How to distress wagons

05 September 2018
lead-pic-co-82300.jpg There’s something very satisfying about making items of RTR rolling stock your own. Heljan’s ‘Dogfish’ hoppers are great models, but with a day or two’s work they can be given unique personalities
This short practical shows you how to give ‘Dogfish’ ballast hoppers a weather-beaten appearance.

The great thing about modelling in O gauge is the number of new Ready-To-Run (RTR) products arriving on the scene. Never has the scale looked more attractive to those moving up from smaller scales. 
This project uses Heljan's ‘Dogfish’ ballast hopper, and we will improve the realism with some heavy weathering to make them look just as life-expired as they did in the mid-1990s. Let's get started...


Shopping List:

Tools & Materials
Humbrol 7mm Stipple Brush
Humbrol 7mm Flat brush
Humbrol 3mm Flat Brush
Javis Nylon 000 Brush
Lifecolor LP01, LP02, LP03 weathering sets
Fox Transfers sheets F7214 Warning Flashes (pre-1998), FRH7020 Warning Flashes (Early) and FRH7949REV (‘on-off’ markings)
Heljan airpipes from Class 31 sprue (7003100I)
Finescale Model World Modellers prep set.


Starting with a Heljan O gauge model of ‘Dogfish’ DB993608 in olive green, this wagon is to be the candidate for some severe rust and grime.
model railway wagon weathering


To weather the wagon use a selection of washes from Lifecolor. Packs LP01, LP02 and LP03 will all be used. It is recommended that you buy a pack of each.
model railway wagon weathering


The first objective is to ‘kill’ the overall olive green colour of the wagon. Start by applying a thin coat of LPW 06 rust from the ‘Rust Wizard’ kit.
model railway wagon weathering


The insides of the wagon are painted a colour shade of ‘Eroding dark rust’. Always paint in vertical lines in a downward direction, following rain streaks.
model railway wagon weathering


The advantage when painting with these acrylics is the fast drying time. When the base coat dry, apply a coat of LP08 eroding light rust as highlights.
model railway wagon weathering


The exposed ends of the wagon are subject to more rainwater than dust, hence appear a different colour. These areas are given a coat of LPW10 yellow marks.
model railway wagon weathering


The same paint is blended into the sides so avoid a sharp colour contrast. Do this by wiping as much paint from the brush as possible and ‘dry brushing’ to fade.
model railway wagon weathering


Another good selection of acrylic paints for modellers is from Comart. Acrylic paints will mix together.
model railway wagon weathering


Comart’s shade of Fertile Soil is ideal for creating tones often seen in areas covered in brake dust and unwashed by rain, such as underneath the hopper.
model railway wagon weathering


This paint preparation pack from Finescale Model World contains lots of useful items when painting models. The fine grit paper is particularly good.
model railway wagon weathering


Use the fine grit to rub down the top layer of paint and create slight variations in undertones. Some of the olive green can be made to appear through if wanted.
model railway wagon weathering


Using an airbrush, apply three shades of rust around the wagon - Deep and Eroding Dark Rust from lifecolor and more Fertile Soil from Comart.
model railway wagon weathering


1. Areas rubbed back reveal the odd glimpse of the olive green. 2. Darker rust shading reveals detail. 3. Rust stains and patches are added with a fine brush.
model railway wagon weathering


A look inside the wagon reveals rust speckles. Reduce the airbrush paint flow until it spits, rather than sprays, using a contrasting darker colour.
model railway wagon weathering


The patch-painted sides are added using a mix of DCCconcepts black weathering powder and paint to obtain a dull ‘chalkboard’ faded look.
model railway wagon weathering


Footsteps, door wheels and axleboxes are painted and Health & Safety notice transfers are applied, as this wagon is fresh from revision.
model railway wagon weathering


The TOPS code ZFW was given to a small number of ‘Dogfish’ with a through airpipe. This uses a spare from a Heljan sprue, which is painted and superglued into place.


The other wagon, DB993116 in engineer’s grey and yellow livery needs little treatment - it needs to look ex-works, but not like plastic.
model railway wagon weathering


Toning down the paint with the airbrush is easy. Dust Wash from Lifecolor is ideal to create a faded, yet subtle effect. The more you use, the more faded it’ll look. Once fully dry, a coat of matt varnish is applied over both wagons to seal paint effects and transfers. 

The finished product looks like this. We're sure you'll agree that it looks far more realistic than what you see in Step 1.


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