Painting A Four Pack of Freight Cars

Building freight car kits, seems like a never-ending string of them in my life. There isn’t actually, but I had wanted to try and finish the four I am now nearing the finish line on before the end of 2021 but some health issues got in the way. With those seemingly (knock on wood) in the rear-view mirror. I have gotten the four Yarmouth Model Works kits to the finish line of the paint shop, which means decals to come, then “done” pending weathering.

Four built kits ready to go for paint! Wabash, Norfolk & Western and Canadian National 40′ Boxcars, and a Semet-Solvay Tank Car. All are Yarmouth Model Works kits, the Wabash and Semet-Solvay are out of production and not available anymore.

While I can paint anytime I want (within reason as my paint booth gets set up in my wife’s office!), I like to do things in batches so the process of setting up, painting and cleaning doesn’t feel like its overwhelming the work.

But before that, the box car kits are all pretty standard, some variations on brake components and where things are, but effectively, box cars are box cars. The tank car kit, is a bit of a different beast. Strangely enough, the first resin freight car kit I ever built was a tank car, one widely regarded as one of the hardest resin kits to build, the Sunshine Vinegar Tank, which I followed up with a BGR Group Canadian Pacific J-Series Sleeper kit. Why start with easy things right? Truth be told, building the boxcar kits is reasonably easy now, its the motivation to do the things that I find fiddly and frustrating, like the under-body brake rigging on the B-End details of the brake wheel and piping. I can do them all, but every time I start a bunch of box cars, I bog down at the same spot. So of course, the antidote for that, something completely different, a tank car. Everything is a bit different on a tank car as you also have to build up the frame which is hanging in space instead of being beneath the floor.

Scenes from building a resin tank car kit. I even included a shot where I was super proud of my handrails before I realized I had installed all the hangers upside down so it was too high… sigh. The rails are fixed in the last shot with the platform being fitted.

The Semet-Solvay tank car kit is a joy to build. The couple of things that are off kilter (I noticed my tank isn’t quite mounted square despite all the efforts to avoid this, its skewed) are builder error not kit error. The tank is gorgeous, and the etchings, especially the loading platform frame are the nicest I’ve ever folded. The platform support is so smartly designed, the etch has 5 sides, two half etches, one on each end combine to form the fourth side when folded so that every side is the same width. Its a shame this car was a super limited run, as I feel guilty saying how good it is knowing no one reading this will likely ever but one unless you get real lucky and find one that was in someones kit stash.

Painting Yarmouth Model Works resin Boxcars. YMW-120 CNR 1937 10’6″ with 8′ Door, and a YMW-121.2 Norfolk and Western B-5 with interior carline roof in primer and painted. I think I made my attempt at the brown too taupe.

Along with some other projects both train and non-train, I’ve put in about 6 hours in the paint booth between Thursday and Saturday this week. Two hours mostly priming on Thursday, two more hours doing a mix of priming and painting Friday, and two hours painting on Saturday. Its really nice to see these cars starting to look like cars that could be on the layout operating. For the Norfolk & Western car, from pictures and my mental image I felt this car is more brown than red. I am not sure the custom mix paint I used captures the look the way I want. I need to get it under the layout lighting and see how lit looks. In the picture above, it feels too taupe and not reddish brown enough. It may be OK. I may be able to spray a darker tint, or maybe just through weathering I can pull it back, but it will challenge me. I do like that the colour is definitely different than every other red/brown boxcar on the layout, I’m just not sure its close enough to the real colour for me to live with it long term.

Painting the Yarmouth Model Works YM-108 Semet-Solvay Tank Car. The pre-cut styrene mask to paint the tank dome is really handy.

Next up, some gloss if needed to provide a good surface for the decals to settle on, then the decals. After that, only 8 box car kits in the stash…which I’m not starting to build untill all these cars have decals and dullcoat to leave them ready to weather!

