Re: Track and Rail/Rust colors - a formula and a discussion


Jan 15, 2007

 


----------------------------

#5560 Jan 15, 2007

Since Gerard is talking about weathering rail this may help ... I actually

went to some real RR equipment and laid some parts I'd painted in different

shades down on a coupler and figured out which one "disappeared into the

background" ... the color mix that was the best was:



two parts Floguil Tuscan (lacquer) to one part Floquil Rust

(yes, you can get this color using other paints)



Straight Floquil Rust is too orangey in color. It is the color that you

see if you go to a stack of iron/steel plates and move them around and look

at the pieces that have gotten wet recently ... but have not been exposed

to much air yet ... ie. the color of "freshly oxidized iron" that still has

some moisture on it. When iron/steel dries out it goes quickly to the color

of my mix above. Similarly - colors such as Tuscan, Rail Brown, Red Oxide,

etc. all are too brown in color - they don't have the correct 'oxidized

iron/steel' color.

BTW - I found out a couple of years ago that the orange color of Floquil

Rust is also the color that comes up out of the ground when it rains along

the lines serving the Missabe range. You don't see it too often any more

because they've been hauling taconite since the late 60's - but back in the

days of raw ore haul it was very common. However, even today, in certain

conditions the right of way will still be 'oozing orange liquid that flows

out of the ground'. Enough of what happens track side on an iron ore RR ...

back to the topic at hand.



I vary my use of the mix above - some times using one part Tuscan to one

part Oxide Red to one part Rust, some times using 3 parts Tuscan to one part

Rust - etc. However, I rarely use more than one part Rust because you want

to avoid the orange color for rail, freight car details, structure details,

etc. Anything that is "open to the air" will rarely have any orange tones

in it - even just after a rain. However - the color of 'rusty metal parts

around a railroad' is definitely shaded towards that orange. Hence my

formula!



***********************



So let's talk about the color of the rails and ties themselves. If you

go stand trackside what you usually see first is a shiny rail head that

rolls over the inside corner of the rail head a bit and tends to not

reach down the outside corner. The rest of the rail, the web, the base

(flange), the tie plates, the spikes, the rail joiners, the bolts in the

fish plates (aka - rail joiners ... they bolt thru the web), rail clips,

and -essentially- everything is made of steel. Steel rusts differently

than cast steel or iron but the end color is pretty much the same - in

other words everything is going towards a color that is not very far from

the mix above.

However - and this is very important - the track gets a lot of dust, grime,

mud, etc. that is distributed on it ... primarily due the trains passing

over it. So the real color of the metal parts of track is based upon a

rusted color underneath (ie. the unpainted and oxidized metal) with an

overlay of colors that is determined primarily by the soils and dust

particles that makes up the immediate ground around the rail. Don't forget

that most RR ballast has a lot of granite in it and that as the trains go

over the track the ballast is ground against itself and that produces a

fine grey dust that is kicked up by the air currents caused by the trains.

To that you have to add a certain amount of petroleum-based 'binders' from

the various products used on the cars such as grease, fuel, etc. ... that

also add to the color of the rail.

The bottom line is that the metal parts of the track will most often be

some shade of grey - with undertones of rust. It usually looks sort of

like a slightly rusty looking grey. Exactly which shade of grey and how

much rust tone depends upon how long the track has been in place, the ballast,

the land around, whether or not it ever gets a lot of water (think how much

difference there is between track around Phoenix -vs- Memphis/Seattle),

etc., etc., etc. Complicated isn't it! Not really?

In my experience the best way to achieve this look has been to start

by painting the metal parts of the rail with some variant of my rust color

and then adding some kind of 'wash' of grey over that. I have used both

paint washes and wet chalks and can't really say I prefer one over the

other in terms of the end color ... the paint washes are a lot easier to

apply than wet chalks if the rail is already laid when you color it. Wet

chalks will provide a better range of 'local variations' than paint washes.



So now let's talk about the ties. Wooden ties start as very black

colored treated wood ... they've been soaked in creosote, dried enough

to be handled, transported and stored in bundles, and put into the track.

There's enough creosote in them that they will ooze it out when you drive

in a spike and when they are seen in a stack they will be varying shades

of black and dark grey and even often appear wet with creosote.

