• Weathering a bridge with salt - Steps 1-3

    Ok got the pictures together now so here's how to weather a bridge with salt. The bridge I will be using is an Atlas 5" Deck Girder Bridge.

    I would like to take the time to say this is not a method I invented. I just happened to find it on another website and was asked to pass it along.

    Here's a finished bridge:

    Attachment 14902


    To get there I used 6 steps. These bridges come black but I desided on silver for mine.

    Step 1: I removed the track and painted the bridge with a light coat of a military type brown. The specific type I used for my project was Valspar Java Brown satin finish. Be careful to make sure it is a light coat as you don't want to cover the details of the bridge. This coat will be the dark rust on your bridge and will look like this: (Sorry it's out of focus but I can't get another picture as the bridge has been completed.

    Attachment 14903

    Step 2: Let the brown dry completely before doing this step. Next you want to use a spray bottle with wet water (a drop or two of dish soap in the bottle of water will take care of this). Once you have sprayed the bridge with water (all sides) take normal salt (the website I found on this said they used sea salt but that was for bigger models. With N scale I would recommend staying with the normal salt.) and sprinkle it over the model.

    Don't worry if you get too much on or it's not exactly like you want it. You can now use a small brush while the salt is still wet to take off the excess salt or move some around to get the salt into the areas you want it in.

    Once you have applied the salt you need to let the model completely dry before proceeding.

    Here's what the bridge should look like or some semblance there of:

    Attachment 14904

    Once you are to this point again let it dry completely. I can't over stress the need to let each step in the process dry.

    Step 3: Once the water and salt are dry, apply the choice of color for your bridge. Most are either black or silver. Again spray a light coat of the color over your entire bridge. I chose silver for mine. Here's a picture of this step in the process:

    Attachment 14905
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Weathering a bridge with salt - Steps 1-3 started by NDJim View original post
    Comments 22 Comments
    1. musicman's Avatar
      musicman -
      Wow! Neat!
    1. Newbie51's Avatar
      Newbie51 -
      Very nice little tutorial Jim right now I’m in the process of working on my Coke ovens. While some parts are still in the sprues I shoot a wet paint layer and sprinkle sandblasting sand, just an idea we shall see how it comes out. Nice texture effect you got on your bridge I never thought about good old salt

      Thanks again for the pics and explanation

      Pete
    1. seanm's Avatar
      seanm -
      Very nice technique. Thanks for sharing!
    1. 16marvigj's Avatar
      16marvigj -
      that's one old beat up bridge.

      I might use this technique for ME girders.
    1. Gen's Avatar
      Gen -
      I've been itchin' to try that technique on a boxcar, Jim. IMHO, it is the most realistic technique for achieving peeling and rust pitting. Your choice of follow up detail with the powders/paints really makes it pop, too. Top shelf.

      As footnote to what Jim stated, I believe the only reason people shy away from using table salt is because it is cubed and sometimes the square footprint will show in close up photography.
    1. 16marvigj's Avatar
    1. hraka's Avatar
      hraka -
      Awesome!!! Thanks much!!
    1. 69Z28's Avatar
      69Z28 -
      Terrific "How To" Jim. Will work on other types of bridges other than plastic? And how about buildings and locomotive shells?

      What do you think?
      See ya
      Ron
    1. NDJim's Avatar
      NDJim -
      Ron,

      To answer your questions I am researching on line. So far I have found that it will work on locomotives, freight cars, etc all models I've seen were plastic. I have not yet found the technique used on other than plastics though.

      A couple more interesting things I found is that one site recommended only using Kosher salt, something about checmicals in normal salt changing the color though I had no problems using table salt. Also one website I visited suggested using sand, I'm not sure how this would work getting it back off the model once it's painted over and dries though.

      As for other surfaces, I have some wood planks that I can experiment with and will post pictures of the results here using the table salt by Saturday.
    1. MarkFF's Avatar
      MarkFF -
      Cool, that looks a lot like a bridge I drive under every day. It is certainly something I will have to remember to try. Thanks!
    1. Komata's Avatar
      Komata -
      A question: With salt being what it is, won't there be a risk of enhanced and accalerated corrosion on things metalic, such as locomotive wheels, motor gears, electrical connections, rails etc - or have I missed something? Thanks.
    1. TwinDad's Avatar
      TwinDad -
      So... Basically... The salt acts as a water-soluble paint mask?

