Fixing a paintshop whoopsie

Mistakes, we all make them, how much they hurt depend on your ability to get past them without getting angry (a personal challenge), and being able to accept that sometimes, you need a do-over. I have been working for a few months at my on-again/off-again work-rate on a batch of 7 resin boxcar kits. At one point I had thought about having them all built and painted and ready to decal and taking them to a cottage my in-laws have rented in July to do the decals. I have decided, that while totally doable, that is more effort in safely packing them up and the various tools to do the decals, I would rather completely unplug for that week from hobbies, So I am going to do that, but I still want to get these cars finished! At any point for weeks now I could have been decalling cars, instead I’ve been looking at a half finished kit, the last half finished kit at least. I finally this past week decided to get it done and the one other car that wasn’t painted primed and painted…and then the chaos started.

The bad side, the OK side, and the end damage…not my best night at the paintbooth.

I managed, in under 5 minutes to have the car body fall off the paint stand 3 times, smearing the primer the first two times, then breaking off fine etched parts in a stirrup step at the corner, and a cut lever and bracket on one end (and smear the paint again on top of pick up whatever loose crud was in the paint booth). I swore, loudly, and put everything away. I then sent my usual hobby sounding post the traditional “Trains are F@$king Stupid” text, and went to bed.

Scraping off primer with my fingers, post dip on the roof, and isopropyl dip working as normal and just melting away the poorly adhered bad coat of primer.

I have come to the conclusion that the “airbrush ready” mix of Vallejo Primer I have at my paint booth has been over thinned or over flow improvered (is that even a word?) as it sprayed badly, like on top of my dropping it, when it was cured, I was able to scrape almost all the paint off the roof with my fingernail, and some of the primer on the body would come off that easily too. Not much use if the primer designed to give you a good base for applying paint won’t actually hold. I think it is time to pitch what is left in the bottle, and start a fresh batch, something has happened to it as the past couple of times I’ve sprayed it, it has behaved progressively worse.

A good clean coat of primer, this time using my rattle can of Tamiya Fine Surface Primer.

Once the car had been cleaned, I had some time today to fix the broken stirrup step and cut lever, and make sure everything else seemed to be OK and attached where it should be. I found a few parts where it seems the isopropyl also broke glue or CA joints, so after some fixes, it was back to the paint booth. This time, I did what I knew I shoulda done and used the rattle can of Tamiya Fine Surface Primer. This stuff is awesome, and I have almost never had problems with it, yet I’ve been messing around with other primers with varying degrees of success. Sometimes, you just need to stick to what works and go with it. Oh well, as usual, live and learn, but at least it seems I didn’t break anything so badly I couldn’t fix it!

Trains and Gravity are not friends

By the time this posts I will have given my Clinic on the 3D printed model of the Dominion of Canada and the shipment of her back to the UK for restoration in 2012-13 at the Hindsight 2020 13.0 Virtual RPM today. A couple of weeks ago, I needed to get some detail photos for the presentation, and I had, an incident, where one of the span bolsters decided it was not attached to the rest of the car anymore, and while I thought I had a grip on everything, it took a trip to the floor. The 3D printed material can be brittle, and it shattered. Fortunately, it was a clean break, and the two parts could be re-aligned, and with some brass shims to provide some strength repaired. Whew, a sigh of relief, but not before some unpleasant words that can’t be repeated in polite company!

Before and after of an unplanned test of Newtonian Gravity Theory using a model, not recommended for your blood pressure.

I Am Iron Man… Graffiti for an Autorack…and That’s no Train Part 11!!

Lookit me go, combining things. Home made Graffiti for an autorack for Canyon Road based on a tag I saw in the real world, and a 75mm resin figure of Iron Man. This is most definitely crossing things up, with trains and not trains covering the same territory. Its that time again, another “That’s No Train” project, past ones can be read about here: 1, 2, 3 (& 3.5), 4, 5, 6, 7 8, 9 and 10!

