Airbrushing Tips to Weather Your Model Railroad

Badger Air Brush KitWeathering with an air brush is easy to do and gives excellent results. Start with darker colors and add lighter colors on top.

Line up all your cars, structures and loco’s and treat them assembly line style, then change colors and do it again and again.

Remember, weathering is a matter of degree and most rolling stock is fairly clean.

The disadvantage of weathering with paint is that it is pretty permanent when you are done.

Mac McCalla shared this tip for airbrushing:

I have been weathering with an airbrush for many years and have done many clinics for Badger Airbrush and at the GATS train shows. Here are a few helpful hints, both for the beginner and the experienced air brusher.

Badger 100 Air Brush HeadA double action brush is by far the easiest and most productive, both with ease and performance. I use a gravity feed, Badger model 100LG most of the time as it allows for very close up work (nuts/bolts, valves, fittings) and anything else that requires very small and close up work.

Badger 150 Air Brush HeadThere is no jar to contend with and get in the way. For other work, a Model 150 is the all around brush to use for this hobby.

I have found that by using four colors, you can weather your project to any degree that you want simply by mixing and blending as you paint the object. The four colors I use are:

  • Rust
  • Roof brown
  • Engine black
  • Earth

You can use either water base or oil base paints and paint one over the other if desired. Both Model Flex (water base) and Floquil (oil base) are excellent paints and come already mixed and labeled from the manufacturer.

If you are going to use the colors I suggested, start with the rust, then paint over and blend in the roof brown. The engine (or grimy) black can then be lightly dusted over the two colors to blend them all together. The earth (if desired) can be painted over the results to resemble water staining and sun bleaching.

Hopefully this little bit of information will help someone who has the desire to weather their engines and rolling stock, also good for structures and scenery.

Do you have a tip or technique you’d like to share with Model Train Tips readers? Use the contact form on the Contact Model Train Tips page to send it in.

Rick Brock

About Model Train Tips

I am a complete model railroading novice, and I’ve started this website to share what I learn with others who are also new to the hobby and want to learn about it. I invite you to sign up for my newsletter and get the free report: 7 Model Train Mistakes To Avoid.


  1. Dennis Packer says:

    It is with great sadness, Mac McCalla passed away on September 9, 2015. He is now weathering locomotives for God. God Bless Mac

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