      That's cool!
    1. aroc's Avatar
      aroc -
      Komata...shouldn't all the salt be washed away? Unless you careless I would think that all the salt would be removed when you washed it.
      If you are you worried about salt residue would something like acohol work as a cleaner?
    1. NDJim's Avatar
      NDJim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Komata View Post
      A question: With salt being what it is, won't there be a risk of enhanced and accalerated corrosion on things metalic, such as locomotive wheels, motor gears, electrical connections, rails etc - or have I missed something? Thanks.
      Komata, I'm sure in the larger scales they remove the shell of the locomotive when doing this technique. I've never modeled HO or larger so I don't know if the shells are one piece or come in more than one piece like in N scale. I think with the multiple sections of the locomotive shell this could be difficult to match up on the different pieces.

      Quote Originally Posted by TwinDad View Post
      So... Basically... The salt acts as a water-soluble paint mask?

      That's cool!
      TD, You are correct.
    1. NDJim's Avatar
      NDJim -
      I tried the salt technique on some wood I have to see how it worked. The only problem I could see using this technique on wooden structures would be warpage with the amount of water you use.

      The test piece I used did not warp. I first weathered the wood with "Age It" the sprayed a light coat of brown paint over the wood once the salt and sand dried. Here is a picture of the test.

      Attachment 14931

      I also wanted to test sand to see how that would work in all the water. As you can see it had the same effect on the wood. The sand (seen on the left) seemed to give a more detailed (I am assuming because it was finer than the salt) effect. The salt was used on the right.

      I will continue the experiment on a two bay hopper car I no longer use to see how the sand plays out on a plastic car and will try to post the results tomorrow.
    1. NDJim's Avatar
      NDJim -
      And finally, as promised - Here are the pictures of a freight car using this technique but with sand this time. (Only the side of the car has been done.)

      I followed the same steps above with the only exceptions being that I used sand instead of salt and instead of spraying the car I mixed the sand with water to get a loose slurry and applied the sand water mix with a brush to place it where I wanted it.

      Hope this helps someone out.

      Attachment 14932 Attachment 14933
    1. Gen's Avatar
      Gen -
      Quote Originally Posted by NDJim View Post
      And finally, as promised - Here are the pictures of a freight car using this technique but with sand this time. (Only the side of the car has been done.)

      I followed the same steps above with the only exceptions being that I used sand instead of salt and instead of spraying the car I mixed the sand with water to get a loose slurry and applied the sand water mix with a brush to place it where I wanted it.

      Hope this helps someone out.

      Attachment 14932 Attachment 14933
      Definitely not as realistic as the salt, though you haven't powdered it yet, I can see. Did the sand not want to cooperate with smaller piting, or didn't you try?

      The wood peeling looks like it would work if you could get longer and lengthwise, rather than fatter masking, though I'm sure easier said than done.

      Bravo for sharing, mad scientist.
    1. NDJim's Avatar
      NDJim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gen View Post
      Definitely not as realistic as the salt, though you haven't powdered it yet, I can see. Did the sand not want to cooperate with smaller piting, or didn't you try?

      The wood peeling looks like it would work if you could get longer and lengthwise, rather than fatter masking, though I'm sure easier said than done.
      I will work on the powders when I return from my trip next week so we can get a full comparison of the two. I will also work the sand to see how the pitting looks on the other side of the same car and show the results for that as well.

      You are correct on the wood peeling. I didn't try that I just wanted to see if I could get the effect on wood. I may have to try what you suggest with another scrap of wood just to see what it looks like. If I do I'll post those results as well.

      The one thing about using this method on rail cars or locomotives I've been thinking about is that you would have to be repainting the entire model for this to really work to full effect. I think this method works great from models like buildings, bridges etc that you are going to fully paint.
    1. ejholden's Avatar
      ejholden -



      My CFO is still wondering why I had 1/4 pound of salt in the blender .....

      Really busted it up to a much finer granule
    1. NDJim's Avatar
      NDJim -
      ROFLMAO! What ever you do please don't tell them I gave you the idea!