Seeing is Believing

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By Rob Manley

Part of the fun in building models for me is the research. Oh sure, you can easily build a kit straight from the box, follow the box art to position your decals and still have fun. What I’m talking about is “more funner”( this was from a young girl watching my weathering demo).

Funner for me is pouring through my acquired data to find that “right” photo in order to model the subject as accurately as possible. Weathering is definitely one of those facets. I’m sure you can build a kit and weather it as realistically as possible by using your imagination and creativity. That’s one of the elements that separates a good model from a great model. Having that extra dimension of accuracy is what makes the model truly a work of art. Well that’s my opinion. 

In order to make a detailed model unique and an exact representation of reality I have turned to building resin cast models. Unlike plastic models that may represent a type of generic car, these kits are exact. They’re usually more detailed and require a higher level of skills and tools. I was a fan of these kits but I felt I lacked the necessary skills to build one of these masterpieces. I did buy a few kits in hopes that I would improve and eventually finish some of these cars one day. 


One of the first steps I took in my skill building was to build some Tichy brand plastic freight car kits. They are highly accurate and although more difficult than an Athearn blue box or an Accurail kit the Tichy kits have a fit and exactness that allows them to practically fall together. The difference is that they are a multi media kit. They are mostly made of injection plastic but also have pre-formed brass grab irons and brass rod that needs to be cut to length. They do have a printed template for the rod length and shape. Its easily cut and bent to size. The attachment of the metal parts to plastic is done by using ACC glue and tweezers. This is very similar to a resin build. The big difference between plastic and resin is that there is a little more work to separate the part from a thin carrier sheet by sanding the back or cutting it out and sanding to shape. I use a nail file-board that I buy from Walgreens. It has 4 distinct colors visually separating 4 different grits. The heavier grit is for removing large amounts of unwanted resin, the fine and extra fine are used for shaping, final finishing or removing scratches and gouges. Anything requiring a finer grit would be best done with automotive grade 800 or higher sand paper. I’ve also found some sanding blocks at the higher end cosmetic stores. 

Pictured above is an automotive sanding block I picked up at an O’Reilly auto parts store, lots of cool modelers tools there. My General pin vises, a cosmetic store sanding stick (with 2 different grits) and a scratch awl. Pinto wagon for size comparison ONLY.

The plastic kits sometimes have holes cast for applying the wire parts. Some of the holes will need to be opened up with a larger drill bit. If the instructions call for a #80, I’ll go up to a #78. The larger hole will fill up with ACC and the larger bit is stronger and less able to break off. This also allows for a little “wiggle room” to help straighten the grab irons. The resin kits do not have predrilled holes for attachment but rather, have dimples cast in place. Using a high-power magnifier or goggles would be a must. Invest in a pair of Opti-Visors or reading glasses 

On the Funaro and Camerlengo kit shown you can see there is a conical dimple next to a rounded rivet. This is where I use a spotting to tool (see the sharpened point above) to make a deeper impression in the substrate. It helps keep the drill from wandering away from the desired location. A suggestion would be a compass point or a map tack. The dimple allows you to place your micro drill into the depression to get an accurate start on the hole. I use a General brand hand drill. It has 4 collets to accommodate different sized bits. 

Here is where PanPastel steps forward and takes its place as an essential modelling tool. Most of the assembly and detailing is done prior to painting. Working on the white resin, clear resin and gray resin kits can be a bit of an optical struggle. The light color resins can be difficult to see attachment points and details that visually align, let’s say, a car side to an end casting. The spotted indentations for drilling a hole are also a challenge on a snowy white casting.

Below is the drill bit locating the spotted point. NOTE: drill at a right angle unless you need an offset angle hole.

PanPastel Colors can be cleaned off if a change is needed. It can then be made fully permanent by sealing with a flat finish. I use PanPastel Colors and a Sofft Tool to lightly add a darker color, like PanPastel Red Iron Oxide Shade (380.3), to the general work area. It highlights all the details and makes the difference between a rivet and a hole spotting point more obvious. When done, you will wash the model in soapy Dawn (or similar) and water to remove finger oils and any slippery mold release from the model. Shout is another detergent stain remover that I use to remove slippery mold release compound from my kits. This is an essential process for resin or styrene models. Rinse and let dry before and after assembly and final paint.

I hope you find this additional use of PanPastel useful.

See you in the Chicago area Railroad Prototype Modeler show in October with a clinic and Hands On workshop.

Proto 2000 2 bay composite hopper with PanPastel Pearl Medium Coarse – Black on coal load. Grabirons added using the above technique and PanPastel weathering overall. 

See you soon with another post. (Thanks, Bev for letting me get a new computer.)

About Rob Manley – For more information on Prototype Modeler Rob Manley visit this page.

