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Weathering PFA Gypsum Wagons With Mick Bonwick - Let's Get Involved!

Weathering PFA Gypsum Wagons With Mick Bonwick - Let's Get Involved!

The Accurascale PFA model is way out of my modelling area and era interests, but I suddenly found that I had bought some, anyway.

Intrigued by the way that these weathered, but everything written on the wagon remained legible, I set about trying to replicate this. Continuing the theme of not using very much to achieve realistic weathering effects, I looked for photographs from which I could glean ideas about what happened where, and found more images by Andy Jupe on Smugmug, taken on 24th July 2006, which you can see here.

A train of British Gypsum Ltd containers, mounted on PFAs, had been photographed at Doncaster. The portrayed wagons were in different stages of grime accumulation, and I chose to use a relatively clean one to copy.



Materials to be used

The thin layer of road dirt that had accumulated around the edges of the container’s inset panels was to be replicated with AK Interactive pigment AK143 Burnt Umber, and accumulated grime on the underfame will be represented by the same manufacturer’s pigment, AK081 Dark Earth. The discolouration from surplus gypsum spilled on the vehicle was represented by Ammo by Mig White pigment A.MIG-3018, which was held in place by pigment fixer A.MIG-3000.

All of the work on this wagon will be done using pigments, applied with a filbert brush (size 6 for the wagon and size 2 for the container). So that the pigments have a dependable surface to adhere to, the whole vehicle was given a good coating of Testor’s Dullcote before work began and left to dry.



Container Cradle

Using the no. 6 filbert, dark earth pigment was brushed over all surfaces of the container cradle. The brush was dipped into the lid, not the pot, to collect the small quantities of pigment needed, as you may by now have expected. Dipping the brush into the pot collects excessive pigment, which will not adhere to the surface of the model, falls off and makes a mess and the mess is then transferred to somewhere you don’t want it. I have discovered these things the hard way!


Container Cradle in Position

The cradle has been placed back on the wagon, and you can see the difference that the pigment has made.


PFA Dirt

The same process is now followed to create the layer of road dirt on the PFA wagon itself. Picking up a small amount of pigment at a time and brushing it onto all of the splendid array of detail that is present. The layer of Dullcote applied at the beginning of the exercise has prepared all of these surfaces for the pigment. Without the Dullcote (or your preferred matt varnish) the pigment will not stay put.

The thin layer allows the printing to remain legible, although if you wished for the plates to look clean, a wipe of the area with a cotton bud or brush dipped in white spirit will remove the Dullcote and pigment.



PFA Comparison

The completed wagon is shown alongside a pristine one to demonstrate the difference made by the pigment application.


Container Panels

Work on the gypsum container follows a similar process, although a size 2 filbert brush is being used, rather than the size 6 used for the chassis. The reason for this is that the space between the strengthening ribs of the container is too small to allow easy use of the larger brush.

To replicate the way the dirt has accumulated on the panels and not the ribs, the brush (with its small volume of pigment!) is pushed into the corners of the panels and worked along the edges, and then towards the panel centres. This process places the heaviest quantities into the corners and then thins out the application towards the panel centre. If you had started with too much pigment on the brush there would just be a uniform layer across the whole panel.


Remaining Areas

Work continued in the same way across all panels and the empty (on this container) logo board.

There were some occasions when the pigment ended up on the ribs (ineptitude) but this was removed by quickly wiping the rib with a finger.


Grime Completed

The end result of grime application can now be seen. There was more that could be done to represent the areas where impact damage had started to generate rust. The photographs showed some on the end ribs and a few around the locking points on the containers. Without adding any more pigment to the brush, the bristles were rubbed firmly across these areas and the small particles still in place were transferred to the model surface. This is an effective way of colouring edges and raised detail in a similar way to dry brushing with paint. This can be seen in the next photograph.


Gypsum Discolouration

The photographs show that there is some spillage of gypsum at the ends of the wagons, on both containers and wagons. A representation of this spillage was made by adding some touches of white pigment. More could be added and held in place with Pigment Fixer, but this was not done for this exercise.


Without having used very much at all, and having taken about 25 minutes modelling time, the difference made can be readily seen in this comparison photograph.

Once again, we would like to extend a big and sincere thank you to weathering master Mick Bonwick for this simple, step-by-step guide to take our PFAs to the next level. Have a go on your own wagons and show us the results!

If you fancy a rake of our gypsum PFA wagons, we still have a limited amount of packs in stock. Order now and get weathering! 

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