Weathering Model Steam Locos

I've just got a copy of the MR special "Modeling Railroads of the 1950s"
- these things make their way slowly to Australia. It has an article by
John Pryke on weathering locomotives. The part of the article that deals
with diesels is useful enough, but the steam part is a disappointment.
Like so many other modellers, Mr. Pryke's weathering that doesn't
reflect the way real steam locos look when they get dirty. It's more his
interpretation of what other modellers have done before him.
Now I know that most US Class 1 roads had dieselised by the mid 1950s,
and therefore there aren't all that many modellers around who have
first-hand experience of what steam locos looked like in regular
service. But there are many colour books on the market from publishers
like Morning Sun and the like, which have good clear photos showing
typical steam loco weathering. Likewise there are increasing number of
colour photos published on the web. The information is not hard to get.
It would be nice to see more models with realistic weathering, and less
with the stereotypical model weathering of airbrushed grey stripes,
white streaks from washout plugs, red streaks below the tender tank
filler hatch, and so on...
All the best,
Mark.
Reply to
mark_newton
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agree - I love weathered locos and can't get enough pics
Reply to
mindesign
Sir:
To be fair to John Pryke, I don't know if his models look better under his layout lighting, and the mineral and rust streaks are good if not heavy-handed. Perhaps the base color is too cool a shade. Steam locomotives look black, unless they are belong to Union Pacific. (TM)
After looking around, I found this:
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What do you think of the warm, brownish black used on this engine as a base color? I think it might look better than the ghostly bluish gray.
Cordially yours, Gerard P.
Reply to
pawlowsk002
"mark_newton"
[snip colour photo references]
My sentiments exactly. Too many model railroaders model other peoples' model railroads. Weathering steam is a good case in point. Most steam locos don't weather the way the most recent articles on steam loco weather demonstrate.
Best advice, is as you suggested, weather your steam from colour photos of the real thing, not from articles in the model press. Use those for weathering technique tips only.
-- Cheers Roger T.
Home of the Great Eastern Railway
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Reply to
Roger T.
[...] Steam
[...]
Most of them did not look black, but a very dark grey, especially after the fresh-paint shine wore off. Even a well-cleaned loco usually had a satiny gloss, not a high gloss. Do not trust those Kodachromes - Kodachrome is a very contrasty film, and tends to lose all shadow detail besides, especially in bright sunlight. It also colour shifts in unpredictable ways. And especially do not trust the books - the colour reproduction is the result of someone's judgement of how best to represent the original picture on the printed page. No printed book can reproduce the original slide, let alone the original colours.
Not even a freshly-painted loco looked black: that shiny fresh paint reflected a lot of blue from the sky, you see.
Then there are various degrees of weathering, and most importantly, the effects of local weather and geography. Dust in the Northeastern US industrial cities just isn't the same colour as dust in the Southwestern deserts. A loco exposed to frequent rain weathers differently from one that isn't. Etc. OP Mark Newton faults Pryke for not weathering locos to look like the colour pictures in the books he refers to. Very few of those pictures show the actual colours: trust me, I lived a block from the CPR's loco depot in Strathcona (South Edmonton) in the 50s, and saw a lot of actual steam locos. I have very rarely seen a colour photo that reproduced that odd bluish grey used by the CPR, and as for their maroon - no two locos had the same colour maroon in the first place. The effects of weather and neglect produced a wide variety of shades. Also, maroon photographs particularly badly, because colour films don't see blue and red the same way as we do, so maroons tend to be either too red or too blue.
When railroads took pride in the appearance of their rolling stock, locos were washed quite often, so that the weathering patterns were quite different. A loco that rarely if ever got washed would develop all kinds of rust spots and patches, as well those infamous white deposits from water spills and condensing steam that another poster decries. Oddly enough, black and white photos give you a better idea of the effects of weather and work than colour pictures do, because black and white film's extended tonal range picks up subtle differences that those early colour films just couldn't handle.
IMO, Pryke's weathering looks real enough for the era and locale he has chosen. If he was modelling ca 1920-25, the weathering would be overdone, of course, but he's modelling the '50s, when railroads didn't bother much with the appearance of their locos anymore.
