Weathering Solutions; Weathering Stains; and Weathering Pigments—what’s the difference?

Doctor Ben’s has one of the most comprehensive selections of weathering products that you will find. For some, the choices can be overwhelming. The following will provide a brief oversight into each of the weathering products and provide some background, as well as the benefits, of each. Additionally, each product line has a How-To booklet that provides techniques that, by using them, enable the modeler to recreate the look that is described in each booklet. In the event that you have a specific issue that you are unable to resolve, please call or send us an email with your questions, and we will be happy to assist you in your weathering challenge.

Ready-To-Use Weathering Solutions

The Doctor Ben’s Weathering Solutions are the original products that I used to describe in my weathering clinics many years ago. Originally, I simply mixed the Industrial Weathering Pigments (described in detail below) with Isopropyl rubbing alcohol and applied them with a brush, allowing gravity and capillary actions to do most of the work.

Another technique of creating a weathering solution involved using shoe dye and was penned by Wayne Wesolowski in his article "Dr. Weso’s Weathering Goop" (Railroad Model Craftsman, September 1977, pg 38). Many other folks have come up with their own concoctions, including George Sellios, whose Fine Scale Miniatures instructions detail how to use an India ink and alcohol mixture. The FSM technique was an improvement over Wayne Wesolowski’s shoe dye technique for a couple of reasons.

First, the more expensive artist-grade ink is much more concentrated than typical shoe dye. Secondly, shoe dye/leather dye fades under ultraviolet light (sunlight, florescent lights, etc.), and the artist-grade India ink is more colorfast. This explains why artists’ drawings survive through the ages with a minimal of fading. The downside of the India ink is availability and cost. For both of these reasons, many modelers turn back to the shoe-dye method, and then find that, over time, these non-colorfast applications fade.

The Doctor Ben’s Weathering Solutions process goes a step further than either of these methods. The Doctor Ben’s Weathering Solutions are colorfast like the George Sellios technique, but they are refined on by the inclusion of the Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments, which brings in a third dimension. When applying a wash of India ink/shoe dye and alcohol to a model or detail, the alcohol will evaporate, leaving just the color on the surface of the model. This third dimension that the inclusion of the Industrial Weathering Pigments provides makes the process not simply a color application (like the shoe dye/India ink methods), but it also allows the modeler to build up a texture. This results in changing a surface from one being flat and smooth to one having a sort of surface graining; however, the Doctor Ben’s Weathering Solutions application is only topical and does not affect the integrity of the surface of the model.

The Weathering Solutions ingredients have built in adhesive polymers that enable them to stick to shiny as well as flat surfaces. But the really neat thing is that, even though the Weathering Solution is firmly adhered to the surface, if you do not like the results, the Weathering Solution is easily removed with rubbing alcohol. This allows you to try different techniques until you are satisfied with the results. In addition, after the desired effect is attained, if the model is going to be handled a lot, a simple spray with "pump" hair spray will affix the weathering in place. This is an original technique of mine that many modelers use today. By using Doctor Ben’s products to weather rolling stock and then sealing the weathering with pump hairspray, they are able to sell them for big bucks without having to use an airbrush! This technique is described later in this booklet.

Weathering Stains

The Doctor Ben’s Weathering Stains were initially developed, as were all of the other Doctor Ben’s products, from a need for readily available products to facilitate the quality of my personal modeling. Back in the 1970s, George Sellios, in the opening instructions of his Fine Scale Miniatures kits, started recommending to first stain all the wood in the kit with Floquil Flo-Stain Driftwood. This quickly became a very popular and accepted technique—until the Floquil Flo-Stain product line was removed from the market. (In the 1990s, the Testor Corporation purchased the Floquil line of petroleum-based and water-based paints and stains. And although no one seems to know the actual truth as to why, Testor’s subsequently stopped producing the widely popular line of Floquil Flo-Stains.) Amazingly, in the absence of an ongoing supply of the Floquil Flo-Stain Driftwood, bottles of the Floquil Driftwood (and other stains) began selling on eBay for obscene sums of money.

Meanwhile, during the course of the model building I had been doing for myself and for some very special customers, I had already developed an assortment of paints and stains and evolved them into permanent, but non-petroleum-based, products that produced the same results as the Floquil Flo-Stains—I had started this some twelve years earlier than the disappearance of the Floquil Flo-Stains. Darryl Huffman, who knew that I was already making my own stains, suggested that Doctor Ben’s might capitalize on this opportunity. He was right—this was a great idea!

