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Painting and Weathering

Don't throw away those sprues from your styrene kits- they make excellent paint stirrers.  And what better way to test your paint for compatibility with plastic?

I've had good results removing paint splatters (when the base paint is well cured) with very gentile scrapping with a sharp curved blade, not the point. If it is acrylic type paint splattered on lacquer or enamel you might try Bestine rubber solvent with a Q-tip. It seems to soften the acrylic but not the lacquer or enamel, and it doesn't hurt plastic. It will work best if done while the splatter is still quite fresh. Use it with care as it is quite volatile like lacquer thinner.

I've used Bestine for some time to clean surfaces prior to painting and to clean up after removing masking. You can get it at art supply stores.

Sometimes splatter will penetrate the painted surface. If this happens you will have to paint over it to hide it, or possibly hide it with weathering while giving your model some character.


Duplicating colors from the outside world is all but impossible- the lighting from indoors to outdoors and from times of day and weather conditions changes considerably and quite often the "correct" color looks bad when taken indoors. If you are happy with the color, that is what important. It is impossible to remember color, so the effect of the "correct" color is what is important. Don't forget that "art" is part of the same word as "artifice", or in other words, what you are really creating is the illusion of reality, and reality can be quite subjective.

I have used Testors all purpose spray enamel #1256 Transparent Green on Athearn & Con - Cor Streamline car windows with good results. It especially looks great on my Bachmann All Dome car.- TW

DF writes: I have been custom painting for a few years now and ... what I need to perfect is a way of making templates for multi colored schemes. I am currently using drafting tape, straight edges and french curves. I occasionally get rough edges at the color separation. The tape is cut on glass and fresh blades are always used. As far as making curved lines goes I am starting to damage my french curves because the blade cuts into it no matter how careful I am. I also need to find a way of doing several models of the same scheme at one time which is why I feel a template would be the way to go. Another thing I need to perfect is painting Delrin handrails. I followed the instructions in a 1989 N-Scale magazine article. That was a complete failure. A letter to the author has not produced a response. Can you help me with any of this? If not, would you know where I should go for help? Other people are doing beautiful work so I know that I can do it also.

We've heard of people using the paints made for RC automobile models. The paint that will adhere to this very flexible polycarbonate plastic should stick well to delrin . Can anyone help with the masks?

Since most of the top of older diesels are covered with soot, I use soot to cover the models. I light an old model car parts sprue and turn over the loco body. Pass the loco back and forth in short passes over the exhaust stack area. The closer you are the thicker the soot. Be sure to practice this on a model that is not important to you. Also, be ready to soot when you light the sprue, as not to get excessive soot on other items. Always be careful with fire. If you are a young modeler, be sure to ask an adult for assistance. TT, Waynesville, Mo.

Of course, brass doesn't burn.

My favorite painting tool is the Testor's aircan attachment. It's about $13.00 at the local discount store. The paints that come with it aren't very good, but considering the cost, it paints very well. When it's put together, it looks and feels just like a spray can. And it also uses the Modelmaster bottles. So save those empty bottles! It will lay on a perfect gloss coat, or put a flat on with a realistic look. Plus there is only one part to clean!! TAD

I've had very good luck and good comments on weathering jobs using water colors in addition to paints like Scalecoat.. Start with a set that has about 30 colors from K-mart, Wal-Mart, or any craft shop. The marts will be a bit cheaper if they have what you want. Use washes of rusts, browns, grays, or something a few shades lighter than the base color. Some of my nicest jobs are on blue or gray rolling stock. Start at the top with some Scalecoat rust for big spots if you like, then brush downward along the car sides. Just like the real weather does it. Go ahead and make mistakes. Clear them out with a wet tissue or Q-tip before it dries completely. You've got a little time. When you're happy you can hit it with some Dullcote, or not. Once really dry, the colors hold up well to handling. For hoppers, covered or not, and tank cars, look at some dirty prototypes and see where the wheels kick up dirty streaks onto the car bodies. Get your water colors and follow the patterns. You'll be surprised at the difference.


Splattered mud is easily simulated with an old toothbrush. Dip the brush in dilute (preferably water based) paint and flick splattered "mud" (paint) on to the model. If you are weathering a freight car, work from the underside as mud splashes up from below. Be sure to wear old clothes.

We have had our best luck with Weber-Costello Alphacolor Pastel chalks. These are available at most art supply stores. Purchase a large set since they are inexpensive and one can never have too many colors. We often use a different shade of the base color to subtly lighten or darken the coloration. Apply the pastels with foam eye liner applicators. These can be purchased for a song from recycling stores (which often have other good bargains).

Tired of having Testor's Dullcote erase your beautiful chalk weathering? Pastel chalk may be fixed without disappearing with a light spray of artist's charcoal fixative. While the Grumbacher Tuffilm will work well, we prefer Blair Charcoal Fixatif. When the spray has dried at least two days in low humidity, we overspray Dullcote to completely flatten the finish.

Cracked and split decals, while old looking, do not make for a good weathering technique. Old decals can often be rejuvenated (at least for a short time) by lightly spraying the decal with Testor's Dullcote.

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