Happy New Years (2022)

Happy New Years Friends! I hope you are well and that for all of us, that 2022 is a better year than the one before, and that it brings us all a much needed return to some normalcy where we can share our hobby and the wonderful social aspects of it together with less worry. I’m celebrating the new year by watching football and eventually getting back upstairs to work on building freight car kits. The three kits above are all Yarmouth Model Works, Kit YMW-113 West India Fruit Company ACF 40′ 50 Ton, YMW-104 Wabash 88200-88699 12 Panel Boxcar, and YMW-121-2 Norfolk & Western B-5 40′ with Interior Carline Roof. As you can see, the WIF car is painted and ready for weathering, the other two in the last week of the old year reached the point of being fully assembled. Painting and Decalling will mean these two cars will eventually be my first finished projects of 2022 (and I’ve already fixed the damaged door rail on the N&W car you can see in the picture that I bent in my panavise while building the car). The kits produced by Pierre Oliver who runs Yarmouth Model Works are fantastic, I have these three, one more partially built, and three more to build in 2022. All things being equal, I will be buying more of the kits he’s currently offering, and hopefully others in the future as he adds to his product line.

Here’s to a better 2022!

A Resin Kit Fire Truck Build

Sometimes I think its a damn good thing I am only building a small layout. I am easily distracted by shiny things or side projects, sometimes at least they do have some layout applicability. For whatever reason, I have always been smitten with the look of late 1940’s/1950’s American La France Fire Trucks. There is just something, gorgeous about their lines and their look. The Toronto Fire Department had many examples of them, and even though there was not a station in Liberty Village, and I’m not doing anything such as modelling a building on fire, there is no reason I can’t have a fire truck in my fleet of vehicles that will be out and about on the layout scenery.

So at sometime in the past year, I ordered a Sylvan Scale Models American Le France 700 Pumper Truck. I have built a number of the Sylvan vehicle kits over the years. They do build into nice models, but they need to have some care taken in building them to get there based on my experiences.

Parts straight from the box, and as test fitting and assembly proceeds before painting. None of the major sub assemblies are glued together yet in these pictures.

The first thing a Sylvan kit needs is a good cleaning, the parts have a lot of mold release remnants, and a lot of overcast to be carefully scraped away to reveal the parts and details, and to open up windows. The other major thing to be aware of is air bubbles. The castings can have a lot. Mostly, my experience has been they are on the inside of the parts, with one critical exception. I think pretty much every Sylvan kit I have built with a rear axle that isn’t cast into the frame has had air bubbles inside the axle, often where the wheel drum meets the axle, or the weakest point when you try to put the tires and rims onto the axle. I have broken several axles over the years, some have been savable, at least once I needed to ask for a replacement part. With careful opening of the bubble, you can gently fill the hole with filler and let that harden to make a part that will do the job, but its a big thing to be aware of.

Working through painting, after airbrushing the major sub components, test fitting, glasing the windows with Micro Kristal Klear, then adding details and paint before final assembly.

Honestly, As I was working my way though painting, I think I wanted to do this just because fire trucks are so bright and shiny. They are and always have been kept clean, and working to create a glossy paint finish and details really stand out. It will be noticeable wherever it is parked on the layout. For windows in these vehicles, I have long used Microscale Kristal Klear. Its a clear drying flexible glue, meant for gluing clear parts, but, with careful application, you can create windows with it. I use a toothpick and create a border of the glue around the edge, then draw it across the opening. There is a definite technique, and it doesn’t always work, and sometimes as it dries it will fail, or get air bubbles. The upside of this product is, it is always a little soft. If the window fails, you can just scrape it out after its dried and try again, or get a bit more glue on the toothpick and build up your supply to swipe across again.

A couple of finished shots on the workbench prior to moving to the layout.