Maybe it was the expensive price for the hard-to-find Floquil or maybe it was the Floquil smell that turned people off the petroleum-based products. Whatever the reason, modelers around the world began using my original weathering stains and telling others who told others, which improved the popularity for the Doctor Ben’s Weathering Stains and propelled me to expand the line to the current seventeen colors. Today the Doctor Ben’s Weathering Stains is one of our best selling product lines.

The use and applications of the Doctor Ben’s Weathering Stains are described in detail in the "How-To #2: The ABCs of Staining Castings" booklet. In addition, for those who are interested, the Doctor Ben’s Aged Driftwood (#1097 & #1080) is a scientific match to a bottle of 1983 Floquil Flo-Stain Driftwood.

Industrial Weathering Pigments

As described above and in greater detail in the "How-To #3: Weathering and Painting with Industrial Weathering Pigments" booklet, there is a huge difference between the Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments and similar products offered by other companies. Sadly, there are folks offering chalks and dry tempura paints that—much like shoe dye/leather dye—are not colorfast. Additionally, after you spend a good amount of time getting the so-called weathering just right, the minute oils on your fingers will remove most of the powders as soon as you touch the applied surface. Moreover, when a sealer is applied, 90% of your efforts disappears. This is due to the other products having gypsum fillers and much less concentration of color pigment.

Even with all this, the primary difference between the Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments and the other products (often referred to as powders/chalks) is that the Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments are exactly what they are called: Industrial Weathering Pigments. These Industrial Weathering Pigments are the primary ingredients used in industry to color plastics, automotive paints, metals, fabrics and much more. Yes, the Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments may cost a bit more, but because they are so concentrated, less product is needed to weather, tint and color.

The "How-To #3: Weathering and Painting with Industrial Weathering Pigments" booklet describes how to use the sixty shades of Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments: not only how to use them dry in weathering, but also how to use them to paint buildings, vehicles, details, figures and many other modeled items. So you are probably thinking to yourself, "If these Doctor Ben’s Industrial Pigments are so versatile, what am I going to do with all my other paints?" Do what I did and sell them on eBay. It is one less drawer of smelly paints with which I have to contend.

Using Doctor Ben’s Ready-to-Use Weathering Solutions

From the image below, you can see that we have done a really nasty job of taking an ordinary American Flyer toy boxcar and making it a more realistic scale model. You may notice that the "weathered" image is a bit overdone. That is because this model is the piece that we use when we demonstrate these products at hobby shows. Many people have had a hand at weathering the one side of this boxcar, so there is much room for improvement. Even though I have conducted many clinics and demonstrated this technique a plethora of times, this is my first attempt to document the process of "Using Doctor Ben’s Realistic Rust & Instant Age." If we have overlooked something or you have a question about the process, you can contact us, using the information on the back of this booklet.

This process is equally successful on wooden structures, Thomas A. Yorke plaster castings, resin castings, plastic, or metal; literally, any surface can be weathered with this technique. The Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments used in the development of these products have adhesive binders that enable them to stick to all surfaces, including your clothing—so be sure to wear old clothes or protection, such as an apron or a work bib. You will also find that you may not need to use any sort of a sealer after you have completed the process, as will be explained later.

Step 1: Gather up some tools: Doctor Ben’s Realistic Rust Weathering Solution (#1150), Doctor Ben’s Instant Age Weathering Solution (#1152), a little Isopropyl rubbing alcohol, Doctor Ben’s Soot Black Industrial Weathering Pigments (#1340) (optional), a ¼" round paintbrush, and a Doctor Ben’s Micro Blaster (#1490). You may be able to get away with using a clean brush rather than the Micro Blaster for this technique, but I have found that the Micro Blaster is a tool that I cannot live without!

Step 2: Begin by studying how prototype items weather naturally. I recognize that the noticeable residue that Mother Nature leaves on the various structures, rolling stock, etc. often begins at a single nail hole or rusty rivet. And by the time this nail or rivet’s residue combines with the residue from the one above and below it, the result is a fanned, feather effect.

Step 3: When you look at this image, you may think to yourself, "Richard made a mistake and took the picture with the boxcar upside down. Oh well, Richard has always professed that he is not a model railroader." Not so—at least about the upside-down boxcar. I have given many clinics about my technique of weathering the model upside down, and I have always convinced folks that this is the way to go. (NOTE: Obviously, if you are trying to weather something already in place and it is virtually impossible to turn the model upside down, this will not work for you. In this case, you are probably better off working with the Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments.)

