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Author Topic: Rail side rust colour experiments  (Read 373 times)

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Offline jamespetts

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Rail side rust colour experiments
« on: March 26, 2020, 09:29:55 PM »
In anticipation of starting work on laying track on my layout (1980s era), I thought that it would be worthwhile to carry out some tests on what the best colour for rail side rust is.

I have provisionally decided to use acrylic paints applied with a brush for track weathering, and have bought pots of Railmatch acrylic dark rust, sleeper grime, brake dust and black.

For the rail sides, I have tried so far three colours:

(1) dark rust:

Dark rust by James Petts, on Flickr

(2) brake dust:

Brake dust by James Petts, on Flickr; and

(3) a blend of the two (very approximately half each, but this is difficult to get precise):

Dark rust and brake dust blend by James Petts, on Flickr

Here are some photographs of the colour of real rail sides in the area/era that I am modelling:

50023 by Redhill Bull, on Flickr

47581 by Redhill Bull, on Flickr

50035 'Ark Royal' heads east through Iver with the 12:00 Oxford to Paddington service. by Jeremy Gould, on Flickr

50032 by Redhill Bull, on Flickr

50038 by Redhill Bull, on Flickr

47509 by Redhill Bull, on Flickr

Mixed bag by Bingley Hall, on Flickr

50024 - 1M03 - Cov - 8/4/90 by A Neds Perspective, on Flickr

By comparison with these, it seems as though I may need a mix with more brake dust than dark rust, but that brake dust alone is too light.

I should be interested to know what colours/blends that others use for this.

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Re: Rail side rust colour experiments
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2020, 09:56:39 PM »
Great prototype pics to refer to. Out of the three you've done, I'd say halfway between second and third, but my eyes are a bit dodgy these days!

Whatever looks right to your eyes, I guess.

As someone here says ( @port perran ?) if it looks right, it is right
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Offline bluedepot

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Re: Rail side rust colour experiments
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2020, 10:06:24 PM »
i think tamiya flat brown (xf-10 i think it is) thinned down slightly looked pretty good on my old layout for rail sides on running lines - and also a dusting of railmatch track dirt / sleeper grime from an airbrush helps too. you could do this before or after ballasting (depending how clean you want the ballast).

maybe this will be too dark a brown for you - but you could mix in a lighter colour or spray on brake dust afterwards.

for rarely used track mix in a more rusty colour.

good luck


tim
« Last Edit: March 26, 2020, 10:10:59 PM by bluedepot »

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Rail side rust colour experiments
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2020, 10:14:08 PM »
Great prototype pics to refer to. Out of the three you've done, I'd say halfway between second and third, but my eyes are a bit dodgy these days!

Whatever looks right to your eyes, I guess.

As someone here says ( @port perran ?) if it looks right, it is right

Indeed. One complexity is that it is difficult to know just how colour accurate that these scans of film photographs taken in the 1980s and displayed on my monitor actually are. Some of the pictures have a noticeable yellow cast (look at the platforms and the white in the NSE livery). Also, the lighting has an effect on the colour of the rail sides, increasing the perception of colour saturation. Evening light, hitting the rail sides from the side, and with a yellowish tinge, may well give a very different impression of the colour than mid day light gives them.

However, from memory of last year looking at rail sides and trying to memorise the colours, they definitely had a yellowish tinge, more than a basic rust colour alone would suggest, so I suspect that a slightly different brake dust/dark rust blend might be the way forward.

i think tamiya flat brown (xf-10 i think it is) thinned down slightly looked pretty good on my old layout for rail sides on running lines - and also a dusting of railmatch track dirt / sleeper grime from an airbrush helps too. you could do this before or after ballasting (depending how clean you want the ballast).

for rarely used track use a more rusty colour.

good luck


tim

Interesting. That Tamiya flat brown looks like quite a dark colour - perhaps a slightly lighter and more saturated looking sleeper grime. The idea of different levels of brake dust colour depending on level of usage is interesting.

What I have not yet tried is coating with rust then over-coating with brake dust and whether that would be different to a coat of the blend of the two. Lesser used rails in yards might well not get the brake dust treatment, or, if blending works better, might get only rust. I think that these acrylics are likely to need multiple coats in any event.

For the ballast, I was thinking of using multiple washes with a large brush. Photographs such as these:

50044 by Redhill Bull, on Flickr

47526  Oxford  13-07-90 by Gray Callaway, on Flickr

suggest a build-up of a brake dust colour on the ballast over time (the first was taken in 1988 and the second in 1990). The later photograph is darker and might more resemble the sleeper grime colour.
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Offline jpendle

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Re: Rail side rust colour experiments
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2020, 11:07:17 PM »
Hi,

I thought long and hard about this as well. I looked at lots of photos from the past 5 years and came to the conclusion that heavily used running rails don't look rusty to my eyes, they look like more of a mucky grey colour, especially when it's wet. Which for my layout's location is most of the time  :D
I finally latched onto a picture of some station around Preston on the WCML where the main lines were a mucky grey and the less used crossovers which showed up much more rust.
So I'm using a Woodland Scenics steel rail pen on my mainlines and I plan to use their rusty rail colour on lightly used track.

I do find the rusty red colour of track on some layouts a bit garish, but I think that's because I don't remember sleepy, little used, rural branch lines.

At the end of the day I don't think there is a 'correct' colour, best just to study lots of photos and go with what you think looks right.

Regards,

John P
Check out my layout thread.

