Guest Blog Post from Edward Farms – Weathering Part 1

Tonight we have a very special blog post brought to you by Edward Farms.  Edward has a fantastic website that I urge all Locoyard Followers to check out !  Without further ado, here is the first of a series of excellent blog posts on the art of weathering…

Welcome to a new series of posts on here about the subject of weathering. Anyone who has done their own weathering can probably relate to my story of how it began, why I started and what I have done, I am hoping that by telling my story over the past year I can help some people thinking of starting to have a crack at it or those who have started to keep at it. I will in future posts look at hints & tips, how to weather a model and answer any questions you might have.

Before we begin with my story, first of all lets take a look at how the railways were in the 1950’s and 60’s (the era the Weeklyn Hill Model depicts). Cleaners were a rare commodity and those that were around would focus on the top link express engines rather than freight or tank engines, even then not all the top link were clean – my Dad grew up by the East Coast Main Line just south of Durham and the first time he saw a green A4 he commented “they look nice, they should paint them all like that” totally unaware that under the soot and muck they were all green. Steam engines are notoriously filthy machines, they chuck out soot, smoke, ash, grease and oil which when combined create some wonderful murky colours.

Edward Farms - Weathering Pic 1

Above. RSH Austerity Wilbert runs around its train at Bishop Auckland West on the Weardale Railway, at first glance this loco as you would expect from a now preserved loco appears to be clean…

Edward Farms - Weathering Pic 2

Above. But appearances can be deceptive. Ash and water has left some streaking on the front end and in a small area caused the paint below the smoke box door to peel away and rust to be exposed. The cab roof and boiler top is sooty and dirty – cleaners would not often go this high. The springs are rusty, the frames have some dirt and the cab steps have exposed metal. This just goes to show that no engine should be totally spotless, unless modelled just out the works and not even had a fire lit yet or perhaps about to pull the Royal Train.

Model railway engines on the other hand are often portrayed as clean; their plastic factory finish is given away by a clean look which can spoil an otherwise excellent model, a few layers of suitable shades of paint can disguise this and create a better looking model than before. Now we have looked at the why, let us look at my how…

One year ago I took the plunge and started to weather items of engines, rolling stock and buildings for Weeklyn Hill, too many comments about the coaling tower and how clean it was started to water a seed that I had always had an interest in. To me a model railway at an exhibition needs to be more than engines straight out the box onto a piece of track, you need to make them your own.

I had renumbered a few locos to suit the layout already so this was a start but even then there was something lacking and when reading an issue of Hornby Magazine in about November 2011 there was an article by a gentleman called Tim Shackleton (you will see this name throughout these blogs) on the basics of weathering and I was hooked instantly. I decided my new years resolution would be to learn how to weather, I was already a subscriber to Hornby Magazine so getting the articles was not a problem (they are still publishing them now so there is plenty of material for me here), I also bought Tim’s book Aspects of Modelling: Weathering Locomotives and read it cover to cover several times and his DVD which again I watched over and over. This was all well and good but by now it was March and I had not done anything apart from a few wagons with a cheap airbrush that was not the right tool for the job.

I decided time for reading only was over and I would not learn a thing if I did not pick up some new tools and get practicing. In his book, Tim recommends an Iwata airbrush which he uses, all well and good but this will set you back over £200 – not ideal for a beginner. He does also say if you want something a bit more low key to tray an AB-180 for more in the region of £50. I however managed to pick up an AB-130, which is very similar, for £20 with a free hose to connect to a compressor.

This now gave me the equipment to get started but first of all I wanted to try the airbrush out to get used to the feel and how it worked. Two old Lima locos that no longer worked gave up their nice paint for a coat of white as testers. I tried general over spraying and trying to get up close to smaller detail to see how it worked and quite quickly felt that I could do the job required with this tool. However I felt that next stage was to do a proper job on something a bit simpler, so I rescued some old Thomas coaches and wagons from storage in the attic and repainted their new yellow roofs to bright white (just as they were 20-odd years ago). At least if nothing else they were something I could call progress even if I had unweathered them so to speak.

Weathering Pic 3

Above. The first wagons I ever weathered, after retouching. Originally I used Phoenix Precision paints – frame dirt, roof dirt, oil leakages and light and heavy rust to weather the wagons. But I did not like the finish (apart from the leaking oil from the filler caps) so I went over it with a mixture Humbrol paints which seems to be much better.

The success with these lead me to re-do the original wagons I had weathered for Weeklyn Hill with a few more thrown in off the home layout for good measure. I think doing them on mass works as it saves cleaning the brush as much but you should still try to make them all slightly different.

By now we were into April and the layout was approaching its second booking of the year with no weathering to show off yet. I decided to bite the bullet and go for the biggest but probably easiest to weather projects, namely the coaling tower and ash plant. For these all I did was give them a coat of brown/black mix and gently streak it downwards with a brush soaked in white spirit. The work done at least allowed the 2 structures to be more authentic in the shed.

House moves and wedding preparations then got in the way for a month or 2 but in August I was back out with the tools and tackled 2 steam engines, an LNER O4 2-8-0 and a Midland 3F 0-6-0. I also did the bottom half of an A3 and a Jubilee whilst the airbrush was out. Both the first 2 locos received a heavy coast of grime that would suit any freight loco in the late 50’s early 60’s and made their debut at Shildon show where they received a few compliments.

Weathering Pic 4

Above. The first 2 weathered steam locos in the fleet. GCR O4 63635 and Midland 3F 43762 show off their true colours, compare these to the shade in the photos of any pic of the models as sold and you will see the difference a coat of grime can make. Humbrol paints and DCC Concepts powders did the job here.

Now after finally breaking cover on Face book and Twitter (@Eddief83) I decided to write some blog posts about my experiences. This is the end of part one, but click here to continue to part 2 and here for part 3 where I will look at equipment and materials.

Don’t forget to check out Edward’s fantastic website!  I’m sure you’ll agree that this was a fantastic blog post entry.  Many thanks to Edward for taking the time and effort to write this. 🙂