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I'm finishing up a Rail & Tie car and working on deck clutter. I have alum rail to put on the deck but am having trouble aging it. I've tried Blacken-it and a Pewter wash, nothing works so far. Any suggestions on how to blacken / age it ?? Tried flat black, looks terrible
 

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You may want to try placing the aluminum rail in a dishwasher load. Whatever is in the detergent will tend to make it a darkish gray. Not certain if that is sufficient for your needs or not.

I have SVRR aluminum rail and I just sprayed it with Rustoleum dark brown on the edges before assembly. I am battery so any overspray on the rail head was not an issue.

You also might find the following of use - chemically darken aluminum
 

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I like my rail rusty ...

I used steel wool and sprayed it with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide or water. I used clothespins to secure 'snakes' of steel wool to the rail. Gently removing the snakes left rust powder that needed to be sealed in place with a spray clear coat I could fog on. A direct shot of clear blew away the rust!
Others make rust in a jar and paint it on, but like paint is (to me) too uniform. I like the random nature seen above on my Stainless Steel track.

John

Ps; Took most of a year to do 143'.
Burl, I repainted my ties before treating the rails and Camo Brown was my favorite for 'year old ties'...
 

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Crazy question, but have you tried paint? Krylon Camo Brown makes an excellent “old rust” appearance.
 

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I just sprayed it with Rustoleum dark brown
I did the same - sprayed all the aluminum rail for my outdoor layout before loading it in the ties. Pick your color, as long as it is matte. Then run a rail cleaner over the rail head after it is in place.

I also have a flat with a rail load that doesn't have the tops cleaned. Looks great!
 

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This is how I paint my rail using Rustoleum spray. I use Sunset Valley aluminum rail that comes in six foot lenghts. Get a piece of wood like a 2x4 or a strip of 3/4" plywood that is a little longer than 6 feet. Then using some large nails, like 16 penney, nail four of them in a straight line equally spaced with the two outer nails spaced a little less than 6 feet apart. Stack the rail up by weaving them between the nails. I usually do about 8 pieces. Now it is real easy to spray the rail sides without getting much at all on the tops.
 

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It has been more that twenty years since I added rail to a rail and tie car. At that time, I was using Badger rail brown, as Floquil was already getting hard to find. I brush painted each entire rail, and applied it fairly thick. The thick coat has unevenness that fools the eye into seeing variegated shades as it looks over the rail. Both new and relay rail are rusty on the head until the first train runs over them. Those rails have been setting outside for a time before getting selected for a track laying job.

I always wondered whether the six foot vinyl rails could snack through curves like a real ribbon rail train. My guess is that they are probably too stiff and would derail the plastic flat cars. Real ribbon rail trains look like they are hauling rubber rails as they snake through a gang of switches, but then the cars are WAY heavier than the rails they are hauling.

Have fun,
David Meashey
 

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Michael's and Hobby lobby sells a "Rust Kit". I've seen guys use it on plastic and polycarbonate model car bodies, and it creates a real rust on the surface. It can be used on any surface, metal, plastic, cardboard/paper, etc.
 
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