Sunday, 20 September 2009

Paint Your Wagon(load)

Work is progressing on the demonstration items that I mentioned last weekend, and here is an update after a Sunday afternoon spent pootling around.

The Plank

This is pretty much complete – photos taken this afternoon, and I’ll update during the week.

Factory Building

Well, it’s coming on, and that’s being nice. The paintwork was tidied up a bit, and then toned down with a black wash to start the weathering process. This is an old building, and needs to look as though it’s been around a bit. I’m not overly happy with the window frames; to improve things a bit, I painted each piece of glazing with a blob of gloss varnish to try and add a bit of shine to them and take away the matt black that gives the building a dead appearance. This has worked better in some panes than others, so I think a second go is required. Some subtle weathering is required, followed by signage and some detailing.

The Lorry

First job was to swap the black wheels for a spare set of red wheels, and make it look more sexy. Erm ... okay. Work then began on the trailer; the body is a flatbed with aluminium dropsides and such vehicles are often used in the construction industry – sometimes a HIAB crane is built onto the deck. The body was simply sprayed aluminium colour, leaving just the headboard to paint later on. For the floor, I used some of Blairline’s excellent laser etched wood decking. Blairline products are American, and not available for sale in the UK. Fortunately, I used to import some of their stock when I ran Signs of The Times, and ordered some of these before I ceased trading. Blairline have a good range of products, obviously aimed at the US market, but with some useful bits and bobs that British modellers can make good use of. Mail order is available direct from the States. The website greets you with the heading that Blairline is a Christ Centred Company, which is a tad unexpected on a modelling website to say the least. However, that's Americans for you. Notwithstanding the Bible bashing, the products are excellent, and the owner of the company, Dale Rush, is extremely helpful and friendly - nothing is too much trouble, and mail order service is second to none.

The wood looks incredibly realistic, and being self-adhesive makes installation a simple matter of cutting to size and placing into the body. I weathered it first, by attacking it with a knife blade, in order to represent gouges from loading and unloading, which believe me, isn’t a gentle process. Then an all over light black wash was followed by two more black and grey washes in areas that would receive the most bashing about. Finally, I ran the whole thing under the tap before sticking it out in the hot sun (yes, really – gorgeous afternoon in Lincolnshire) to dry out and weather naturally. It now looks faded and scuffed, which is what I was after.


The two loads consisted of a set of steel pipes, and a set of steel pipes with steel coils adjacent. Simple and straightforward enough, but once painted up, they didn’t look that good. To add realism, they needed to be rusting, and that can be a tricky job. Fortunately, ages ago I purchased a product called ‘Scenic Rust’ at an exhibition on impulse. As is so often the case, it got put in a box and forgotten about. This seemed to be an excellent time to experiment.

All of this comes in the Scenic Rust pack - details about these products at Deluxe Materials.

Scenic Rust is a small package, but with a lot of stuff in it. Basically, there is a tub of what looks like a pile of iron filings that we used to chase around school desks in physics lessons. I doubt if piles of mysterious grey powder are still allowed in schools; most of the teenagers would probably snort them rather than find magnetic north. Wotever.

"Looks like I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing rust." *

A white liquid substance that looks like diluted PVA is applied in equal proportion to the filings, and mixed into a liquid paste that turns blue. This is then painted onto the model and left to dry. After a couple of hours, the Scenic Rust Developer (blue watery liquid) is painted over the top and left to dry. The rust begins to appear after a couple of hours, but won’t be fully developed for around 8 hours – so you can watch rust form in front of your very eyes! It’s a very long, slow process, but preferable to X-Factor.

The finished result looks like this – but I have to say, it is very difficult to photograph convincingly. The pipes really look as though the rust is bubbling up, and the texture feels rough, just like the real thing. Whatever angle you view it from, it always look different as the light catches it, hence the photography problem. I’m delighted with the result on the pipes, and set to work on the pipes / coils load later in the day.

The second load, about 3 hours into drying.

* If you don't get this line, watch Airplane!


  1. The plank is really looking good- look forward to more photos. I like the Audi parked up...the very important owner is "making that call", no doubt, as a bit of relief from flashing his lights futilely at my tail board...I might try the rust, I had read about it in the MRJ and the results you have achieved with it appear to be extremely good. The windows on the factory look fine from the photos, too.

  2. The rust is far more realistic than I expected, and I'll be experimenting some more with this. I saw your Audi driver on the M62 today ... due to a smash up, everything was crawling along - but he's so important he went up the hard shoulder whilst reading a map! I did chortle when he looked up from the page and found a VOSA patrol pulling him over for a chat... couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, as they say.


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