Contemporary NW (Wigan Wallgate and North Western)

https://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=39501.msg476247#msg476247

Offline red_death

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Re: Rail side rust colour experiments
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2020, 11:23:21 PM »
I agree with John. It is relatively rare that rails are rusty - probably the only time is when newly laid (as they are left outside after production). In use they tend to weather a dark brown-grey with a merest hint of rust as in your photos of the real thing.

However as you say it also depends on the light of the photo ie bright sunlight will make them look different to flat grey light.



Offline jamespetts

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Re: Rail side rust colour experiments
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2020, 11:30:04 PM »
Thank you both for your thoughts - that is most helpful. The brake dust element is quite significant from what I can see. What I plan to do is apply 1-2 coats of neat acrylic rust/dust mix to the sides of the rails (perhaps in differing proportions depending on usage intensity) with a very small brush and then apply numerous dilute wash coats of sleeper grime and/or brake dust to the whole ballast/rail area after laying, finally adding black to represent oil leakage as was common at that time, sometimes very heavily where diesel locomotives or (especially) multiple units would repose for a time, such as at stations.
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Offline jamespetts

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Re: Rail side rust colour experiments
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2020, 12:59:14 AM »
A further experiment before bed: I have now tried over-painting the section that I had originally painted with only dark rust with a coat of brake dust. Here are the results, the first with the mobile telephone's in-built LED on, and the second with it off:

Brake dust painted over dark rust by James Petts, on Flickr

Brake dust painted over dark rust by James Petts, on Flickr

As can be seen, even on a model, the lighting makes a big difference to the appearance of the rail colour. This seems to be the best colour so far, not least, I think, because it replicates the process that occurs in reality: first, the rail rusts and then it gets covered in brake dust.

Only the rail closest to the camera is painted over in this way. The rail farthest from the camera has dark rust only. The rail to the far left has brake dust only.

Once sleeper grime washes are applied to the whole track and ballast after being laid, this may well give me the correct look.
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Online Bealman

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Re: Rail side rust colour experiments
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2020, 01:16:07 AM »
A most interesting series of trials. I think you may be correct in your conclusion.  :thumbsup:

Don't lose sleep over it, though!  ;)
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline bridgiesimon

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Re: Rail side rust colour experiments
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2020, 08:32:21 AM »
to be honest looking at the images, the dark rust is too red/rusty to my eye. I have seen many layouts where the rusty colour of the rails is so overpowering and accentuates the size of the rail, especially in N gauge. I really do think that a weathered frame dirt, Railmatch, or similar brown looks better than the rusty colour.

Best wishes
simon

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Re: Rail side rust colour experiments
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2020, 09:09:19 AM »
Thank you both for your thoughts - that is most helpful. The brake dust element is quite significant from what I can see. What I plan to do is apply 1-2 coats of neat acrylic rust/dust mix to the sides of the rails (perhaps in differing proportions depending on usage intensity) with a very small brush and then apply numerous dilute wash coats of sleeper grime and/or brake dust to the whole ballast/rail area after laying, finally adding black to represent oil leakage as was common at that time, sometimes very heavily where diesel locomotives or (especially) multiple units would repose for a time, such as at stations.

Might I make a polite suggestion, particular considering you have such an extensive run of track?  I would recommend that rather than brush painting, you invest in an airbrush. I guarantee it will yield much better results, whilst also allowing for nuisances in colour, which can be seen in your prototype images.

If i's of any interest, I spray the track with Railmatch sleeper grime, and then on the rails and chairs, sleeper grime with a drop of brown. and then with the airbrush pressure reduced to a very low figure, close in subtle spraying of Railmatch brake dust.  I have found that the brake dust is a little too stark for my taste, so next time I will tone it down, possibly with a drop of dark brown or nearly black.  Similarly, I wouldn't use straight black for oil leakage/stains, I would add a drop of red or a drop of brown to give it a less stark, scale appearance.

I wouldn't use anything approaching a "rust" colour, for the reason Mike (Red Death) mentions.

Best

Scott
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Offline Newportnobby

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Re: Rail side rust colour experiments
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2020, 09:39:08 AM »
It might also benefit you to try using your preferred rail cleaning method.
I wonder how many of us have carefully painted rail sides and then watched it all get removed with IPA when track cleaning :doh:

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Re: Rail side rust colour experiments
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2020, 01:10:32 PM »
Having spent some time looking at track while waiting for my commute train and on the SVR I came to the conclusion that rail sides and sleepers were usually the same grotty  colour. I therefore airbrush the whole lot with railmatch sleeper grime on mine.  For me that looks just like the real thing.  Yes I have seen rust colour rail in real life but it is quite rare and it looks completely wrong on a model.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 01:11:43 PM by Chris Morris »
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Offline Newportnobby

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Re: Rail side rust colour experiments
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2020, 01:57:54 PM »
I therefore airbrush the whole lot with railmatch sleeper grime on mine.

Likewise, although I use a rattle can. I haven't done any points yet but intend to spray some onto a piece of card and then hand brush it onto the parts of the points.
I took this decision having seen a few overhead shots from Mr. Portaloo's UK railway trips which showed everything as a uniform brown unless it was very freshly laid new ballast.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Rail side rust colour experiments
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2020, 02:02:54 PM »
Thank you all for your thoughts. I suspect that the appearence of track varies with how recently that it has been laid, as well as its usage, the era in question and the locality.

Certainly, track in the Thames Valley in the late 1980s shows a distinct rust/brake dust colour for the rail sides as seen in the pictures above, and that is my recollection from observation of track at various times, although a general grime and oil slicks are also apparent in varying degrees.
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