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Weather a wooden coaling tower

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  • Member since
    May, 2013
  • 42 posts
Weather a wooden coaling tower
Posted by staybolt on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 12:06 AM

I've painted my kit-built wooden coaling tower flat black per suggestion of the manufacturer who says that was the color the owning railroad used. In order to simulate a long in-service period for the tower I'd like to somehow make the black paint look faded. Any ideas?

  • Member since
    August, 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 8,157 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 2:26 AM

My first choice would be to use an airbrush and mix some white or light gray into your black, just a drop or two, and go over the model with very light coats of that. When dry use an even lighter shade and do some highlights in areas that would have been exposed to the elements, not so much the underside or the areas subject to locomotive smoke.

Second choice, Pan Pastel powdered colors. Brushed on and lightening select exposed areas, again as the weather would have bleached the wood. Add some rust streaks streaming down from any iron hardware.

Third choice, a dry-brush very light covering with a gray that is only slightly lighter than your base black.

Experiment a little on any scraps or even card stock you may have handy. Is your structure actually a wood kit? I have used the "scratch brush" pens with success to distress the wood and it will even enhance texture of plastic kits if done carefully. There are fiberglas or brass bristles and you dial out the length of the brush to get less or more intensity of the desired effect  .

Google Eurotool scratch brush. They are available from Micromark, Amazon and others.

Good Luck, Ed

  • Member since
    May, 2013
  • 42 posts
Posted by staybolt on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 12:48 AM

Hey, thanks Ed for your suggestions....yes, it is wood [Alexander Scale Models, Fairbanks Morse Co. 100 ton size that I started decades ago, but only recently finished (!)]....Alexander's description (from '53 when Mich. Central was still using it) says tower had been standing since '18 and had faded to a "...dark silvery gray...". From accompanying photos the tower sheathing appears to be a form of shiplap siding with the parallel board edges butted together so surface is in one plane, whereas the model uses simulated clapboard siding where the surface  is stepped (not in one smooth plane). I would imagine that the paint might fade more toward the bottom of each board with clapboard construction since the bottom is more exposed to dripping rain than the top. That's probably splitting hairs, though, with a model (!). 

I've used powders and dry brushing techniques with good results on cars and and concrete footings. Hadn't heard of "scratch brushes" before, though. Sounds interesting. I've got other as yet un-built wooden kits, both structures and cars. Maybe I'll get a brush and play around with it a little. To achieve the "dark silvery gray" for the tower I think I agree with you that airbrushing would be first choice. 

For me, wooden towers have more eye appeal than their concrete variants since wood is a natural material. The only remaining ones I've seen are at the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic (C&TS) RR's yard at Chama, NM and Nevada Northern's at Ely, NV. The C&TS folks told me the hoist mechanism (and maybe other parts) for their tower needs repair so they don't currently use it. It's on the list of restoration projects, though. If I lived closer (I'm in IL) I'd volunteer some hours on it!   

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