In about 3 to 5 years any surface evidence of the creosote is gone and

they are usually a grey color - although the amount of brown tones is

considerably different depending upon which section of track you are

looking at. Over the years the surface of the wood gets greyer and

greyer ... and the creosote in the tie is leached out by repeated

periods of wet and dry. If a part of a older tie breaks off the exposed

wood will look quite brown at first but will fairly quickly weather out to

the same color as the rest of the tie.

So ... ties are a shade of grey with undertones of either wood or

creosoted wood depending upon how long they have been in place.

Ties that look "a shade of brown" do occur from time to time - but

it is only common on track that is out of service. If the track is in

service the ties are almost always some shade of grey with an under tone

of browns.

The ties in the track products we start with in the hobby are usually

either a wood color or black - neither of which is "perfect" but either

of which can be made to look like real track. A grey wash (vary how

dark or light it is!) of either paint or india ink and alcohol (if using

real wood ties) will usually do the trick.

I prefer to color the metal parts of the rail first, then the ties,

then lay the track, then touch up with airbrushed colors followed by

brush painted washes for the small details.



So, if you want a 'methodology' for coloring your track here is one

way - Your Methods May Vary! (YMMV!)

Start with unlaid track. Color what is metal or simulated metal with

a rust color wash. Follow that with some shade of grey wash. Clean the

rail head. Color the ties some shade of brown (wood) wood - washing

individual ties with different shades that are randomly applied is the

best. Follow that with an overall grey wash. Clean the rail head. Lay

the track. Clean the rail head. Use an airbrush to color everything with

some shade of grey - to simulate the dust/dirt/mud that is kicked up by

the passing of the trains. (You can also use a very thin wash at this

time.) Clean the rail head. Did I mention CLEAN THE RAIL HEAD?

Guess I did. But you know what ... I've never heard any crew members

complaining during or after an op session about the track being too

clean ...



After working on the color of the track I -always- follow that by cleaning

the rail head using a bright boy or other scrubbing method ... which is

also followed by multiple passes of the rail cleaning train that uses both

liquid cleaners such as GooGone followed by alcohol and mechanical scrubbers.



BTW - if the rail head has already had any paint cleaned off of it I have

found that "rail zapper" car (an F-unit body with an electronic device in

it) followed by the "rail scrubber" car (a box car with a decoder in it and

two counter-rotating round pads that 'wipe' the rail is a good combination

for keeping the rail clean. Our club also uses the centerline cars and

masonite sliders and ... well you name it and we've used it. We are -not-

fans of any of the products that leave a film of oil on the tracks such

as clipper oil, railzip, etc.



PLEASE - let's not turn this into a discussion of rail cleaning methods

and products. (I -know- ... I'm the one who mentioned it.) I only included

the topic in passing because I was talking about how to clean rail after

applying color to it and I thought you might like to know what my -opinions-

are of the various methods of cleaning track. Which is that no one method

works by itself ...



Oh yes - all colors used should be "matte". If you want to use a gloss

to get a particular color then follow it with some 'dull coat' product.

Only the rail head should have any shine to it! (And only cleaning the

rail head will get it to shine.)

And, as in all things "weathered" ... a process that ends produces a

general background color - with local discolorations - with an overall

color will almost always produce the best look. And variety is the

spice of life ... no RR looks the same every where ... so your layout

doesn't have to either!

- Jim in San Jose







----------------------------

#5561 Jan 15, 2007

Thanks Jim I print and save this email.



But I have a question also, I have problem to use acrylic paint, I found it

does hold as much as oil paint for rails, is there a trick or I should stick

to oil paint ?





