Weathering IRM Cement Bubbles with Tony Mirolo — Irish Railway Models Skip to content
Weathering IRM Cement Bubbles with Tony Mirolo

Weathering IRM Cement Bubbles with Tony Mirolo

The CIE cement bubbles are iconic in their design, but also how dirty they got in service, particularly in their later years of service. We handed over some bubbles to Tony Mirolo so he could show you his weathering techniques to bring out the very best in our models and add that extra bit of realism and show how you at home can have a go too! Over to you, Tony! 

Trying to keep the materials and the tools to a minimum (that most modellers would have) I have experimented with weathering the cement bubbles using a brush, but the effect was not to my liking, so in order to get the right effect that I wanted I’ve had to use an airbrush.


If you have photos of Cement Bubbles use it as a reference as the severity of the weathering varies on every wagon.

Materials Used:

  • Tamiya acrylic XF-2, XF-21, XF-64 & XF-72
  • Airbrush.
  • No.3. brush
  • Old No.3 brush for dusting
  • Glass fibre pencil.
  • Cement or light grey weathering powder.

Step One: Put the Cat Out!!

Step Two: Underframe

I find it best to remove the couplings and wheels in preparation for weathering the underframe.

Spray the whole of the underframe with Tamiya XF-72 and a light dusting to the bubble.

Also give the bubble a light dusting of XF-64 to the bubble as I’ve noticed the mix of cement dust and road dirt tends to go a red/brown colour. I tend to use a mix of 50/50 paint/thinners (Tamiya thinners X-20A) in the airbrush.

At this point use the XF-64 and paint in the discs of the wheels. I prefer to do these separately as to not get paint on the tyres of the wheels and make your track dirty.

Step Three: Let's Get Streaking!

After about half an hour when the paint isn’t quite hard, use the glass fibre pencil to create the streaking effect on the bubble.

Lightly use the glass fibre pencil in up and downward strokes to remove the paint all around the bubble. It doesn’t matter if it is not even that just adds to the effect.

Step Four: The Experimental Stage.

Use your brush to get the water into the corners where the cement would build up.

Then use your old brush to get the cement (or grey weathering powder) into all the corners.

Don’t be afraid to put too much on as we will be brushing off the excess dust. If you think there is not enough put on another drop of water and more cement on.

As you can see it’s a bit messy!

Wait for the cement to dry and give it another rub with the fibre pencil to take off the excess.

Step Five: Finishing Touches

Give the whole bubble and chassis a light dusting of XF-2 (white).

Apply the paint a bit heavier around the top, the pipes and valves to create that finer cement dust effect.

Also give the brakes a heavier coat of XF-64 to represent brake dust. Finally, give it all a coat of XF-21 (Flat Base) to seal everything over.

The Grey Bubble 

There are not many colour reference photos of the grey bubbles, and as they were new in this livery I decided not use the cement or weathering powder to show a more subtle technique. However, some of the steps are the same as above.

Step One

As before spray the whole of the underframe with Tamiya XF-72 and a light dusting to the bubble.

Step Two

This time apply XF-2 to the top of the bubble and around the pipework & valves.

Step Three 

Again use the glass fibre pencil to create the streaking effect on the bubble. Remember to keep the running number of the wagon clean.

Step 4

 Finally, apply a coat of X-21 to seal everything over.

I hope you enjoyed this short tutorial and remember don’t be afraid to give it a go!

If you need some canvas to have a go, we still have a limited supply of grey and ivory bubbles in stock. Order yours today for immediate dispatch and have a go to pass time time! Order here!


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