Thorsten Ströver Weathering Article

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Thorsten Ströver’s article in the April 2017 issue of German magazine Eisenbahn Kurier features PanPastel for weathering. The 6 page article shows many of the techniques that Thorsten uses with PanPastel. Even if you don’t speak German, the images speak for themselves and showcase the realistic weathering effects that Thorsten was able to successfully achieve.

Note: for readers of US magazine “Model Railroader” – Thorsten is featured in the Trackside Gallery in the August 2017 issue.



To see more of Thorsten’s work, follow him on Facebook:








Using White Pearl Mediums

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Pearl WHITE Pan Group
Here are some simple techniques for using the new PanPastel Pearl Medium White (Fine) 011:

C:\Documents and Settings\Owner\My Documents\3_PanPastel_Weathering_Article\BLOG\SPARKLE_PEWTER BLOG\Reefer_PaynesGray.jpg

Apply PanPastel Neutral Grey 820.5 with Sofft Mini Applicator to represent weathered wood running board and hatches.


PanPastel Neutral Grey 820.5 on wood running boards and platforms. Orange sides of reefer faded with Yellow Ochre Shade 270.3.

Simulate ice and brine damage on upper corner and drain above truck and wheels using Pearl Medium White Fine 011.

Other uses for White Pearl Fine and Coarse would be white caps on marine dioramas, waterfronts and rivers. I have a small diorama my wife, Bev, built for her covered bridge model. I plan on adding “water” to the creek and using the Pearl White Fine and Coarse 012 to create waves or foam on the top of the water. I’ll cover this in detail when I show you, in a future post, how to use PanPastel® for scenery construction.

~ Rob Manley

UPDATE Oct 25th: 

Congratulations to the winners of this giveaway: Jeremy Janzen, Reno and Dave Davenport.


We are giving away a set of PanPastel Mediums which includes the Pearl Whites (featured above), Pearl Blacks (Coarse & Fine) and the Colorless Blender to three lucky winners. 

Enter the giveaway using the form below by Monday 24th October 2016, 11pm EST. 

THREE winners will be randomly selected and announced on our blog and Facebook page.

This giveaway is open to entrants aged 18 and over. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. One entry per person. Winners will be announced on this blog and at our Facebook page. Other Giveaway Rules. If you experience any difficulties email us at:


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I really haven’t covered structures in my blogs. They are, in my opinion, one of the most important elements in model railroading. They are the setting for the trains we detail and weather. One of my favorite structures in the railroad realm is the country grain elevator. I have a nice collection of 35mm slides that I took starting in the seventies. I am sure many of these “Country Skyscrapers” are now gone. One of the best ways we can recapture those memories is by building a model of them. The model I chose for this portion is the Walthers® corrugated elevator. I primed it with a Light Grey acrylic. Originally meant to be weathered with washes, I procrastinated long enough to discover PanPastel® and use them instead. I am so glad that happened.


Weathered with Sofft Sponge Bar and random colors from the PanPastel Rust & Earth set.

Step 1. I started by using my Sofft® Sponge Bar by scrubbing on an overall covering of Burnt Sienna 740.5 and Burnt Sienna Shade 740.3. You have to really push the color into the corrugated grooves. The overall effect is to have the rust in the recesses and the high spots to be slightly polished by the wind. I then used random swipes of Burnt Sienna Tint 740.8, Raw Umber Tint 780.8, Red Iron Oxide Extra Dark 380.1, to name a few. Honestly, I work so fast I barely remember what colors I used. If an area looks too heavily colored I will keep brushing it down with one of my Sofft® Sponge Bars. If I want to tone it down further, I use the PanPastel Colorless Blender 010 as seen on the roof panel. The Colorless Blender will soon become one of your most used “Un-Colors”. It can also be used as a primer for lighter colors.


Step 2. Next any stray excess color was blown off and a paper towel was used to lightly wipe the excess on the raised corrugations. This allowed the Pewter 921.5 and Silver 920.5 to accent the high spots as in real life. I then used the flat spongy side of the block to add the final overlay of Silver. This side took less than 5 minutes. Structures are not handled like rolling stock so a flat finish (spray) is rarely needed.


Step 3. Add silver and Pewter to tops of corrugations.

Well, as always, it’s been fun sharing more techniques with you. I have more projects in mind to post about in the near future. ~ Rob Manley

Using Metallic Colors & Giveaway

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“All That Glitters”

I’ve had these PanPastel® Metallic Colors for a while and I always thought they looked pretty cool. Lots of potential. A little hard to write about. I guess it is because they are more subtle than the other colors we use in weathering our models. Now, I didn’t make an immediate reference to my obsession with freight car modeling. By models I mean the plastic kits that most of us started with like Revell planes, Monogram cars and Sci-fi kits.

