Diesel weathering 1: D&H U23B, part 1

17 Mar 2016

Average: 4.7 (19 votes)
49:27 - Diesel weathering 1: D&H U23B, part 1 (2016)

In volume 2 of this weathering series, Mike Confalone weathers diesel locomotives. For project 1, Mike weathers the D&H "Gray Ghost" U23B. In part 1, Mike reviews prototype photos and then first highlights the details with an oil shadowing wash, then weathers various hood details using PanPastels. Part one of two. Click here to watch part 2.

Model Railroad Hobbyist shield logoView / participate in the discussion thread for this video on the MRH website ...

Own a copy of this video for just $3.49

All the episodes in this series include:
Diesel weathering 1: D&H U23B, part 1 (this episode)
Diesel weathering 1: D&H U23B, part 2

Diesel weathering 2: B&M GP38-2, part 1
Diesel weathering 2: B&M GP38-2, part 2

Diesel weathering 2: LV (D&H) C420, part 1
Diesel weathering 2: LV (D&H) C420, part 2

Also see volume 1: Weathering freight cars.


I have been looking forward to the loco series ever since I watched the first few freight car episodes. I really like the techniques used, simple, effective, and a lot quicker than an airbrush in my view, particularly afterwards not having to spend several minutes cleaning the airbrush etc.

keep up the great work!

I've also been looking forward to the locomotive weathering series.  Mike has the gift for teaching while keeping us informed and engaged! Terrific job!


Tbgarland's picture


Great advice on which mediums to use when weathering. The combination of the oil wash, pan pastels and artist oils when to use them and where is what makes for excellent results. Your attention to detail and method of operation makes for a very fun and interesting video to watch and learn by. I'm looking forward to more of this series.

Thanks for what you do!

Tim Garland

Love your series, but as I watched the D&H light colored loco really come together I wondered how I would convert this knowledge to my black Southern locos.  I would assume a lighter color between door panels, etc, but after that I am pretty well lost.  What should I do?

Thanks, Guy

joef's picture

I'm not Mike, but I think his Milwaukee Road car weathering holds a key. Here's what I would do ...

1. Apply Dullcote then do a paint fade with PanPastels. Pick a medium gray color (shade in PanPastel terms) and lighten the entire hood with it. After that, apply Dullcote.

2. Now that the entire shell is lighter, you can do a black oil wash shadow accent of hood seams, doors and hinges. Dullcote again.

3. Now apply screen-vent darkening, dirt, rust, soot, and oil spills as per usual. Dullcote again for the finale.

Actually, that sounds about right Joe!

Mike Confalone

joef's picture

Thanks, Mike - good to know we're on the same wavelength.

A couple more thoughts on weathering totally black locos and cars.

First, always try to work from some reference photos - if you study them you will see effects that you need to try that you may not have considered before. Here's a few reference photos of Southern diesels ...


From these photos I can see that a black Southern diesel loco definitely needs a fade job unless it's fresh out of the shop. Even then, because indoor light is always so much less intense than outdoor lighting, we make our models under indoor lighting LOOK outdoors by lightening all the colors somewhat to create the illusion they're outside in more intense light.

I would pre-fade the black paint with an application of either Neutral Gray Shade or Paynes Gray (straight). Second, on the black-and-white photo especially, I note the seams, doors, and hinges all stand out with a very light color emphasizing them. That tells me that you might consider doing a white oil "highlighting" wash on all the seams, doors, and hinges instead of a black oil shadow wash as is done on light colored cars.

Finally, note the closer to the roadbed you get, the lighter the fading and weathering becomes. That tells me you will need to move to a Neutral Gray tint or Paynes Gray Tint since these are both a lot lighter than the fading colors I list above.

By looking at real photos and trying some experiments on shells you can afford to throw out if you mess up, then you should find some methods that work good for darker locos and cars. Once you get something that works, do share it with the rest of us - either in some forum posts on the MRH site, by writing up an article, or maybe even shooting some video.

Hope this gets you started on the path of some great weathering adventures!

--Joe Fugate

Thanks Joe,  I am going to have to breakdown and buy som Pan Pastels.  I have quiet an investment in weathering powders, but in watching Mike I can see the advantage of the Pan Pastels.  Need to find a local source as Michaels and Hobby Lobby don't stock them.  BTW I can't imagine life before Trainmaster TV.  It is worth every penny. 


joef's picture

Glad to help, Guy. Don't know where you're located, but I found a Dick Blick art supply store locally that carries all the PanPastels.

And thanks for your kind words about TMTV - can we quote you?

