A Number Plate for a Steam Locomotive

The Brant Railway Heritage Society is a recently formed group, working to raise funds to restore the Lake Erie & Northern station at Mount Pleasant Ontario and build a new museum there. As a fund raiser, they have cast resin replicas of Canadian National Railway steam locomotive number plates. I believe they have done all three of the northern’s preserved in southwestern Ontario, 6167 in Guelph, 6218 in Fort Erie, and now when I saw them at the Copetown Show two weeks ago, the Toronto Railway Museum’s 6213. Obviously, while I passed on the others previously, a donation to the museum for a resin 6213 number plate was a must.

The plates are provided unpainted, so I took this as an opportunity to see what I could achieve using cheap craft paints, not just because I didn’t want to search for complex or expensive hobby paints, but as an opportunity to learn on something that at the end of the day, didn’t cost me a lot of money, and doesn’t need to be perfect.

IMG_1835Cheap ($2-$3) artists paints from Michaels.

I decided that I would spray the brass base colour with my airbrush, and thin and run in the red to allow it to find its level inside the plate, much like how a real plate would be done, except with the real plate, paint was applied to the brass, then polished off the facing surface!

The cheap craft paints are not the best for airbrushing. They don’t have super fine pigment, so they didn’t want to spray well, despite a lot of thinning with water and upping my air pressure from my normal 30psi to 40psi. It did work, but it wasn’t my best painting experience. That said, part of the reason I did this this way way to learn. Its good to know what it takes to try and spray these paints, as you never know when a project will actually require a crazy paint choice like this.

Painting Process (clockwise from top left): Unpainted; in Tamiya fine grey surface primer; spraying the back; spraying the front; and dried brass finish.

After a day to cure, I thinned some red down so that it would flow, and used an miniature eye dropper to get the paint dropped into the plate. One advantage of this, is when I determined my first approach didn’t work, and I was getting paint in places I didn’t want and in ways I didn’t want, a quick run to the tap to rinse off the water soluble paint and start over happened. The second attempt, having learned from the first to work from one side and go across the plate so I could pick it up and tip it to get paint to flow into corners and it worked out much better.

With bright red run into the plate to surround the brass. With a shot of the real locomotives number plate on the right for reference.

The real 6213 at the Toronto Railway Museum has recently emerged from her chrysalis with a new paint job, though the detail work of painting the cab numbers or the CNR wafer on the tender isn’t done, and details like her number plates aren’t back, she looks light years better, as the paint she had been in was looking long in the tooth. My little number plate is for display with my True Line Trains CNR 6213 in HO Scale, I’m super happy with how the plate has turned out, and it makes a nice addition to the models on display in my layout room.

IMG_1834My HO Scale 6213 now with a larger replica numberplate as part of the display.

One thing I hate about Train Shows…

Is the inevitable repair list after a weekend away travelling with models. As I’ve written about before, many of my models are of the Toronto Railway Museum, and get used for train shows (here, here, and here).

IMG_1782My HO Scale CNR 4803 looking a bit ragged after the show.

This year, my victim of show wear and tear was my model of Canadian National GP7 number 4803. This is a Bachmann Trains locomotive that I have extensively detailed to accurately reflect the real 4803. Unfortunately, as you can see, a chunk of the “Canadian National” bar down the side came off, as near as I can tell, it happened in my travel container, not from someone touching it at the show.

IMG_1783New decal and looking good as new again.

I have plenty of spare decals, so taking off the existing and applying a new one wasn’t a big deal, other than spending a couple of hours after shows repairing things is time I’m not spending working on new projects.

Over the years I’ve had decals come off, parts get broken off, and a lot of nuisance problems. I’ve never had the big one (knock on wood), but every time I do a show I seriously debate if I want to keep doing them and exposing the models to the rigours of travel and potential handling by the overeager kids that I am often out trying to attract to visit the museum! Its a catch 22, but I suspect I will keep doing the 2-3 shows a year I do, if only as for every damaged model or painful interaction with someone whose off on a tangent, there are all the great interactions with excited families who want to come to the museum after you’ve met them at a show.

VIA Rail “Canada 150” P42 #916 Finished Gallery

A light coat of weathering, some mud on the pilot and underbody, and exhaust on the roof, and my VIA Rail Canada 150 wrapped P42 is done.

I like finishing projects, and this is the first time I’ve actually posed a finished project on my layout… ok. the pink foam scenery leaves a bit to be desired, but its a work in progress.

I haven’t done a lot of weathering, but will need to as my equipment for the layout shouldn’t look all clean and shiny, it should looked used. The weathering on the VIA Rail locomotive is limited, mostly around the bottom and the roof, but its still a chance to practice. I recently picked up some Com-Art weathering paints recommended by a friend, and this was my first chance to use them. The set linked was a way to get a range of colours to work with as I experiment and learn about weathering to build my skills.

Not a bad use of a snowy day off to end my weeks vacation, back to the work grind tomorrow, but for now, some more beauty shots of my finished locomotive. Off to the display case with her now!

More views of the VIA Rail P42 in the “Canada 150” vinyl wrap applied for 2017 by VIA Rail.

