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Dear All,

Can anyone suggest the best paint to buy to reproduce rust on track. I bought Humbrol rust coloured paint but I don't think it looks like the real thing. Any other suggestions would be greatfully received.

Charles Wilson
Sydney Australia
 

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I've tried a few and mixed a few by way of experiment, the one I use is Tamiya Red Brown XF-64. As its and acrylic paint it's easy to wipe of the top of the rails.

Regards

Jack
 

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I bought the RRP after seeing it reviewed here along with their paint. A couple of my mates borrowed the contraption and were not impressed. The paint was fine though, it being applied to the track by hand. I'm in Australia but bought mine from the UK to avoid the high prices and the run around we seem to get here from many suppliers and hobby shops.

Cheers,
Steve
 

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*** Paint is fine if you are using an airbrush and mix the colours appropriately, but I prefer to use a different method much of the time...

* I first paint the track all over with light coat from a spray can of gray auto primer.

* I then clean rail tops with the end grain of a bit of pine soaked in white spirit (used like a track rubber) and leave it for a full day at least... followed by mixing up an appropriate blend of wood stain and paint, adding terracota and black paint to the stain to give the right "weathered sleepers" look. This gets painted on with a big soft brush and is done very quickly all over rails/sleepers etc to give the initial base. Over the undercoat it takes on a nice colour and is sufficiently varied (being a stain/paint mix) to NOT have the "painted rails" look.

* Finally after giving the rail another clean with the pine block, and allowing 24 hours to dry... I take some of the stain mix and make it more "rust like". Then, using a super low cost kids paintbrush (50p for half a dozen from the corner shop stuff) with bristles cut slightly short to add stiffness, I paint this very quickly onto the rail sides only - the fact its a stain+paint makes the paint content gather more alongside detail so again, the look isn't just "painted on".

One last time with the pine block, then wait a day, then clean properly with a track cleaner.

Ballasting is next.... followed by an airbrush wash and weathering powders as appropriate for the track use.

Regards

Richard
 
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The only rusty coloured rails (in the diesel and electric era) were those that were hardly ever used. Predominantly, on electric lines the rust tended to be overcome by brake dust giving a rich more brownish colour (at least on southern lines close to things which slowed trains down like signals and stations) whilst tracks which were used by diesels had oil deposits with dirt attached. (The space in between the rails was also stained black; quite often unevenly to one side but I'm not sure why this happened.)

If modelling the third rail conductor then these were often black or dark grey in colour - I suppose from carbon build up.

I don't remember steam days to well - but I doubt they were an even track colour that we see applied to some layouts given how steam trains leaked water oil and coal.

Unfortunately, most colour photographs concentrate on the trains and the surrounding infrastructure - not very good when we need track details.
 

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Richard,

Your method sounds fantastic. I only wish I had known about it before I had my track weathered. Unfortunately it is already painted and ballasted. With this in mind, would it be possible to re weather already painted and ballasted track using your method or an adaption of it? Or is it just too late?

Cheers,
Steve
 

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*** I don't think so.... the ballast will absorb the stain more than anything else and I would worry about the final result.... by all means try on a test bit though. You **MAY** be able to do the rail weathering, but probably not the main initial wash I think....

If your track is already ballasted, careful use of an airbrush is the only really usable answer, followed by cautious use of weathering powders

regards

Richard
 

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The only "real" way of successfully weathering track in my completely biased opinion is to do a little at a time. The appearance of track is extremely complex close up: I have the scars to prove how close up I have been at times. (I broke a couple of ribs at Crewe and bashed them back into place near Northwich a week later
. This was a bit too close).

From a moderate distance (say an ordinary height overbridge looking down on the track at about 30 degrees) the whole lot tends to blend together.

One thing to be decided therefore is whether one wants the detailed or the blended look?

There is a whole host of questions in addition to era. Location, season, traffic and even recent weather are three broad areas. Drainage - good, indifferent and/or bad is another factor that I'm always on about.

Location is the big issue. Where is the track? Industrial, urban, suburban, rural. Even rural brings up some surprises. The track can be very green if wind blows seed onto the ballast and humidity allows it to germinate. Salt (usually along coastal tracks) is another factor. One place I knew in Cornwall as a kid had weird desert specialist plants happily growing in the 4foot. The micro climate of a particular cutting was just right for them. How they got there is anyone's guess.