G.rard Gagnon

www.mytrains.net







-----Message d'origine-----

De.: weathering@yahoogroups.com [mailto:weathering@yahoogroups.com] De la

part de Jim Betz

Envoy..: 15 janvier 2007 12:42

..: weathering@yahoogroups.com

Objet.: [weathering] Track and Rail/Rust colors - a formula and a discussion



Since Gerard is talking about weathering rail this may help ... I actually

went to some real RR equipment and laid some parts I'd painted in different

shades down on a coupler and figured out which one "disappeared into the

background" ... the color mix that was the best was:



two parts Floguil Tuscan (lacquer) to one part Floquil Rust

(yes, you can get this color using other paints)



Straight Floquil Rust is too orangey in color. It is the color that you

see if you go to a stack of iron/steel plates and move them around and look

at the pieces that have gotten wet recently ... but have not been exposed

to much air yet ... ie. the color of "freshly oxidized iron" that still has

some moisture on it. When iron/steel dries out it goes quickly to the color



of my mix above. Similarly - colors such as Tuscan, Rail Brown, Red Oxide,

etc. all are too brown in color - they don't have the correct 'oxidized

iron/steel' color.

BTW - I found out a couple of years ago that the orange color of Floquil

Rust is also the color that comes up out of the ground when it rains along

the lines serving the Missabe range. You don't see it too often any more

because they've been hauling taconite since the late 60's - but back in the

days of raw ore haul it was very common. However, even today, in certain

conditions the right of way will still be 'oozing orange liquid that flows

out of the ground'. Enough of what happens track side on an iron ore RR ...



back to the topic at hand.



I vary my use of the mix above - some times using one part Tuscan to one

part Oxide Red to one part Rust, some times using 3 parts Tuscan to one part

Rust - etc. However, I rarely use more than one part Rust because you want

to avoid the orange color for rail, freight car details, structure details,

etc. Anything that is "open to the air" will rarely have any orange tones

in it - even just after a rain. However - the color of 'rusty metal parts

around a railroad' is definitely shaded towards that orange. Hence my

formula!



***********************



So let's talk about the color of the rails and ties themselves. If you

go stand trackside what you usually see first is a shiny rail head that

rolls over the inside corner of the rail head a bit and tends to not

reach down the outside corner. The rest of the rail, the web, the base

(flange), the tie plates, the spikes, the rail joiners, the bolts in the

fish plates (aka - rail joiners ... they bolt thru the web), rail clips,

and -essentially- everything is made of steel. Steel rusts differently

than cast steel or iron but the end color is pretty much the same - in

other words everything is going towards a color that is not very far from

the mix above.

However - and this is very important - the track gets a lot of dust,

grime,

mud, etc. that is distributed on it ... primarily due the trains passing

over it. So the real color of the metal parts of track is based upon a

rusted color underneath (ie. the unpainted and oxidized metal) with an

overlay of colors that is determined primarily by the soils and dust

particles that makes up the immediate ground around the rail. Don't forget

that most RR ballast has a lot of granite in it and that as the trains go

over the track the ballast is ground against itself and that produces a

fine grey dust that is kicked up by the air currents caused by the trains.

To that you have to add a certain amount of petroleum-based 'binders' from

the various products used on the cars such as grease, fuel, etc. ... that

also add to the color of the rail.

The bottom line is that the metal parts of the track will most often be

some shade of grey - with undertones of rust. It usually looks sort of

like a slightly rusty looking grey. Exactly which shade of grey and how

much rust tone depends upon how long the track has been in place, the

ballast,

the land around, whether or not it ever gets a lot of water (think how much

difference there is between track around Phoenix -vs- Memphis/Seattle),

etc., etc., etc. Complicated isn't it! Not really?

In my experience the best way to achieve this look has been to start

by painting the metal parts of the rail with some variant of my rust color

and then adding some kind of 'wash' of grey over that. I have used both

paint washes and wet chalks and can't really say I prefer one over the

other in terms of the end color ... the paint washes are a lot easier to

apply than wet chalks if the rail is already laid when you color it. Wet

chalks will provide a better range of 'local variations' than paint washes.



So now let's talk about the ties. Wooden ties start as very black

colored treated wood ... they've been soaked in creosote, dried enough

to be handled, transported and stored in bundles, and put into the track.

There's enough creosote in them that they will ooze it out when you drive

in a spike and when they are seen in a stack they will be varying shades

of black and dark grey and even often appear wet with creosote.

