how do you weather rail?

Discussion in 'Modeling Tips' started by skyraider, Nov 18, 2022.

  1. skyraider

    skyraider Member

    Quite a bit of the rail on my layout is still unweathered. How do you like to do your rail weathering?
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  2. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Paul, I've seen countless articles on this topic. I'd simply brush painted some of my old Code 100 rail with Polly Scale rust and was reasonably happy with the results. That is, until I read that for steam-era railroading, the color would be more of an oily/flat black color. In any event, I think simple brush painting to avoid brush marks, or airbrushing would be good enough.

    I should note that I only painted the visible side - didn't bother with the parts that were not visible from the aisle.

    Looking forward to hearing the techniques of others.
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  3. skyraider

    skyraider Member

    Thanks, Chris. The color should definitely be a derivative of black. Maybe the brush painting is the best route. Tomorrow I will give that a try. The "only painting the visible side" is definitely the way I will go.
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  4. Sirfoldalot

    Sirfoldalot Supporter Supporter

    Gun bluing does a fair job too! You should clean the rail with a swab and degreaser beforehand.
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  5. skyraider

    skyraider Member

    That's a great idea. I had heard that bluing would really blacken brass / copper. So far I've tried weathering solution (didn't do a thing to the Kato track) and one of those Walthers weathering pens. The pen works a little, but the tip frays rapidly and the weathering gets all over everything. It's also just sort of rusty looking--needs to be closer to black. Maybe the bluing solution will work on the Kato track.
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  6. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    I use a very thin brush and go lighter rust on spur tracks and a bit darker on the main. Keep in mind I model an ancient branch line. After that dries I check for shiny missed spots and touch them up. I also like to lightly drag a fluffier brush along the tops of the ties with an appropriate color. I like to go back and repaint random ties with various shades for a bit of realism. Maybe too time consuming on a larger layout. I use cheap craft store Apple Barrel type paints. Keep a rag in hand to clean paint off the rail tops.
  7. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member Staff Member

    Some yard tracks and most main line tracks, that had that oily darker look, is because pretty much everything was made to leak oil a little bit, back in the friction bearing days. Plain or friction bearing cars and locomotive journal boxes had lids that carmen or laborers would lift and if it looked low, even a little, they pumped journal box oil in there. Now, there was no real seal between the journal boxes and axles, just a kind of close fit, so when metal and oil expand, they both swell a little, and oil was basically spilled all along the tracks, it was spilled on the wheels then on to the rail so they looked darker. Nowadays any oil that hits the ties or rail is considered some sort of failure and fixed, that explains why rail and ties in earlier times looked much darker than more modern operations.
    Less traveled, wetter climates even in earlier times would rust a bit. I guess the rails that I have studied all have a little different look, depending on time, tonnage, temperatures, time and length of service. I used this to paint my rails he has many different colors to choose from, "word" order a few extra paint wheels and pads, it takes a bit of practice but when you get it down it works really good. I advise to get a bottle of moly lube from Micromark, I put copious amounts of that Moly lube/conductor on every rail joint to help with conductivity before painting, and has been said before I usually only painted one side of the rails, unless it could be viewed from both sides. "Hammering on a piece of wood" I havent had any conductivity failures (feeders every 9').
    As Jim said the ties can be their own modeling chore.
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  8. geep07

    geep07 Member

    There are a lot of articles that where published on track and track weathering. I guess experimenting with colors to get the right affect you are trying to achieve.
    Layout lighting plays a part in this too.
    If your layout is already has scenery in place, I would brush paint instead of air brushing or rattle can spraying.
    Color is in the eyes of the beholder. In my opinion, a bright rust is not a good choice. Rail is not BRIGHT RUST. Anything in nature is not shiny so why rail!.
    I brush painted my rail and ties with Polly Scale paint, the color was Railroad Tie Brown. Other paint brands offer the same color but not a perfect match. Model Master acrylic was not my choice because it dried to a satin finish, nothing in nature is shiny. Rail Brown is another good color to use. If you plan on ballasting track, the gluing of ballast will diffuse the coloring a bit which gives at a slightly aged look .
    Remember to protect the turnout contact point to rail from paint.
    Go on You Tube, Plenty of how to information there too!
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  9. skyraider

    skyraider Member

    Thanks to everyone for all of the ideas regarding painting the rail sides. Now I've got some good information to go on.
  10. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Railroad Tie Brown is a staple for rail painting here in the KC metro.
  11. skyraider

    skyraider Member

    Painted the visible side of several feet of rail today. Turned out that I had a bottle of modified railroad tie brown (darkened a little), so that is what I used. It looks much better. Thanks!!!!!!!!!

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