For decals, I harvested from sets I have. I wound up using Canadian Pacific Dulux Gold Decals from Black Cat, meant for a CPR Sleeper to get the “TFD” markings, and used a number for the scroll work on the nose turned sideways. The silver and gold lining were done with fine tip sharpie paint markers.

This is one of those projects, looking at the dates of the pictures, I worked on it for like 2 months, but in reality the actual build time is substantially less than that, it just sort of would get something done, set aside, picked up, eventually painted, and all of a sudden, look at that, its finished. This seems to be a trend in my model making, and I am trying to see if I can’t clear a trio of half built kits by years end, but that’s a story for some other evening.

Fire engines were always kept fastidiously clean, so no need for weathering here. My Toronto Fire Department pumper on Liberty Street, inspecting hydrants no doubt.

Switch Stands for Liberty Village

Continuing to work on scenery for Liberty Village, a year ago now I ordered some 3D printed CN and CP switch stands from Steve Hunter’s “Eastern Road Models” store on Shapeways. Recently I was reading my friend Matthieu Lachance’s blog and he wrote about his experience installing these switch stands. Seeing his post, it finally got me going on mine. I can’t install them all, but there are a half dozen spaces on my layout where I can start to add these to the scenery.

The bare 3D prints of the switch stands, CPR and CNR versions.

While I certainly am capable of designing these myself, why re-create the wheel? Steve Hunter’s done them, and they are excellent. On Liberty Village, most of my switch stands are CPR style, with open sides, and the remaining are Racor style CNR ones. The pictures I have all show the stands with short posts and the switch targets mounted on them. The 3D printed cores take a 0.015 wire for the rod to go through the main casting and have the target glued onto it. I used Tichy Phosphor Bronze wire as its strong and won’t bend unless I want it to sticking the long post in as a pin to place the stands on the layout and hold them for painting.

Assembling and priming the switch stands. Followed by a quick hit of yellow on the targets. A couple of days later, the targets were masked, and the stands hit with some Black-Grey. Wasn’t too picky about the colour, something flat and dark, as they will get a little bit of weathering powder to show some rust and help them pop.

With the stands assembled, or at least my first batch of them, it was off to the paint booth. I have saved scraps of the insulation used in building the layout. It comes in quite handy to make paint tools to hold parts, and its not something I need to worry about if it gets beaten up or if I need to cut it to change the size for a part. For paint on these, three passes, first Vallejo primer, then some Vallejo yellow on the targets. I didn’t wait on that, I sprayed the primer, and about 20 minutes later, hit the yellow. I wanted the yellow on before I sprayed the bases black, as its easier to mask a light colour than spray a light colour over black. I waited a couple of days on everything curing before spaying the black as I didn’t want my masks on the targets to pull away the paint if it wasn’t cured fully.

Installing the stands on my layout, is easy, just push them into the foam beneath the scenery. This means I can take them out for weathering, or for cleaning the track if needed. It also means they have a bit of flex for people operating and knocking them if they need to reach into the layout. Fortunately, almost all the stands are on the back side of the track, which reduces the risk someone reaching in will hit them.

Installed switch stands. They just poke into the foam underlay, so I can take them out as needed for cleaning track or doing scenery.

I am really happy with how these came out. Being 3D printed they are fragile, but I managed not to break any. Hopefully the other 8 I need to do when scenery progresses that far go as well. I’m also really glad to be able to help a fellow Canadian modeller/designer in the 3D printing universe by buying Steve Hunter’s stands. Its a small but growing group of modellers in the country who are making things we’ve designed available, and it hopefully helps us all to support each other.

