Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

First Decals - Not so Good

I tried out the decals that I made the other day. Overall not a success, I certainly learned a lot during the process. First trying to fill up 8 1/2" x 11" sheets was definitely not a bright move. I could have used a single sheet for the test instead of trying to go whole hog right out of the gate. So here is what I would do I differently:
1) Cut the decal paper down to 4"x6" sheets, photograph size. Plenty of room to print everything I needed to experiment instead of wasting a whole sheet.
2) Double check everything. While the logos look good the smaller versions ended up being elliptical rather than circular. It took me a bit to figure out why the looked a little funny.
3) Cut everything as close as you can to the edge. There is to much decal on the big Switzerland Trail logo.

I'm not sure I like this decal paper. Its suppose to snug down with lighter fluid but I wasn't really seeing that despite multiple applications of the lighter fluid. I was using Zippo, but maybe another brand would work better. The white definitely disappears when you put canola oil over it as stated in the instructions, but then you have oil on the car. Wiping it off seemed to work just fine, but it needs to be the very last step you do or it will start showing up white again.

The yellow lettering is to light and just disappears against the green car side so I'm not sure what to do about that. Other than being a bit elliptical the C&N logo actually looks pretty good. I think I'm going to look into how to work with white decal paper, but I don't want to have to apply individual letters and numbers to the car sides, that will take forever.
\So on to the pictures!

The Boxcar, not bad, but I need to do a lot better on the trimming and the color is to light. I need to darken it up so its a closer match to the car side's. Logo looks pretty good here.

The Coach car before the decals

The first decals have been applied, they definitely dry very white.

You can just make out the decals in place on the upper sill above the windows. I applied the canola oil and the white faded away.

And with the the logo applied. The logo looks good, but there is something wrong there. Oh, its not circular! Oops.
Now I just have to figure out how to do this better.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Airbrushing Freight Cars with Tru-Scale Paint

When I started this little project I figured I would just fall back on those old stand by railroad paints from Floquil. Well I haven't been paying attention and Testors, who bought Floquil, has discontinued them, in fact discontinued them some time ago. Not knowing much about the railroad paints available now I leaned on somebody that has been more involved than me, Darel from C&Sn3. He recommended Tru-Scale as the best replacement at this point. I went to Caboose Hobbies, who didn't have the color that Darel recommended, and I stood in front of the paint rack for 15 minutes and decided on TCP-139 MOPAC Boxcar Red. I then went looking around for information on how to shoot this paint through an airbrush. This is definitely airbrush paint and a bit on the expensive side at $4.99 for a one ounce bottle. I grabbed all three bottles Caboose had to make sure I had enough and for future additions to the C&N rolling stock roster. After reading up on it that may have been a mistake. Apparently Tru-Scale has a tendency to evaporate out of the bottle, probably because it has an acetone base. Which brings up the fact that this is a solvent based paint and when you shoot it through your airbrush be in a well ventilated area, or a use an airbrush booth and either way wear a mask, and not one of those little sanding masks.

So there is a lot of different information out there and a lot of it is not very informative. In fact I even saw one post that said that Tru-Scale didn't use pigment and that's why it didn't separate. Now that is possible as colors are either built from pigment or dyes, but generally anything called paint uses pigment (inks are dyes). Tru-Scale talks about pigment right on their website. So I combined the information I could find into something that, I hoped, would work for me. This paint is pretty thin already but it wouldn't go through my Infinity airbrush straight from the bottle. I pulled out some little graduated cups that I keep around and measured out three parts paint to one part acetone, that's right acetone as a paint thinner. I got lucky and hit the right combo off the bat and this 3:1 ratio worked like a charm.

Going into the booth were four boxcars, one stockcar, two flatcars, two short cabooses and one combine caboose. The C&N kept all its freight cars and cabooses the same color which means I don't have to switch out colors. Most of the prep consisted of removing trucks and in the case of the cabooses applying a liquid mask to all the windows. The cabooses I completely dissembled and removed the interior lighting components. They are actually quite nicely detailed on the inside, to bad you can't really see it through those small windows.

So two bottles of paint and 10 cars later I was finished, a pretty good days work. The cabooses will probably need some touch up. Its hard getting up underneath some of the overhangs and I found a thumbprint on the side of one so back to the booth for those, probably later this week. With the painting done this bunch is ready to see if these brand new decals I made are going to work. Pretty exciting stuff!

On to the pictures!

Three boxcars like this.

Fortunately only one in this ugly color

One stockcar

two flatcars

The reefer, although I reconsidered and left this one in yellow. I'll go back and do some decals in black for this one.

Disassembling a caboose. Removed the lighting and was surprised by the nice detail on the inside.

Easier to see the detail on the red interior as opposed to the black interior in the first caboose

Dissembling the second one, went much quicker this time.

The combine caboose, of course this one didn't come apart in quite the same way.

The interior, again some nice detail that you just can't see

Airbrushing complete! I left the stockcar with a black roof.

