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!

I’m H-a-p-p-y…Go Like Hell…1966 Ford GT40 MkII Number 1 – That’s No Train Part 12!

Another day, another post about not trains…but this was one I’ve been looking forward to building for a bit, and after the past two years of disruptions, the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race returned to its traditional June date last weekend. With that motivation, building my 1/24th Scale model of a 1966 Ford GT40 MkII finally came to the top of the pile, it gave me something to do while watching the race on the weekend, and during the week before to motivate me to get things done on the build to be able to finish it while I watched, but before the whole story…Yes, It’s That’s No Train Part 12!!! Previous ones here.. 1, 2, 3 (& 3.5), 4, 5, 6, 7 8, 9,10, and 11!

I have previously built a modern Ford GTLM car from a Revell kit, I’ve wanted to do a 1966 GT40, that car’s predecessor for a while, but the kits that were out there were not available, and rather dated. In 2020, Meng Models, a Chinese company released a 1/12th large scale version, then announced in 2021 that a 1/24th version was coming as well. My local plastic model (and paint/tool supply) at Wheels and Wings had it in (as I write it appears to be out of stock), so I dutifully ordered it and set to thinking about which of the two cars I might build, that I would build. I was torn between the winning #2 of Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, or the “losing” #1 of Ken Miles and Denny Hulme. If you’re not a racing fan, here is an article on the long standing controversy of the fixed finish by Ford of the race and the potential fix by Ford to make sure the car of theirs they wanted to win, did so. There is also a great book on this history of Ford at Le Mans, Go Like Hell, well worth a borrow from your local library or an addition to your library. I finally decided that I wanted to model the blue Mikes/Hulme 1 car, even though my 2016 car is the one that won on the 50th anniversary of Ford’s first win in 1966. While a diorama of the two winners would be nice, I decided I just like the look of the blue car better than the black and silver number 1.

Early stages of work on the GT40, test fitting and checking out, getting sub components of the engine painted and assembled.

The Meng kit is, in some ways a “snap together” kit, a lot of parts are designed in the way that Bandai Star Wars/Gundam style kits, where you could assemble them without glue. It’s not entirely that way, but the way it is designed allows for a lot of easy test assemblies and building sub assemblies to understand how the kit goes together, which is really nice to me, as I was able to think ahead of how I was going to need to modify the driver figure I bought to fit, and if any major changes would be needed to add lighting.

Painting and assembling the kit, working out modifications to the driver figure to fit inside.

I decided that this was going to be my Le Mans week project this year, I needed a break and a mental cleanse from doing the same old things on model train projects, the timing worked out that I was able to set the spray booth up the weekend before, and leave it up for a couple of days, and use my breaks and lunch early in the week to get through painting and masking and repainting different colours so by the time the race started on Saturday morning, I was well advanced and into final assembly and details during the first few hours of the race. By the 1/3 way through the 24 Hours, I had the project mostly done other than some detail touch-ups and could put my feed up and enjoy the race.

Painting the driver figure add on from Le Mans Miniatures and painting interior details/assembling the interior.

I like adding drivers to car models. When I was a teenager and building a lot of model kits, I hated that manufacturers didn’t include drivers, especially in race cars, as it made any attempt to display them dramatically look wrong as there was no one driving. That continues to this day, but unlike 30 (gulp) years ago, thanks to the internet, it is much easier to find after market third party detail kits for models and driver figures. For this one, I found Le Mans Miniatures who makes figures in a variety of scales, including the 1960-1970’s style drive figure I used for this one.

Tinting headlight and taillight lenses, and using the window masks included in the kit to paint the window frames.

One of the challenges of a project like this, is paint colour. There are “accurate match” paints out there, and I used paints from Zero Paints on the modern GTLM, but these are “hot” lacquer paints, that stink and require harsher chemicals for cleaning, which I don’t really like using. I much prefer acrylics that can clean with water and much milder cleaning products, so it took me a while to figure out the “right” blue for the pale Gulf Blue the car wore. I eventually settled on a Vallejo Model Air “Sky Blue”, Number 71306 which to my eyes captures the pale blue right. Is it a perfect match? I don’t know, I know that it looks to my eyes when I look at the car how I feel a Gulf Blue Ford should look, and that is good enough for me!