HTH
Reply to
Wolf Kirchmeir
Dear Sir:
Color photos are indeed untrustworthy, but I'm also going by my direct observations of locomotives, traction engines, and other machinery that was originally black. Call me colorblind, but I have to agree with the OP on that gray-blue. Maybe it's the buildup of rust and grease; maybe the paint they used is just a warmer color, but there is a lot more brown in that black than the gray-blue allows. I do agree with you on the mineral streaks, however, as long as they don't look like smears of pigeon droppings. That might be just fine on a park loco, however. :P
Cordially yours, Gerard P. whose engines wear Russian iron anyway. (now there's a color debate for you)
Reply to
pawlowsk002
I'll grant you that a warmer black-grey is closer to the real thing for some RRs, esp. if one considers that rust would warm up that colour before the rust patches got so big that they were noticeable as rust patches, if you get my drift. Also some of that black paint would have had a fair proportion of red lead in it, or would be applied over a red lead undercoat, which would warm it up some, too. IOW, different RR companies bought their paint from different suppliers, and had different painting protocols, so there was IMO a lot more variation in that "black" than suggested by the evidence of those colour photos and our memories.
One other thing to keep in mind is that one should lighten up the colours so that they look right under the relatively dim light in our layout rooms. But strong photofloods would then show the colours to be lighter (= greyer) _and_ bluer than it would look under the usual lighting, which Pryke presumably used to judge his colours.
HTH
Reply to
Wolf Kirchmeir
"Wolf Kirchmeir"
I think this is a model railroader myth perpetrated though numerous articles where the authors have just done so because they'd previously read that's what you're supposed to do in articles by other authors.
I don't do that, never have. I paint all my locos satin black and then apply weathering to them. They all look just fine to me in my photos.
It all goes back the start of this thread and my credo of not modelling other model railroads but to use the prototype as a guide.
-- Cheers Roger T.
Home of the Great Eastern Railway
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Reply to
Roger T.
Pyke is one of the "artist" modelers and thus tends to overdoo the weathering way too much. A loco fresh and ready to take a train will have almost no weathering on it, usually just a slight dullness from what it was from the last painting. On an old paint job, there may be a ghost of a whitnenging from the pops and whistle but that is something that needs to be just a ghost of a wash. Coming in from a run, there may be a bit of dusting of the lower parts of the loco but that is usually just another ghosting of a dusting rather than anything significiant. Stuff liike the heavy deposits from steam are something only seen on locos that use a lot (abusive lot) of water conditioning chemicals and just came in from a run where the loco was basically abused by the road crew - there is basically no reason why a pop valve should go off at all.
-- Why do penguins walk so far to get to their nesting grounds?
Reply to
Bob May
"Bob May"
Agreed. Excessive smoke and safety valves lifting are indicative of poor locomotive handling by the crew. Heavy smoke is somewhat understandable on a heavy grade with a heavily working loco but not on a generally flat profile.
I try to vary the weathering on my locos. Some are almost pristine, some are weathered over all and some, usually freight only locos, are somewhat heavily weathered. Engines usually assigned to passenger service, those with the white trim, are usually in a somewhat cleaner condition.
Notice I'm being vague as it depends on what I feel at the time when I'm weathering the locos.
-- Cheers Roger T.
Home of the Great Eastern Railway
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Reply to
Roger T.
On the other hand, there's also the scale factor to consider. IMO the larger the scale, the "purer" the colors should be, because you're "closer" to the model in terms of scale distance when running. For example, it's not unusual for an O scale model to be operated from less than 100 scale feet away, but an N scale model viewed from the same real distance is over 400 feet away, with the effects of the intervening atmosphere coming into play - a little haze lightening colors and softening contrast.
This is effective for scenery, as well - using colors softened with a little gray or blue for more distant objects.
Reply to
Joe Ellis
Yes, in your photos, which is precsely my point. What looks good in a photo doesn't necessarily look good in normal room lighting, and vice versa.
BTW, you take very nice photos of your very nice layout. Well done!
Reply to
Wolf Kirchmeir
Sorry Gerard, I should have made myself clearer - I was mainly referring to unrealistic weathering *patterns*, rather than colours. But, yes, I would agree that starting out with a warmer black would yield more realistic-looking results.
All the best,
Mark.
