Although none of the flat cars are quite ready for this, a recent post/video by Jason Hill on his blog about how he distresses, paints and weathers flat car decks inspired some practice. Jason's techniques with the razor saw were faster than my more methodical approach, and while most of the specifics are similar to what I do it's always nice to get a refresher in some of the techniques.
Harold Minkwitz's Pacific Coast Airline Railway site also has some great info and examples. Unfortunately it appears Harold passed last year, and the site may be going away. He had an article in the July 2006 RMC. I would post a link to the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive, but it appears he blocked access for his site, which is too bad.
It's been a long time since I've really painted anything like this. I did a quick coat on the crossing shanties, and did paint and weather the engine servicing pits. But painting is something I've been looking forward to getting back to for some time. I've painted thousands of fantasy miniatures along with some scenery back in the day. So I'm quite comfortable with brush painting with acrylics, but haven't done any in a long, long time. What I'll need to learn is how to use the airbrush, but that's for another day. This process is all about brush-painting with acrylics.
Here's a "before and after" look next to an unfinished Tichy model. I'm quite happy with how it turned out, here's an outline of the process I used.
Distressing the Deck
I'd already severely distressed the NH flat car deck, since it's representing a car near the end of its life. When I did the New Haven deck I used a razor saw, scalpel, and scriber to dig it up. The majority was with the scalpel. This is a shot in progress:
However, most of the photos I've seen from my era indicates that the decks didn't typically get that bad. Since I have extra Tichy decks, I used one to make what I would consider a "well-worn" deck that is still in regular service. So most of the work here was done with the razor saw.