Weathering track

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#1
How many people feel the need to at least grime up your track on your layout, if not do a complete weathering job? My benchwork is now 90% complete and I am just wondering if doing such a thing is necessary? Thanks for the comments and thought on this question

Scott
 

santafewillie

Well-Known Member
#2
I weather my track and ties because I think that it looks better. I do it the easy way. I use a rattle can of Model Master "Light Earth" and spray about 3' at a time, getting coverage on both sides even if it cannot be seen, you never know. I immediately wipe off the tops of the rail with a folded paper towel before it dries. If it does dry, than I use a Bright Boy or other less abrasive eraser. A day or so later, I use a variety of brown and gray paints and randomly paint individual ties. No color in particular and I might use four colors one day, and use four different colors the next time that I paint. In the end, maybe 20% of all ties get a different color. I have in the past (but not always), used a rust colored paint pen to add highlights to the sides of the rails.
Some modelers paint their track before they fasten it to the roadbed, but that will leave "tie plate marks" on flex when it is bent into a curve.

Willie
 

Selector

Active Member
#3
It adds immensely to realism....IF you look for it. If you aren't especially cognizant of detailing, you probably won't mind the shiny metallic appearance of the tracks and the uniform colour of the ties. If you like to submit entries into photo contests, you'll get picked apart every time. Not just for the same-same ties and the shiny rails, but for no splotches and discolouring along the roadbed and ballast, no grease streaks, no line-side details, no poles, no stacked new/old ties, etc.

Weathering the rails and ballast takes much less time than pouring, grooming, and then gluing the ballast. IMO, it's well worth the effort.
 

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
#4
I weathered my track using a spray can of Light Earth and then clean the tops of the rails with paint thinner. This coat of paint colors the ties and rails. Once dried, I use India ink and alcohol to darken the ballast in the center of the tracks. Here and there I add some different color ballast to indicate where pass repairs were made and small sections added in areas where loads had spilled with materials like ore. cola or gravel.

By all means weather your track for more realism. It's worth the effort.

Greg
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
#5
I've been giving thought lately to doing this. I'd like to get it done after the track is laid, but before ballasting. A paint pen seems to be the easiest way. I don't like the thought of using a spray can as it would get all over everywhere, and I have an enclosed room where the windows can't be opened.
Woodland Scenics has one, but it seems kind of pricey. https://woodlandscenics.woodlandscenics.com/show/Item/TT4581/page/1
Has anyone used one of these? How much coverage did you get from each pen?
Testors makes something similar, but it's part of a 3-pack, and with Horizon recently buying most of Hobbico, but not the Testors brand, Testors is in a bit of a flux right now.
https://www.hobbylinc.com/testors-c...rail-tie-brown,-rust-hobby-paint-marker-73801
I do like the idea of Testors Make Your Own Marker. https://www.hobbylobby.com/Crafts-H.../Make-Your-Own-Enamel-Paint-Marker/p/80792505
The tought of using a brush and bottle of paint doesn't really appeal to me.
 

bob

Administrator
Staff member
#6
I can see using the one for the rails, as they should definitely be a different color than the ties. However, I can't imagine doing each tie by hand, unless you have a very small layout!

By the way, rail changes color based on the traffic that it gets. Not just the obvious rust on rails that aren't in use. Main track is a more greyish red color, while lightly used sidings are more the bright rust color. I don't know why, maybe the motion of passing trains vibrates off tiny flakes of rust?
 
#7
I used RUST-OLEUM camouflage brown for my base coat on the rails & ties, about a foot at a time, cleaning off the top of the rail before it dries, (an important point.) The tie weathering I learned about from one of Mike Confalones' vids. Yes it does take time, but what a difference it makes! Even just doing a foot or two when your at the layout, you'll be surprised at at fast it comes along. Weather a piece of 3' flex track as an experiment and compare it to a non weathered piece, if you don't like it, no big loss.......
The one great thing about weathering your track as soon as its down, you don't have buildings, landscape, or anything else in your way......
 

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#8
I have only weathered track once, on a small diorama. I used rattle can brownish colored paint and then wiped off the rail tops with a paper towel and alcohol.

Was it worth it? For the small 18" of track I did, yes it was. Would I contemplate doing 170' or so of track? Not a chance as it would need to be done as soon as the track was laid and before anything was put in place, The work and time needed just wouldn't be worth the end result in my opinion.

Would I weather an "old or unused" section of track or spur? I'd probably do that to add some realism to that section IF it was prominent on the layout.
 

