Scrap metal loads are lively things – jagged fingers of rust pointing this way and that over the sides of battered gondolas, swaying in the wind and jostling with the bumps.
The cast resin loads on the market don’t cut it. Here’s how I made my own, for cheap, and in only about 20 minutes apiece (plus drying time).
I started by making a base plate of styrene to fit the bottom of a gondola. For 50-foot gons that is 3-11/6″ x 9/16″, for the longer 52-foot mill jobs extend it to 3-13/16″ with the same width.
The best way to simulate scrap is to use scrap. Every modeler has a collection of styrene odds and ends, and this is a great way to use them up. I looked for structural elements, like the struts from an old fueling platform kit, corrugated sheet, and anything else that looked like scrap metal. I cut these into random shapes, and made sure to “shred” some pieces into curly fingers with a scissors.
I used CA to glue my scrap to the base, starting with the most boring pieces first. I then built up a few layers of scrap pieces at random, jumbly angles.
As the pile took shape, I added smaller pieces with more detail. I drilled some 1/8 and 1/16 holes in sheet styrene and cut them out. I also used some of my wife’s scrapbooking punches to make more interesting shapes – like a ladybug. Once I cut them up, the intricate shapes looked like scrap from CNC machines. Finally, I added a few pieces of very thin styrene that I was able to crinkle like discarded sheetmetal.
When I was satisfied with the content of the load, I test fit it in a gondola. Then I secured it with tape to a wood block and carried it to the garage for paint.
My technique for painting rusty metal is to use a can of flat black and a can of red metal primer, and spray the piece with both at the same time. For the scrap loads, I made sure to cover every angle and really soak the piece to obscure any white.
When the rust/black paint dried, I came back with a fine brush and gave the crinkled sheetmetal pieces a coat of silver.
When the silver dried, I gave the whole load a heavy spray of dullcoat. This is key to the final rusty finish. Once the dullcoat was dry, I gave the piece a liberal wash with my diluted alcohol ink solution that I described in this post. The alcohol reacts with the dullcoat to develop a hazy, rusty finish when dry.
And that’s that. Another time I’ll describe how I make my gondolas look abused. For now, I’ve got scrap to haul.