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The Isle of Westland Railway

It's better by train.......


Why 'weather' models ?  (I am regularly asked why and wrote this article )



 Which looks the more realistic locomotive ? They are both exactly the same model 'Viking' from Accucraft but the lower loco has been 'weathered' by me.

 Why should models be altered from their original newly painted condition? Well, depending on the decision you have come to regarding the photo question you might already have an answer ! The question on 'whether to weather' can cause heated debate, but, if the aim is to recreate the appearance of the real world in miniature, then the effects of an item existing in its environment needs to be replicated. Not to do so will create the appearance of a set of 'museum exhibits'  that are not in everyday use and not experiencing the changes to their surfaces that the weather and knocks and scrapes of everyday life create.

 So what is it that needs to be replicated ? 

'Lady of the Isles' which I have weathered to try to give the impression of a well maintained but hard working loco.

 From the moment a railway vehicle leaves the paintshop it's newly applied  paintwork  is under attack. That paintwork is going to be knocked and scraped as the wagon travels around in its working life.. This will produce dents and scratches in the paintwork..

Then there are other the factors. How clean does a car stay once it has been washed ? Well pretty quickly the pristine finish that was so hard to create is going to be lost as dust and dirt attache themselves to the surface ................let alone the effect of passing birds ! All railway vehicles (and locomotives for that matter) will start to have dust and dirt adhering to their surfaces and dulling the appearance of the paint.

On a loco an attempt might be made to keep the machine clean but the frames will probably show dirt even if the tanksides are clean. They will attract loose rust and ballast dust from the track over which it travels. The oil and grease used for lubrication will make its way onto then frames and the dirt will stick to this. Who cleans the cab roof of a loco in normal daily service ? This will most likely be covered in dirt from the chimney. The cab,boiler  and tank sides might be wiped over with an oily rag but soon dust from the same sources will stick to it. In Victorian  loco pictures the cleaning process itself can be seen to have produced smears from the Tallow used as a cleaning agent. Sometimes this fact is deliberately used to create 'fish tail' patterns. Whatever the reason....................that loco is no longer a pristine 'museum condition ' item !

A visiting unweathered loco shows the contrast betwen the two approaches well. If you are going to start weathering it is necesary to carry out a consistent approach to all your stock so that they match in together.

Wooden wagons, for example, rarely had their interiors painted unlike most of the model open wagons  that are seen running on model railways. A painted finish cost money and the interior of a wagon was generaly not seen as the train passed. Railway Companies wanted to project an image but why wast money where it was not going to be seen? The resulting bare wooden interior is going to change colour very quickly and even paint, when sits in the sun and rain, soon starts to fade. In addition that 'open' wagon we considered is going to get damaged by use. The loads it carries aregoing to dent and scrape the surface both inside and out.The side of the top plank will be scraped and split by shovels and other tools as the wagon is loaded or unloaded.  Coal loads, gravel, rock, packing cases, wooden planks, metal items, pipes, logs ..................all are going to leave their mark and soon the original appearance will have changed. To show the effect of this a model needs to be altered to replicate that process.

 Knocks on metal surfaces open up the area for rust to take a hold. Over time this will spread dislodging the paint film and leaving that well known reddish brown surface colour.

These are P&J wooden bodied wagons made from kits and weathered to try to giev the effect of working stock. This includes debris from loads inside.

Passenger coaches will probably have some attempt made at cleaning them but once again..................... the roof? Unlikely, and the frames and running gear are below the normal viewing level of passengers and will come under the same effects as mention on that loco in this region. Coach ends suffer the effect of a vacuum created as vehicles travel along.............. which sucks dirt onto them. Have you also noticed, particularly on narrow gauge vehicles which are lower to the rail, that the wheels of the adjoining vehicle spray rusty water onto them creating two reddish coloured stripes on the coach end ?

 Lineside buildings and all other structure surfaces suffer the same. Walls might be wood, brick or stone. Painted or left bare they will still be attacked by wind borne dust, rain, sleet, snow, the sun................. let alone the hand of man ! These weather effects will dull and fade paintwork and wall building material colours. Moss and staining from damp will show. Feet climbing the stairs up to the the Signal box door will wear away the paint and deposit dirt..............that parcels trolley that hit the station door that had been left shut will knock off some of the paint..............................the list goes on endlessly.

 The question for the modeller you decide to ignore all this or attempt to recreate  the visual effect in some way ? The answer to this question will have a major effect on the way your models look. There is no right or wrong answer......................we each make a choice.

Visiting loco that has been weathered by the owner.

( To follow........methods used on my line )


Andrew Coward