I no longer do - as I get older, I can't even see the detail. Although, there
is a certain sense of satisfaction just knowing its there.
Do any of you choose not to weather some or all of your train equipment?
Some, depending on what I paid for it. I've got some old Athearn rolling stock
and a crappy Bachman loco that I weathered just to try my hand at it. However,
I just can't bring myself to weather the more expensive stuff. I know I could
use chalk, but deep down I love that "showroom shine".
Maybe my eyes are going, but my experience has been that when a
train is moving you really can't see much in the way of detail.
Especially on the underbody.
So on the KL&B:
Cars from "shake the box" type kits intended for static scenes,
or that will always operate near the front edge of the layout,
get the full treatment from underbody detail to the roofwalk.
Cars that will be moving around in "revenue service" initially
just get the basics of metal wheels, Kadee couplers, and the
truck 'journals' being reamed out with a Reboxx "Tool".
And, if I remember to do it, I'll hit the molded on grabs and
steps with a fine point black marker to create the illusion they
aren't quite so thick. The only time I do anything more to these
cars is when the "detailing muse" strikes, and I just feel like
Locos and cars: I go very lightly with chalk, so it's removable.
Structures: I'll use whatever works, chalks, paint, india ink,
Always remember, it's your railroad and the idea is to have fun
So, beyond the basics to insure reliable operation, do what you
enjoy doing with your cars. And, whether they're detailed or not,
or whether they're weathered or not, it will be right for your
Head Rust Scraper
KL&B Eastern Lines RR Museum
The answer is yes. I have many Athearn type cars that I have scraped
off the molded on stuff and added separate details. BUT I have many
that I just use straight out of the box. It just depends. I've found
that under heavy operating conditions that really detailed cars get
broken up a whole lot quicker. Some are just too good and fragile to
risk and don't get to participate in normal operation. If I need a photo
shoot I'll round up the detailed cars.
Also when one needs 200 cars to fill a yard, it would either cost a
fortune to buy or take forever to build detailed cars to fill it with.
Simple logistics demand using out of the box stuff. Through the
years some of the out-of-the-box cars get a natural weathering with dust
I have both detailed and none detailed cars that have all degrees of
weathering from none to heavy.
On Fri, 09 Jan 2004 20:40:54 -0500, Matt & Kathleen Brennan
Genreally speaking I do NOT buy anything with cast on grabs and the
like..There are exceptions, of course..Covered hopper and hopper cars
generally have them but they are easy to replace with wire bits and
the like...I no longer settle for cast on details and have not since I
built my first Front Range kit many moons ago...Thankfully, since that
time, things have gotten even better for those of us who demand more
detailed models and FR in now only a nightmare of the past..As far as
kits go I prefer the offerings from Red Caboose, Intermountain,
Branchline and their like..There are cars from other manufacturers
that you mention that I do pick up from time to time. Accurails USRA
55 ton hopper, their autroracks and Stewart Hoppers are good starts as
well for superdetailing...It is all in the details for me.
Denis F. Blake
I follow a similar practice to what Denis outlines.
I do not like the look of cast on details so do not buy these kits unless I
have absolutely no alternative and this is limited to hoppers. I have tried
removing the heavy cast on ladder rungs on hoppers with mixed results but I
am getting better and am determined to stay this course.
In addition to Red Caboose, Intermountain, and Branchline I would add
Proto2000. Their "War Emergency Hoppers" do actually have separate wire
grabs for the end ladders!
I also like a consistent look to the cars on the layout. Having highly
detailed cars such as the Kadee box cars and now covered hoppers running
coupled to an Athearn "shake the box" kit draws attention to the lack of
detail. So, since I can not afford a full layout of the excellent Kadee
cars (nor do they offer enough variety in roads and road numbers to do that)
I go for a "middle of the road" look of separately applied details but not
to the level of the Kadee cars.
I do not do any additional detailing to the bottom of cars beyond what is
included in the kits. In operation, all you can see is the outline of the
I like the weathered look but not if overdone. I think that weathering
should also be done "to scale" and a little goes a long way.
I'm the same way, so far. I hate shaving grabirons and putting on the fine
wire one. I even hate installing the fine wire ones that are included in
the kit! Mainly due to impatience and a desire for instant gratification.
Though in other instances, I have detailed stuff. Put on a plow, an
antenna, some other oddball item for a detail....
A long ways from the days I used to detail Micro Armor for wargaming....
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Of all the details on a model the paint job is the most visible. If the
model is getting a new paint job that will cover the odd tool mark from
removing cast on grabs, then I go the whole route and add as much wire
detail as possible. On models with fancy multi tone factory paint jobs
that are beyond my painting skills, I tend to stay with the factory
setup, cause the tool marks will show.