The cabooses and the flatcars.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Decals for the Colorado & Northwestern Railway, Calamity's railroad

I had so much fun weathering the D&RGW cars that I have been itching to get to the rest of the freight and passenger cars for my Colorado & Northwestern Railway. This time though I wanted to have the decals done before I started the weathering process (I'll have to go back and apply decals to the tank car and do a little extra work there). After checking out the options for custom decals I decided that I would be better off trying to do my own. Totally new experience for me. First I was going to need a lot of white numbers and letters. Without access to one of the famous ALPS printers I can't print white. Somewhere I read about a brand of decal paper that might do the trick (and yes I am aware that there are decals papers that are white instead of clear). This paper is from Evan Designs specifically designed for Inkjets and doesn't not require a fixative spray afterwards. So five sheets, $20 bucks not inexpensive but I ordered it and it arrived a few days later, quite a bit faster than I expected it to.

To work on the graphics I downloaded a free program called Inkscape. The learning curve wasn't bad and there are plenty of tutorials out there if you get stuck. Nice piece of software. There were a couple of miss steps but I managed to get things to come together. I also bought some railroad fonts from Ribbon Rail Productions that would at least be close to what the C&N used. Searching for fonts that were close was the most frustrating part. Railroads just didn't use standard fonts and modern fonts don't look right. Ribbon Rail helped a lot, while I didn't get perfect matches I got pretty close which is all I really could hope for. 

So I'm humming right along laying out lettering and numbers and recreating the logos when I realized that all the white numbers and letters still need a colored border. Arrgh, there goes an hour or so of work. Now I need to paint the freight cars and then scan the color to create a background for the white letters that will, hopefully, be close enough to the actual paint color to be easy to blend in during the weathering process.

I talked with Darel over at C&Sn3 and he recommended Rock Island Maroon from Tru-Scale Paint (TCP-260) as a good match for the C&N boxcar over at the Colorado Railroad Museum. A trip to Caboose Hobbies to obtain some paint only to discover that they didn't have the newest colors yet and the Rock Island Maroon is like brand new this year (actually I think Caboose hasn't been keeping up with the paint, the rack was kind of bare). I decided on MOPAC Boxcar Red (TCP-139). It ended up being a good choice and I'm pretty pleased with it. You can see how it looks in tomorrow's post.

So after maybe 10 hours of research, work and learning some new software I managed to create three, count them three, sheets of decals. I comfortable with the process though so making more should be easy enough.

Checking out the colors on the logos. The logo on the left has a "gold" rim, hard to see in this photo, and the central peak goes all the way to the top of the square. This is for the locomotive tenders. The smaller logo doesn't have the "gold" rim and the peak only goes up about 2/3rds of the way to the top. This is one is used on freight and passenger cars.

A test print of the yellow lettering that will go on the passenger, baggage and observation cars along with the yellow numbers. The black numbers are pretty much worthless, since they need to be in white! This was the point I realized that I really needed to get some painting done.

A test sheet on regular paper. Not bad just need to move it a bit to the right.

Three sheets of decals; logos in three different sizes, a sheet of letters and numbers and a sheet of car data and logos. The Switzerland Trail lettering is not prototypical. I wanted to add some interest to the car sides which are largely blank. Although the Colorado & Northwestern was pretty small as far as railroads its actually fairly well documented. The Switzerland Trail of America by Forrest Crossen is my main reference ( I have several copies) and this title appears on the cover of the book, so I scanned it in to put on the car sides. 
So there you have it, decals from your inkjet printer. Hopefully I get some time to try them out this week.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Calamity Gets a New RR Station - Part 9

I started to assembly the first floor of Calamity's railroad station over the weekend. Its been a rough assembly to say the least. Between dropping parts and breaking glue joints (learn to let the glue set!) I did finally manage to get the first floor together. I even remembered to put the raised floor in on the baggage/freight side of the building. Its still lacking some of the necessary interior details (like the two interior walls) but I think I'm going to take a break for a few days before getting to that.

Overall I'm pretty happy with the how the things are looking. I did not get the floor get exactly right but a little trimming combined with the exterior platform should hide those mistakes, that's what I'm hoping for anyway.

On to the construction photos!

So I approached this as four sub assemblies. This is the waiting room side.

Trackside Windows


Baggage room side

Corner clamps and blocks of steel

Trying to glue it to the floor! Those steel blocks weight 1# each or so

Waiting room side. I have had these corner clamps for about 35 years

Inside Trackside

Another view of the trackside window bay

Maybe that joint will hold this time

One of my small 90 degree angle blocks

One for each corner

I think they will hold now

Let's try getting that bay window together again

Something easier, the raised interior floor for the baggage room

And a little paint on the floor

Okay, maybe I'll try putting together the broken pieces directly to the floor

A little scale. I like the height of the modified S Scale door

Finally starting to come together

Just the trackside bay window left to go

Okay, it looks like its going to stay together, just going to anchor that corner to the table for a while

And clamp that corner

Looking good from the ground though

Town side

Yea, still missing the door to the baggage freight room.


Looks pretty roomy in there without the walls

And a fuzzy shot showing the difference in height. And yes, those windows really are suppose to be there. The interior wall here will have door to the baggage/freight room, I'm guessing I should put a couple of steps up to the door to make things easier on the inhabitants