I was never the biggest comic book person growing up. I read some here and there, watched the various cartoons of comic book characters, but they were just not my main thing (see That’s not Train Part 3 and Transformers!). When the original Iron Man movie came out in 2008, I remember being interested in it, and looking forward to seeing it, but had no idea where the Marvel movies would go, and how all in on them and the notion of a connected ongoing universe of movies and TV shows would suck me in. In full disclosure, I saw the first Iron Man movie in 2008 high as a kite. I don’t now, and never have used pot with any kind of regularity, as with most I experimented here and there in University, and every now and then over the years at parties with friends. One of my roommates at the time the movie came out in 2008 had made a big batch of pot brownies, I think I missed the part about them being loaded, and had a couple with ice cream before going to see the movie! I was… quite mellow, so it blew me away. To this day I don’t think you could have cast Tony Stark better than Robert Downey Jr., his own history of issues, and his demeanour just scream Tony Stark, and his long run playing the role seems to support my sense that he was perfect for the role.

My inspiration for the Graffiti for my autorack for Canyon Road. Seen in a CPR train at Royal York Road in 2021.

Since the graffiti i saw was not on a CPR autorack like the one I had bought, I wanted to do a tag inspired by the one I saw, not a 100% recreation. I also decided that I would tag one corner of the car, on one side, so I have the option to display a “clean” side as well. I didn’t want this to be a completely tagged and destroyed rack, but modern cars are almost all tagged in some way, so something was appropriate.

Painting the purple backdrop on the autorack, and attempt 1 at the custom printed decal…the clear decal paper did not work!

Having found art I liked, and playing around with it to size and appearance, I started into working on the autorack. First up, I sprayed some purple to be the base of the graffiti, as there was no way the printer could render anything that resembled this. When I initially did the decals on clear sheet, I then made a mask and sprayed the areas that were white for eyes and thrusters. The clear decal didn’t work at all. It basically disappeared completely. Once it was clear the decal had to be largely printed on white decal paper to help the colours show, I made some adjustments and tried again. With a careful trim the fade in the print and the white looked enough like spray that I was happy to apply it and see how it went. Fortunately, this version worked, and once blended with weathering to have some road grime, and healthy applications of Microsol to get it to blend into the car, it was good to go.

Attempt 2 on white decal paper went much better for the main part of the tag, with the text still on clear paper.

The “That’s No Train” part of this post is a 75mm scale resin 3D printed Iron Man i bought online from Ali Express. This is almost certainly a knock off of someone else’s model, but I had been looking for an Iron Man of some sort, either figure, toy or model kit for a while, and haven’t been able to find one I liked.

Resin Iron Man being painted. Assembled, with a post added, in primer, with some attempts at pre-shading and with gold base.

This was a pretty basic item, no instructions, and only two low quality pictures on the website to figure out what it looked like. On top of that, no amount of cleaning seemed to make the resin behave well with any form of adhesive. Eventually, though some brute force and patience, it rounded into shape. I used Microscale MicroMask, even though I paint with Acrylics and it isn’t really compatible with them, it works, but I find it can be tricky to get off with clean lines, definitely some care was needed removing the masking after spraying the red on. After painting, I tried another new technique to me, well known to figure painters, a colour tone wash, in this case, red to match the body, this brought out the colour and collected in the nooks and crannies to give some depth to the figure.

Later Stages of painting, spraying red with the gold masked, pulling off the liquid mask, and adding blue highlights to the eyes, arc reactor and hand thrusters. Then evaluating the two base options and prepping one for painting.

The final part of the project was a suitable base. I settled on a 55mm circular base of the two I bought. It was duly painted with three different shades, two straight from the bottle steels, and leftovers of the custom mix I made for the Bandai K-2SO Model I built previously that I still had leftover of. A single hole drilled in the base to fit the post I installed on Iron Man’s foot to hold for painting made for a nice solid connection between the figure and the base.

Beauty Shots of the finished Autorack with Iron Man graffiti and the resin Iron Man figure.

So with that, both a train and a non-train project are done and off the workbench!

