Weathering project 01: Chessie covered hopper

18 Jan 2016

Average: 4.7 (31 votes)
1:14:22 - Weathering 01: Chessie yellow covered hopper (2016)

In this next episode of the series, Mike Confalone weathers the first car, a yellow Chessie covered hopper. Mike covers many techniques: marking weld seams with colored pencils, adding general road grime using PanPastels, bringing out details with oil washes, and creating rust streaks with oils.

Other episodes in this series include:
- Introduction: Workspace, tools & materials
- Project 2: Engelhard covered hopper
- Project 3: Milwaukee Road boxcar
- Project 4: Seaboard Coast Line hopper
- Project 5: Grand Trunk covered hopper
- Project 6: B&O coal hopper
- Project 7: CP Rail boxcar
- Project 8: CN pressure-diff hopper

Also see volume 2: Weathering diesel locomotives.

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Episode 3: Weathering an Engelhard covered hopper ...

Go to second weathering project


wafflebox306's picture

Very cool!  Great video!  Can't wait to see the next project!  Thanks Mike!

Tbgarland's picture


Thanks for sharing your techniques on weathering. I especially enjoyed the wash effect on the roof. I've never seen that before. I was just in my hobby shop yesterday and noticed the pan pastels. The next time I'm in there I will definitely be investing in a set.

I've spent over 20 years dealing with real freight cars. Climbing on them as a Conductor and pulling them as an Engineer. I can tell you they really do get dirty, especially the undersides. Rain kicks up all kinds of mud, oil and other materials on the end frames and the hopper bays. Steel cars develop rust patterns practically everywhere but particularly near seams. One other detail you might want to add is rust spots from where the guy unloading the grain or cement has hit the sides of the lower part of the car or the hopper bays with a rubber hammer. On grain hoppers occasionally you will see a new roof hatch door that has been replaced. If it is made with aluminum then it will not rust like the steel hatches do. This is a more modern feature so it may not apply to your era but it could be the reason the sides of the roof walk bracing is made of another type of metal which would justify the lack of weathering.

Overall great work and I am looking forward to your next installment! Thanks again!

Tim Garland


Great results, particularly liked the use of pencil to put streaks on panel joins. What sort of pencil did you use, it seemed to stick better than an ordinary colouring pencil?

It was a PrisimaColor Pencil. It is a like the Colored Pencil's we used in school but of a higher quality. They have 2 or 3 different levels but even the beginners level is much better then any we used in school. They are for Art students and contain higher levels of oil in them, but the higher the quality the more they tend to crumble, I would recommend the Scholar Series or the one above is the Premier. They are not cheap like 20 and up depending on size of kit. You can get them at your local art supply store.




Boy lots of Mike's around

Many thanks Mike, will check them out. With a bit of luck I may be able to purchase just the colours I need.

liverpool_range's picture

Great video Mike.

One question - in handling the car during the process, you obviously don't seem to be leaving fingerprints behind.  You don't find the oils off your fingers affect the finish of the weathering?  I myself hate handling my models with bare hands and use latex gloves when doing my weathering.

Looking forward to the locomotive weathering segments.



Excellent weathering clinic, Mike.  I learned a lot!!  Have you ever used Gouache paints for weathering?  The nice thing about them is that they are always removeable by just washing until you put a protective coat over them regardless of how long they are left. 

Are you going to do any of the general brown boxcars?  I've been working with them but am not really happy with the results so far.

I look forward to your next clinic!

Best, Andy Keeney


Nice video!  This type of presentation is why I joined Trainmasters.

Although the videos wih two presenters are OK, and they appear to be nice guys, there is too much "chit chat" with that formula.  A more serious and in depth coverage of the subject as reflected in this presintation by Mike is what I believe most of us want to see.

Although the videos wih two presenters are OK, and they appear to be nice guys, there is too much "chit chat" with that formula.  A more serious and in depth coverage of the subject as reflected in this presintation by Mike is what I believe most of us want to see.

Actually, we think there's room for both. We don't see it as an "either-or" decision since we do know a lot of people also like the hosted segments. The truth is many guests are more comfortable in front of the camera if they can let a host lead rather than be forced to carry the whole show solo. Why deny those people from sharing their insights with the hobby by insisting we use only one format?

Mike, we agree, has the "gift of gab" and does a good job carrying the entire video on his own. But not everyone likes that format, either. We've received private feedback about the solo format saying they prefer less talk and more show.

So we'll keep doing both. But do look for more segments coming that use the solo format, too, when the guest is comfortable with it.

Hi Ian,

Actually I do get finger prints on there sometimes. I think I comment to that effect in one of the videos. Gloves are something I've always thought about, but never took the time to buy and try them out. Maybe I ought to try. Good idea! 

Mike Confalone

Thanks for the feedback Rick!

I pretty much just immerse myself in the project and talk talk talk.....that's the way I teach. You'll notice I tend to say "we" did this and "we" did that. Doesn't make sense really, but when I do these videos I sort of imagine the "audience" there with me at the work bench doing the project with me vs. just me talking to the camera and telling everybody what "I" did. 

So yes Barry, I have the gift of gab, it's the Italian in me! 

Mike Confalone

Hi Andy!

