Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tinting, Staining, Rust and Relics

Well, unlike most weekends where they seem to fly by and before I know it it's Sunday night and I have little to show for it, this weekend's been a bit different.

Today started with taking the section of track with only the PCB sleepers attached down to the garage, and hit with a light'ish coat of the good old Kill Rust etch primer. I didn't want too much on there as the code 55 rail is very fine, and it would be easy to glug up with paint.

Basically I wanted just enough etch primer on the rail to give the the paint used to replicate rust to have something to key too, as well as giving the PCB sleepers a base grey colour to work with rather than the copper colour which doesn't look like anything we see in real life.

Once the etch primer was dry it was time to try to replicate the balsa sleeper colour on the PCB sleepers and then give the rails a rusty look. Again I broke out the Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black, XF-52 Flat Earth and used a little of each on the tip of the brush, diluted with some Isocol Rubbing Alcohol. I have a little stainless steel tray which I put some of the alcohol in and then add the paint to it, mixing it around as necessary to get the right consistency and colour. I find it easier to build the colours gradually than do it all in one go, which seems to work for me.

It's hard to get the PCB sleepers to the same colour as the balsa wood ones, but a small variation does not matter as it gives that little bit of random variety. Having a diluted mix of colour also leaves some of the grey etch primer showing through so basically it's a matter of balancing the added colours to get the target shade I'm after.

Now comes the rust effect on the rails. I'm sure there's as many methods for doing this as there are people who do it, and you can buy paints like rust and rail brown which seem to do the job nicely for others. The only thing I sometimes notice is that the rust effect is sometimes too harsh, or too solid, and just looks a bit too heavy. It's hard to pinpoint, but the look I was aiming for is rusty, as well as dusty, that kind of light grey'ish dull finish with a light coating of rust.

I'm probably no different most who have been in a hobby for a long time, and even though I wasn't actively modelling for around twenty years, I still had packed away with my old trains all of my various paints and tools, bits and pieces. Amongst this lot was some Tamiya orange tinter that I used to use to give clear lenses an orange tint to replicate blinkers lenses on model cars. It's code is X-26 and it typically is a thin'ish mix with a slight tacky finish from memory. I say from memory because I would have bought this bottle when I was about eleven or twelve, so we are talking about twenty seven years ago!

Now to digress for a bit, I have used this bottle recently to see how it would go replicating rusty stains on an old Trax MRC I built when I was around fourteen years old, once again a looooong time ago. When I initially opened the bottle of orange tinter, it was no longer a thin consistency, but rather a solid mass that didn't seem to work too well with a brush poked into it. Hmmmmm, it would be a waste to throw it away, so I thought I'd add some of the wonder stuff, a dash of the Isocol alcohol.

So armed with a piece of old rail I began to give it a stir and see if it would thin up a bit. It didn't, instead making a sticky almost rubbery mixture, but amongst the still semi solid mass, was now a dilute mix of orange tint, slughtly this, but quite full of colour no less. I added more alcohol and shook the bottle furiously, but it does not seem to be able to break down the semi solid mass, however, there is plenty of colour than I can still soak up with a brush.

Starting with this odd mixture and then mixed again with a little black and earth colour, I built up a stain and applied it to the MRC with lots of alcohol added to make it a wash. I'm not completely happy with the finish, but it's not too bad in all honesty, and certainly better than the stark white that it used to be as seen here

In any case, getting back on track (yes a bad pun), I wondered how this orange tinter mix would work as rust on the rail. With the grey etch already in place, I once again dipped the brush in the mixture and then externally thinned it down a little more with more alcohol, and applied it to the rail sides. Being very thin it ran easily along the sides of the rail, so I could load the brush up and just drag it across the base of the rail and it would pretty much run into place. I needed a couple of coats to get the right amount of colour needed, but over all I am very happy with the result.

It has a certain semi metallic finish to it which I like, and has keyed well to the etch primer. With a dilute mixture I also dragged the brush across the sleepers where the rail would sit, as I have noticed that the rust on the rails bleeds into the sleepers on the real thing. Once dry, I then stuck the rail down over the balsa sleepers with some PVA glue placed where the PCB sleepers would sit, and a weight was placed on the rails while they set.

I've taken a few pics both inside and outside, and I have to say that for an initial attempt I am well pleased with the result. It's quite amazing how different things look in natural light as well, but ultimately you really have to aim for what looks right under the lighting your layout will be under.

Using the very basic maths on one yard of track taking me about a weekends worth of work, laying the twenty five to thirty odd yards of track the layout will need (plus points) should keep me busy for a while!

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