A quick fix for a Project Mistake

I wrote Friday about my first of two “frankenboxcar” builds. These came about because of an error in packing kits that were sold as being for 10′ high cars, when in fact while the doors and ends were 10′, the bodies were 10′-6″. Making the most of a bad situation, other changes allowed me to get the right bodies to build these cars, and to get kits to make something of the 10′-6″ cars, but, being a dope, I made modifications to the 10′-6″ bodies before discovering they were not the 10′ cars I needed. I had scrapped off the lower door track that was molded on with a chisel to allow me to install the etched brass lower rails for the different door hardware, or so I thought until I discovered I had the wrong car body height.

Fortunately, the bottom rail is basically a rectangular shape, which I could recreate with strip styrene. Using the body I hadn’t scraped the rail off, I was able to confirm the location and the size. A piece of 0.015″ x 0.040″ styrene strip was the perfect match. Two pieces were duly cut to length using the unmodified car as a guide, and carefully held in place while I touched some Tamiya Extra Thin solvent cement to the joint to wick along it and bond the styrene strip to the styrene car body.

Before and after of replacing the bottom rail on one side of the car. Fortunately this was a quick fix, but it pays to check everything is right before you start cutting up models or kits!

Important lesson I probably knew learned/relearned. Make sure everything is in a kit when you get it, and that it is actually what it says on the box! Packing mistakes and such happen at factories. In this case, there was a litany or errors made in packing these kits, but I’m going to come out ahead with 4 models instead of 2 from the bits in them at the end of the day!

A FrankenBoxcar Kit Build

I have written about my small (relative to some people’s) supply of freight car kits to build. It currently, including the one in the pictures/discussion below at 8 boxcar kits. Seven of these I have all the parts I need to build. One I need to source the accurate doors and decals for. For this summer after two years of all the worlds craziness, my in-laws have rented a giant cottage for a weeks get away with the extended family. I am planning on having the seven box cars I can have built and painted to take with me to the cottage so I can sit looking out over the lake and decal the cars while I am away. I have a portable work bench I built a few years ago that I can take which is perfect for this kind of get away work. It does two things, gives me something to do at the cottage to unwind (yes, I find working on models relaxing), and two, gives me motivation to keep on keeping on with building the kits to have them ready to go to the cottage in July!

Two views of a ready for painting boxcar project. A National Scale Car mini-kit of the doors, and a Yarmouth Model Works blank core with ends from a messed up Intermountain Kit.

This car is a model of a 1937 AAR (American Association of Railroads) standard box car, but with “Superior” doors. You can see in the pictures the etched lower door rail, recreating the Union Duplex door fixtures. Even unpainted the car looks quite different from a standard box car with this rail. This is Kit 102.1 with decals for Southern Pacific and Texas & New Orleans (an SP subsidiary). These have been an adventure thanks to the main source of undecorated kits, Intermountain Model Railroad basically seemingly having stopped producing undecorated kits. I thought I had found some a few months ago, but when they arrived, they had 10′-6″ bodies and 10″ ends. I needed the 10′ body and ends to do these cars! Suffice to say, one can’t install a 10′ tall door or car end on a 10’6″ body, it leaves a nasty gap!! Fortunately, another source in Yarmouth Model Works has recently stepped in to fill the void by selling “Boxcar Body” kits that come with a roof and doors, but no ends in the 10′ and 10′-6″ height of 40′ long AAR standard designs. With one of these, the mini kit doors, and the Intermountain Kit ends, I have been able to cobble together a complete car! The car has been finished with Yarmouth’s etched ladders & roof walk, Tichy AB Brakes, leftover etched bits from other kits, and a variety of grabs from Tichy & Kadee. I’ve started a second frankencar kit build using the same broad range of parts for a second version of the NSC mini kit featuring Youngstown Doors and Atlantic Coast Line (ACL) decals.

The bonus of this is, I have two Intermountain 10′-6″ kits without ends, so I was able to order a couple more of the National Scale Car CN and CP mini kits with Canadian ends, not the worst outcome from a failed kit purchase where Intermountain packed and sold 10′ height cars with 10′-6″ bodies in them! I’ve turned two mispacked kits into 4 cars, I’ll take that anyday!