In about 3 to 5 years any surface evidence of the creosote is gone and

they are usually a grey color - although the amount of brown tones is

considerably different depending upon which section of track you are

looking at. Over the years the surface of the wood gets greyer and

greyer ... and the creosote in the tie is leached out by repeated

periods of wet and dry. If a part of a older tie breaks off the exposed

wood will look quite brown at first but will fairly quickly weather out to

the same color as the rest of the tie.

So ... ties are a shade of grey with undertones of either wood or

creosoted wood depending upon how long they have been in place.

Ties that look "a shade of brown" do occur from time to time - but

it is only common on track that is out of service. If the track is in

service the ties are almost always some shade of grey with an under tone

of browns.

The ties in the track products we start with in the hobby are usually

either a wood color or black - neither of which is "perfect" but either

of which can be made to look like real track. A grey wash (vary how

dark or light it is!) of either paint or india ink and alcohol (if using

real wood ties) will usually do the trick.

I prefer to color the metal parts of the rail first, then the ties,

then lay the track, then touch up with airbrushed colors followed by

brush painted washes for the small details.



So, if you want a 'methodology' for coloring your track here is one

way - Your Methods May Vary! (YMMV!)

Start with unlaid track. Color what is metal or simulated metal with

a rust color wash. Follow that with some shade of grey wash. Clean the

rail head. Color the ties some shade of brown (wood) wood - washing

individual ties with different shades that are randomly applied is the

best. Follow that with an overall grey wash. Clean the rail head. Lay

the track. Clean the rail head. Use an airbrush to color everything with

some shade of grey - to simulate the dust/dirt/mud that is kicked up by

the passing of the trains. (You can also use a very thin wash at this

time.) Clean the rail head. Did I mention CLEAN THE RAIL HEAD?

Guess I did. But you know what ... I've never heard any crew members

complaining during or after an op session about the track being too

clean ...



After working on the color of the track I -always- follow that by cleaning

the rail head using a bright boy or other scrubbing method ... which is

also followed by multiple passes of the rail cleaning train that uses both

liquid cleaners such as GooGone followed by alcohol and mechanical

scrubbers.



BTW - if the rail head has already had any paint cleaned off of it I have

found that "rail zapper" car (an F-unit body with an electronic device in

it) followed by the "rail scrubber" car (a box car with a decoder in it and

two counter-rotating round pads that 'wipe' the rail is a good combination

for keeping the rail clean. Our club also uses the centerline cars and

masonite sliders and ... well you name it and we've used it. We are -not-

fans of any of the products that leave a film of oil on the tracks such

as clipper oil, railzip, etc.



PLEASE - let's not turn this into a discussion of rail cleaning methods

and products. (I -know- ... I'm the one who mentioned it.) I only included

the topic in passing because I was talking about how to clean rail after

applying color to it and I thought you might like to know what my -opinions-

are of the various methods of cleaning track. Which is that no one method

works by itself ...



Oh yes - all colors used should be "matte". If you want to use a gloss

to get a particular color then follow it with some 'dull coat' product.

Only the rail head should have any shine to it! (And only cleaning the

rail head will get it to shine.)

And, as in all things "weathered" ... a process that ends produces a

general background color - with local discolorations - with an overall

color will almost always produce the best look. And variety is the

spice of life ... no RR looks the same every where ... so your layout

doesn't have to either!

- Jim in San Jose









Yahoo! Groups Links







----------------------------

#5569 Jan 16, 2007

Gerard,

When weathering rail or structures - or doing color on scenery I use

"whatever works". There is a lot less risk of losing fine detail and

often the 'mistakes' are forgivable. Thin washes that 'stain and/or

dis-color' rather than 'cover and/or paint' seem to work the best for

me. That said ... the available products for track here in the US are

fairly good with respect to shapes and details but leave a lot to be

desired with respect to the color of the rail and/or ties. So applying

color is mandatory - even if it washes.

The nice thing is that even your not so well done stuff is better

than what it looked like when you brought it home from the store.

BTW - the pics of your work show you are well on the way to having

it right. A bit more grey/charcoal in the ties and more 'local variations'

of color would be all I'd suggest.

- Jim in San Jose

Gerard wrote ...

But I have a question also, I have problem to use acrylic paint, I found it

does hold as much as oil paint for rails, is there a trick or I should stick

to oil paint ?

G.rard Gagnon



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