Sunday, 28 June 2009

The Art of Making Dirty

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of filth in life, and sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than getting down and dirty. No, I’m not talking St Trinians again, or even MP’s expenses. My subject today is the noble art of weathering your stock. Some people can weather stock, and some can’t. I fall into the latter category, so when I needed some locos, wagons and a DMU muckying up for my exhibition layout, I was delighted to stumble across Craig at The Art of Making Dirty – his own business specialising in weathering stock from any era.

The photos on his website had me drooling as the sample stock looked incredibly realistic. A few e-mails were exchanged, and Craig offered a very reasonably priced service with a good turnaround of a few weeks – perfect timing as I required some dirty stock for Aberdeen Exhibition.

Craig wasn’t simply offering ‘weathering’ as a take-it-or-leave-it service; his options are pretty much bespoke, ranging from a loco fresh out of works with just a tad of buffer grease and exhaust dirt right up to withdrawn and abandoned in a siding. I needed a couple of class 66’s doing in average condition, an EWS 60 to look work stained, a clean-ish South West Trains Turbostar, some EWS Seacows looking fairly smart, a couple of Dogfish looking decidedly tired and past their prime, a pair of typical parcels vans and the piece de resistance, a rail blue liveried 08 gronk in ‘the full monty’ of renumbering and looking rather worse for wear, being some eight years since a works visit. This was a lot of work in a short time, but Craig accepted the job, and my large box was duly posted.

When Postman Pat struggled up the drive a few weeks later, I couldn’t wait to see the results. And were they spectacular, or what?! The attention to detail was incredible. Along with general dirt that every train picks up in service were oil stains, dripping grease, exhaust stains, brake dust, rust and rain run off from guttering.

Freightliner 'Fred' - see how much detail has been applied to the bogies.

The clss 66 has clearly been having a busy time lately.

All items were of a superb standard, but the loco that captivated my attention the most was the class 08. When I showed my fellow operator, Sam, the loco at Aberdeen he almost wet himself and came out with my favourite quote, “I don’t want to pick it up, because I’ll get my hands dirty.” And he was right; the muck was so realistically applied that you feel as though your hands will come away with a mixture of brake dust and grease by just handling it! The detail didn’t stop there, either. The shunter’s paint has become faded and blotchy through years of neglect and treatment from carriage washing plants, and this was faithfully reproduced on the model.

Out of the box, this is the loco that I sent up to Craig ...

... and this is what came back. The application of the dirt, rust, oil and grease is meticulous.

The weathered stock attracted much attention at exhibitions, but none more so than the 08 that became the operators and visitors favourite, and worked at every show. Although the layout was sold last year, the loco has been preserved in a display case at home.

The pair of Dogfish looked fantastic, with evidence of ballast dust
in the unloading chutes, plus liberal rust and brake dirt along the underframe.

60026 clearly needs to spend a little time back at the depot to sort out that oil leak!

I can thoroughly recommend visiting the website to view the galleries of weathered stock – steam and diesel locos, wagons and coaches all feature – to get an idea as to just how artistic and observant Craig is when recreating stock in any condition. Even if you don't need any stock weathering right now, the galleries are worth a visit in their own right. By the way, I have absolutely no link to Craig or his business - I am simply passing my experiences on purely as a satisfied customer.

1 comment:

  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



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