Thursday, 15 May 2014

Modelling Methods....


I copped a bit of a hammering during the last week from a number of readers of this blog, via email and phone calls regarding bits that I have left out of the last few posts.  The main thrust of these conversations centred around the fact that the posts have not included any details of the products used and methods of painting and weathering of the models and this was of no help to a reader seeking tips or alternative ways of doing things.  I must admit that this aspect had not occurred to me...but was also patently aware that I get frustrated at times that some articles that I read and see do not include the all important nitty gritty of a project...usually for me this revolves around electrical type articles or blog posts.

To be honest I have never thought of my personal modelling as anything out of the ordinary....but I have to remember that there was a time when I could not glue two sides of a simple Walthers building kit together without one or more of my fingers becoming part of the structure and indeed I also remember a time when I figured that an air brush was something that only highly skilled artistic types had any right to utilise.  So for those that are are a couple of details that may or may not be of interest and who knows it may well generate a discussion which may provide me with alternatives and maybe inspire those new to the hobby to give scratchbuilding, kitbashing and painting / weathering a go.

With regards to the Captain's flat ore loader...the main structure, ramp etc. is manufactured from Northeastern Lumber (Basswood) and as regular readers would be aware...we are fortunate to be able to laser engrave and cut this material to shape in-house...nevertheless it is a very easy timber to work by hand tools and also comes in a great range of sizes and thicknesses with clapboard and scribed siding also being available...their range is well worth a look for anyone scratch building and or kitbashing.


As I have posted before...there are a number of ways to weather Basswood and Balsa....but I do advocate a product called Raven Oil which is an Aussie made product normally associated with leather products.  It is essentially a dye and as much as it comes in a range of colours...I have only ever had need for "Raven Black".  A 50ml bottle retails for around $15.00, but I have seen it cheaper on Ebay...but it is classified as a class 3 flammable liquid, so I have no idea how it would go in the postal system.  I buy mine at a local saddle shop...much to the staff's entertainment.  To weather timber, Raven Oil needs to be heavily diluted down to a 1:200 (or more) mix with methylated spirits. (1 part Raven Oil to 200 parts Methylated Spirits) and this should be tested on scrap bits as additional coats can be applied later to taste.   The product should be used sparingly as "wetting" the timber too much during the weathering process can introduce warping, especially the thinner materials.  Some people prefer to use Isopropyl Alcohol ( IPA, Isocol, Rubbing Alcohol) as a substitute for Methylated Spirits...but I just find that the Metho dries much more quickly and that is certainly what you are after.  The Raven Oil mix can be overcoated for a darker effect or can be used to highlight sections of timber or where you have distressed the timber with a wire brush, craft knife or other... In recent times I have begun to use the mix via the airbrush and this method certainly has many advantages over the brush method.  One other word of warning...the mix will also soften PVA type glues and although the glue will reset when dry...just take it slowly while experimenting and don't rush or soak the timber and you will end up with a realistic look.

One bottle should last the average modeller a lifetime!

While on this subject...there is one other method of weathering and aging timber that is worthy of discussing and that is the steel wool and vinegar method.  Tease out a quantity ( say 1/2 of an average pad) of steel wool and place it in a glass container and pour in enough vinegar to just cover the steel wool.  Leave this for a few days and then on a scrap piece of timber...brush the liquid on sparingly. There will be no apparent change in the timber for some don't be tempted to add more.  The timber will eventually transform to a beautiful aged and light colouring with a slight touch of silvering.  It is a great method...but for me, takes to long to dry. Still a worthwhile alternative to weathering timber and brilliant for timber sleepers...

The final treatment for timber following either of the above weathering powders to highlight bolts, rust runs from metal components and any other highlight features.  Even green powders can be used as some bridges that I have seen ( especially in semi shaded cuttings etc ) have pile and under deck components that have taken on a very light moss green colouring.

As an aside... the corrugated cladding for the loader is common or garden AMRI brand corrugated card.  There are more ways to simulate corrugated iron than time available here...but some are difficult to produce with tools etc and there are some ready made products that do not readily accept paint, stains, weathering etc. This area is purely an individual choice as to what product is used.  Certainly using the card product is a compromise...but treated thoughtfully it can be a success.  My only "bitch" with the brand I use is that the sheets are overly expensive to the point of being "in orbit" and the consistency and registration of the corrugations is woeful and sometimes a sheet needs to be butchered with a heck of a lot of wastage to gain "square" pieces for use. The issues with corrugated card have had me so frustrated that  I have had a tool under development with an engineering firm for some time and when I get time ( oh for an 8 day week) I will finalise it and this will allow full A4 sheets to be rolled in one go and I feel sure that we could put a dent in the current pricing and output quality...anyway that is for another day...

One last thing to cover in this overly long post ( sorry if you are asleep already) is paints for most structures... I am an unabashed fan of Tamiya acrylics and find that apart from say loco repaints, it can be used in almost any situation.  It sprays well, can be easily thinned with Isopropyl Alcohol, can be cleaned up with the same product and is not going to have any real harmful effects on your health due to prolonged exposure and comes in a fairly large range of colours that can be readily mixed to suit.  One last plus is that it is readily available from most toy, hobby and craft type shops...and of course with some other brands having issues with continuity and brand disappearance...I am happy to remain hassle free!

I have also adopted another paint/weathering brand...and that is the Lifecolor range from Italy and I find it a very useful addition to the "paint arsenal".  To date I have only purchased it in the 6 packs applicable to my needs...but feel that it has a real future in our hobby and being "classless" from a hazardous goods perspective it can be shipped without the hassles of other flammable brands which is another plus to not only the wallet...but your health as well.  I have in the past, purchased it from overseas directly in quantity...but am fairly confident that it can be now sourced locally...well
worth a look!

I hope that I have not bored the "masses" too much with this post and if it has inspired at least one modeller to try something new, then I am glad. It is after all about the exchange of ideas that makes our hobby a great one!  




  1. Rod

    Thanks for the photo of the Raven Oil bottle, now I know what it looks like I just have to find a store selling leather products... but got to be careful which type of store I guess.

    I am also interested in where you got the Lifecolor paints, they look very interesting.

    Ray P

  2. Ray,

    On the "leather" must live vicariously at times...just jump right in Ray...but keep right away from the "questionable establishment" at a former state minister found out the hard way...

    As for the Lifecolor paints I have seen the brand available from Brunel Hobbies in Victoria and another mob called BNA Model World.

    I think I have purchased ( not lifecolor paints ) from Brunel on a couple of occasions and found them to be quite good...but as stated in the blog, I took the advice of a modelling friend who lives in the UK and as I regularly order stuff you cannot get off the shelf here...from the US or UK...I am fairly certain my Lifecolor supplies came from overseas...

    I will now align myself with this mob and Tamiya as I am getting fairly tired of chasing the "disappearing and reappearing" paint range of some others...