Yep. There is a MIlwaukee Road 50' plug-door boxcar coming up..maybe it's car #3 in the series. It's basic boxcar red/brown and I'll show you how to fade the car with the Pan Pastels, and do some other cool effects. 

Mike Confalone

espeelover's picture

Nice weathering job on the WM LO; killing off that very bright yellow while keeping its paint and lettering quite obvious does require a bit of skill. I like the chit chat, as it helps with the presentation; I learn as much from the vocals as I do from the visuals. I'm liking what I'm seeing; carry on.


I enjoyed your work and love your layout.  My question is about sealing. I have done some weathering with pastels and when using the standard Dullcoat finish  the weathering just washes away.  I do alot of 0-5-0 switching of cars in a staging yard and i dont want to have all that hard work  come off on the operators hands.  Do you have any ideas of what works well with your method?

Thank you again for sharing your wonderful technique.


Joseph,  I have used pastels extensively and have found that a pastel fixative you can find at any art supply store works well and doesn't dissolve the pastel binder.  I think my fixative is Latour, its not cheap but it goes a very long way; I finish off each model with a quick spray and have never had any problems.




Interestingly, I've never had a problem with the pastels coming off. I Dullcoat between layers of pastels, and then I apply a final spray (using my airbrush, full strength).The more Dullcoat you apply between layers, the more efectively the pastels stick to the surface.

When applying Dullcoat, I back up a couple of feet and spray so that the Dullcoat is pretty much dry by the time it hits the surface. 

Ralph's suggestion sounds interestig too. I wasn't familiar with that, but it sounds like a good idea.


Mike If its dry by the time it hits the surface it likely will not adhere or stick ....Mike do you thin your dull coat? Can dull coat be  thinned so that it does not give that clogged bulky look around details like rivets and bolts etc?  as always,  Mike,  great work..Nice job! looking forward to next vid.  




Almost dry, not dry. You do not want to see a sheen of any kind when that Dullcoat hits the surface. I spray it, with an airbrush - full strength. I've never noticed a bulky look around any details.


Thank you for the reply Mike..I was just kinda ribbing about the dry (obviously what you are doing works very well)...time for me to invest in an air brush, the rattle can testors dull coat kinda bulks up no matter how hard I try to clean the nozzle it still sprays/spits out chunks..when I do air brush dull coat should it be thinned or sprayed as is?


I spray it full strength through the airbrush. It is pushing the limit on viscocity that the airbrush can handle, but it works. Airbrush is more precise for sure since you can limit/control the amount that is expelled. 


Mike thank you much for the reply...another "Air brush rookie" question,.. single action or double action air brush?? what works best?  Or is it just a personal preference?


Love your content and presentation.  A question I have is why would acrylic artist colors not work as well, as oil.  I knw you have a good reason, but I am curious and I have lots of acrylics, but zero oils.  Keep up the good work,


The number one difference between acrylics and oils is the rapid drying time of acrylics - often less than 10 minutes when mixed with water into washes. That gives you little time to blend things or to remove anything later if you decide it's a mistake.

Secondly, acrylics when mixed with water form an emulsion, and the color shifts to a lighter shade. This can mess you up somewhat if you're trying to match a specific color exactly because the final paint when dry will be noticeably darker than when wet. Oils, when thinned with turpentine, do not exhibit this color shift.

You can somewhat deal with the drying time issue if you use a retarder with the acrylics. As for the emulsion-when-mixed-with-water problem, you need to use a paint that doesn't have a white acrylic emulsion as its base, like Windsor & Newton has done here with their *Artist* line of acrylics:

Another option is to use the new water-mixable oils. You get the longer working time of oils, but get the huge low-odor and water cleanup advantages. Just make sure you thin the water-mixable oils with their thinner and not water to avoid the color shift. Here's a video illustrating why you don't want to use water to thin your paints - this example is water-mixable oils, with Windsor & Newton coming to the rescue again:

Hope this helps ... there's still research to be done to get water-based methods of duplicating what Mike has shown can be done with oils. At some point, we hope to bring our water-based experiment findings to TMTV.


Great question. Quick answer. Oils work better and the results look better, at least to my eye. I used to use acrylics.  At the end of the day, it's personal preference. 

Maybe try a tube of oil and some turpentine and see how it compares to your acrylics.

Mike Confalone

Gosh you guys really covered the subject well. I will get some oils and compare for myself.  I am an old guy and am really overwhelmed by the ability for modelers to share information.  I really appreciate your answers.  Hats off to you and TMTV.



Love all your videos, especially the scenery series.  I like the one person format and the flow and amount of explanation is to my liking.  I use almost all the same materials that you use.  Your layout has long been one of my absolute favourites.  

Regarding your weathering techniques, I was right there with you on the trucks, panel lines, Pan Pastel fade.  The panel line wash was good and I really liked your splatter technique; I'm going to try that one around the base.  But you lost me on the roof.  Likely because you didn't have a good reference photo of the top.  Hopper hatches are typically grey or white, made of fiberglass.  Rust mainly appears on the hardware.

The washes are great, but when you use full stregth oil paint, even when trying to do tiny spots, I find it best to blend them with a moistened brush and then layer on additional  tones.  This will eliminate the splotchy/spotty look of the finished car.

I'm looking forward to more of your videos.

Muskoka Steve