Model Railroader

Weathering trucks and couplers


Trucks and couplers are often overlooked weathering opportunit­ies on freight cars. Here’s the techniques I used on the flatcar.

The Red Caboose model was equipped with Kadee No. 5 couplers. However, the draftgear box covers were secured with glue, limiting my options. I brush-painted all visible surfaces of the couplers with rust-colored paint.

I used a screwdrive­r to remove the solid-bearing trucks. Then I gently spread the sideframes until the metal wheelsets popped out.

The sideframes are molded in a glossy engineerin­g plastic. That’s great to keep the wheels free rolling. However, the slick surface doesn’t hold paint or other weathering products very well. What’s the workaround for this? Media blasting.

Before weathering the sideframes, I masked the sockets with tape so those surfaces would stay smooth. Then, holding the sideframes in an enclosed booth, I used a media blaster on the sideframes.

The booth is designed to catch the residue and dust. However, it’s still important to wear personal protective gear, like a respirator and eye and ear protection.

Once the blasting was completed, I removed the tape and washed the sideframes in soap and warm water to remove any residue. The result was a set of sideframes that were a pleasing grimy black color.

The blasting also left a roughened surface, which came in handy for applying weathering powders, the next step. I used Bragdon powders, starting with light rust on and around the spring packs. I used black on the journal box covers to represent an accumulati­on of leaking or spilled journal oil.

I turned to paint for the final bits of weathering. I used a rust color on the brake shoes and flat black on the wheelsets. Keep paint off the axle tips and wheel treads. This multi-step weathering method is durable and yields realistic results. – Mont Switzer Mont used a mix of media blasting, weathering powders, and brush-painting to weather the trucks and couplers on his flatcar.

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