You Are Here.
Jump to other pages.
Basic Weathering With Powders Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running wellGarden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden Railroading
Large Scale Starter Sets: Begin with a train you'll be proud to runBachmann Garden Trains: Narrow Gauge models designed to run well in your Garden Railroad
Large Scale Track order FormStructures and building kits for your garden railroad
Large Scale Christmas Trains: Trains with a holiday theme for garden or professional display railroads.Free Large Scale Signs and Graphics: Bring your railroad to life with street signs, business signs, and railroad signs
Garden Railroading Books, Magazines, and Videos: Where to go to learn even more
Collectible Trains and Villages: On30 Trains and accessories designed by Thomas Kinkade and others

Written by Mike Moran for Beacon Hill Trains(tm)

Mike Moran was the proprietor of Beacon Hill Trains, located in Downingtown, PA. He specialized in RC conversions, sound installations, and detailing and weathering of large scale trains.

This article was originally published in the member newsletter of the South Eastern Pennsylvania Garden Railway Society, of which Mike was a supporting member. It is republished with permission.

Basic Weathering With Powders
by Mike Moran, Beacon Hill Trains

Weathering with powders is a means to make anything you wish to look like it has been exposed to the elements. I will try to explain the basics to you with some pictures that I took along the way to make a piece of equipment look like it has been around for awhile.

The weathering powders I use will adhere to any nonglossy surface. It is not chalk. One quick step gives a very realistic rusty, dusty or sooty surface instantly. No drying or curing is necessary. Use sparinglyóa little goes a long way. This product is made from real rust and other weathering agents that have been ball milled to a particle size over 100 times finer than chalk and blended with a pressure sensitive, dry adhesive. Self-adhesive to most surfaces, they do not need to be sealed.

With powders you do not need any special tools or talents to complete the job. All you need is the willingness to try. The powders I used are a product manufactured by Bragdon Enterprises from Georgetown, California.

Click for bigger photo.First you have to make a decision on what you are going to weather. For this project I choose a new LGB Forney. The photo to the right shows the engine as it came new out of the box. You will have to decide at this point if you are going to change the existing road name or add one if it did not come with one already painted on. I will not be explaining removal of lettering or decal installation in this article so I can keep things simple. You must do the decals first before you start to weather the engine.

Click for bigger photo.To the right is a shot of the coal bunker as it came from the factory. Later I will explain a simple way to make this look real.

Now you will have to make a decision on how much or little you want to weather the piece you chose for this project. I like my equipment to look as if it has been well used and little care as to maintenance. The following can be applied to anything you choose including buildings, rolling stock or what ever you want. I will start by showing you what I use to get started.

To the left below you will see several hard bristle artist brushes, masking tape and the powders. You will also need a can of dull coat (below right). I used Testors, but you can use any brand that will give you a dull finish when applied.

Click for bigger photo.Click for bigger photo.

Below is a closer look at the powders.

Click for bigger photo.

First if you are doing anything with windows (or some part you donít want dull) you will need to mask them off because the spray will frost the glass.

In the next step you will need to spray the piece you are working on with the dull coat spray and let dry.

By this time you have made your decision on how weathered you want for your piece. I am going to proceed from here telling you how I did mine. You can put on as much or as little of the powder as you like. Before you start put newspaper down on your work surface. You will notice that as you apply the powders that some will fall to the work surface. This can be collected and reused later. Put the used powder in new container as the mix of colors will make a brown that can be used as a dirt color. Also if you have an apron use it, if you get it on your cloths it can stain them. Letís get started!

Click for bigger photo.I started with the "wood" running boards on each side of the boiler, as photo below shows. Using the dark rust, I took my brush, dipped it into the powder, tapping the side of the container to shake off any loose powder, and applied it to the wood areas, with a rubbing motion in the direction of the wood grain.

Next I started on the main body. At this point you will be applying several layers of colors, so start with lighter colors first. It is easier to cover lighter colors then it is darker ones.

Click for bigger photo.I started with the boiler but you can start anywhere you like on the engine. Since I wanted the engine to look as if it is used and worked hard, I started with ash as a base coat on all the black areas. The next color was a slightly darker color - grimy grey. I used it to make a shadow effect along the bands on the boiler and other areas as appropriate. All coats are applied the same way, with a rubbing motion so you can work the powders into the pieces. The rubbing causes the agents in the powders to adhere were applied.

You can stop at this point if all you want is a piece that has been in service for a short time and is just dirty. Adding darker colors on places coming down from roof tops will show dirt runs from when it rained. This is good if you are doing box cars or buildings. Some of the same techniques for applying color with an air bush can be done with the powders instead.

Next, if you are going to make it look older, I suggest some rust effects. Here again, start with lighter colors.

Click for bigger photo.In picture to the right, you see rust applied to the water pump and cab. I applied it to the rivets and other metal pieces. Start with light rust then medium rust. If you want darker you can use the dark rust color but be careful. Too much will cover the lighter colors completely.

At this point I went over the entire engine to see what I might have missed. Look underneath the engine, and donít forget the trucks, springs piping and couplers.

If you feel you added too much rust, since the engine is black you can go over these areas with the black to cover some of the rust. Black can also be used on lighter colors to show dirt and aging. I have used blue, yellow and green powders on same color cars to make shadows.

Click for bigger photo.Now you are finished weathering the engine. You do not have to spray, as the powders seal themselves. Most sprays will hide all your work. If you need to spray, a product from Krylon called Workable Fixative can be used. Use caution with the spray, as only a very light coat is required.

When you are finished, remove any masking tape you used.

Click for bigger photo.I then took some aquarium charcoal and mixed it with white glue and applied it to the coal area. (The glue dries clear.) This will make it look like a real coal load. The aquarium charcoal is just the right size.


These are the basics for using powders. I have applied my past experiences using chalks to do some more advanced techniques using powders to get some more desired effects.

Go ahead and give it a try!

Please contact Paul with suggestions, corrections, photos, etc.

And, as Paul would say, enjoy your trains, and especially enjoy any time you have to spend with your family in the coming season.

Visit our Garden Train Store<sup><small>TM</small></sup> Starter Set Buyer's Guide

Click to see buildings for your garden railroad

Visit our Garden Train Store<sup><small>TM</small></sup> Buyer's Guide Pages

Home Pages
Reading Index Pages
Buyer's Guide Pages
Return to Family Garden Trains Home page Return to Big Indoor Trains Home page Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running well Big Indoor Trains Primer Articles: All about setting up and displaying indoor display trains and towns. Garden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden RailroadingBig Christmas Trains: Directory of Large Scale and O Scale trains with holiday themes
On30 and O Gauge trains to go with indoor display villages and railroads

Note: Family Garden TrainsTM, Garden Train StoreTM, Big Christmas TrainsTM, BIG Indoor TrainsTM, and BIG Train StoreTM are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications ( All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.
Family Garden Trains is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

For more information, please contact us

Click to see exclusive, licensed Disney(r) train and village collections!