One Down, Six (and probably more) to Go

Well, that is one more car out of the reasonably manageable pile of kits in my collection. This is the first Yarmouth Model Works resin kit that I have finished. I have three more started, and three more safely in boxes to follow them, and there is at least one car recently released (Kit YMW-130, an 8′ door box with Pacific Great Eastern Decals) I will probably buy, and I am reliably informed there are more new kits coming that will likely interest me based on my prototype and era. This post however, is about one of the kits I have, and have now finished, Kit YMW-113, an ACF (American Car & Foundry) built 40′ boxcar, owned by the West India Fruit and Steamship Company. The WIF operated rail ferries between Palm Beach Florida and Havana Cuba between 1946 and 1961. They owned 150 of the cars represented in this kit. The cars operated all over North America bringing goods to and from Cuba. I have pictures of them as far away as Vancouver British Colombia, so it is entirely plausible that one would have brought goods to Toronto, then been loaded with something from Liberty Village going back to Cuba. That is my story, and I’m sticking to it, it also gives me at least one boxcar that can show up occasionally that isn’t a variation of oxide red/boxcar brown!

Scenes from building a resin kit. My first attempt at building the Yarmouth etched brass ladders, not perfect, but passable.

The Yarmouth Model Works kits are really quite nice to build. The fact that Pierre Oliver who owns the company and his pattern makers are modellers shows, as they understand kit building, and instruction writing. I take my time and regularly look at the reference photos included therein for where parts and lines go. The result, with some time put into it and the usual careful sanding and cleaning needed for resin kits, is a really nice looking model. As you can see in the pictures, the patterns for this car were done in a way that recreates the “oil canning” effect, or the wavy sides from welding the exterior sheeting to the interior support. The masters were drawn in CAD and 3D printed to get that effect, which makes sense as trying to create the effect otherwise to then create a mold to cast from would be a nightmare.

I’m not one for blow by blows of kit building, so I wont go into that, but as with all things, every kit you build, every time you do things again, they become that little bit easier to do, and every issue I ran into (which were mostly user error) will help me with the next car off the shelf to work on.

I’ve mentioned it before, but be aware of your lighting. This is the same car and paint, but in the lighting in my paint booth, you can’t trust the colour, the LED’s do a great job of lighting the workspace, but a terrible job of showing what the colour actually is.

Paint and pictures are as always, your best friend and worst enemy. As you can see above, the roof walk is not connected on one end when I painted the car. In between primer and finished colour, I dropped the car. I thought I hadn’t damaged anything when I checked, then I sprayed the paint, and found the walk was a mess. This was entirely fixable without damaging the paint, and any minor glue marks under the walk will vanish when the car is weathered, but its another important lesson/reminder to not rush when working on models.

Decalled and done and on the layout. Just needs to be flat coated and weathered to be truly finished.

The decals included in this kit are some of the nicest I have ever worked with. They went on super smooth, conformed nicely to the not flat car sides, and just melted away with a tiny bit of Microsol to blend the carrier film. It can make anyone, even a hack like me look good when you have good products to work with!

All in all, I am very happy with how this project has turned out, and it will add a pop of colour among the red/brown boxcar fleet.

Tuesday Night Paintshop Whoopise, the camera be harsh on your mistakes

Painting whoopsie, it looked fine before I painted, but after, some damage to the roof walk on the left side of the picture becomes apparent.

A quick trip to the paint booth tonight to get two projects advanced, one a project I am sending to a friend for a DCC install, to do a quick initial weathering on a CPR S-2 locomotive. While I had the paint booth set up, I wanted to get colour onto a Yarmouth Model Works West India Fruit Company ACF 40′ Boxcar. In my setup, I dropped/knocked it over, and it hit the floor. It looked fine after a check, all the detail parts survived and were where they were supposed to be, or so I thought. after hitting it with green paint on the body, it became apparent that the roof walk was both mangled and half separated from the roof. Sigh, nothing that can’t be fixed, but annoying none the less. Important lesson, after something goes wrong, maybe take more time to go back and check everything is ok.

And for those wondering, the green is less bright under normal lighting conditions on the layout, the LED lights in my paint booth are not good for assessing colour tone, they may everything look brighter than it is. Good for seeing where you’ve missed paint, not great for deciding if you are happy with a colour or not.