Note: At the time of writing (March 4/2022), all the National Scale Car mini kits mentioned are out of stock, but you can subscribe to the NSC website to get notified of them being restocked in the future.

Another Tichy Boom Car, but with a National Scale Car Mini Kit addition

I am working my way though my kit supply, slowly but surely of late. In 2020 I built a Tichy Trains steam crane and boom car for Canadian National to have an auxiliary train. Its not something that I need for my layout, but its a kit I have wanted to build for years. So of course, why have one set of equipment you don’t need when you can have two? I’ve started a second crane and boom car, this time for the Canadian Pacific. The real prompt for this was my friend Ryan making a cast resin “Mini-Kit” of fishbelly side sills for the Tichy Boom car to quickly change its look. I figured, why not? The Tichy kits are relatively cheap, and fun, quick builds.

Preparing and installing the National Scale Car “fishbelly” side sill mini kit on the Tichy Boom Car.

The resin sides in the mini kit are designed to be straight replacements for the straight sides in the Tichy kit. The instructions suggest how to build extensions on the cross members to actually support the deeper sides. You can see the white styrene extensions in the pictures above. These were capped with a thin strip, then had Archer Rivet decals added before painting. Will anyone ever see this? Not Really, but it pleases me to have done it right. If you really didn’t want to do this, but wanted the look of the fishbelly sides, it isn’t necessary to give the car strength.

I ran into one problem on the underbody, for some reason, the kit only had one of the injection molded coupler box covers. To remedy this, thanks to the fact that I have learned to cast resin, I quickly used the part I had to make a mold, and cast replacement coupler box covers. The are not perfect, but they more than do the job, and certainly beat waiting months for a replacement part to come from Tichy.

Assembling and adding details to a boom car. I flipped the B end to the cabin, added windows, grab iron ladders and a tar paper roof with a wooden walk.

For the cabin, working from photos of CPR cars, I added a variety of windows. Maintenance cars like these were not really built to a set plan. They were converted as needed from old flat cars, and were modified as needed by crews when in use. I added two side windows, and two windows on the deck end using Tichy work car windows set. I also, to be perfectly honest, messed up installing the side sills, and got them on wrong sided. Why is this an issue? Under the car, my brake rigging was pointing the wrong way. Being solutions oriented, after a few minutes being annoyed, I set forth to change the brake configuration and add a tall stand on the cabin end extending to the roof. Not the most practical for the crew compared to a brake wheel on the deck end, but it adds visual interest to differentiate the car from my CN Boom Car. For ladders and grab irons, I went with a variety of wire grabs of different sizes, and set up differently on each side of the car to help add that jumbled look.

I scrapped off the roof detail, and laminated on 600 grit sandpaper, my fake tar-paper of choice. I made a new roof walk from strip wood, added a smoke jack chimney with braces made from brass wire, and painted it.

Scenes from Painting and Decalling, yeah, I did this backwards. I should have painted the steel then masked it, instead of the other way around, but once its weathered the difference will be gone.

Painting and decalling and finishing is pretty basic same same. I think I managed to use the same oxide red on the CP car as the earlier CN car looking at them together. Doesn’t matter. They will eventually be weathered and dirty and never be seen beside each other on the layout!

Yup, I have a half dozen shades of oxide/boxcar red and I painted the two boom cars with the same one. Whatever, doesn’t matter. Weathering will take care of that when its done! Comparing the differences between the CN and CP cars.

The build is done. As with so many of my freight car kits, it will now inevitably sit around until a mood to do a bunch of weathering strikes me, but that’s OK by me, I’m quite happy to move things along and take one more thing from the kit pile to the tracks. I’ve made a start on the crane to go with this. Haven’t gotten very far, but its on the work bench moving along slowly but surely. Still need to figure out how much I am going to do on the crane in creating a fully enclosed cab like on the CN crane, but that is for another day.