Living in the land of HO rather than OO doesn’t provide much local opportunity for finding a UK outline kit in your local model railroad store.Fortunately, when it comes to structures like a steel plate bridge on a railway line which is not much more than a figment of my imagination, who is to say exactly how big a bridge is and whether an HO structure is too small for an OO layout?
Not me, that’s for sure.
So a little bridge destined to transport Casey Jones across a tributary of the mighty Mississippi fitted in just right on my little piece of Dartmoor in the USA.
I made the kit up on a plate of glass for levels. It fitted together pretty well although a few bits needed filing and a fair amount of flash had to be removed as well.
I’ve augmented the structure with a couple of extra I-beams so, hopefully, it will look as if it could support the occasional Westcountry light pacific when the Waterloo Boat Train needs diverting around Tavistock.Once finished and all the solvent and glue was set, I washed the entire bridge in soapy water, rinsed it well and left it to dry overnight. This was to rid it of fingerprints and any mould release agent. I then applied a coat of matt black paint. This was done in several stages to make sure there was a good even covering. I left this to dry overnight. The coverage was very good, but the effect was very flat and the bridge needed some character.
Firstly, I dry brushed some white weathering powder over the bridge. Actually I sprayed some “wet water” first to give the powder something to hold on to. This gave definition to the details of the bridge, especially the plate joins and rivets.
With these weathering powders it’s truly a case of less is more. The pigments are concentrated so you really need very little. Once again it was better to apply a couple of light coatings than plaster it on. Each application was finished by dry brushing it the direction you would expect any weather marks to go, in this case, vertically downwards.Then it was time for a hint of corrosion. I used a rust coloured paint for concentrated spots and softened it out with rust-coloured weathering powder. The mantra is always, “less is more“. Having said that I might have overdid the rust, but a dusting of black “grime” powder brought it back to reality. In fact, it turned out well, because it kind of looks as if the original red oxide paint and any other rusty stuff is weathering from under the black paint layer.
You really can use any old brushes for this. My basic dry brushing tool was from a bundle of about 20 for five bucks at Michaels, although I could probably have saved money by buying them at the Dollar Store.
However, I use a tiny, artist’s quality brush for detailing where necessary. But the best brush of all is a giant make-up application brush donated by Mrs Bloke – she does know, honest. As the powders dry, just keep gently brushing until it looks right.
The thing is, it’s basically all simple technique, not artistic talent. Just work in very small steps. Don’t worry if you don’t see much happening for a couple of applications, and just brush it back if you go too far.