Assembled from a Parkside (now PECO, reference PS15) plastic model kit, based on a British Railways prototype – 1,500 examples were built 1950 – 1951, mainly for the transport of coal; the majority were taken out of service by the 1980s. The completed model shows an example towards the end of its working life, by which time very little of original paint and metalwork existed. The main colour should be grey all-over with black under-frame. However, the darker body areas on my model represent prototypical repair panels – new plates of steel replacing older, rusted-out metal. Ironically, these repairs were rarely painted very well (if at all) and therefore rusted more quickly than the original. This was my first attempt at the “hairspray” chipping technique and here I describe the painting and weathering processes … After applying basic grey primer, the bodywork was airbrushed with various shades of brown (acrylic) to form a base colour. Then progressively lighter rust tones (more acrylic) were applied over the top. Finally, irregular rust patches of colour were created by puddling very dilute acrylic paints with a brush and allowing to dry flat (to avoid runs/drips). Two wet coats of hairspray (chipping fluid) were then applied over all the base brown/rust and allowed to dry naturally after each coat (no heat applied to avoid effecting the properties of the chipping fluid). This was followed by small, light areas of various grey acrylics all over the body, applied with an airbrush, to form a modulated top-coat – the base brown and rust colours are almost but not completely hidden. Within 5 minutes of the final top-coat drying, the surface was thoroughly wetted with water using a flat brush. This was then dragged across the surface until the paint started to lift (remembering to slow down at this point, otherwise all the top-coat paint can come off!); a toothbrush can be used for heavier chipping (in a jabbing motion rather than brushing/stirring); a toothpick is used gently to simulate scratches. Afterwards, any excess water was blotted with a paper towel and then allowed to dry naturally, followed by a few coats of matt clear varnish to seal the surface. Before any more weathering processes, I applied the decals – (masked) black areas (really a dark grey or weathered black) were created with an airbrush and, when dry, coated with gloss varnish (to help hide any decal transfer film); after applying the decals they are sealed with gloss varnish (as before). The white diagonal stripe is a characteristic of these types of wagon and in real-life was used to indicate which end had an opening door. I applied these by masking and airbrushing an “old” white colour (actually a bare wood colour acrylic) over more chipping fluid. When dry, this was carefully chipped as described previously, being careful to blend with the already chipped grey beneath where applicable. The whole model was then again sealed with several light coats of matt varnish before applying a targeted oil dot filter – various oil paint colours but predominantly burnt umber, ochre & white- then left to dry naturally for at least 24 hours (oil paints take a long time to dry). I finished by applying pin washes (to edges and raised areas only and rust streaking – various colours but all enamel based) followed by and a few rust & dust powders/pigments, just to add some texture and more tonal variety.


British 21T Mineral Wagon


David Gregory 

Work Time 

60 Hours 


British Railways 21T mineral (coal) wagon


1:43.5  (“O Gauge”)


Railway modeling 


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