The Decal Hot Tub makes an appearance. The decals in this kit were really nicely printed with thin film. The red teardrops around the headlights reacted well to MicroSol and settled nicely to the body curves with several patient applications of it.

The final part was to add LED lights. I have a good supply, so was able to just take from my bin of electronics, but I realized that I I don’t have any battery clips and switches left. This car has headlights and taillights wired for lights. I will need to at some point place an order for more switches and battery clips from my usual supplier of Evan Designs, but I will wait until I need a bunch of stuff to make it cost effective, for now, the project can do without the battery and switch. I love the look of the lights in a model, especially when I turn them on in the evening and my office/layout room is dark, the little sparkle and glint just makes models feel alive to me.

All in all, I am really happy with how this turned out, building a kit in a week is pretty fast by my standards, but I don’t feel I cut any corners, I just used a bit of the wind of motivation to get it done, rather than falling into my usual traps of losing motivation or not making time. I need to get back to some layout projects, but as with all my puttering I find if the motivation has flagged even a little, its best to not do things than push them, as pushing is when I make silly mistakes and frustrate myself instead of enjoying the break and positive feelings the hobby is supposed to generate. Pictures of the finished model and some video links to learn more about this car below. Circling back to the title of this post… I’m H A P P Y…

Endurance Racing means racing at night. My models of endurance cars have lights, and they come to life when it gets dark.
The recently completed 1966 GT40 MkII alongside my previously completed 2016 Ford GTLM car on my “Le Mans” diorama base for them.

Below are the trailer to the movie Ford v. Ferrari (Le Mans 1966 outside North America) and to a video of actual footage of Le Mans 1966 with members of Carroll Shelby’s team and Ford speaking about the race.

Quick General Scenery Update

Haven’t been working much on the layout the past few weeks as May has rolled into June. I’ve been “working” on a batch of seven box cars, six are now painted and ready for decals, but other than a post when they are done as a point of pride in completing a bunch of resin kits, they haven’t made for interesting projects to write above. The weather has gotten nice outside as Spring has finally arrived in Toronto (and summers Humidity has not), work has been busy, and staying in the layout room to work on it after the day job work ends has been less attractive. That said, a couple of weeks ago we had a rainy weekend day where I wasn’t feeling like watching TV, and I wanted to both move the scenery on one side of the layout that is nearing completion forward, and make some steps on the other end where I have recently been working on buildings and paving/scenery to keep it moving forward.

The first fence I wanted to do was a wood board fence, I’ve built plenty before, but in doing this one, I used up pretty much all the scale lumber in the right sizes I had. Time for an order of supplies to start being put together. To build the fence, after I cut everything, I dyed it a variety of stain colours to create the appearance of different ages of boards. Once they were all dry, I pre-built the sections on the desk, drilled holes in the layout, and test fitted as you can see below. I am quite happy with the look of the fence. I need to paint and finish the gate you can see in the pictures, but that’s an easy task. Now that I’ve finally got a fence here, I can sort out finishing scenery in the Brunswick Balke Collender yard.

A “quick” wooden fence in progress, counting out if enough boards have been cut, and the finished project.

The second area, I wanted a chain link fence with a big gate across the siding as this is an industry that received tank cars, so that seemed like it would be appropriate detail for it to be fenced off. I have written in the past about my home made chain link fence, so I won’t go into all the details here. I have only half finished it, I haven’t gotten out the tulle to add the mesh, but I have the gates and pieces I need to finish it, which I need to do sometime even though gluing the tulle to the brass frame inevitably means gluing my fingers to it with the CA! Once I get this bit of fence done though, a quick trip to the paint booth, and the gate for the wood fence above and this fence will be done, and I can blend the scenery around the fence.

Making some short sections of chain link and the gates for an area where tank cars are unloaded.

