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Weathering Technique for Open Top Hopper Cars

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  • Weathering Technique for Open Top Hopper Cars

    Subject: Weathering Technique for Open Top Hopper Cars

    Just finished weathering a couple of HO Accurail USRA hoppers in the "as built" B&O scheme featured in the six-packs that Accurail offered several years ago. They just entered merchandise coal service on my layout (, so I thought I'd share my technique for weathering with Bragdon powders as a first-timer on this Forum.

    The first thing I do with open-top hopper cars is paint the interior to give a bare metal look. In the past I've sprayed Floquil weathered black (or something similar), then dry brushed a steel or gun metal finish over that. The other day I picked up a spray can of Testors graphite metallic color, a gloss lacquer, and tried it on these cars. Here is the result, after Dullcoat-ing compared to an unfinished partner:

    Next, I get out the Bragdon Powders - in this case, Dark Rust and Grime (really, soot). First, the hooper bottoms and rivet lines get a rubbed-on layer of Dark Rust using a semi-fine paint brush with the bristles cut back to stubble. After that, I make several light passes over all surfaces with a soft 1/2" brush to blend things in:

    With the interiors presentable I decided to go with light weathering on the exterior, with a fairly heavy coating of Dark Rust on the hopper bottoms and along the slope sheet rivet lines

    and a light overall brushing of Dark Rust on the side sheets. Again, a before-and-after picture:

    Then, I lightly brush the whole car with Grime:

    As a finishing touch, I dry brush oil-based Steel color on surfaces that see fairly constant wear, such as stirrup steps, hand grabs, and the wine door laches:

    Here they are in service:

    Thanks for viewing, and I hope to see you in my threads on the Model RR Construction and OPS Sig forums.

  • #2
    Nicely done!


    • #3

      You did such a good job on the insides then covered up with coal loads. Ha.

      I like how you varied the weathering between the two cars.


      Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. James Baldwin


      • #4
        Very nice looking, an excellent example of not 'overdoing' them.

        Take the red pill


        • #5
          Nice (subtle) weathering, Vagel. :up:


          • #6

            Originally posted by Michael Hohn


            You did such a good job on the insides then covered up with coal loads. Ha.

            Well, Mike, they'll be MTY the next time they're seen. They hafta go back to the mines!


            • #7
              Good looking hoppers, Vagel. Thanks for the info on how you achieved the in use look.

              The sky is not my limit, it's my playground.


              • #8
                Nicely done Vagel. I've seen Rick (Harsco) use bragdon powders and it amazes me how easy it is to achieve such great results. And as Jim said, great job not overdoing them!


                • #9
                  Nice and subtle. Thanks for sharing


                  • #10
                    Same thoughts as others... subtlety the key... and I love the road name!... had just done a post about two weeks ago on PanPastels and weathering on my blog... dovetails nicely.
                    Best regards -

                    Jim Fawcett

                    Scotch Plains, NJ



                    • #11
                      My hoppers and ore cars have a dry brushed thinned silver wash applied, as my thoughts were that there would be some burnishing of the metal plates making up the inside structure of the cars when the coal/ore loads slid down as the car emptied. I also used light washes of rusty colors as I was sure some rust would be seen. Finally, I also used pastel chalks to weather both the insides and outsides of the cars.