Friday, March 13, 2020

Paint Shop

Paint Shop

At one time there was a monthly department in Model Railroader magazine named "Paint Shop", remembering it as being a favorite and a first read when a new issue arrived. Although the subject of the month may not have been of personal interest there was always something to learn from the methods used that could be forwarded when decorating models of one's own interests. In an era when New Haven Railroad modelers had little RTR models to choose from and painting your own was the rule, Paint Shop was a great value.

There have been inquiries about brand, type and color of paint and decals applied to rolling stock posted on this blog. Reviewing prior posts specifics about these have been mostly limited to color but few other details. A revival of Paint Shop being more specific about how models on this blog were decorated is in order.

The following is a general run down of where and what I use for painting models. I am always learning therefore please don't consider methods or materials used here as the "right way" to do things, just methods and materials that have been personally successful.   

Paint Room

I feel very fortunate to have the room for the painting environment described below!

The spray booths, compressor, paints, thinners and all other painting supplies, are contained in a separate 6' x 9' room.

Two spray booths are used, the upper one is for the actual painting. The lower one is now for cleaning out the airbrushes or paint guns, this was the primary booth until a larger one was needed for some of the layout structures that were too big to fit in the lower booth.

Both booths are vented to the outside, initially thru flex hoses into the ceiling then joining together into one larger metal duct that runs to an exterior outlet vent with a hinged door that opens when the booth fans are running. Because the spray booths are in an interior room it takes about 25' of ducting to reach the exterior vent, this length of duct adds resistance to the air flow cutting down the cubic feet per minute the booth fans will exhaust. Not an ideal set up but when both fans are run simultaneously the spray fumes exit properly.

A 5 HP oil-less compressor with a 25 gallon storage tank pumps up the pressure quickly. The tank holds enough compressed air to spray for a fair amount of time without the compressor motor kicking on allowing for quieter painting. A pressure regulator is attached to the spray booth bench.

The lights in the paint room are equipped with 5000 kelvin daylight bulbs being consistent with the lighting at the workbench and layout room. Room temperature and humidity vary little thru the seasonal changes.


Paint it

A forty five year old Paasche model "H" single action siphon feed airbrush is the favorite, a large 1.05 mm #5 tip and needle is kept in this air brush for water based acrylics and solvent based Testors dullcote lacquers. The #5 tip can produce a good range of spray patterns from a small line to wide spray pattern for overall painting with these heavier viscosity paints

Another model "H" with a .65 mm #3 tip and needle is used for most thinner viscosity solvent based paints. At times a .45 mm #1 tip is used for very thin viscosity material.

Occasionally a Paasche model "VL" double action internal mix brush with #1 thru #5 tip and needle is used for fine work like weathering.

Paint supply bottles for the air brush of 1/2 oz and 1 oz capacities are used dependent on the size of work being sprayed. All paints are strained thru a fine mesh strainer when being entered into the paint supply bottle, this is particularly important with water based acrylics.

Regardless of paint type used it is thinned so it goes on "wet" to the surface being painted with overlapping passes of the airbrush. Air pressure at the brush usually varies between 20 and 35 PSI depending on the viscosity of material being sprayed unless otherwise designated by the paint manufacturer.
The airbrush and pickup tube from the supply bottle are flushed with the appropriate solvent after each coat to keep the brush from clogging during subsequent coats. Two larger 3 oz paint bottles one filled with soapy distilled water and the other with lacquer thinner are kept in the clean up booth for this purpose. Brushes always have a thorough cleaning after paint work is completed.


Two types of paint are used for this layout project.

1. Chemical solvent paints, depending on their chemical base these are dissolved by acetone, enamel reducer or lacquer thinner. Brands used are Accu-paint, Alclad lacquers, Testors, Testors Model Master, Testors dullcote & clear lacquers, Tamiya and Tru-color. 

2. Water solvent paints. Brands used are Badger, Polly Scale, Testors Model Master Acryl.


Paint Shop #1

McGinnis New Image paint scheme for Alco RS-3.

There is photographic evidence that RS-3 #555 painted in the "McGinnis" paint scheme was used on the Berkshire during the era of the layout.

The black and red-orange McGinnis paint scheme is relatively simple to apply to the Bachmann RS-3 shell. The cab is removable from the hood portion of of the shell eliminating any color separation masking between the red-orange cab and the black applied to the remainder of the locomotive.

The cab is painted with Badger Model Flex water based acrylic #16-182 Red-Orange. Airbrush applied thru a #5 tip & needle at 25 psi, the paint being thinned with distilled water so the each coat will go on "wet" and smooth until full color coverage is achieved. The remaining hood portion is painted with Polly Scale water based acrylic #F4142290 Engine Black applied with the same methods.

Microscale decal sheet #87-68 has all the lettering and numbers for the cab and hood ends plus the red-orange over white "NH" on the hood sides. The white "H" on the hood sides is very opaque but the red-orange "N" is not which makes the N appear weathered after applying it over the black sides. To make the white "H" appear weathered to the same degree as the "N", the N was masked off and a few coats of the Polyscale engine black thinned 1 part paint to 10 parts 70% alcohol was applied over the "H". The same thinned paint/alcohol mix was sprayed on the cab until the cab color matched the color of the "N" on the hood giving all a slightly weathered appearance.

The handrails and grabs were painted to match the color of the cab by putting some of the red-orange and black on a palette and mixing them to match then applying with a brush. 

 Microscale decal sheet #87-1001 has white numbers small enough to fit within the confines of the number boards.

A 50/50 mix of Testors Dullcote and Clear lacquer was sprayed overall for a satin finish followed by Testors Dullcote only on the top surfaces for a flat finish there. The fuel/water tank is also straight Dullcote.

Dullcote and Clear were thinned with a quick drying lacquer thinner sprayed thru a #5 tip & needle at 30psi.

Next paint shop will look at the RS-3 green and orange delivery paint schemes.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! Great post. The techniques (esp air pressure etc) are very helpful