One thing that I am increasingly inclined to do is to mute the colours added over the basic ballast colourS. Up close diesel/oil spill can be pretty black but the way that light refracts tends to edge it into greys. Water on top of oil-fouled ballast can actually reflect a bright blue sky... That should be fun to model!

Will come back with more...
 

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Bear makes some very valid points which highlight the fact that rail colour is part of the wider topic of weathering and the environment.

The first point to correct though, is that rails are only rusty when they are not used. This normally starts occuring on the rail head first and progressively works on the sides.
Rails which are in use are a combination of the environment colour, grease and brake dust - mostly the latter.

In my opinion, most people paint rails with far too much 'orange' when in fact, it is more of a brown/grey tone and it does vary depending on the location (countryside, city, urban etc) and the country - it's a very different colour here in Aus to what it is in the UK. It also varies depending on the train braking systems used - different types of brake blocks and pads produce different debris. Traditional brakes blocks of the type used in the UK in the 60's used to produce a lot of highly 'magnetically sticky' ferrous dust which gave rails their appearance. I believe that modern brake pads have been based on asbestos (progressively moved to equivalent products for health reasons) and therefore produce completely different dust and less of it.

I don't find any of the commercial paints to give suitable colours for rails, therefore, I make my own. I use a completely unscientific mix of Humbrol 113 (Matt rust) and Humbrol 33 (Matt Black) which is about 4 metric parts 113 and 1 part 33. Probably best to show a picture of the resulting tone:

http://www.mrol.com.au/Articles/Weathering/Weathering5.aspx

The key factor is that subsequent mixes have slightly different variations in tone - consistent with Bear's 'little at a time' approach.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Dear All,

Thanks for all the replies very useful.

Graham do you paint your track the same colour as the rails. On your pictures it appears you do.

Regards

Charles Wilson
Sydney Australia
 

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Some great info here. I have used red oxide car primer, then painted the sleepers rail tie brown.

I like the sound of Richard's solution. I imagine that if using a water based stain, mix with acrylic paint. I'm about to build a new layout - great timing.

John
 

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Charles,

QUOTE (Charles Wilson @ 20 Oct 2011, 11:18) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Dear All,

Thanks for all the replies very useful.

Graham do you paint your track the same colour as the rails. On your pictures it appears you do.

Regards

Charles Wilson
Sydney Australia

The photos actually show the track (sleepers, ballast) before I had coloured them, however, I apply a mixture of Carrs powders and air brushing with slightly different tones.
 

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Dear All,

Can anyone suggest the best paint to buy to reproduce rust on track. I bought Humbrol rust coloured paint but I don't think it looks like the real thing. Any other suggestions would be greatfully received.

Charles Wilson
Sydney Australia
From what I understand, it depends on the Location. The Rust Colour on Rails varies in different parts of the world: From an Orangey Colour to a Dirty Brown, depending on Local Elements.
 

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Some great info here. I have used red oxide car primer, then painted the sleepers rail tie brown.

I like the sound of Richard's solution. I imagine that if using a water based stain, mix with acrylic paint. I'm about to build a new layout - great timing.

John
Be careful using Water Based Paint/Stain to Age Rails and Paint Sleepers. When you spray Diluted PVA (or use a Solvent Based Product) to Secure the Ballast, the Water Based Paint can Soak Up Through the Ballast.
 

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To anyone modelling Florida East Coast (between St Augustine & Melbourne):
What colour do you use to Age The Rails (Rust Effect)? ...
.. From what I've heard, the Colour of the Rust varies in different locations.
 

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I've tried a few and mixed a few by way of experiment, the one I use is Tamiya Red Brown XF-64. As its and acrylic paint it's easy to wipe of the top of the rails.

Regards

Jack
I've just been enquiring in different places about Rust Colour. I actually have a bottle of what you suggested (which belonged to my late brother, who was building a HO Layout); but I've heard that the Actual Colour depends on the Elements in different locations.

I'm modelling Florida East Coast (between St Augustine & Melbourne):
 
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