Review - Weathering Freight Cars Vol. 1 and 2 from

a well made presentation on weathering techniques

By Craig Bisgeier

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I was fortunate to get the ďWeathering Freight CarsĒ Volumes 1 and 2 DVDs from as gifts for the holidays this year.  I thought I would post a quick review of them here as an aid to anyone considering getting them for themselves.

Volume One features Mike Rose, a well known modeler (and one of the nicest fellows you will ever meet) describing his weathering techniques which he has demonstrated many times at national and regional model railroad conventions.  Iíve been fortunate to sit in on Mikeís clinics several times and seen the techniques shown up close, and held the results in my hands.  I have always been impressed by his work which you may have seen in many of the modeling magazines, and enjoyed the chance to watch him work up close and personal.

Short of being there, this DVD is a great boon to anyone looking to make their models more realistic-looking.  It gives a great overview of the few tools, materials and techniques Mike uses to age and weather freight cars.  Mike walks you through all the steps, from showing you how to use his dullcote and alcohol paint-fading technique, and into the use of artistís oil paints to grime up and rust freight cars.  Of particular note are the methods he uses to create rust spots and streaks of rust running down the sides of many different cars.  There is also some great material that focuses on improving the appearance of trucks and wheels, which are often overlooked. 

A key feature of Mikeís techniques that is talked about on the DVD at length is that they are all completely reversible, meaning if you start weathering a car and donít like the way it is coming out, in most cases you can completely and very easily remove all the weathering and start over, or even go back to square one without damaging the original paint job.  This will surely give the hesitant confidence to give these methods a try, and to feel comfortable about making mistakes that can be reversed.  If for no other reason, this DVD is worth the price of admission.

If I have any negative criticism of the DVD at all, it is that Mike seems a bit wooden and serious in his presentation (which you would only know if you have met him, he is a funny and effervescent personality).  Had it been presented as a discussion between Mike and Scott Mason I think it would have been far more entertaining and engaging, because Mike is at his best when explaining things to a live audience.  That said, the material is presented in a very straightforward and clear manner (as we have come to expect from Scott Masonís how-to DVDís) and anyone who watches it will be able to duplicate the techniques with a few dollars invested in simple tools and materials.

The only other criticism I have of Weathering Freight Cars Volume One is that Mikeís techniques are particularly useful to modelers working in the Ďmoderní era.  No matter though, because in Volume Two Scott Mason shows a different set of techniques using weathering powders and pastel chalks to achieve similar weathering results.  The techniques Scott shows have more to do with cars of the steam era, where paints were lead-based and did not peel the way modern coatings do. 

The effects Scott demonstrates are more subtle than Mikeís, showing how to build up chalking paint effects, accumulated grime and highlighting details with less emphasis on dramatic rust effects.  Scott different treatments for many of the same effects including those on trucks and couplers, and gives many good ideas on how to weather different types of cars.  They can range from a subtle treatment of light rain-washed grime to heavy rust effects that rival the things Mike Rose is able to do.

Scott uses more than just chalks and powders in his presentation, ranging to using Floquil paints with a brush and showing how to use an airbrush to create streaking and dusty effects, and even dry-brushing of craft-store acrylics to give subtle highlights to the edges of details and car edges.  There is a lot of information presented in the hour and you will want to replay the DVD again and again to become familiar with the many methods.  Many of them are also reversible like Mike Roses, but not all of them.  And some, like the airbrushing, will require an investment in some fairly expensive and specialized tools.

The materials Scott uses are sometimes specialized and somewhat costly.  Pastels, India ink and alcohol are readily available and inexpensive at craft and drug stores, but some things like Bragdonís weathering powders and Rustall are single-source items and must be ordered from a well-stocked hobby store.  And they are not inexpensive.  But Scott recommends them because he believes that these materials are the best available for the tasks at hand, and I would be hard pressed to argue with him.  Even though they are expensive they will last a long time in the tiny quantities used, so the higher cost is amortized when spread out over the number of cars and structures youíll weather in time.

With both DVDs you will find the techniques lend themselves to other uses beyond weathering freight cars, many of the methods can be used on structures and other models too.  Viewers who have watched any of Scottís DVDs on building craftsman structure kits will recognize a few of his methods used on the freight cars, and will likely think of ways to use some of the other methods he has shown elsewhere to improve the look of all kinds of models including locomotives and rolling stock.

Scott is as usual very comfortable in front of the camera and has an easygoing manner, easily making you feel comfortable with the steps he performs.  He is fun to watch and demonstrates the methods in a very straightforward way.  He almost never does something on screen that he does not explain; which is refreshing and reassuring as a viewer.  There are few examples of mystery results where something is shown that you didnít watch him do from start to finish (with one exception Ė the burned tank car (what did it end up looking like?)) so you can see how things finish from where they started.

Both DVDs are arranged in clearly labeled chapters so it is simple to move directly to a specific technique using your DVD remote, and with the pause and slow motion features on most DVD players you should have no trouble viewing and repeating any part of the presentation you want to see. 

These DVDs sell for approximately $30 each from, and for my money I was glad to have them both.  If you only want to buy one, I suggest buying Volume One if you model the modern era; and Volume Two if you model the steam era.  This way you will get the most out of the material that will work for your era. 

Disclaimer:  I am not affiliated with or in any way, nor do I realize any profit from those sources.  I know both Mike Rose and Scott Mason personally but have tried to present my opinions on this product honestly and without personal prejudice for or against it.  I purchased both DVDs with my own funds (well my wife did actually) and did not get a free copy or any consideration for this review.


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