Feel free to quote me.  There is a Dick Blick here in Atlanta, but not real near me.  I may just order from DickBlick.com.  Thanks again.


Mike, great job!  I really enjoyed your series on weathering freight cars and have been looking forward to the diesel weathering series.  Did you apply Dullcote to the U23B before weathering?  I don't recall hearing you say so earlier in the video.

Joe, I've enjoyed all of the TMTV videos since they started but I think this weathering series by Mike is the best yet.  I've never weathered anything before and I went out and ordered PanPastels from Dick Blick and picked up brushes and oils from Micahels Stores.  I can't wait to get started!


Did you apply Dullcote to the U23B before weathering?  I don't recall hearing you say so earlier in the video.

Here's what Mike said over on the MRH discussion thread for this video ...

Yes, this was a factory-painted D&H unit but Atlas used a shade of gray that was much too dark, so I actually repainted the loco and decaled. After that was complete, a HEAVY application of Dullcoat, just like with a freight car. Just mask off the window glass before you do this.

Now, very important. If this was a lightly weathered loco that had been recently repainted, I would NOT apply Dullcoat because the paint needs to still have the sheen to it. Paint only gets ultra flat after years in service. Take a look at the intro to the video shot at the Madrid engine terminal. There is an Allagash GP38-2 (bright yellow) spotted there. That loco has Scalecoat II paint (heavy gloss) and light weathering...NO Dullcoat applied on the body, but just a bit on the roof where the paint would lose its luster quite quickly with all the intense heat and soot.

Mike Confalone

Thanks, Mike!

ModelTrainStuff carries Pan Pastels

Not all the colors Mike uses are in stock, but the ones that are have good prices.


Sound advice Joe, it would be good to see Guy's efforts when done.

Regarding your mention of using reference photos, I will repeat an earlier comment and just add that it would be nice to be able to see the reference photos at various intervals during Mike's weathering process. That way we can see how he is trying to replicate some of the specific weathering effects and make a direct comparison between the model and prototype as the weathering progresses.


Andrew Thompson

Regarding your mention of using reference photos, I will repeat an earlier comment and just add that it would be nice to be able to see the reference photos at various intervals during Mike's weathering process. That way we can see how he is trying to replicate some of the specific weathering effects and make a direct comparison between the model and prototype as the weathering progresses.

We go back and forth on this idea because while Mike pulls a prototype photo for reference, he uses it more for inspiration rather than duplicating it down to the last rust spot and dirt streak. That means he seldom references specific details on a photo, and we figure most people want to see the technique rather than suddenly have Mike's process go away so we can show you the reference photo (that you have already seen) since he's mostly following it loosely.

The other option is a picture-in-picture so you won't miss the technique, but then the photo is so small that it may not be of much value.

This all said - we will watch for the occassional moment where Mike is actually referencing something on the prototype photo and not yet showing a technique - but we suspect those moments may be rare - and we're down to just a few episodes left in the diesel weathering series, so the opportunities may be few and far between. We're also not going to go back and re-edit the freight car series since the DVDs are already shipping so too late there.

Request noted, and we will see on the remaining diesels if it makes sense to pop up the prototype photo another time later in the process.

Thanks Joe, good to know you consider all our comments. If I can just add that whilst none of us would expect to see Mike exactly replicate the finish of a prototype, when looking at those prototype photos I tend to look at the general impression of the weathered finish just to keep the brain cells firing. It is nice to be able to see it as the process ontinues in case it sparks a little idea of one's own as to how the effect can be achieved.

I have recently attended a weekend weathering course here in Limey-Land, certainly helped me get started on my first couple of steam locos. Some of Mike's techniques came in useful as well. If you are interested I have just started a flickr page to show them, search for 'kiwitommo64'.

Regards, Andrew Thompson

LOVE the Weathering Series!  It is one of the reasons I'm glad I paid for a 3-year subscription.  ;-)

I know this is NOT a video about applying decals, but I was impressed that the decal edges were completely hidden.  This is difficult to achieve since oil washes and brushes will catch on decal edges and deposit extra material.  I have been foiled by this " decal ghosting" on a model, and was wondering if you could briefly describe your technique to avoid it.  

One method that is helpful is to cut the decal edges at a 45 degree bevel with a razor blade.  It is much more time consuming than using a pair of scissors, but the edges are much less pronounced.  

Thank you for your time.  Take care and God bless!

Dave Donaldson

Wondering if there is a video on applying decals?  I am about to do so for the 1st time (to a painted wood surface)  and would appreciate advice concerning how to do it as well as possible.  Thanks.  Harold Weinberg

No videos on applying decals (yet). But this would be a great topic - we've got feelers out.