How do you look after your newly weathered model?
A very important question! I came across a guy at an exhibition some years ago who did professional weathering in a somewhat different style to the one I use so I gave him a couple of the then new Hornby LSWR 58’ Rebuild coaches to weather for me (£8 per coach) in order to see what I could learn from his style (he did absolutely every step and detail with an airbrush). When he gave the coaches back to me they were in their boxes with a piece of kitchen roll draped over them. I asked him why and he said that it was to protect the models.
Now, if you read my notes you will realise that nowhere have I mentioned anything about fixing my work with a varnish or lacquer coat – because in the method I use you don’t. Needless to say, this is all about learning – and protecting a weathered model was a lesson I had not learnt at that point. With his method of weathering this sort of protection was perhaps not so important as every piece of dirt he had carefully applied for me had come by way of his airbrush and would therefore be fairly well fixed anyway; for the method I use which involves powders it has to be more important because a well-placed (or perhaps more correctly an ill placed) finger will disturb the upper most layer of powders.
Then when I stopped to think about it I realised that every sort of paint finish actually needs more protection than we normally afford it, even that pristine factory finish. Think about this: how many people take the trouble to wash their hands before handling their models? (If you operate a layout for me at an exhibition and don’t bother to wash your hands after lunch, trust me, I WILL shout at you!) How many models do you see on layouts that have a slightly out-of-place sheen on some part? I’ll wager that un-natural sheen is caused by grubby paw marks. Do you have hairy hands? Your skin is constantly sweating, it has oils coming out of any hair follicles you have on your fingers (top sides obviously) and these can easily make their way round to the “bearing surfaces” of your finger pads which you will use to pick up that model.
The problem with a weathered loco, coach or wagon is that it is likely to be a lighter colour than the traditional pristine factory finish so it will be more likely to highlight any real-world muck you put on it with your fingers, plus: if you use my method of applying powders for the final stage of the effect there is a very real chance that if you handle the model in a “clumsy” manner you will disturb that final layer and either smudge it or otherwise damage it. The reason you haven’t heard me talk about putting a coat of varnish over the finished weathering job is because I don’t, I rely on the physical properties of the surface of the matt paint to hold the powders in place; AND, spraying, even misting, varnish or lacquer over windows is a sure way to stop them looking like windows.
So, protection of the model and minimising handling it once it is weathered is important; in fact, if you want me to be blunt protecting and minimising any touching of any model is important. What I have started to do with my models is to wrap them in a sheet of a very fine expanded styrene foam which I buy from Mick Bonwick of the Mobile Weathering Studio when I see him at Great Missenden, but if you can’t source that then a sheet of the kitchen towel mentioned earlier will suffice. The only problem with kitchen roll is that, apart from being a little on the rough side, the sheets are often not big enough to properly cover a large model like – say – a Mk1 coach. Oh well…
Well there we are, I hope I have inspired you as much as is possible in a series of handouts.
The big hump to overcome with weathering is simply this: you look at the pristine model you have just bought home from the shop or show and you think how much you have just paid for it, and you gulp: “Can I, dare I, spoil that pristine finish? I haven’t done this before, what if I wreck that pristine model to the point that I can’t put it on my layout?”
So how do you get over that hump? Well what I did initially was to use some of the made and unmade kits I had lying around as guinea pigs. Anyone who has looked at my MRTV programme list will realise that I had to make a significant number mineral wagons in order to deliver the programmes that were required – typically 2 or 3 per programme. I painted them “roughly” and then set about the weathering. I was lucky there, I had a heap of wagons to work on that were never destined to go on a layout; and then I discovered by chance that if I talked to second hand traders at exhibitions they typically had a heap of wagons and coaches dating from the era of Triang and Triang-Hornby (there are names to conjure with) that they had taken in when buying collections but knew they would never be able to sell. Well, if you find me at an exhibition where I am demonstrating weathering I will almost certainly have a box of suitable wagons under my table somewhere, I didn’t pay for them so I won’t be selling them to you – they will be free, just ask me for a couple!
Back in 2019 and the very early part of 2020 I was asked several times if it was possible to organise weathering classes. Well, the answer is yes, the Fareham Club are indeed looking to organise some classes once the world returns to something approaching normality. We will have to charge (obviously) but the costs are likely to run out to the cost of the Hornby Railroad range coach and the Dapol 5 or 7 plank wagon we will supply for you to weather, plus the costs of a set of the specialist brushes I use and a selection of Ammo by Mig Jimenez pigments and washes. This class will probably run on a Saturday, or possibly on a series of three evenings spread over a period of three weeks. Fairly obviously, these plans have had to go on hold for the time being, but if you check in on our website or Facebook page from time to time (remember to like and follow us while you are there) when we are able to think of starting a class we will make an an