There are 6 PanPastel Metallic Colors:

910.5 Light Gold
911.5 Rich Gold
920.5 Silver
921.5 Pewter
930.5 Bronze
931.5 Copper

The colors have some interesting properties; they can add highlights to a model that add that “human” touch. A realistic sign that miniature folks left their mark on the model. Metal can show signs of rust, mud and dirt; it can also show signs of wear. Paint fails down to the metal when rubbed or gouged. This can be easily simulated with the swipe of a Sofft Tool®.

Let’s talk about the Silver and Pewter first. In a previous post I described the weathering of exposed galvanized sheet metal on boxcar roofs. The technique can also be used for structure roofs, corrugated sides like grain elevators, truck or trailer cargo areas.

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Modeling is Real with Fade Away

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We are going to cover a much talked about subject, fading.  This is the effect of the sun on real prototype paint which causes the color to change to a lighter shade or in some cases “pink out”.

Soot and dirt will make some colors go much darker, in the case of the Burlington’s 1958 chinese red boxcars that look almost boxcar brown when viewed in the late 70’s. This I know because it’s the railroad I model and I have a color chip painted with the exact formula of Dupont ®paint. The cars I saw were in a scrap line at Chicago’s Metron Steel almost 30 years ago with my friend Dave Sarther and his son Davie.  I couldn’t believe the overall change in its hue when we hiked up to their boxcar purgatory. I picked a sharp rock and scraped a patch on the side of the car and amazingly the familiar orangey-red color appeared.  This type of fade would be simulated with a wipe of PanPastel®  740.3 Burnt Sienna Shade.


The Cast and Crew of this post…

Equipment painted in the transition era had a mostly lead composition and took quite a while to fade. Locomotives and freight cars painted starting in the late 60’s were required to use a paint or coating using less or no lead. This gave us a different chemical change due to the elements. The colors were also much brighter and varied. Remember the 70’s? My Mom’s house had a fridge that was two-tone brown and around the corner, red and gold foil wall paper in the hall. Those brighter colors like Rock Island Material Service Red, Light (aka. Bankruptcy) Blue, Railbox Yellow, Conrail Blue and BN Green gave us a much wider palette to work with and they faded into some interesting pastel shades. Hey we’re working with PanPastel so this should be easy.

Recently in the model world much of the available rolling stock is now pre-painted and built up.  The manufacturers give us nice paint jobs most of the time but for purists there is room for correction. So for example, I have a group of Burlington open hoppers that are painted Boxcar Red. The actual cars were painted in Mineral Red which had a redder or more orangey tone. I was happy, at the time, to weather them with my airbrush and hope I didn’t notice. Years later with PanPastel in my life, I found  380.3 Red Iron Oxide Shade that looked much closer to the color I wanted. Unlike an airbrush, PanPastel with a small Sofft Tool can get right up to the white lettering without obscuring or covering it.

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By Rob Manley

“Rust Never Sleeps” It’s better to burn out than it is to rust….
The baby boomer covered hopper edition.
I thought it would be appropriate to borrow an album title from Neil Young. He is a model railroader and a fine musician. Music means a lot to me and I have very intense feelings about it. My favorite radio station is Chicago’s WXRT which plays progressive Rock and has been since the early ‘70s. During a recent “Panic Modeling” attack the week before the “All American Model Railroad Show” in Lagrange Illinois, I had the stereo tuned to 93.1 FM. It was also more convenient than loading up a bunch of CDs. Speaking of convenience, I was in fact weathering with my PanPastel® on the dining room table.


Hard at work on the dining room table, scrubbing with 90% Isopropyl alcohol and paper towel.

These cars were previously painted, decaled and weathered by another modeler. I used 90% Ispopropyl alcohol, small squares of paper towel and Q-Tips® to scrub the previous wet brush style weathering off. This stripped off some of the Dullcoat and gave a mottled and faded look to the paint. We’re going to re-coat the model with a Model Masters flat finish to prepare for the PanPastel®. (For more about using flat finishes read this post: Preparing to Weather

Some of the paint was enhanced with more PanPastel® Paynes Grey Tint 840.8 (a close enough match). This filled in areas that were damaged during the cleaning. It’s also a method to introduce fading paint to your weathering repertorie. We’ll cover this in more detail in a later blog.


Before cleaning.


Cleaning with Alcohol and a cotton swab. I feel like the art restoration people. There is some decal blush visible because the decals were applied directly to flat paint. They should always be applied to a glossy finish and flatted later.


After cleaning with the color addition and correction of Paynes Grey Tint 840.8

Our topic of discussion today is rust. It’s a really broad subject and I am going to cover as much as possible in this space.

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