Reply to
mark_newton
Perhaps not. But this was not my contention, and I should have made that much clearer. It is the weathering *patterns* advocated by Mr Pryke that are unrealistic. A printed book *can* clearly reproduce weathering patterns, which is what I was suggesting people use as a reference.
LOL! A modeller's myth.
I fault him for not reproducing the patterns in the photos I refer to, not the colours - again, I should have made that point clear. Most of his explanations about weathering patterns don't stand close scrutiny.
I decry them because they are largely more modelling myth, repeated by people with no experience or knowledge of how steam locos *really* weather. Or, at best, people relying on memories from the 1950s...
Reply to
mark_newton
Oh, really? Care to put any money on that? May I refer you to the following picture just posted today to alt.binaries.pictures.rail:
Message-ID:
name: Re: US PRR STEAM 4483 HAMBURG, NY
Sure looks blue tinged to me...
Go back up the thread a couple of posts and you can see her before her recent paint job.
Reply to
Joe Ellis
No, just observation of actual freshly painted locos. BTW, the blue cast is even stronger when photographed, as the human brain tends to compensate for different colour spectra in different lighting. The blue cast is stronger on the shady side of the boiler, actually.
And photos from the 50s. Especially b/w ones, which do a better job of showing the patterns, actually.
Reply to
Wolf Kirchmeir
Kodachrome does lean toward Red/Yellow, just as E4/6 process tends toward green/blue. People who shot steam with K10, K25, K64 still have slides. Pity the poor guys who entrusted their images to early Ektachrome, Anscochrome, Agfachrome etc. they now have weird colour shifts, or blank celluloid.
Lived eight blocks from Calder (now Macmillan) Yard & dad worked for CN.
>When railroads took pride in the appearance of their rolling stock, >locos were washed quite often, so that the weathering patterns were >quite different. A loco that rarely if ever got washed would develop all >kinds of rust spots and patches, as well those infamous white deposits >from water spills and condensing steam that another poster decries. >Oddly enough, black and white photos give you a better idea of the >effects of weather and work than colour pictures do, because black and >white film's extended tonal range picks up subtle differences that those >early colour films just couldn't handle. > >IMO, Pryke's weathering looks real enough for the era and locale he has >chosen. If he was modelling ca 1920-25, the weathering would be >overdone, of course, but he's modelling the '50s, when railroads didn't >bother much with the appearance of their locos anymore. > >HTH
Reply to
Mountain Goat
And in my opinion, while the colours he uses may be appropriate for the era and locale, the weathering patterns don't look real - he is simply aping what other modellers have done before him.
Reply to
mark_newton
No, I don't see. In the last seven years I've been involved with the repainting of five actual steam locomotives in gloss black. *All* looked black on completion, *none* noticeably reflected blue from the sky when rolled outside on a sunny summer's day.
What, if any, evidence do you have that they do? Apart from photographs, which you've conclusively demonstrated do not give an accurate rendering of the actual colour?
So have I, and a *lot* more recently than the 1950s. And unlike you, I've worked on them on a daily basis, and have gotten to know how and why they weather as they do. I'm bitterly regretting not having made it absolutely clear in my original post that I was referring to unrealistic *patterns* of weathering, and not just the colours, which to my mind are an secondary issue.
Pryke's weathering includes the usual rust marks on the rear sides of the tender, explained away as being caused by overflowing water. And yet I've never seen a photograph showing this as frequently portrayed by modllers - nor would I expect to.
Almost all US locos had drains on the tender deck, to prevent water pooling there. Othe roads, like the NKP for example, had flush decks to shed the water.
Modellers OTOH, who have never seen the top of a real tender deck, just assume that overflow water would collect there, and weather accordingly.
Almost all of the other assumptions made in the Mr. Pryke's article about the way steam loco weathering patterns develop are based on similar ignorance.
Infamous?, No just another modellers' fantasy. But since you're so sure of yourself, feel free to put up an example of a steam loco with garish white streaks emanating from the "leaking" washout plugs...
LOL! Now you're really displaying your ignorance, Wolf.
Reply to
mark_newton
As am I, Gerard. But apparently, in Wolf's mind anyway, his observations of other peoples models are more reliable than our observations of the real thing...
Reply to
mark_newton

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