Olie

Active Member
#9
I've been giving thought lately to doing this. I'd like to get it done after the track is laid, but before ballasting. A paint pen seems to be the easiest way. I don't like the thought of using a spray can as it would get all over everywhere, and I have an enclosed room where the windows can't be opened.
Woodland Scenics has one, but it seems kind of pricey. https://woodlandscenics.woodlandscenics.com/show/Item/TT4581/page/1
Has anyone used one of these? How much coverage did you get from each pen?
Testors makes something similar, but it's part of a 3-pack, and with Horizon recently buying most of Hobbico, but not the Testors brand, Testors is in a bit of a flux right now.
https://www.hobbylinc.com/testors-c...rail-tie-brown,-rust-hobby-paint-marker-73801
I do like the idea of Testors Make Your Own Marker. https://www.hobbylobby.com/Crafts-H.../Make-Your-Own-Enamel-Paint-Marker/p/80792505
The tought of using a brush and bottle of paint doesn't really appeal to me.
I just used the Testors Make-Your-Own for acrylic to color my rails. Works just like a paint marker, comes with a small brush and replacement tip. Worked perfectly. I meant to pick up the enamel one for the ties but I grabbed another acrylic by mistake. Hobby Lobby has them on sale for $6.59 right now. Add in the 40% coupon.......now you're cooking. Just know tho.....once you've added color, the marker is that color. They don't give instructions on how to clean or change the paint out.
 

montanan

Whiskey Merchant
#10
Eons ago when I first started my layout, I was dipping the rail into a chemical (don't ask me what it was, way too long ago. Gave a nice weathered look to the rails. I usually do nothing with the ties.

IMAG0126_BURST002.jpg


In the last track work I put down, Woodland Scenics had a paint pen that I used to weather the reail. In the photo, some of the old rail weather with chemicals is piled on ties between the locomotives.

IMAG0999.jpg
 
#11
Eons ago when I first started my layout, I was dipping the rail into a chemical (don't ask me what it was, way too long ago. Gave a nice weathered look to the rails. I usually do nothing with the ties.

View attachment 27997

In the last track work I put down, Woodland Scenics had a paint pen that I used to weather the reail. In the photo, some of the old rail weather with chemicals is piled on ties between the locomotives.

View attachment 27993
Gorgeous track and ballasting. Hope I can make mine look 1/3 that good! WOW
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
#12
I bought a Testors Make Your Own marker kit for acrylic paint, which is what I prefer to use. I also bought a bottle of Testors Model Master rust color paint.
008.JPG


The marker is very easy to assemble. Clear directions are on the back of the package. Instead of diluting the paint 4:1, however, I diluted it 1:1. I did that to try and tone down the overpowering (to me at least) red color of the rust.
009.JPG


My test subject is a piece of flex track. I colored both sides of each rail. The marker worked fine, but I had to apply a lot of paint to get good coverage on the web of the rail. I also thought that the excess on the tie plates was a bit much. Overall, it's OK.
010.JPG


The color of the paint is certainly darker than the Polly Scale I have. I wish Testors hadn't discontinued that!
As stated, the marker worked fine. The paint flowed quickly and evenly. Maybe it's just my technique, but I thought that getting good coverage on the web of the rail took a good bit of paint. I may have to try apiece with brush included with the marker and see how that works.
 
#13
I think the painting of rails and ties really adds to the realism and gets rid of the shiny toy-like look of the trackwork, plus it shrinks the overscale code 100 or N-scale rail many of us use. Personally I think most of us, myself included, are making a mistake using too much of a rusty colour on our rails. Well used railweb seems to be more grimy black in my view, especially when you consider our viewing distances. Most of the in-use rail around here is more grimy and blackish-brown rather than rusty. Certainly abandoned, very little used rail or stacked spare rail might be very rust coloured but heavily used mainline or branch tracknot so much( prototype for everything rule in force here). I have started using a much more black-dark brown( leaning more towards brown)colour for my rails and find it looks much better than very rusty rail.
Just IMHO
Gene
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
#16
Fairly heavy used crossing in Tenaha,TX.
In modeling, most of the time, we use colors that are to bold/dark. We should use lighter colors!
That was one of the things I wasn't too pleased with the Model Masters rust color. It's too dark for the rails. To simulate old rust on a boxcar it may be perfect, but I think it's too dark for the rails.
FWIW, things didn't go much better when I tried using the brush that comes with the marker.
I may try making basically a heavy wash of this color and see how that comes out.
 

Sirfoldalot

Plucked Tailfeathers
Staff member
#17
Are you cleaning the rail before painting?
If you are using an acrylic paint - I would think you need to clean the rail with a dish soap rather than an alcohol or petroleum based cleaner?

Mix a little "earth" color with your rust to lighten it up.
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
#18
Right now I'm just experimenting with some scrap pieces of track. If i were doing this on the layout the rails would be cleaned and prepped.
 

Olie

Active Member
#19
I used the exact same set up you are, same paint as well. I didn't prep the track at all and it covered just fine. I just picked up the enamel make-your-own marker so I can do the ties.
 
#20
Sherrel....hence my prototype for everything comment. Diffrent parts of the country,diffrent types of ballast and/or substrate etc will all affect the appearance and colouration of the rail.However when you take into account our average viewing distance and elevation to our layouts it is much further away and from a much higher elevation than in your pic....so I submit that if you were 100 feet away and 50 feet up then the track in your pic, especially the web, would appear quite a bit darker than in your pic. That being said, ultimately the great thing about our hobby is we are allowed to do things that appeal to us and our individual aesthetics, so that’s all that is really important.
 



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