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Category: Weathering Hints, Tips, and How-To
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Warping Plastic Cars (Old Way)

Simple, non-scorching way to warp a plastic freight car.

Note, this an older way I would have done this, 10+ years ago (from 2019).  Look for a new way coming in the future.

So, in the past I've used a grill lighter to warp a few freight cars, to get that beat up look. But I found out the lighter would heat it too fast and scorch or catch the plastic on fire. Yesterday I had a "vision", since I have an electric stove, it'll create controllable heat, and has no flame!

WARNING!!! The grill gets HOT and so does the plastic! Use extreme caution!!!!

I used a grill price on top of a metal grate from a pizza stone, to create a work area just above the grill.

I removed the weight, although I'd suggest leaving it, as it creates a minor heat sink in case you leave it too
long. I had to re-heat the car and press the weight in to get mine to fit again, as the heat warped the base of
the car, creating a sag look, but messing with the weight & under frame. DO take the under frame off, as
you do NOT want to warp the mounting holes for the trucks or couplers! Just keep in mind during the
heating, that the under frame has to fit afterwards.

Work slow, heat only long enough to be able to still grasp it with your hands, if you can't pick it up, turn the
heat down, and get it away from the heat, as it being too hot to handle is a sign that you'll end up ruining the
project. Again, work slow, one panel, or a small bend at a time. If you plan to warp the sides outward,
slowly do so, don't try to go the full length of your intended warp at the start. In the case of sagging cars, I
suggest pre-bending the weight to the sag you want, and after the heating process, glue the under frame in,
to that it sticks to the sag.

There's allot you can accomplish here, and it may end up being a trial and error process, so I suggest using a
cheap car the first time.

Here's my final result from this warping project:

And a comparison to a stock, un-warped car:

Happy building & warping!

In 2018, after my Father's passing, I decided to revisit this car.  It's now got an "empty" load, and will get additional, updated, weathering before the WPM 2019 show in April 2019.

© 2006, 2019, Josh Baakko, https://www.modelrailroadtips.com