What's the deal with extremely weathered cars?

cf7 Feb 1, 2008

  1. cf7

    cf7 TrainBoard Member

    After seeing quite a few beautifully weathered cars, mostly hoppers, I'm wondering what do people do with them? Yeah, they have been rusted up to represent a prototype, but are they actually used? I'm sure us MRR's don't run a whole train of them (who could afford to pay some of the outrageous prices to amass a train of 'em?!) and I think they may look out of place running in the typical consist that I have seen on different layouts. I have always been a big fan of the slightly weathered stuff and just don't understand the appeal.

    Too me, N scale is waaaay to easy to overweather and some of the weathering that I've seen just doesn't fit the scale as opposed to an HO or larger car.

    Don't want to offend anyone; just curious, that's all! :tb-confused:
  2. TonyHammes

    TonyHammes TrainBoard Member

    I run a mix. I have everything from slightly weathered to heavily weathers. Most of my rollingstock is in the "less" weathered departement. When I run trains I mix them up and it looks right. I can go down to the yard in El Paso and see nothing but a string of dirty nasty graffitti covred cars more often than clean cars.
  3. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

    (Ha ha!)

    I should go take some photos of some of the 1:1 cars running around here. We're in the West, so there's lots of sunbleaching from running through the sunnier parts of the country. Portland is basically in a temperate rainforest zone, so there's tons of moisture. The secondhand or leased cars running on a lot of the shortlines frequently have rattle can renumbering, and the original logos are often seriously faded or just painted out with paint that never really matches. I am not aware of there being any washing facility in frequent use in this area. It's not unusual, in the winter, to be unable to tell what number car has simply because of the combined effects of fading, rain, and road grime.

    I agree that some cars do look a little bit overweathered. I have been considering my weathering options, and I think I am going to tend toward underweathering with the idea that I can always add a little more, but that it's hard to take it back.
  4. Doug A.

    Doug A. TrainBoard Supporter

    I think there is a major distinction between "beautifully weathered" and "overweathered". "Beautifuly weathered" cars can be lightly weathered or heavily, but they LOOK right.

    Overweathered, in my opinion, means they are not only heavily/excessively weathered, they don't look like anything you'd see in real life. Which is what my efforts often looked like when I was in HO. I haven't done a lot of weathering in n-scale yet.

    I've seen some really beat up and ultra-heavily weathered cars in real life. I think the biggest challenge to reproduce those in n-scale would be avoiding overweathering. I'd say the extremes--very heavily weathered, and only very slightly weathered--have to be the hardest to pull off successfully especially on an n-scale model.
  5. wcfn100

    wcfn100 TrainBoard Member

    I don't think most layouts have good enough scenery to make even lightly weathered cars look right.

    This isn't a jab at anyone, realistic scenery is hard. You could have a trains worth of prototypically weathered cars and engines but if you run them on the Plywood Central with over-sized, snap together track with either no ballast or oversized ballast, a grass mat and a puffball forrest, the effect is lost and even looks out of place.

  6. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

    It's my intention to "dust" 1/3 of mine to get the gloss off.
    After that a few will get varying degrees of intenisty.
  7. Tim Loutzenhiser

    Tim Loutzenhiser TrainBoard Supporter

    Gotta admit that I would rather see no weathering at all as opposed to some (a lot) of the over-weathered stuff I see. I really like lightly weatherd cars, and really like the Athearn pre-weathered cars - just right and if the owner prefers, they can be weathered a little more.
    One other thing I see is passenger equipment that is WAY to weathered! Most railroads kept their equipment fairly clean and well maintained right up to the end. Of course there were probably exceptions, but not what I saw where I lived. Passenger equipment in N and HO frequently has Dull Coat applied, when actually it should have been gloss-coated. Check out the videos of the B&O for example from Pentrex or some of the other retailers - notice that in the 1950's and 1960's the cars shine.

    I find that I take more pictures of the prototype stuff when it is either brand new, or has recently been through the wash rack.

    On the other hand I have seen some wonderful weathering examples on this web site that are really works of art.