As a general rule I give the undersides of cars a coat of gray auto
primer to kill the new plastic gloss. I glaze any windows the car might
have. I give the trucks a coat of red auto primer and brush paint the
faces of the wheels grimy black. Locomotives get a light shield prevent
the headlight bulbs from showing through the cab windows.
My weathering has not progressed much beyond a shot of dull cote to
kill the gloss on some models.
David J. Starr
If you have an airbrush, a light thin coat of flat black wash will do wonders.
Make it a little thicker around the exhaust pipes and on the roofs of locos
(diesel particulates settle out sometimes), and if it's an Alco, really thick
around the exhaust pipe.
I've also used red oxide to almost completely mask a road's herald to look like
faded white lettering.
CNS&M North Shore Line - "First and fastest"
I only do what I can with paint. I detail paint things like reefer
door hinges, spray on dust and grime, use chalks to make letters look
like they are running or fading. I use India ink and alcohol for
relief washes and dry brush everything to make the details pop.
Here are some photos http://www.dougcoffey.com/html/rolling_stock.html
As my interests became more focused on operation, I discovered
something: When operating in a prototypical manner during an operating
session, I don't notice the fiddly details on the rolling stock very
This realization came to me gradually when operating on a friend's
layout over the past few years- he still was running some older cast
metal cars from the 1950s and a few paper-sided cars from the same era
as the number of Intermountain, Branchline and resin kit cars in his
fleet gradually increased. As I focused on getting trains over the road
according to the rules and spotting the right car at the right place, I
paid less and less attention to the details on the cars. Having the
low-detail, even somewhat crude 50 year-old cars running side by side
with cars that represent the current state of the art drove this home to
Having said that, I still prefer the more highly-detailed cars,
especially if they more accurately represent the car they're supposed to
model, but at some point I have to make the decision as to how much work
I want to put into each car. The compromise I've chosen is to pay more
attention to detail on home road equipment and "signature" cars from
other railroads, and less to the more run-of-the-mill cars from other
roads. If it's a car that calls attention to itself, I prefer a higher
level of detail. If it's just another brown 40-foot boxcar that blends
into the rest of the train, I'm not as concerned.
Weathering makes the lack of detail on some cars less obvious. Since
it's easy to apply a base level of weathering in bulk when I have the
spray booth up and running, I periodically go through and shoot any cars
that haven't been weathered yet. If I have the time while I'm assembling
a car and the mood strikes me, I'll get out the CeramCoat and
hand-weather the car before I put it into service.
Then again, I'm focused on operation and operation is less about the
equipment than it is the procedure. I believe it is possible to
represent prototype operation while pushing Brio around on track set on
Webmaster, Rails on Wheels, Washtenaw County, Michigan's HO
Modular Club, at http://www.railsonwheels.com
The address in the header of this message is deliberately bogus to
foil address-harvesters. See my web sites for my real address.
concept. Bill Jewett's a terrific guy. He and his wife were here for dinner last
year prior to a big OPSIG event that we both attended. The "Dispatcher's Office"
is a fabulous newsletter. I read that publication cover to cover for insights on
train operations in the real world [and in the model railroad, world].
I certainly agree that during train operations, car 'detailing' takes a
back seat to car 'spotting' and car 'retrieving'. Yet, it is quite easy
to pick out a Kadee boxcar amidst a collection of lesser models and vice
versa. I think you do see the detailing, or the lack thereof, when it is
inconsistent with the larger body of rolling stock present.
However, as someone else pointed out earleir in the thread, the paint
quality and the lettering are the NEON SIGNS of high quality or poor
quality. That is impossible to hide no matter how many cars are within
view. Any time I have attended a train show, you'll often see long
consists running along the rails as members/clubs simply couple anything
and everything together for the audience to enjoy. Within those trains,
a Kadee boxcar will stand out from the rest of the cars w/o exception.
Your eyes are drawn to the paint almost immediately where upon you then
see the fine detailing as the car rolls by. Intermountain cars are
equally impressive, and Atlas cars have closed the gap as well.
I would add that the recent Walthers rolling stock is extremely well
painted, lettered, and detailed. Once you add metal wheels and Kadee [or
McHenry] couplers, the Walthers cars look and perform terrific. Cost,
with the additions stated, is comparable to Atlas. This was the reason I
hesitated to contribute to the Athearn thread discussing the potential
impact it could have on the industry. I have a number of Athearn cars.
In my opinion, they are quite inferior to the Walthers cars that I own.