In short, the theory behind this upside-down weathering technique is that when the model is in this position, the weathering works its way down to the top of the model in a "capillary" action, as you can see in the images. The capillary process is simple; begin by wetting the surface with alcohol—using either a brush or a Doctor Ben’s Micro Blaster (or spray bottle). Then dip and swish your brush into the Doctor Ben’s Realistic Rust and allow the tip of your brush to barely touch the surface of the model. The wetted surface will almost immediately grab the Doctor Ben’s product and pull it down onto the model. This step may take a little practice, but hey, where have you got to go? Allow the Doctor Ben’s Realistic Rust to set up a bit (you can speed the drying process with a hair dryer or hot lights), and if you have less rust than what is shown in the picture, add a little more. If you have enough, you are ready to go on.

Step 4: Repeat the same process, only this time use the Doctor Ben’s Instant Age. Then switch back and forth between the two Doctor Ben’s products until you have the results that you want. At this stage, don’t "wet" the area as much, depending upon the drying time of the Doctor Ben’s products. If you believe your item is getting too wet, do not panic; you have not ruined your model. Do you see any paint pealing off? Do you see the side of the plastic model melting away? No and no. If you think that you have your surface too wet, just take a corner of a paper towel and wick the moisture away. No harm done. O.K, so take a minute to allow all of this to sink in.

Step 5: This image shows what all of this looks like right side up, and there is still a lot of room for improvement here. For instance, my next step would be to lightly dry brush the rivets with some Doctor Ben’s Rail Brown Weathering Stain or one of the Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments in a brown color. Yes, really. Do you notice in the close-up views the paint-covered rivets poking through the weathering? This is why the technique is a "layer" effect.

Step 6: The black mottling on the left side of the Step 5 image was created by using Doctor Ben’s Soot Black Industrial Weathering Pigments. I dip a dry brush very lightly (just the tip) into the IWP container. I hold the brush containing the dry pigment over the model and tap the handle of the brush with another brush to allow the pigment particles to sprinkle down onto the wet model.

This technique also allows you take a nicely painted—but poorly detailed—model and transform it into a realistic scale model by camouflaging all the imperfections (such as the oversized rivet detail and the molded-on ladders and grab irons). Give this a try and let me know how it works for you.

Now a final note: if the model already has decals, the decals will occasionally turn a hazy, whitish color during this process. Don’t panic; this is easily corrected with a shot of a dullcoat finish. And speaking of finishes, it is safe to apply a finish over this weathering; the weathering will not disappear. However, you do not need to seal this weathering unless you are working with a model that will be subjected to the outside elements or handled excessively. I use an inexpensive pump hairspray to seal the models when necessary. I find that this bonds the Doctor Ben’s Weathering Solutions to the model, making any other sealant unnecessary.

Weathering Wood with Weathering Solutions

So, are you curious about how Bill Banta used Doctor Ben’s Weathering Solutions to randomly weather the wood on his magnificent "Pro Patria Mill" model (pictured on the front cover of this booklet)? Actually, the process is quite simple—I have been doing it this way for years with the Doctor Ben’s Aged Driftwood Weathering Stain, in order to create an inconsistent, or "tapered," stain technique. Additionally, this technique works great when using any of the seven Weathering Solutions—and the effect fools even the most experienced modeler!

Begin by shaking the jar of Doctor Ben’s Weathering Solution (or Weathering Stain) very well. Now insert one end of the strip of wood into the Weathering Solution/Stain jar and immediately rotate the wood strip so that the solution/stain-covered end of the wood strip is pointing upward. Using your free hand, gently pinch the wood strip at the top and pull the Weathering Solution/Stain down toward the non-weathered end of the wood strip. Stand the wood strip on end to allow gravity to continue to pull the Weathering Solution/Stain downward. See, I told you that this was easy.

Now there are a couple of things that you are probably wondering about. First, yes, you can use this technique with a bundle of wood strips, and the process works the same way. Secondly, if the wood strip is very long or the product is not very deep in the container, all you need to do is repeat the process by sticking the opposite end of the wood strip in the Weathering Solution/Stain. Bill Banta used the Weathered Rust Weathering Solution in the eight ounce jar for the "Pro Patria Mill" pictured on the front cover of this booklet.

And finally, especially if you have already tried this technique and are just now reading these instructions, you have noticed that the Industrial Weathering Pigment in the Weathering Solution settles down a few minutes after vigorously shaking the sealed jar. This is acceptable because, as the pigment concentration diminishes, so does the amount of weathering on the wood strip, making it look more random and natural. This may not be noticeable right away, but after the Weathering Solution has had a chance to dry, it will become more obvious.