It is as always, nice to see things go from my minds eye to reality, every time I do this, and I know I’ve said it before, seeing things come to life helps me to get/stay motivated to work on other parts of the layout. Always keep making progress, even when its small!

Giving a Locomotive Shell…The Dip

How my twisted mind envisions this locomotive shell reacting to my efforts to strip paint from it…

Stripping factory paint, something that sometimes you have to do when working on a project, and not one of my favourite things to do. I am working on preparing a model for the Toronto Railway Museum, and I needed to strip off a factory paint job. Normally, this is a painful and messy, but reasonably straightforward process. This locomotive, a Trueline Trains MP36 has been anything but. Normally, much like Judge Doom getting rid of troublesome toons in the dip, after a dunk in isoproyl alcohol for a day or so (often less), most of the paint normally falls right off, and the rest comes off with some scrubbing with an old toothbrush.

What I expect to happen when I Dip a shell…melting away…maybe with less maniacal glee than the Judge though…maybe… (Though I love me some maniacal Christopher Lloyd in this movie)

It became clear fairly quickly that this shell was not going to be cooperative, the paint was seriously holding on to the shell, even after a long dip, the paint would barely scrub off with a toothbrush. The reason of course, that I want to remove the factory paint is to get to clean plastic to primer and have a smooth surface for painting. Not taking the factory paint off would mean the ridges from the layers would show through the new paint, and it would mean adding even more layers of paint to the model (by my count there are at least 4 layers of paint/pad printing on this from the factory. Even after several days of being dipped and scrubbed, the paint was holding tight, and in some spots, becoming goopy as the multiple layers of paint softened at different rates. Thankfully, isoproply alcohol generally doesn’t affect the plastic so the shell itself is fine, but it meant having to break out the harsher chemicals to try and get the paint off.

Disassembling and stripping paint (or at least trying to) strip a Trueline Trains MP36.

Fortunately? I had a can of Testors Easy Lift Off that I have had for years. This however, is a much stronger and harsher chemical product for removing paint. This is not a product to mess around with, good ventilation, respirator and good gloves. In my case, outside on the patio. The good side of the bad, is that very quickly, just brushing on some ELO and waiting a few minutes, it started to move paint where the Isopropyl dip was not. It didn’t move all the paint, and frankly, once I remembered why I hated this stuff, I’m glad it did enough to get probably 90% of the paint off and moving, leaving the balance for the much less caustic isopropyl.

Progress eventually, but after having to tackle it with a much harsher stripping agent.

Its been over a week, and it still hasn’t come off with serious scrubbing. I am going to do some more, I haven’t been able to sit outside and give it a good and hopefully final scrub, but I can definitely see a finish line to the cleaning part of this project so I can prepare the few minor modifications I am going to make to the shell to be more GO Transit accurate as an MP40 instead of the MBTA MP36 it started as, it won’t be a perfect model, but the museum has been unable to source a factory GO painted locomotive at a price we could afford, vs this one, so a repainted stand in it is.

Finally, I need to find my DVD of Who Framed Roger Rabbit now and give it a watch, I think its underrated and I haven’t watched it in ages!

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 update to Layout Wayfinding

It seems like it was just yesterday, but it was literally a pandemic ago (groan, I’ll show myself out for that one) that I bought laser cut and engraved wood signs for layout wayfinding. In the two years since I got them in January 2020, they have faded a bit and become somewhat illegible. The laser engraving is still there, but I am not sure if I want to brave painting them or not. The large sized one on the layout room door has stayed clear and amazing. With my recent purchase of a Cricut, I realized that I have art for the Toronto style street signs, I could re-create the signs and cut them out of vinyl.

The laser etched wood sign, and its vinyl replacement. Much more legible, seen in comparison with one of the wooden signs in the last image.

The vinyl sign looks significantly better than the wood one in terms of legibility. As with most things I do, I will live with the one sign for a couple of weeks, and assuming I remain happy with it, some day when a mood strikes me I will bang out the other ones and install them all in a couple of hours some day. Until then, back to building boxcars, my current main activity! (2 ready for the paint booth and 5 to go on that project)