Primed for Grime! Athearn’s Line of Semi-Weathered Freight Cars

You may have noticed a new logo appearing on the packaging for certain HO scale Athearn and Roundhouse products over the last couple of years. In this post, we’re taking a look into exactly what this brand-transcending “Primed for Grime” title means, and how it’s revolutionizing the custom weathering aspect of the hobby. 

The Prototype

If you’ve ever seen a freight car, you’ll know that they’re often a far cry from the vibrant models we take home to our railroads. But beyond being simply dirty and worn, many have received a variety of battle scars from their years in service. Throughout the life of a car, it will be exposed to the elements, will travel through a variety of climates, may change owners multiple times, and it might even have it’s purpose altered entirely. All of this leaves a lasting mark on the car, beyond the daily buildup of dirt and grime.

Primed For Grime

For many years, modelers have been weathering cars and locomotives in an attempt to bring them closer to reality, often with stunning results. However Athearn is now helping bring us one step closer straight out of the box, while still leaving room for plenty of customization.

This new line of rolling stock and locos, examples of which can be found under all of Athearn’s HO scale brands, takes care of the first and often most difficult steps in achieving realistic weathering and detailing. There is no set style to Primed for Grime items. They are based on actual locomotives and cars, not as they appeared out of the factory, but as they appeared later in life. If a locomotive is patched for a new owner, the models will reflect this. If a car has been renumbered, or the branding has been changed, the models will reflect this. If the lettering has faded or has been removed, but the scar in the paint remains, once again, the models will reflect this.

The model we’re looking at for this article is one of the latest releases from this line; the 57′ Mechanical Reefer. This particular car wears the paint scheme of the former Golden West Service, a leasing group which contracted with the Southern Pacific in the early 1990s. While this car doesn’t have any patching or details which stand out at first sight, it’s a perfect example of the lengths of subtle accuracy which Athearn is going to for these cars.

Although the Golden West Service name was retired roughly two decades ago, many cars can still be found wearing this scheme. They are predominantly based in the arid southwest, and with a 30 year old livery, many of these cars no longer display the deep blue and vibrant red and gold that they were initially given. Instead, they’ve been allowed to fade to a much paler version of these colors. This is exactly what Athearn has replicated with this model. The colors have been toned down in accordance with the actual car, and the roof has been given an off-white, yellow hue. Perfect for the addition of rust and dirt. When paired with other Golden West liveried cars, the Primed for Grime version provides a realistic variation in tones, just as you would see on the prototype.

What Makes it Revolutionary?

Primed for Grime rolling stock replicates details which are difficult to reproduce by the individual modeler. Achieving an accurate faded paint job with an “as delivered” car could require either repainting the entire model, or giving it a heavy coat of white weathering to give the impression of fading. To achieve the effect of worn lettering or peeled paint, again, would require either partially repainting or obscuring the livery. Thanks to this line, modelers can now take a car which has been replicated in it’s used condition, and finish the job with stunningly realistic results, blending the accuracy of factory produced detail with the skill and fun of custom weathering.

Have you weathered a Primed for Grime model? If so, we’d love to see it! Send us your photos via our Facebook Page, and we’ll share them on our social media!