Decals for a VIA Rail P42, and a problem

IMG_0273Paint and Clear Coat have had lots of time to cure, ready for decals, what could possibly go wrong?

Nothing like a Friday night after a busy week where you actually get to go home and relax to make you feel like doing some modelling, at least not for me! Last night I decided I’d start the multi-day process of decalling my VIA Rail “Canada 150” P42 model. Its a multi day process as once each side is decaled, the decals need to be worked on with a pin and decal settling solution to make sure everything is fully adhered and down, before starting to apply decals on the other side so I don’t pull off decals on the done side in the foam cradle.

Everything went well at first, I started with the largest individual piece, the four City Names on one side. If I was going to run into a problem that would trigger the need for me to buy another set of decals, or get creative, I figured the bigest was is, so start there, if it went on, all should be fine.

This was my first chance to try my “Decal Hot Tub” as my friend Ryan whose idea this was calls is.

This was my first time working with my recently acquired coffee cup warmer..aka the “Decal Hot Tub”, an idea I can claim nothing for other than seeing my friend do it, and realizing how much nicer it would be if I could keep my decal water warm, rather than having it cool off and having to go get more from the tap!

End of the nights work, looking mostly good other than a too transparent red box…now to figure out how to fix that.

The last decal I was applying on the side was the large red box over the yellow “VIA” lettering, that then has the “Canada 150” art inserted in it, and as soon as I slid it off the backing onto the locomotive, I saw I have a problem. The decals by Highball Graphics (which are fantastic), are also super thin. Normally, thats a good thing, but when you are trying to cover two bright colours in the yellow and silver, it is less so. There are a few options, buy plain red decal sheet and cut out and add layers until it isn’t translucent, or mask and paint. I am going to go with mask and paint. I think it will look better in the long run, but poses short term challenges. I am going to have to let the decals set and finish getting them fully down, then spray a clear coat. Once that is done and the decals protected, I can use the see through red boxes as a mask to mask the shape and spray a new red box. Once that is done, I should be able to app;ly the final decal inside the box, do a final clear coat of everything, and get on with final assembly and eventually some weathering (mostly on the roof, the roof of VIA’s units are filthy!!). Nothing that can’t be fixed, but an important lesson and a minor setback. All part of the hobby process, so on we go!

Paint Progress on a Modern project

I wrote about my work to make a display case model of a VIA Rail P42 a couple of weeks ago here. Since then, I’ve gotten into the spray booth in earnest to move it forward to the look it needs before applying decals.

In primer showing the nose modifications to add the extra high-intensity headlight, and with the roof sprayed VIA Teal. Notice the significant difference between the old Athearn run of P42’s for George’s Trains and a more accurate colour reproduction from Rapido’s Proto Paint line.

This is for me, a project to work on building airbrushing skills. Masking, painting multiple layers and colours, are all things in the past I’ve struggled with. I’ve pulled the underlayer of paint off more than once by rushing between coats of paint and different colours and not letting paint cure.

Stages of masking and painting. First go round, mask the teal roof and spray the front half of the locomotive VIA Yellow, then remove the masks to check the paint lines. Then re-mask the roof and mask off the yellow to spray the overall aluminum colour and create the large “VIA” logo on the body.

So, with my home spraybooth, I can now work on a single project, it’s taking me around an hour for setup, paint, cleanup. That is manageable. When I used to have to paint on the balcony and hope for weather conditions, or go to someone elses, I needed to have many projects to paint, it just to become a holdup in my work as I’d wind up with four or five projects that I couldn’t work on as I couldn’t paint!

And main painting of the body is done. The “VIA” on both sides came out looking great. There will be some more little painting on details to do, and then a clear gloss coat for applying decals to.

I’m quite happy with how this project is coming out, and how its progressing. This was a kinda side project anyways. I’ve actually done a good job of getting rid of most of the random non-layout models and projects I had acquired over the years, so doing this one will leave me with just layout things to work on for a while!

This seems awfully modern…

What’s this then, its not from the 1950’s???

Every now and then, much as I build a plastic kit or do something else to work on skills, I work on models that aren’t actually for my layout. This is one that’s been kicking around for a couple of years since I picked up a decal set for the VIA Rail “Canada 150” wraps that ran in 2017. This is a moderate detail up project, using an unpowered Athearn “Blue Box” P42 locomotive that I got cheap at a flea market show. I don’t care if it doesn’t run, this is one for the display case as I really liked what VIA did for Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation by decorating a number of locomotives and coaches with different names of Cities and Towns served by the train.

The project is a fun one, adding some rooftop and underbody details, the new high intensity headlight that isn’t in the old body, and adding some photo etched metal grills on the radiators at the rear. Then it will be a chance to practice on airbrushing and masking for painting. Not a high priority project, but one that as I’ve been cleaning and organizing around the layout room and workbench, I decided this week to make a start on for something to do aside from layout construction.

IMGP9501VIA Rail Canada P42 No.900 leads a train eastbound near Newtonville Ontario on June 26, 2017 showing off the “Canada 150” wrap.