Painting metal tracks

I’m about at the stage where I want to paint the tracks on my archer build. It’s the first time I’m using metal tracks and I was curious how to go about painting them. I know some people have used blacken it, but as far as I know this stuff is expensive and not made anymore. I do have some gun blueing solution I am thinking of using, has anyone tried this?

If this isn’t an option I assume priming with mr surfacer and then followed by dark iron will work?

I haven’t used it myself but someone on here or the old site used that instead.

Cool! Wanted to make sure it wouldn’t mess up the tracks. I’ll try a small test section or perhaps one of the spare links and see what I get


@SdAufKla uses gun blueing.

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If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me!

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Think I’m sold, here is a test track


I prime them,then I paint and weather them the same as if they were plastic tracks.

I use automotive metal primer and then paint them.

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Blacken It may no longer be available, but similar solutions are available from many other companies like AK, Ammo, etc.

Is anyone aware of what blacken it was? I know the gun bluing solutions are selenium dioxide. They seem to do a good job and cost about 1/3 of the hobby burnishing fluid. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out they are the same thing

Another great alternative is Jax Black. It works exactly the same as Blacken-it. It is used by stained glass makers and is MUCH less expensive than the stuff sold by model paint companies. I bought a gallon for $60!


Blacken It was also selenium dioxide, but as all model products are, it was much more expensive since it was specifically marketed to modelers.

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Thats what I figured, but wanted to check! The bottles looked suspiciously similar

I still have a bottle of 'Blacken It, but it’s now 30 years old. Is it still good. Want to use it on metal RR trucks. I saw an add recently from one of the hobby paint companies for a similar product to weather metal parts. Can’t recall which one however. I would think that paint would allow more color variations.

@SdAufKla seeing as you use cold blue I had a question for you. How do you actually apply it? For small gun parts I’ll dip a Q-tip then wipe the part but this could be tedious for 100+ track links a side. I have seen people dilute the hobby stuff in water and then soak the tracks for 5-10 mins, I’m thinking of going this route but have no idea if it works and want I should pour the solution into container wise

So, there you have it Mead93. Multiple resources from numerous members, for your modelling pleasure on how to blacken tracks! Brought to you by the beer drinkers of the world!

DISCLAIMER: No beer was spilled in the making of this commercial.


I wash the tracks in hot, soapy water (ordinary dish detergent) and air dry them. I then simply soak the tracks in a small plastic cup covered by the cold bluing solution. I’ll use a wooden shish kabab stick to stir and agitate.

(The cups I use are recycled single-serve fruit cups and the wood sticks come a zillion in a package - so I simply throw all of this mess away after stuffing a couple of paper towels in to the cup to absorb the gun blue.)

The tracks will eventually stop turning color as the solution is used up. If they’re not dark enough, I’ll add more solution and soak longer.

Once they as good as I want, I’ll wash them again in hot soapy water, scrubbing with an old toothbrush. I suppose you could give them a dunk in a baking soda and water solution to work as a sort of “stop bath.” However, I’ve never experienced any issues after simply washing the gun blue solution off. It usually is done reacting anyways.

The harder the scrubbing, the grayer-blacker the tracks will look, but I’ve found gun blue generally turns most metal tracks to a rusty brown color. The chemically colored layers can be sanded with fine wet-or-dry sand paper or buffed with 4x0 steel wool to give areas a natural bare metal shine. The areas where the road wheels travel can be masked to protect them from later weathering.

Note that chemical coloring is only one step for my track finishing routine.

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Thanks for the advice! I gave it a try.

Really happy overall! I did notice some spots where the blue didn’t take, possible it didn’t have enough contact time. Considering giving them a second dunk, or hitting letting weathering cover it up. Most noticeable in picture 2.

The tracks also developed a tannish brown colored deposit which is some of the speckling in the photo. May need to scrub them a bit more

Those small bare spots are an almost universal problem with any of the chemical coloring solutions and metal tracks (all brands and sizes). I’ve yet to sort it out and discover the actual issue. Pre-washing with soap and water seems to help some (perhaps creating a slight “wetting” effect). Agitating also seems to help, but also doesn’t completely eliminate the issue. Nytril gloves and a scrubbing in the cold blue solution works, but it’s really messy, and, IMO, hardly worth the trouble if later weather.

Good to know. I did follow your instructions, so glad it’s not just my error, I plan to dirty them up some anyway.