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Been Nothin' Since Frisco
Weathering HGPX 10
PS-2CD 4427 cubic foot covered hopper from the Proto 2000 HO scale model

On January 2 of this year, I met up with my friend Glenn Hargrave at the BNSF/UP diamond in Saginaw, Texas, just a few miles west of my neighborhood. This is a very busy location, as you might imagine, and we were prepared for taking plenty of photos. My mission for the day was to find a rusty Pullman Standard 4427 cubic foot covered hopper, since I had recently picked up a pair on ebay in a paint scheme I cannot use.

In between coal trains and autorack unit trains, a slow manifest lumbered down the main and began to cross the diamond. I spotted a cut of covered hoppers and got my camera ready. I yelled to Glenn, “that’s the one!” and took a shot. He also grabbed a shot and not surprisingly, his came out much better than mine. Here’s Glenn’s photo:


Glenn's prototype photo

The next time I sat down to the kit, I removed the lettering that wasn’t appropriate to this car including the lessee name “Midwestern” and the reporting marks “TLDX.” I used a #17 chisel blade with the corners rounded to chisel and scrape off the lettering. Clean up was done by wet-sanding with 1000 grit paper. Here’s the before photo:


And the after photo:


The next step was to paint the car with a base coat. I airbrushed the car with Floquil Antique White just getting enough on to cover the dimensional data and blend the brown sides with the black ends. I also shot the car with some rust colors, made from TTX Yellow and ATSF Mineral Brown. I’m not sure that the colors matter too much in this case, since they end up getting covered, but that’s what was on the bench at the time. Anyway, it turned out that this step was a waste of time to do on the sides of the car but necessary on the ends, where it’s difficult to reach with a brush. Here’s the photo of the airbrushed car:

Now comes the fun part. If I’m going to do rust, I start with the following colors: burnt umber, raw sienna, cadmium yellow, cadmium red, and titanium white. Over the next few weeks, I drybrushed a mixture of raw sienna and burnt umber over the off-white sides of the car. When each coat would dry, I’d wet sand the car revealing the off white base paint. Next, I stained the off-white base by passing over the car with a mixture of yellow and white. Here’s that process one week in:

The next step was to add the lettering, which was simply reporting marks and a lube stencil. I tried my best to wet-sand the paint enough around the dimensional data to reveal it on the sides, and it worked, but it’s pretty hard to see in these photos. Once the lettering was applied, I clear coated the car. Here’s a photo showing the bright white lube stencil and the crisp reporting marks:

All that really remained at this point was the detail painting: chipped grabs, roof and walkway, rust pits and streaks. I drybrushed the roof hatches white, which really brightened up the off-white base I’d previously painted on them. It’s been awhile since I’ve been on top of a covered hopper, but I want to say those hatches are fiberglass. In any event, they always seem to take paint differently than the rest of the car and they also seem to break constantly because you’ll see a rainbow of colors when you’re looking at the roofs of covered hoppers. I also painted the roofwalk with passes of galvanized gray, white, raw sienna and burnt umber. The hinges were painted with a dark rust color and rust pitting was added to the roof. Here’s a shot of the roof:

This shot shows the chipped grabs and end treatment:

Since I only had a view of one side of this car, the other side had to be freelanced. Most people think copying the photo side is the hard part, but it’s the other side that’s the biggest pain for me. In fact, I didn’t even get started on it until I was ready to letter the photo side. Here’s a progress shot of the “other side:”

The final orange rust streaks were added by drybrushing a mixture of red, yellow, raw sienna and white, which has the effect of muting the lettering and lube stencil. The older, darker rusty marks on the sides were added by drybrushing a mixture of raw sienna and burnt umber, mostly just daubing it on the sides and muting it with a soft brush. Here are the final shots:

Side near camera, underside view:

Side away from camera, underside view:

A end view:

B end view:

Roof view, away from camera:

Three-quarter view, side away from camera:

Three-quarter view, side near camera:

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Entrepreneurial Teen
Cool car RHC! Thanks for posting! I'm experimenting with some weathering, and I love learning from articles such as yours. I get to see the technique and results, which gives me a better idea of what to expect (it's just trial and error for me right now, which isn't necessarily a good habit when dealing with models and a low budget :eek: )


Been Nothin' Since Frisco
I know the feeling about being low budget. You wouldn't believe how many paint schemes some of my models have worn over the years...


Registered Member
Staff member
Real neat, RCH I think I'll save that post before it drops off the end. Thanks for posting although I don't expect to anywhere close nice job you did. :D
Cheers Willis

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