This was the reason that I started this thread. I felt that the Athearn
cars were in dire need of some additional detailing to match the other
I like having access to all of the brands since they all offer certain
cars that are unique and desirable. However, I do not see that any one
of these manufacturers is bigger than the whole. Hence, Athearn, should
they choose to part with the Walthers catalog approach and the normal
train shop market, will be hard pressed to survive the competition as it
presently exists wthin the market.
As in real life, as a train rolls by certain cars will catch one's eye
for one reason or another. And therein might be the plan. Include a
bunch of hum-drum cars so that the ones one wants to emphasize stand out.
I wish I had the TIME to do a lot more of such added detail work.
Probably 90% of my rolling stock collection has at least REAL Kadee
couplers and (often, as needed) better wheelsets. Probably about half
have at least SOME extra work done beyond that. The type of work you
list is pretty much what I do, on an as needed basis ... when I have the
time. While I DID spend a lot of time on Athearn shells and such in
years past (they were mostly ALL you could get), NOW I tend to put the
extra work on 'better' cars to start with. Why spend countless hours
trying to correct crude problems, when today much better bodies are
available to start from (in most cases).
If I want to spend THAT much time on something, I occasionally
scratchbuild a car or structure, or remotor, regear, or add 'sound' to a
About half my rolling stock is "weathered".
My rolling stock is divided into pretty much four sets.
1) "In service" equipment ON my model railroad. This has almost ALL been
'upgraded' already. Almost all are weathered to varying degrees. The
current project, just begun, is to switch to the narrower tread
semi-scale wheels and the smaller Kadee #58 couplers. These look
significantly better, especially on smaller, older equipment.
2) "In service" equipment for use on the local club modular railroad.
Perhaps 50% have been 'upgraded', somewhat. This stuff takes quite a
beating from our frequent public displays. Kids, of ALL ages, poke and
grab at moving trains despite the best efforts to keep them away. Baggy
winter coat sleeves snag on all sorts of things when reaching across the
layout to point at things (they're NOT supposed to do THAT either). We
have perhaps 30K people see our layout each year, much of the traffic
during a five-week Christmas display. With THAT many people, there are
always some 'bozos'. And some of the problems are just from normal wear
and tear. We put a LOT of ACTUAL (5280 ft.) miles of operation on the
trains in five weeks, 6-8 hours a day!
The layout is displayed in a heated (more or less) one room building.
However, when the crowds get large, the doors are open most of the time,
and temperature drops dramatically. The wooden floors get VERY wet from
melted snow tracked in. Temperature and humidity swings are extreme.
The layout is subjected to a lot of thermal and humidity 'heaving'. Due
to ever changing module gaps, and bumpy track due to these problems, I'm
sticking with full width wheelsets and full size Kadee couplers for this
equipment. Still, we often run 50-70 car trains for HOURS with no problems.
3) Out of service equipment. Many of these need work. Some are operable,
but 'below standard' compare to the rest of the collection. A lot of
these are flea market purchases. Most look like they have some promise,
when I can spend the time on them. Future projects ... or flea market
fodder as the case may be. Some are kept for sentimental reasons ... I
have a lot of my dad's old HO from the 1940's. Surprisingly, with a
little work many of these are quite presentable, and some are 'in service'.
4) New unbuilt, or even RTR, kits or cars that I just haven't gotten
into service yet. A couple closets full. Half the fun is dreaming about
what you're going to do, someday!
========Matt & Kathleen Brennan wrote:
No detail added whatsoever. I am one of those "good enough"
modelers...if it looks like a boxcar, it's good enough. I do,
however, add various forms of weathering in varying intensities to 99
out of 100. That 100th car may get none, other than a little bit of
talcum powder to tone it down a little. I play around with various
techniques and media - pencils, chalk, paint, airbrush, india
ink/alcohol, graphite, real dirt, water colors - whatever comes to
mind or I have on hand at the time. Sometimes I'll look at a photo
for a particular car I am modeling and see how closely I can match my
weathering to the photo. Most of the time I just wing it. I just
have fun with it. The only other thing I do with ALL my cars is to
weight them to NMRA standards, using pennies secured with Walthers GOO
when possible. I also paint wheelsets, trucks and coupler boxes and
add Kadee couplers.
I may add a couple details to my locos such as the radio antenna,spark
arrestors if appropriate, strobe/mars lite, or metal grabs if none or
all aren't already on the engine, and some decals such as builders
plate, etc. That's pretty much it in addition to details which may be
included with the engine such as, for example, sun visors and all
I consider myself more of a model railroader than a railroad modeler.
Paul - "The CB&Q Guy"
Modeling the CB&Q and its fictional Illiniwek River Valley Branch in
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