Saturday, 26 May 2012

Everything New Is Old Again....


It is well over 7 years since i received my first shipment of basswood & ply veneer sheets & commenced dabbling in model railway detail items with the laser engraver.

While i am not a timber fancier as such, Basswood is a magic looking timber that is well suited as a modelling medium mostly due to the tight grain & inherent colouring.  Incredibly it is classified in some quarters as a hardwood even though it is a very easy wood to machine & work.  Not unlike balsa but a fair bit stronger & less inclined to "feather" at the edges.

With the aid of the laser & a fertile imagination it wasn't long before more than acceptable items were created & i figured that if it was made from prototype in timber....then it was possible to recreate in model form using scale timber.

Not everything in prototype stays new for ever & i feel that part of the attraction of timber is how it weathers & ages.

This is also so in modelling terms & i spent a deal of time trying products that would have the desired effect of prematurely aging these model creations, while not adversely affecting the timber.

I tried quite a few methods with mixed & at times frustrating results.

I have a long way to go before i feel i will have mastered this art...but a product i came across does go a long way to helping.

I am not sure where i first heard it mentioned but the product is generally used in the saddlery & leather industry as a leather stain....The brand i use is Raven Oil.

It is available in about 20 colours but indeed i have only used " Raven Black" & have had no real need to search out the other colours.

I found it by asking at a local saddlery....& will not forget the look i received when the salesperson asked me what i was going to use it for....

My ,method of applying is to mix the product with methylated spirits around 100 parts metho to 1 part Raven Black...although this ratio can be varied by the user.

Methylated spirits is a good thinning product & dries quickly which is handy when applying to components that have been glued & also minimises warping of the timber.

The mixed product is then brushed on & allowed to dry.  Several coats can be used to build up age / colour... & brush direction can highlight grain etc.....Take it easy until you get a feel for it....It does indeed soak into the timber & while this can have adverse does ensure that the stain is permanent.

A couple of words of warning...Neatness counts as the weathering solution will not penetrate the timber where residue glue is located & do not flood the timber as some glues can be partially dissolved.

When dry...finishing off detail with weathering powders, dry brushing paint washes etc etc will really enhance the model.

Another product that i am trialling at the moment are the Floquil paint pens & am finding more & more uses for them.

While the described bridge is of a single line overpass....I am now working on a double line bridge based on the one located at Cooks Cutting south of Goulburn.

I have no idea at this stage just where these units will be installed on the layout....but as for most things....i will find a spot. 

Anyway i have included some shots to illustrate the text....


The "virgin" bridge before treatment...

The transformation begins...

Still a lot to do....but another step closer

Cooks Cutting....Located South Of Goulburn....Between Yarra & Breadalbane
The next bridge project.... slightly different style from the single line project.

The Floquil Range of Paint Markers


  1. Very realistic finish Rod. Shall have to try the Raven oil myself on my next timber structure.

  2. James,

    Thanks for your comments. The treatment of timber structures is now quite topical with the plethora of laser kits hitting the market. With timber it is my opinion to utilise products that enhance, compliment & showcase the raw material otherwise it is pointless using it & one may as well use styrene or other. To take this point one step further i am presently building a Lloyds BRC...not my intended timeframe... but i just like the wagon style & when distressed & parked in the end of a siding may add visual interest. This wagon may well be rebuilt utilising a laser cut timber body allowing an aged look to be achieved with little effort. I just need to research out the door & body furniture. It is amazing how with all the wonderful off the shelf stuff available that i find myself having "back to the future" moments in an attempt to strive to achieve that extra bit of realism

    Regards, Rod

  3. Rod, James
    A successful method I have used for balsa is a very diluted mix of india ink and a touch of white paint in water. This seems to give a nice weathered grey look. It is no so successful on basswood. For this I will try your suggestion of using metho.
    Sometimes, aged timber seems to get an almost silvery sheen. I have fiddled with using a very dilute silver paint to give this effect, applying it after the initial india ink wash as the silver paint I have is solvent based.
    Roger Lloyd

  4. Roger,

    I have found that the raven oil as discussed readily gives that silver sheen... indeed i have not yet had a mishap with this stuff...Apart from it reacting with some glues if you flood the timber...It just seems to create a great weathered finish despite you...All timber species i have used seem to succumb to it's charm