsbury, Lloyd Pierce & I.S. Anand – Contributions welcome.
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On Paints:
  • Background:
    Paint is made of three things: pigment, medium, and solvent. The pigment gives it color, the medium is essentially a glue, to stick the pigment to the model, and the solvent thins the medium. Enamel/lacquer refers to whether the paint dries (lacquer) or cures (enamel). If you put some of the solvent on an already painted surface, a lacquer will soften and run, but an enamel will not be affected. Common mediums are acrylic, shellac, and oil. Common thinners are turpentine, acetone, mineral spirits, water and alcohol.
  • A successful hobby paint needs a medium that sticks to plastic well, and a thinner that does not attack the plastic (at least, not too much).
    Unfortunately, in the hobby paint industry, the terms are widely misused, so care must be taken when mixing different brands of hobby paint. Usually, "enamel" paints means oil-based enamels thinned with turpentine or mineral spirits, "lacquer" paints are lacquers thinned with acetone, and "acrylic" paints are acrylic-based enamels thinned with water or alcohol. Some acrylics, though, are actually acrylic lacquers thinned with alcohol or even acetone.
    Types formulated for plastic models or painting miniature figures should be fine. If they are not available, I'd say look for acrylic art paints. Avoid tempera, water colors, and oil art paints (Actually, oil art paints may be fine as well, and may just need thinning.). Also stay away from house paint, except for painting scenery. Acrylic art paints usually come as a thick paste in tubes, so they need to be thinned with water or alcohol for use on models. If someone has an airbrush, they could use automotive paints (usually acetone-based lacquers).
    For brush-painting, a slow-drying paint is best, so that brush marks have time to flow out. Some slow-drying paints are called "self-leveling", and some paint brands offer a retarder (sometimes called a "leveling agent") you can add to the paint to slow down the drying time.

On Methods/Techniques:
  • When layering paints, be careful of the types. For example, mineral spirits or acetone may "attack" the medium of an earlier coat of paint, and when brush-painting a different color lacquer over an earlier coat of the same type of lacquer, the earlier color will bleed and mix with the new one.
  • .... must use a primer. Air spray is the best way to go.
  • To remove the bright shine from freight cars, apply a little white water based wall paint to a small brush. Then dip it in water and give it a good soaking. However, don't wash all the paint off. Starting with the roof brush it over the model. Use downward strokes to brush it to the bottom of the wagon. Wipe away extra with a dry cloth or paper towel. Once dry, brush the model with a very diluted down mix of brown. Brush it on starting at the top. Use a very wet brush and all the colors should start running down the side. Paint some on rivets, the door edges, and other places that would normally attract rust or dirt. Soak up the spills. You could even use this technique on the trucks and wheels.
  • Have you added dents?
    Freight/goods wagons generally dented by cargo rolling over or falling against the inside wall of the car. Use topical heat to push/bend/dent the plastic outwards to simulate denting from the inside. Test first on an old piece of similar plastic. Gently press against the inside of the walls using a warm screwdriver or tip of scissors. When weathering, remember to provide an accent to the dent as water dripping under it accentuates the dent.
  • Weathering Freight Cars
  • See also "Tips from Users" below.
  • Painting Tips from an Automobile Painters Viewpoint

Tips from Users:
For this, first change to some "work-clothes". If you are weathering a freight wagon, work from the underside as mud splashes up from below. Use an old toothbrush. Dip the brush in diluted paint, preferably water based and flick splattered mud/paint on to the model. Yes, you can also add a little bit of glue in actual mud to achieve the same, but do remember to sieve the mud in a fine sieve first.
What did users observe? Send us your tips on what you would like other users to know. The more you contribute, the more you learn.

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