    I just picked up a box of Reeves soft pastels that has 32 colors in the box. Thought that I should get going on some weathering on some structures, and since I'm way behind the curve better get some rolling stock weathered up - lightly.
  8. Tudor

    Tudor TrainBoard Member

    I weather in many variations. Some more than others, some lightly weathered. I run them mixed as well. I model mid 1950s era in an old forgotten dirty midwest town, where rolling stock maintenance may not have been so good. I personally like the grimy look, but on the other hand, don't want EVERY car done that way.
  9. William Cowie

    William Cowie TrainBoard Member

    I lightly weather all my rolling stock with an airbrush wash of assorted dirty colors. Hemi is right, out West most rolling stock is weathered. Here are two fairly random shots of some equipment rolling around and through Denver...

    Attached Files:

  10. MP333

    MP333 TrainBoard Supporter

    Yes, I see some pretty rough equipment go by out here in the west. I model 1972, and from the photos I research there was a lot of equipment beat to heck back then.
    My biggest problem with weathering cars is that it is just so darn much fun to weather the daylights out of cars. Maybe overdone, but it's hard to stop sometimes. A good rule is to stop well before you think you should stop.
  11. SteveM76

    SteveM76 TrainBoard Member

    It is my goal to weather everything to approximately the same degree. Anything more or less just looks out of place in the model world although it happens in real life. A shiny new car will attract just as much attention as a heavily weathered one. Keeping everything medium just looks right to me.
  12. ctxm

    ctxm TrainBoard Member

    I think if one wants to run weathered cars it is necessary to learn to do them yourself. Paying someone to do your hobby for you seems a bit weird? and at the prices the good ones bring I don't see how anyone could justify spending the money for a whole layout full of them anyway?
    When I get a car I don't put it in service till it has metal wheels, body mounted couplers and weathering so that makes it easy to avoid the mix of finished and unfinished cars. This can take a while, I've been buying N scale for a few months and have about 50 cars but only 6 are ready for service.
    I've also found that N scale is much harder to weather than the larger scales, the paint molecules and brushes are the same size but the place it has to go on is a lot smaller and the lines must be a lot finer!!...dave
  13. Tom Schilling

    Tom Schilling TrainBoard Member

    I overweather - the main reason is that in N scale, weathering is more difficult to control. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. The other reason is that light weathering in N scale doesn't always show. I find that slightly exaggerating the weathering tends to give an overall look that I like better. Then, there's my first reason - I'm old, clumsy and heavy-handed. ...Tom
  14. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    Paying someone to weather or paint a car, build a structure, install a decoder, even make our benchwork, isn't weird...it just reflects our different areas of interest, skills, or personal priorities. If they were to fully adopt that perspective, then the scratchbuilders could accuse all of us who buy a kit or RTR car from Atlas instead of unworked balsa or basswood, Plastruct materials, and Evergreen sheets, of paying someone to do our hobby for us.
  15. conductorjonz

    conductorjonz TrainBoard Member

    I try to weather based on the age of the car. IE; My railroad is late 70's early 80's...therefore B&O wagontop boxcars were running their very last days. So they're beat to hell and filthy dirty. UP 50 footers and any 60 footers are most definately lightly weathered. Some times no more than the rust and grimy black on the trucks and maybe a bit of dullcoat or dust.

    Most 40 footers get a rub down with a pencil eraser until the lettering has "faded" and a bit of dry-brushing to make the lettering "chalk" down the side. Then a medium weathering.

    As all cars are put in service they all receive body mount couplers, low profile wheels and weathering as appropriate. All engines receive lift rings, cut-levers, grab-irons, windshield wipers, sun shades, MU and trainline hoses, Micro-Trains couplers and weathering...again that is appropriate to the year, make and model of the loco.

    I like weathering and having worked for the railroad, I promise that it is a dirty world...as I'm sure the other professional railroaders will confirm.

    Lots of good thoughts on this thread.

