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By:     Date: 2019-11-15
Alta mine Tram House at Ophir, CO

Craig, Realistic Rust Effects Dave Vollmer Most of us narrow gauge modelers have corrugated metal roofs or siding on at least one or two structures. If you’re modeling the Rio Grande Southern like me, there are lots of opportunities to model well-rusted corrugated metal. The technique I’m about to share is not my own, nor does it only work on corrugated siding. It’s become my go-to rust technique for anything that’s not going to be regularly handled…so it’s perfect for structures, static details, and vehicles. When I started work on my Banta Modelworks model of the Alta mine Tram house at Ophir, CO, I wondered how I might achieve the realistic rust patina that made the prototype a reddish color that—in some photos—almost appeared purplish. The kit comes with Campbell Scale Models real metal siding which I painted with a flat gray primer. But at that point I was stumped. I subscribe to Model Railroader Video Plus. MRVP Executive Producer David Popp has a series he calls “The Log Blog” in which he’s expanding and improving the Olympia On30 logging project layout Model Railroader Magazine built a few years back. Just as I was about to try creating rust with acrylic washes, David came to the rescue with his Log Blog installment “On a Hot

The Roof of the Banta Modelworks Mrs Skillens’ Store was weathered with this technique.
Tin Roof.” In it he described how he came upon a technique—almost by accident—that created a rust patina exactly like what I was after. The technique involves the alcohol/Dullcote haze reaction that we normally try to avoid. However, in some applications, it actually works to our advantage. So what David (and I) did was start by applying a base gray color to the siding. In my case I used flat gray primer (although in one later case I was using a plastic structure already molded in gray and chose to leave it as-is to start). After the gray is applied, bomb the heck out of the piece with Testors Dullcote. David then used Monroe Models weathering washes. I’m a fan of Monroe and I wouldn’t want to take anything away from them, but I was eager to get going and didn’t want to wait on an order, so I made my own. The washes I used were a mix of straight 70% Isopropyl alcohol and Doc O’Brien’s Weathering Powders. You can use other brands of weathering powders or even pastel chalk dust (I have!). The main thing is to suspend the powders in the alcohol. They’ll want to settle out so you’ll need to keep capping and shaking your jars as you go. I start with a dark brown rust color. The alcohol evaporates pretty quickly so if you’re working on a large
RGS Placerville warehouse is a plastic Walthers Cornerstone HO kit
piece, there’s a good chance the first bits will be dry by the time you’re ready to switch colors. If they bleed together a little, that’s fine too. Real rust can be streaky and have all kinds of mottled colors. After the dark brown rust wash I come in with some red rust wash. As the washes dry you’ll start to see the haze reaction between the Dullcote and the alcohol. That’s good…we want that! Then I come in with an orange rust wash. In this case I didn’t have a suitable Doc O’Brien color on hand, so I took a rusty orange pastel chalk and rubbed it against some sandpaper, letting the dust fall into a jar of alcohol. Lastly, I come in with a dark gray/black “grimy” wash—thinner than the others—to tie it altogether. The kicker, in my opinion, is coming back with the orange again and just hitting corners and seams where water would likely collect, representing new rust. I’ve used this technique on almost any metal roof and it really seems to make it “pop”. I mentioned that it’s good for things that aren’t handled frequently, and that’s because when the alcohol has evaporated, the powders are essentially unsealed. Another shot of Dullcote kills the haze effect, so we don’t want to go that route. What I’ve not tried yet is to do the alcohol washes first and then the Dullcote. I’m interested to know if anyone tries that and how the results end up, but I’m very happy with the results I’ve gotten with the technique as described. So again, I want to give credit to David Popp and MR Video Plus for the technique. I hope it works for you as well as it’s worked for me! Photo 1: The Banta Modelworks Ophir Alta Tram House and the roof of the Scratch built house were weathered with this technique on my HOn3 Rio Grande Southern. Photo 2: The roof of the Banta Modelworks Mrs Skillens’ Store was weathered with this technique. Photo 3: The RGS Placerville warehouse is a plastic Walthers Cornerstone HO kit. The technique was applied to the entire structure over the raw, gray molded plastic.

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