The Secrets To Weathering Your Model Trains

model railroad
Why should you weather your model trains?
Whether you are just getting started with model trains, or you have been enjoying this hobby for a long time, there are many different things that you can do to make your model train layout look more realistic.
You may have already spent a lot of time making sure that your models are to scale, but if you want your model railroad to look real, you have to avoid it looking too new!
Having objects in your train set look too shiny or too new can be quite distracting.
This is why you need to think about how to weather them.
Weathering is the process by which you can make new objects look distressed and more worn.
It can be instrumental in how you take your model train set to the next level.
One product that you should have on hand when you are thinking about weathering metal objects on your train set is a can of Rustall.
This is a simple aerosol spray that will allow you to put touches, or even whole finishes of rust on various bits of your model set. It works best on a surface that has been primed or that otherwise has some tooth to it, allowing the mixture to settle.
When you spray something with Rustall, you’ll have a great look of rusted metal and the more you spray on, the more weathered the object looks.
When you are thinking about adding brick buildings to your model train layout, think about how you can make the bricks look even more realistic.
Take some diluted latex paint in gray or buff and brush it carelessly across the face of the brick.
Then take a rag and wipe the surface off while it is still wet. The paint stays in the channels between the brick when you do this and defines some bricks more than others.
When was the last time that you saw a roof that was perfectly shingled and detailed, especially when you are looking at older buildings?
You want to give your model train layout a homely and well worn look.
Using a craft knife, or a sharp flat object, gently pry up some of the shingles on your model train building. Missing shingles are a little much, but if you start prying some of the shingles out of their beddings, you will give more texture to the building as a whole.
One important tip to remember when you are painting on finishes is to let gravity help you and guide you.
Think about painting on a finish and having it drip a little.
This can look great, because in real life paint usually drips down.
However, if you are holding your structure upside down, this creates a drip pattern that is very different to what it should be in real life!
Take a moment to look at your finishes and to make sure that you are getting the drip pattern that you need.
Weathering is great fun and requires no special skills, just a willingness to give it a try.
Start with an old model or even some scrap plastic, until you are more confident.
By observing the older buildings in your area you will notice how the elements have faded the paint, corroded the metals, rotted the timber, etc.
This will give you many ideas that you can apply to your model train buildings. Weathering your model train buildings, locomotives and cars will massively improve the realism and appeal of your model railroad. Give it a try today!

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Dan Morgan

Dan Morgan fell in love with model trains at the age of six when he visited an NMRA Convention in Seattle with his father. Forty two years later, his passion remains just as strong. After achieving a successful career in architecture, Dan’s particular interest is within layouts and buildings. With a wealth of knowledge on the subject, Dan loves nothing more than sharing this with others and is delighted in the forum of members who are brought together over the hobby they have in common. Dan lives with his wife Helen in Washington. As a professional painter, Helen has learnt through Dan about Model Trains and they now enjoy working on projects together. The only member of the family who isn’t allowed to join in is their over-enthusiastic Labrador called William who has been strictly banned from the workshop! You can find Dan on Google here!

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Leave A Reply (4 comments So Far)


  1. Chiefnitehawk
    6 years ago

    Check out Trainstation on Facebook n let me knw ur true honest pro opinion. what I dnt like that its not on say a 3d type its virticul


  2. Bronco_6
    6 years ago

    Located in San Antonio, we have a number of old buildings in the downtown area that have a number of interesting qualities based on the weathering and the elements. Always carry a digital camera with you when you go into these industrial areas and be prepared to take snap shots of wall, roofs, loading docks and other features that you can then bring to your layout. You can figure out how to apply them. Be creative.


  3. Dave
    6 years ago

    Dirty paint thinner works well also. Just be sure to use it very moderatly. My first try was working well, till I noticed the Sante Fe emblem on my cabose was 1/2 gone. I carefully painted a bit back on and blended it in with the dirt and rust look.


  4. michael fowle
    2 years ago

    dear Dan I really like your news articles they are very informative I specially like the videos you sent me today they were very interesting I like watching the layouts being built please send me more videos as I’m very interested in getting my layout started I’m having problems deciding whether I want to go to N scale or h0 as I have and 13 by 17 size roommaybe somebody can send me an article on what to do ho it’s nice it’s bigger but in scale you get more scenery for smaller spaces thanks again Dan great website

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