  16. MP333

    MP333 TrainBoard Supporter

    Greg (conductorjonz) makes a really good point. I try to do the same thing, heavy weathering for older equipment, and very little for new (all relative to your modeling date).
  17. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    As you indicated, heavily weathered models probably reflect a prototype.
    Here are some more examples from the mid-West. I've tracked down pictures of the P&PU 601 over the years...lightly "weathered" in 1994 (Photo by Larry Larson).

    I took this in 2003 after another decade of weathering:
    And a friend captured this one about a year later in the same location (by Tomen Grain in Pekin Illinois where the loco was routinely parked between shifts) (Photo by David P. Jordan):

    This one was taken in 2006 in the same area (Photo by Tracy Bone) and shows that the weathering process continues.

    Do we normally see this much weathering on a modeled loco or car? No.

    Would it look unusual in comparison to less weathered locos or cars in a modeled consist? Maybe the contrast would draw attention, but the proto pics suggest it would be well-within the realm of prototypical possibilities.

    Would heavily weathered locos and cars look right on a layout? Depends on personal preference...views in this thread range from "less is more" to "more is neat".

    I liked the distinction made between "heavily weathered" and "over-weathered" (although I suspect personal preference will be very influential when making that judgement, too).
  18. Matt Burris

    Matt Burris TrainBoard Member

    I'm strange because I like my engines and rolling stock to look new and shiney! :D

    Half of the stuff I'll run together makes no prototypical sense anyway, I just run what I like. I can appreciate all the effort that goes into properly weathering engines and cars, and if that's what someone enjoys I say go for it. I do like mine clean and shiney though.... LOL :D On my magical railroad they somehow get locked into a certain place and time (the day they were new). Then again, I'm borderline OCD and I like everything clean. :D
  19. jsoflo

    jsoflo TrainBoard Member

    My opnion,f ro what it is worth, is that this is an exceptionally subjective area. I have freinds who would not dream of touching a newly purchased peice of equipment with so much as a flat coat. Others are happy to run trains over varied terrain, anonymous mountains, a tunnel, a bridge-- nothing at all wrong with it at all.

    In my case, despite meager modeling skills I try to seek realism in my layout. I try not to run anything that would not be running on that particular road in that particular area (in my case either south Florida or Eastern Pennsylvania and New York), and I do quite a bit of research to ensure that level of accuracy that satisfies me (and its not perfect by any stretch!). On the actual roads, some things are very clean-- others weathered to full effect.

    I can drive by Ft. Lauderdale yard and see a string of well cars of various makes and roads covered in graffitti that is not even half as attractive as the decals we have available; South Florida is very urban, rail yards are not in great areas of town-- CSX's south Florida yard is in a city that was listed as one of the most dangerous in the USA a few years back, box cars and gons are covered in graffitti, and Florida sun, and northeastern weather changes take their toll. For me, heavily weathered is the way most cars appear and I try to model it realistically. Shipping containers are often a mess, and look at photos of CP rail locos running on the D&H and you'll find as much brown on the lower body as black! On the other hand CP high cube box cars seem to have an incredible way of staying clean.
    It all depends what your after and what your comfortable with.

    I try to model that way, if for no other reason than this:
    If my layout can't be a perfect slice of realism, well maybe I can divert the attention by having whats running on it looking real!

  20. pachyderm217

    pachyderm217 TrainBoard Member

    My goal is to make the scene believable. To do that, I have to modify those factors that catch the eye and seem somehow out of place. Weathering is just one piece of the puzzle.

    It's surprising to me how some very subtle changes in my modeling can make such big impacts on believability. Clean automobiles on cold winter days catch our eye, but the salt covered cars we all drive blend together. If viewed from the same visual height and perspective with which we view our models, our autos would all look fairly bland and uniformly grubby. The grimy autos blend together and make grimy traffic. Likewise, our train cars, weathered appropriately, blend together to make a believable train.

    2 months ago, I weathered nearly everything I own in one evening. I'm still amazed at the change it made to my layout. Yes, I did 'overweather' a few pieces while trying to get the balance right. Here's an example of a few done reasonably well.


    I'm not likely to weather any one piece of equipment extra heavily. I'm trying keep things from standing out. I'd like to avoid the viewer's question "What was he thinking when he did that?"

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